Haute Dining: 10 Questions for Duo owners Sabina and Lorraine Belkin

The owners of Duo: Sabina (left) and Lorraine (right)

Glamorous sisters Sabina and Lorraine Belkin have opened an equally glamorous restaurant. Duo Restaurant and Lounge is set just north of Madison Park in an area that’s becoming a food lover’s destination. And with menus that light up, whimsical glassware, phenomenal food (some highlights include poached Maine lobster salad, honey tamari glazed sea bass, filet mignon carpaccio), luxurious decor (walls adorned with Swaroski crystal), impeccable service…Duo is one of NYC’s newest standout restaurants.

Haute Living: You just opened DUO a few months ago. How are things going?

Sabina & Lorraine Belkin: We are really excited. DUO has been a project we have been working on for a while and it’s so exciting to finally have it open to the public.  We created our ‘Signature Sippers,’ which consist of vodka and house made fruit puree in our own signature glasses that were made specifically for DUO; people seem to really love them. Also, we have the only illuminated menus in New York. They are fantastic.  They are backlit with mini LED lights and when people open them up there is a definite “wow” factor!

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?
SB & LB: It is so hard to decide on a favorite dish since all the dishes we created together based on our “favorite dishes” we have compiled from over the years. But if we had to choose:

Sabina – I love the Grilled Shrimp Watermelon Salad with feta, heirloom tomatoes, fresh mint and blood orange vinaigrette…..so light, flavorful and delicious.  Also, the Honey Tamari Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with wilted pea shoots, baby corn, seasonal vegetables and citrus lemongrass sauce….just perfectly cooked and very light with the right hint of flavor.

Lorraine – I love ‘DUO’ of Ahi Tuna.  It’s prepared two ways; tuna tartare with mango and wasabi avocado mousse and seared tuna with grilled pineapple and sweet pepper salsa. I am also a steak and potato’s girl and love the Prime Hanger Steak Au Poivre with Vidalia onion rings, roasted fingerling potatoes, wild forest mushrooms, and green peppercorn sauce.

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?

SB & LB: We understandably spend a lot of time at the restaurant so this is a hard one, but we love to indulge in sushi from Yama or Sushi of Gari.  It’s one dish that we don’t have at DUO, so when we aren’t eating at the restaurant we opt for sushi.

HL:  What’s your ideal meal?

Sabina – sushi, something light like grilled fish and vegetables

Lorraine – pizza, hamburger, grilled steak and salad

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?

SB & LB: Depends on our mood. Sometimes we like a fun spot like Philippe while sometimes we want something a bit fancier like Cafe Boulud. We’ve dined all over the world and love going out to eat, so going out for an unforgettable meal is what we love to do for special occasions.

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?

SB & LB: It’s so hard to pinpoint an exact neighborhood; we really love all of NYC and love that we can call it home.  We live downtown which is great, and we’ve really had a blast exploring the bustling area that DUO is in…NoMad (North of Madison Square Park), Flatiron, Gramercy, or Union Square.  Whatever you choose to call DUO’s neighborhood, we love it.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?

SB & LB: We both love to walk all over the city and explore.  Sometimes we will walk for hours throughout the city.  We also enjoy working out, both at the gym and in Central Park. We’re of course always running around the restaurant which is great because it keeps us moving, but a good work out is important to both of us so you can definitely find us working out on our days off.

HL: What’s your favorite vacation destination?

SB & LB: We love to travel all over the world.  We both agree that St. Tropez, St. Barths and Monaco are our top favorite places. We plan to travel to Italy next summer so we’ll have to see if it beats our currents favorites.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?

SB & LB: When we were younger our family ate dinner together every single day. At the time, we may not have been too fond of it because of course you want to be out with your friends etc., but when we look back on those meals together now we really cherish them. Spending that quality time with our parents, grandparents and brother made each meal special.  It was a time to reminisce about our day, hear what was going on in each other’s lives and do what, as a restaurant family, we love to do most, which is eat!

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?

Sabina – black truffle, milk chocolate, fresh tuna, watermelon, peanut butter

Lorraine – calamari, bread, dark chocolate, black truffle, burrata and heirloom tomatoes

Duo Restaurant & Lounge is located at 72 Madison Ave; 212-686-7272

Visit food + travel writer + Haute Dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels‘ blog, The Busy Hedonist, for more food stories.