Music doesn't make me hungry, mostly because I eat before the concert, but I know that some prefer dining afterwards. In New York City, this often means the higher-priced luxury restaurants or a quickie at a diner, perhaps. I think a good selection of places around Carnegie Hall, located at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue on Manhattan's West Side, might be helpful to music-lovers. (I want to mention that a friend of mine lost his passport in Rome some years ago and when he went to the US Embassy to get a replacement, the consular officer asked him to prove he was from New York. "Where is Carnegie Hall?" he asked, and my friend was able to reply accurately, as he lived just three blocks away. Had he been asked, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" he would have answered with the standard jovial response, "Practice, man, practice."
New York City has never had enough good German or Austrian restaurants, but now it has a sensational one, just a block from Carnegie Hall. Opened in December 2008, Seasonal is the joint effort of two chefs, Wolfgang Ban and Eduard Frauneder, formerly associated with the German Mission to the United Nations. The Seasonal's décor is refreshingly light, modern and elegant, a bit retro in the nicest sort of way, yet with a cozy ambience. Despite the steady allure of wiener schnitzel or pork belly confit, I chose scrumptious veal cheeks goulash (kaisergulalsch, $27, with quark chive spaetzle), a splendid Hudson Valley foie gras terrine (ganseleber terrine, $18) for an appetizer, and comforting pancakes (kaiserschmarren, with apple quince compote, $10) for dessert.
My colleague had duck breast (entenbrust rotkraut, $27, with red cabbage and schupfnudeln), goat cheese salad ($11), both of which she pronounced outstanding. Wines start at $10 per glass and they have a tasting menu of seven courses for $64. Seasonal is open daily for lunch and dinner except Sundays, when it opens from 10:30 to 5, for brunch. (132 W. 58th St; tel. 212/957-5550; www.seasonalnyc.com).
If you like your Chinese food traditionally Americanized but a bit superior in that genre, think of this outpost of Chinatown just down the street from Carnegie Hall and next door to the Carnegie Deli Although there is also a sushi bar and they serve Japanese food (a combo that in a Chinese restaurant usually makes me nervous) I have had good luck with the orange-flavored beef ($15.95) and the pork lo mein ($7.95), among other dishes. The décor is, at best, casual, or some might say worn-out, but they never push you to hurry and ambience is as friendly as such places can get. Open daily 11:30 to 11:30. (850 Seventh Ave; tel. 212/247-6440).
Located just across the street from Carnegie Hall, the Europa Cafe specializes in quick meals with a slightly Viennese flavor, such as a luncheon I recently enjoyed: half a sandwich (many choices) and a coup of coup at $7.10, or a hot "and crispy" zesto sandwich of barbecue beef at $6.95. The place has gigantic windows on two sides, great for people watching on 57th Street. They are one of three restaurants in Manhattan with the same name, a mini chain of sorts. (205 W. 57th St; tel. 212/977-4030; www.europacafe.com).
New Yorkers still love the Carnegie, while out-of-towners flock to the nearby Stage Deli, perhaps because the visitors are really searching for celebrities, not good deli food. In fact, more celebrities choose the Carnegie for its victuals, I think. I recall seeing the late David Halberstam, the Pulitzer-prize winner, enter with friends and react with obvious amazement to a restaurant jam packed with Catholic nuns and priests. (There was a Catholic Book Conference going on at the nearby Hilton.) The Carnegie is famous for its humongous pastrami or corned beef sandwiches ($14.95), any one of which makes for a healthily lunch for two people (if you share, one sandwich is $17.95). Many fans say their cheesecake sets the gold standard for same. The owner since 1976, Milton Parker, died in January at the age of 90. He coined the slogan "We cure, smoke, bake and pickle our own -- that says it all." Service is often brusque, but is friendly on occasion, and for heaven's sakes, don't forget the sour pickles. (854 Seventh Ave; tel. 800/334-5606; www.carnegiedeli.com).