Something Lacking at South Gate
Interior of South Gate - New York, NY

Ever since I started food blogging, I've had more and more people ask me for restaurant recommendations. Normally, I'm flattered that they feel my opinion is worth a damn. They expect me to know what I'm talking about. But, with the millions of restaurants in the world, and the thousands in New York alone, I can't possibly have an opinion about them all. Sometimes, I just want to relinquish all decision-making responsibilities to someone else because the pressure mounts and I get anxious that I'm going to recommend a place that will ultimately be a disappointment.

Such was the case with South Gate.
Interior of South Gate - New York, NY

The occasion? Lunch with a work colleague from Los Angeles. Nicole left the choice to me, so I opted for a restaurant that was not in the immediate vicinity of the office. South Gate seemed ideal, especially given its proximity to Central Park. Now, if you're not paying close attention, it's extremely easy to miss the entrance to the restaurant, which is located at the Jumeirah Essex House. And if you do manage to find the door leading into the impressively open space, brace yourself and pull hard on the excessively heavy door. (If you're wearing heels, don't bother trying to look graceful while opening the door. It's impossible.) If you're lucky, you'll strain every muscle of your body while the hostess stands there staring at you in awe through the glass barrier.
Wall of Wine - South Gate - New York, NY

Nicole and I were led past the bar at the front of the restaurant and past the massive wall of wine to our table right next to the fireplace. Despite all of the open tables in the restaurant, which was quite surprising given that they should have been experiencing the peak lunch rush, we were seated at the most romantic table they had.

Oh well.
Grilled Steak Salad - South Gate - New York, NY
Grilled Steak Salad - South Gate - New York, NY

Nicole prefers to eat dishes that aren't too heavy or dependent on rich sauces. After some consultation with our server, she ordered the Sauteed Branzino ($21) with rutabaga puree and cara cara oranges. (The photos I took of Nicole's lunch did not survive. Oops.) I only had a bit of the rutabaga puree (delicious, by the way), so I had to rely on Nicole for a more definitive opinion about the dish. The portion of fish was perfect for lunch and the presence of the puree made any need for a sauce completely unnecessary. Nicole finished her meal without feeling too full afterwards.
Grilled Steak Salad - South Gate - New York, NY

I toyed with the idea of going the same route as Nicole by ordering something light and refreshing. Then my eye caught the sight of the Grilled Steak Salad ($24) on the menu. Suddenly, the idea of digging into a salad of mixed greens and grilled flank steak seemed so much more appealing. That is, until I actually started eating it. The greens were plentiful but dressed in too much vinaigrette and the steak was under-seasoned and tough. The delightfully pink color at the center of the steak was misleading. For $24, I was expecting a salad that would knock my heels off, but I was disappointed and wound up eating only about half of it before I acquiesced.

While the food wasn't my favorite, I loved the vastness of the restaurant. In New York, it is so easy to feel cramped and confined, so spending my lunch hour in a space with walls that didn't feel like they were closing in on me was almost invigorating. I'm not sure I'll go back to South Gate for another meal, but I'm curious to see what the Happy Hour scene is like.

South Gate on Urbanspoon

South Gate
154 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
(212) 484-5120 | Online Reservations | Map

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