Dinner at New York's Baotique
What the hell used to be here? That was the running question, leading me up the exterior staircase, as I entered Baotique at Covet Lounge this past Tuesday. Jean and I had a 6:45 p.m. dinner reservation and, in true Lunch Belle fashion, I arrived 15 minutes early. As I approached the hostess' stand to announce my arrival, it hit me: this was the former Azza space, which I had been to for a couple of birthday celebrations and after-parties. A-ha!
In its entirety, the space is divided: Baotique (restaurant) is located on the street-level, while Covet Lounge occupies the floor beneath. One identical trait that these "fraternal twins" share? A captivating physical attraction — displayed via brilliant restoration and interior decor located, literally, in every nook and cranny of their mutual space. Think modern-day opulence meets beaux-arts. Brilliant.
"Hi doll," Jean exclaimed from across the room as she made her grand entrance. "I need a drink."
Unfortunately for both of us, our waitress informed Jean and I that, in some sort of beverage-ingredient delivery fluke, the cocktail list was unavailable that evening. Or something along those lines. This was particularly odd, especially for a venue that, first and foremost, coins itself as a lounge — so much so, that the "Baotique" piece of "Baotique at Covet Lounge," does not even have signage from the street (the only giveaway is knowing the building number or recognizing the "Covet" sign)! We settled for a glass of wine.
With Baotique's seafood-heavy menu, chock-full of unique ingredients, I let Jean do the "driving." We chose to split an array of dishes:
Black Cod Dumpling Soup Docked atop a fragrant pool of lemongrass-scented seafood broth were homemade wontons filled with black cod. Delicate, fried fish skin "barges" and wilted greens served as flavorful flotation devices.