Story by Barbara & Manos Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis

Hotel LeSoleil Entrance

Executive Hotel Le Soleil
38 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
212.695.0003

From the very beginning the borough of Manhattan has been a collection of  neighborhoods with constantly changing personalities. As the  neighborhoods change focus “trendy” moves from one area to another.  Currently changing is the garment center district which was replete with clothing manufacturing, warehouses and fashion boutiques. Here, at anytime of the day, you could see racks stuffed with hanging clothes being pushed down Seventh Avenue and the side streets of the 30s and  trucks loading piles of newly manufactured clothing. But as clothing  manufacturing has found new homes abroad, the garment center has taken on a new focus, one more traveler friendly with boutique hotels  replacing fashion boutiques.

Executive Hotel Le Soleil is one of the new upscale, centrally located boutique hotels to open at the heart of the garment center between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on 36th Street. This location is perfect for the tourist that wants to sample  the renowned shopping emporiums of Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Saks  Fifth Avenue, or be close to the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, or the Broadway show scene just a few blocks northwest. Hotel Le Soleil also welcomes your furry friends and there is a popular dog run  at Madison Square Park just a short walk away.

Hotel LeSoleil Reception

The hotel has a long narrow hallway opening into a handsome lobby with  several different seating areas along the way and with free Wi-Fi  available throughout the hotel you can enjoy the passing scene while  still keeping in touch. The day we were there guests were taking  advantage of the nooks and crannies to set up their computers or read  the newspaper (yes Virginia, people still hold paper in their hands and read from it). The staff is  welcoming and friendly, eager to attend to your needs. Décor is  understated elegance with beautiful carpets throughout and logo details  carried out on elevator doors. The public spaces are handsome and  tasteful as are the bedrooms.

Hotel LeSoleil Executive Bedroom

Northern European minimalism comes to mind in the bedrooms with soft dove gray  walls and blond wood furniture. The carpet and upholstered chairs pick  up both colors and augment the color scheme and simple décor. Lighting  is wonderful and there are ample mirrors which is terrific for the women traveler. Beds are very comfortable and the pillows are down with fine quality linens. The one drawback was in the bathroom where there is little room at the claustrophobic sink to lay any needed  items. The bathroom could benefit from a few well placed hooks or a  small table or stool for holding needed cosmetics or items of clothing.

Hotel LeSoleil Trademark Entrance

While Executive Hotel Le Soleil is a boutique hotel and does not have a full  service restaurant it does have Trademark Taste + Grind, a restaurant  and separate coffee bar that is destined to be the new “trendy”€ hangout  for lovers of great coffee and creative small plates.

The menu is small, but what comes out of the kitchen is outstanding.

There were 11 starters in the “To Begin” section: 9 Entrées; 4 Salads that can become full courses by adding chicken, salmon, shrimp or hanger  steak; and 5 Sandwiches that include burgers and fried chicken. 5 Sides complete the offerings.

Hotel LeSoleil Meatballs Small Plate

To test the expertise of the kitchen we decided to have 4 small plates from the “To Begin” section. So, we ordered the Smashed Beets, Zucchini Hummus,  Meatballs, and Tuna Poké plus a glass of Red Tail Riesling for Barbara  and a Kalen Brown Lager for me - which tasted more like an English Ale  than a classic lager.

Though the Trademark Taste + Grind touts itself as a “New American” eatery,  with burgers, grilled cheese and fried chicken on the menu, for the more adventurous eaters there are exotic treats in store, such as the small  plates we experienced.

Jeff Haskell, the culinary director and Adrienne Guttieri, the Executive  Chef seem to have decided that North Africa is their source of culinary  inspiration for the small plates. Therefore, cumin, cardamom and  cilantro are the prominent spices in the dishes; tahini and yoghurt are  used in a number of the little plates as well.

Hotel LeSoleil Smashed Beets

From the souks of Tunis to the highlands of the Atlas Mountains, exquisite spice blends grace North African cuisine. Ras-El-Hanout is a piquant spice mix whose name means "top of the shop" in Arabic, it is used in practically every dish from that area  including soups, stews and tajines. Its presence is evident in many of  the small plates we tasted. Harissa is another North African condiment made from chilies, oil, garlic, and  spices. Preserved lemons and watermelon pickles are used in a few of the dishes. All these different and exotic tastes are in the well executed  recipes that seemed well received by the twenty- and thirty- something  crowd of office workers that jammed the restaurant during the weeknight, having drinks and appetizer plates.

The final reminder that the inspiration for the food is North Africa was  the coffees we ordered. They came in small, thick glasses, just as they  would have come if we actually were in the famous El Ferida restaurant in Djerba.

 

 

 

© July 2016 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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