The Pool Strives to Deal With Its Famous Dining Room

The Pool is such an exceptional restaurant that customers may suspect there’s something wrong with them when they walk out feeling that something was missing. But they’re right. Eating there is like dating somebody who looks great, gives you presents, takes you on trips and tries to convince you that you’re happy until the day you find out that the gifts and plane tickets were charged to your credit card.

Much of this restaurant’s appeal, as well as some of its problems, come from its architecture. The Pool is one half of the old Four Seasons restaurant in Midtown, the part on the north side of the Seagram Building with a square marble pool in the center. The other end is now the Grill, which I reviewed in August. Philip Johnson designed the whole thing with richly detailed, rigorously geometric understatement that earned it status as one of the few interiors in the city protected by landmark designation.

Major Food Group, the company that runs the Grill and the Pool, took its cues from Johnson to give the two restaurant supplies contrasting styles. The Grill, with its imposing walnut paneling, has a meat-focused menu covers with midcentury roots that is overseen by Mario Carbone. The Pool, under the hand of Rich Torrisi, serves seafood with a contemporary outlook.

Crucially, Major Food Group and the building’s owner decided that each restaurant deserved its own bar with its own style. The Grill already had one. For the Pool, which didn’t, they requisitioned, redecorated, refurnished and renamed the mezzanine.

The new Pool Lounge, I discovered by making a phone call, was built without the permits from the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the law requires. In September, the commission summoned the building’s owner, RFR Holding, for a public hearing.

An application has been belatedly filed to cover three major installations made without approval: the bar and the wall coverings of woven cotton, wool and silver threads in the lounge and the reception desk in the lobby off East 52nd Street. (Sheldon Werdiger, director of marketing and design development at RFR Holding, said in a statement that because furniture is not covered in the landmark designation, “we thought a new reception desk and bar in the lounge were additive fixtures to the space that can be easily removed and did not require LPC oversight.”)

But you don’t need to be an architectural historian to see that none of them are remotely in the International Style. The large, inelegant reception desk belongs in an airport; you half expect to be asked if you’re checking any luggage. But the more serious rupture is the Pool Lounge. Although the building’s owner has argued that the Four Seasons used the mezzanine for private events and storage, it was open and in use for restaurant seating every time I ate in the old Pool Room. The tables up there, with their views of the lower dining room and the pool itself, were among the best in the house.

Now the mezzanine looks as if it had been moved on a trailer from some other building and attached with thumbtacks. Its blue color scheme and rounded, Deco-inspired furniture fight with what is left of Johnson’s right angles and natural tones. When the lounge is full, it’s a distraction. When it’s half-empty, as it often seems to be, it looms like a stage set waiting for the actors to show up. Either way, it sucks energy from the restaurant, which needs all it can get.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is waiting for a response from the landlord before ruling on the new fixtures. One change that it is not challenging is the removal of the large planters from the four corners of the pool. When the Four Seasons opened in 1959, these held trees that were changed whenever a new spring, summer, fall or winter rolled around. The trees broke up the sight lines, so you never saw the entire space at once. Now you look around at an uninterrupted sea of heads.

Messing with the subtle dynamics that Johnson set in motion puts pressure on the cooking and the dining room staff to animate the room. They don’t completely succeed right now.

The Pool’s problems don’t include the ingredients, which are spectacular. The sweetness of chilled spot prawns under a few drops of olive oil made me shiver with pleasure. A trio of flash-seared Hokkaido sea scallop, Pacific mackerel whose skin had been peppered and griddled, and raw amberjack under tiny cells of finger lime suggested that Mr. Torrisi could run a stunning sushi restaurant.

My eyes rolled back in my head whenever I ate sea urchin. In one appetizer, it is arranged on griddled pretzel bread with mustard oil and tiny cubes of green apple. In another, lobes of it are layered into an iced bowl to be eaten, with crème fraîche and chives if you like, over blini, hard-cooked eggs, toast or, my favorites, creamy potato halves roasted in duck fat. (Caviar and trout roe are served the same way.)

Mr. Torrisi’s approach is to be lavish with punctiliously cared-for seafood and to outfit it sparingly. A beautiful illustration is the cured king salmon, two long, intensely flavorful strips served with a single potato dressed with mustard, shallots and dill. Another is any of the whole fish. The skin on turbot caught in Portugal is seared to a satisfying crackle on a plancha and served with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Like the Dover sole, it is lifted from its skeleton by a slim captain (they’re all slim) who performs the surgery wearing a Tom Ford suit.

Baskin-Robbins Shoots and Scores with New March Flavor of the Month, REESE’S 3-Pointer

Canton, MA ( Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of specialty ice cream shops, is going mad in March with its Flavor of the Month of their menu covers, REESE’S® 3-Pointer, which is a delicious combination of iconic REESE’S® products including REESE’S® Peanut Butter Cups, REESE’S® PIECES® candies and a REESE’S® Peanut Butter and Chocolate ribbon, all swirled in chocolate ice cream. Guests can enjoy this new flavor in a cup, cone or in a Layered Sundae with REESE’S® Peanut Butter Sauce, Hot Fudge, Chopped REESE’S® Peanut Butter Cups and Real Whipped Cream.

“We have a feeling that REESE’S® 3-Pointer is going to be a slam dunk among our guests as our March Flavor of the Month,” said Jeff Miller, Executive Chef and Vice President of Product Innovation for Dunkin’ Brands. “The pairing of chocolate and peanut butter is one of the most popular flavor combinations, which is why we’re so excited to offer our guests a new way to enjoy a full range of iconic REESE’S® products, all in one amazing ice cream flavor.”Baskin-Robbins Shoots and Scores with New March Flavor of the Month, REESE'S 3-Pointer

Baskin-Robbins guests will also be in luck this March when they follow the rainbow to Baskin-Robbins locations nationwide and find a leprechaun-approved St. Patrick’s Day Cake in their restaurant menu covers, which is entirely customizable with a guest’s favorite ice cream and cake flavor combination and comes in a variety of sizes to suit any lucky group. This festive green cake is decorated with four leaf clovers, a colorful rainbow and a pot of gold. Additionally, guests can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Baskin-Robbins with a Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake, or enjoy Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream in a cup or cone.

Finally, Baskin-Robbins is giving guests one more reason to celebrate this March with its “Celebrate 31” promotion. On March 31st at participating Baskin-Robbins shops nationwide, guests can enjoy all regular and kids-sized scoops for just $1.50. This special deal can be enjoyed on all classic flavors, as well as seasonal favorites like Easter Egg Hunt® or Cherry Lime Rickey sorbet*.

For more information about Baskin-Robbins’ wide variety of premium ice cream flavors and frozen desserts, visit or follow us on Facebook (, Twitter ( or Instagram (

The REESE’S® and REESE’S® PIECES® Trademarks are used under license.

* Offer valid on March 31st. Participation may vary. Scoop offer good on every size scoop. All listed flavors are optional amongst Baskin-Robbins’ stores. Waffle cones and toppings are extra. Cannot be combined with other offers. Plus applicable tax.

About Baskin-Robbins

Named a top ice cream and frozen dessert franchise in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine’s 38th annual Franchise 500® ranking in 2017, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops. Baskin-Robbins creates and markets innovative, premium hard scoop ice cream, a full range of beverages, and a delicious lineup of desserts including custom ice cream cakes, the Polar Pizza™ Ice Cream Treat and take-home ice cream quarts and pints, providing quality and value to consumers at more than 7,800 retail shops in more than 50 countries. Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 by two ice cream enthusiasts whose passion led to the creation of more than 1,300 ice cream flavors and a wide variety of delicious treats. Headquartered in Canton, Mass., Baskin-Robbins is part of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN) family of companies. For more information, visit

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8 Healthy Cooking Hacks Everyone Should Know

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I came. I slawed. I concasséd (that’s chef speak for a fancy method of dicing a tomato). And now that I’ve graduated from New York City’s nutrition-driven culinary school, Natural Gourmet Institute, which focuses on food that tastes delicious but also happens to be good for you, I appreciate a healthy cooking trick more than ever. Here are a few of the best ones I picked up during my adventures in dicing and slicing, along with tips from a few of my favorite registered dietitians.

1. Put nutritional yeast on everything.

Dare yourself to slip some “nooch” (or hippie Parmesan, as I came to call it) into your meals. This flaky food seasoning has a cheesy taste, so it’s a great way to boost flavor in your dishes, especially if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or trying to cut back on dairy.

It also offers filling protein (3 grams per 20-calorie tablespoon) and a punch of vitamin B12, which is necessary for preventing anemia and maintaining your energy levels by creating red blood cells, and also helps keep your central nervous system healthy.

“Sprinkle nutritional yeast in hummus, grain dishes, soups, and salads for a delicious umami flavor and a hefty dose of bonus nutrition,” Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, tells SELF.

2. Marinate your proteins.

Harissa-marinated chicken? Don’t mind if we do. “Marinate your chicken, fish, or meat before grilling it or cooking it at high temperatures,” The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., C.D.N., C.F.T., and Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., C.D.N., C.F.T., authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure, tell SELF.

It’s a great way to add flavor via a low-calorie cooking method instead of relying on frying or dredging food in some sort of batter. And research suggests using a spice-rich marinade may help reduce heterocyclic amines, carcinogens created when you cook meat at high temperatures, The Nutrition Twins explain.