Haute Eating: 10 Questions for The Oak Room’s Chef Eric Hara

Synonymous with glitz and glamour since its doors first opened over 100 years ago at the edge of Central Park, the luxurious Plaza Hotel is still an icon. The Plaza’s dining options are varied, from the concourse-level food hall (a Todd English production) to the fabled Palm Court. But it’s The Oak Room that remains the grand star. Originally a bar only for men, it reopened in 1934 as a restaurant, and it’s been a legend ever since. Its Old World atmosphere, with wood-paneled walls and barrel-vaulted ceilings, is a glorious setting for Executive Chef Eric Hara’s modern interpretation of American cuisine. Some of his standouts include sashimi of hamachi, foie gras “PB&J,” the lobster and sweet corn bisque with chanterelles, and the porcini-crusted strip loin. Dining at the Oak Room is definitely a special occasion experience, but that could simply mean ducking in for dinner after a stroll through Central Park.—Tracey Ceurvels

(This Sunday The Oak Bar is hosting a Mad Men Finale Cocktail Party. Click here for the details.)

Haute Living: What’s new at The Oak Room?
Eric Hara: A great dish “Beef2.” It’s porcini crusted striploin and a tongue and cheek terrine.

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?
EH: The PB&J Foie Gras and my Corn and Lobster Bisque. The Quail with black bean sauce is also great.

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?
EH: Aureole, Florencia 13, and Great Noodle Town.

HL: What’s your ideal meal?
EH: Good energy, good people, and great food.

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
EH: I like to go to Aureole or River Café.

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
EH: I love the energy on the Lower East Side.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
EH: I love to play with my three year old son.

HL: Your favorite vacation destination?
EH: My ideal vacation is anywhere tropical, Punta Cana or Hawaii.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
EH: When I first came to NYC, I had the pleasure of being invited by Jean-Jacques Rachou to La Côte Basque before it closed, and the classic style just made me smile.

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
EH: Sea Urchin, Shark Fin, Cauliflower, Fennel Seed, and Butter.

The Oak Room is located in the Plaza Hotel; 10 Central Park South; (212) 758-7777

To contact Tracey Ceurvels, visit her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her.