’Tis the season to be jolly and what might be jollier than to be again in full vacation purchasing mode – not anodyne on-line purchasing, however old school department-store purchasing. And the place higher to do it than at Neiman Marcus in The Westchester in White Plains, that the majority razzle- dazzle of department shops, by no means sparklier or extra glamorous than at vacation time. Up by means of the shop we go, strolling previous Dior on the high of the escalator, ambling previous Acqua di Parma, moseying by tables laid out with beautiful cashmere scarves, jangly belts, trainers like works-of-art – lovely belongings you need to purchase for his or her sheer loveliness, not since you want any single one.
And on the shop’s Degree 3, proper on the high, is Mariposa (“butterfly” in Spanish,) the place the restaurant host, Ronnie Barback, who’s as cheerful as the shop is vivid, greets us like long-lost buddies. “Whats up, a desk for lunch? Right here, observe me…. That is one in every of my favorites, someplace you’ll be able to see the entire restaurant, but additionally a bit of non-public.” It’s the form of welcome that units the tone for a sunny go to, even on a moist and gloomy late-fall day.
Ronnie has been with the shop for a while however has solely not too long ago come over to Mariposa – which emerged from its chrysalis in 2014 after a four-month, $1-million renovation that remodeled it from one in every of Neiman Marcus’ former Zodiac eating places. (There patrons used to vie to take a seat beneath glass paintings of their beginning indicators.)
“They requested me to host,” she says, smiling. “ ‘That’s effective’,” I instructed them, ‘simply don’t ask me to prepare dinner.’” Ronnie is a riot and we might speak to her all day, however she has different friends to take care of and, moreover, we have to eat. As she leaves us, alongside comes a server, proper on cue, depositing just-cooked popovers on our aspect plates, together with demitasse cups of consommé – the free signature starters at any of Neiman Marcus’ eating places. (For the historical past of that custom and extra, see the Neiman Marcus story on Web page 8.)
In the meantime, right here’s Ronnie again once more, handing me parking validation (“just for my favourite prospects,” she confides.) A get-out-of-jail-free card, I name it jokingly, though with popovers this contemporary and flaky and consommé this golden and intense, I feel I’m going to need to linger in jail some time longer.
Mariposa, I’m discovering, is a sanctuary, providing consolation and calm together with light, old school service, though that’s to not say it’s remotely stuffy. That goes for the meals, too – a revamped, broad menu that reintroduces a whole lot of NM classics, every part primarily based on prime substances, mixed or cooked with creativeness and aptitude.
Take the salads – the dashing Madison, which is an upmarket play on a Cobb, or the Gotham, borrowed from Bergdorf Goodman’s powder-blue, Central Park-overlooking BG restaurant, (Bergdorf’s being a Neiman Marcus Group member of the family.) Sure, the standard suspects are right here – a black angus burger with what I can solely describe as illustrious truffle fries, a tuna soften with a moreish tuna pecan salad – however so, too, are extra complicated, extra substantial dishes.
Shiny linguini include a beneficiant quantity of snow-white, jumbo lump crab in a garlic and ginger butter sauce, a winner of a dish from chef Angel Bueno, who is aware of that, whereas all of us love garlic, it makes a very good pal however a foul grasp, and so he makes use of it judiciously. Blackened salmon has crisp, corn tortillas for its operating mate, the dish spiced up with a feisty chipotle mayonnaise. A generously-sized skirt steak with a fastidiously diminished demi-glace will enchantment to lunchtime carnivores.
As for the patrons, they run the gamut, from targeted lone customers, ticking off gadgets on an inventory, to lunching girls and households with youngsters. Ah sure, the youngsters. Some are are fairly refined, sitting demurely and having fun with their Kobe beef hotdogs from the encouragingly “grown-up” youngsters’ menu, whereas some are proper little screechers, being mollified – or bribed – by their dad and mom with the promise of what Santa will deliver them if they may simply reduce out the whingeing.
Nevertheless, let’s not dwell on irritating youngsters however as a substitute take into consideration the desserts – a tall, wealthy coconut cake, or, because the menu calls it, an “iconic” NM chocolate cookie. I’m unsure what makes a cookie iconic and we didn’t put it to the check, however an affogato – that spectacularly easy Italian desert of a scoop of vanilla ice cream, “drowned” in an espresso – introduced a pleasant lunch to a satisfying, fashionable shut. (Customers on the go can all the time seize espresso from the brand new espresso bar off the shoe division on Degree 1.)
With its elegant design touches, blue crystal water glasses, silver butterfly serviette rings and uncooked silk curtains – like those you get on planes nowadays, separating business- class prospects from the remainder of us, solely the drapes on planes usually tend to be nylon – a spot is tops when you need to scratch round for flaws. Sure, have been I Mr. and Mrs. Neiman or, for that matter, Mr. Marcus – figuratively talking in fact, as the shop’s founders handed away many years in the past – I could be inclined to place a door or display on the large opening that leads from the restaurant to the kitchen, in order that friends wouldn’t should face a fireplace exit. However past that, I can’t consider a factor I’d change, so excellent is that this spot.
And, by the best way, I used to be exaggerating concerning the youngsters. Lest you name me “Scrooge,” actually, they have been all beautiful. Simply as Mariposa is – lovely as a butterfly, certainly.
For extra, go to neimanmarcus.com