Â Most restaurants can get at least one thing right – that signature dish, five dollar happy hour drinks, or even a special molten chocolate dessert. Unfortunately, not too many get it all right. I have found an exception straddling the border between midtown and Hells Kitchen (350 W. 50th Street) in New York City. Enter Bann Restaurant and Lounge. Not only can you get five dollar happy hour drinks (I recommend the prosecco) but you can also get a full menu of “signature dishes” along with that molten chocolate dessert. Magic!
Let’s begin the evening at the bar. It’s quiet, but not too quiet. The bartender is friendly but not too friendly, and the fellow patrons are a pleasant mix of locals and tourists. Enjoy a lychee martini or a glass of prosecco and don’t forget the appetizer as the food here is splendid. Bann does not steal away their chef for the dining room and leave it’s bar patrons to fiddle with peanuts and pretzels. No. At Bann, you get the same finely prepared food but in ‘finger size’ – try the spicy pork sliders. Trust me on this one.
After you have been sufficiently hydrated we’ll move along to the dining room. Along the way you can browse the infinite wine collection in the glass cellar or take a peak at the ‘personalized chop sticks’ which line the wall. You can get your own by racking up Bann points as a regular (see their website for more info).Â Once we reach the dining room you will notice the decor and its authentic Korean influences (I hear the owner did all the design work herself). Be sure to also check the bathrooms for the bamboo water spouts! Next, take notice of the gas grills built into your table top – this is where you’ll grill some of that fine Korean bbq coming your way in a few moments. Prepare yourself.
Although the Korean BBQ will delight patrons with a unique at-table grill, I recommend the tangy soy and chili bbq glazed spare ribs or “Dae Ji Kal bi”.Â I was so involved in eating this wonderful dish that I could hardly talk! It was serious eating time. I dare say I have not had a better meal in the United States of America. My partner enjoyed raving about the Chilean sea bass – another safe bet on their comprehensive menu.
There is plenty of attentive staffÂ to await your every need. I barely raised my hand and my waiter not only arrived but did so having anticipated my need. Oh, and be sure to try the Korean beers; my favorite is Cass, a light and fresh choice.
Be warned that Bann may require a reservation. However, if you arrive unannounced and cannot get a table there may be a spot at their unique little “kitchen table”. I often prefer this over the dining room as it affords me a view of the chef at work and often some chitchat with the owner. It is also nicely informal.
So, if you are looking for a little culinary magic in midtown Manhattan I strongly suggest skipping over a few blocks from Times Square and trying out some authentic Korean hospitality. The only negative thing I can say about this true gem is that it can be a little noisy at times. But, if you don’t mind a lively atmosphere you are in for an exquisite time.
Tell them I sent you!
Main dish – $20-$30
Major credit cards accepted.
Reservations suggested. (212-582-4446)