Cigar Aficionado

A Smoky New York City Restaurant

I had dinner Thursday night at a great New York City restaurant. The food was lovely, but the best part was the cigar (two, in fact) that I puffed during cocktails, appetizers, entrée and dessert. The only bad part? The restaurant is only open a half-dozen times a year, and it only seats about 30 guests.

The “restaurant” was dubbed De La Rue, a combination of the Manhattan cigar shop De La Concha and the nearby restaurant Rue 57. The cigar shop closed for a short time in the early evening while the restaurant staff set up tables on the perimeter of the large shop, providing seating for about 34 guests. At 8 p.m., the doors opened, and the customers poured in for a dinner featuring Padrón cigars and a fine meal from Rue 57.

What a great concept.

“This is the De La Concha smoking oasis,” said Ron Melendi, who manages De La Concha, which is on the Avenue of the Americas between 56 and 57 Streets. “The customers love it. We partner with Rue 57, and they transform the store into a restaurant.”

The counter where one would normally buy a lighter was turned into a bar, manned by an exceptionally friendly sommelier from Rue who pointed me in the right direction, a 2005 southern Cote du Rhone that was drinking perfectly. Several members of the waitstaff walked the half block from Rue 57 to De La Concha, carrying plates of goodies: Kobe beef sliders, which were juicy and delicious; bruscetta with lots of olive oil, another winner; and a few pigs in blankets, which everyone seemed to enjoy. The main course featured a choice of three dishes, a roasted herbed chicken, potato encrusted salmon, or a hanger steak with frites. Naturally, I went with the steak.

I had never eaten at Rue 57 before (or, at “De La Rue”) and I was more than pleased with the food. It was a fine steak. What made it even better was the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo I was smoking during dinner, which is one of my favorite cigars. Capping it off was the presence of Jorge Padrón, who spoke to the crowd about his cigars and even raffled off a few killer boxes, including a box of Padrón Serie 1926 No. 9 (our No. 1 cigar of 2007), a few boxes of Padrón 80 Years (last year’s No. 2 cigar) and a handful of Padrón Family Reserves, which aren’t sold.

Everyone was happy as could be.

“I try to do between four and six dinners a year,” said Melendi, who plans on having Carlos Fuente Jr. and Litto Gomez for future smoky meals.

Cigars and steak in the heart of NewYork? Count me in anytime.

"David, I know both establishments and have frequented each in my trips there. I will follow the De La Concha e-mail blasts and will definitely make it a trip to be at De La Rue the next event. Thanks for the enticement. " —May 4, 2009 21:32 PM
"Dear David, I am writing to leave a comment not on your article but on the recent article on the latest Ramon Allones. Since I could not leave a comment on that article I would only like to point out that Phoenicia Trading is also the exclusive Habanos distributors in Cyprus. I do not know if Gregory Mottola meant Cyprus rather than cypress therefore i leave it up to you to prove me wrong :) " —April 28, 2009 23:48 PM
"David...Thank you so much for attending and I'm glad you enjoyed the event and was able to share in the De La Concha Experience along with Jorge Padron and all our guests that eveing. " —April 29, 2009 13:45 PM
"Jorge, good seeing you there as well. I agree that Ron and his staff are champions of going the distance to find us a place to enjoy our cigars. " —April 29, 2009 09:31 AM
"Neophytos, I don't want to tell you how many people looked that copy over before it shipped--including myself! How could we let that slip by? Of course, we meant Cyprus. Our apologies." —April 29, 2009 09:29 AM
"Dave, Good to see you there... it is tragic that legitimate professionals have to go to such extremes to serve their customers (with the anti-smoking hysteria and prohibitions)... but also heroic that Ron and his great tobacconists go to such extraordinary lengths to serve." —April 27, 2009 17:50 PM