Quite the ceremony yesterday at JFK Airport, with JetBlue rolling out their renovated terminal to employees, press, special guests, and all manner of dignitaries. Bloomberg was on hand, as were Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, a number of congressmen and senators, Port Authority execs, and—somewhat oddly—the Premier of Bermuda. The press conference began with an honor guard, a pledge of allegiance and a recitation of "The Star Spangled Banner," and ended with a drum corps and a brief performance by the Rockettes.
The terminal as unveiled is rather standard, but it's clear that a lot of thought (and money) went into the renovation, the restaurants in particular.
It's already possible to discern the standouts: Piquillo, the tapas bar by Alexandra Raij, boasts a build out that's seemingly carved out of the two neighboring restaurants, and Deep Blue, Michael Schulson's Asian spot (also found elsewhere in JFK), looks like a very respectable Meatpacking District mega-eatery. La Vie, the French bistro, is tiny, but a good place for a drink if your flight is delayed.
AeroNuovo (an "enticing trattoria," according to the press release), and "classic American steakhouse" 5ive Steak still need a lot of work. Same goes for The Loft, an American spot "evoking the style of large lofts in the Meatpacking district." Mexican restaurant Revolucion looks pretty conventional—cushy booths, flat screen televisions—while the decor at New York Sports Grill lacks character (though the bar boasts 48 draught beers).
Almost all restaurants offered some samples yesterday to give us a taste of what they'll be serving come October (note almost all food was made on hot plates). The verdicts:
Deep Blue: They served a sushi roll consisting of a base of gluey rice, with a spicy tuna spread sitting atop.
La Vie: Moules frites minus the frites, with a rich, saffron-infused sauce. Delicious.
Aeronuovo: Their menu is massive—perhaps too much so—but the meal served passed muster: orecchiette with roasted peppers and mozzarella. They're clearly going for an authentic, home-cooked vibe here with exceedingly rich food. Chef Mark Ladner (Del Posto) was on hand to do some demos.
Piquillo: Chef Alexandra Raij was on stage at one point participating in the demos, but Piquillo's samples hardly required a supervising chef. Cuts of Spanish jamon and sausage, no adornment, no bullshit.
Revolucion: Served a dollop of guacamole atop a tortilla chip. Granted, the presentation was somewhat elaborate, but it wasn't worth the line.
Despite the appearances of some, all restaurants should be ready to go when the Terminal officially opens on October 1.
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