OPIA Restaurant, on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel at 57th Street and Lexington Avenue, is a great neighborhood hangout; it also attracts regulars from all over town, as well as hotel guests from all over the world. It’s a happening place with great bar action every night of the week, but the ambiance is even more mellow and romantic on the nights when owner Antoine Blech sits down at the piano; his soothing French voice embraces the audience with a medley of French love songs, many he himself has composed. Antoine Blesh has been around the restaurant world for a long time, and he oversees Opia with a nonchalance that is both comforting and inviting. Antoine’s voice is like the steak au poive… seasoned to perfection.
The dinner menu is to the point with a wide selection of appetizers and entrées. On one night, we sampled the fresh Maine Crab Cake on a French brioche served with a celery romoulade; a spicy Tuna Tartare served with avocado and sprinkled with fresh paprika; succulent and crunchy the Maya Shrimp a la plancha, grilled with fennel and olives .was succulent and spicy; and the signature Opia salad, a combination of bib lettuce, julienne carrot and celery root served with a white truffle oil dressing was crunchy and crisp. As an entrée I choose the Steak au Povre, served with haricots and frites; grilled to medium rare perfection, it was tender and juicy. My companion opted for the Seven Hour Lamb …a braised leg of lamb served with autumn vegetables and home made parpadelle pasta. It no doubt had been marinating for hours before it was cooked as both the aroma and delicate flavors permeated each bite... An array of sides was tempting: broccoli rabe w garlic, mac and cheese, potato puree with chives and one of their specialties, Rosemary truffle Opia frites.
The re’s also a reasonably prices Sushi and Sashimi menu ; assorted fish rolls are priced from $12 to $18, and the Opia Sashimi tasting platter is ample for two or three people to share are a great alternative to a dinner entree.
Opia’a mellow French music and romantic ambiance sets the mood for an enjoyable evening; and regardless of what you order, you won’t be disappointed. However, I must admit, Opia is even more inviting on the nights Antoine sits down at the piano and serenades me.
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Published on Dec 31, 1969