Gourmet Surprises on Third Avenue, Part One: PONTY

The swath of Third Avenue between 23rd and 14th is a haven of Irish bars, fast food joints, and nail salons. I’m not complaining, yet do welcome a respite from this. Thankfully, there are a few gems nestled in you could easily overlook. Allow me to point them out, one at a time.
There is a little joint named Ponty, which happens to have a pair of first-class chefs. Cisse Elhadji and cousin Chekh Cisse have worked at top restaurants around the city, incuding Daniel, CafĂ© Boulud, Vong and Mercer Kitchen. You might recognize “Cisse” from his dramatic bout on Chopped! (and the ensuing commmercials for the show) “When Chefs Collide,” Season 3. The cousins saved up their pennies to create this cozy little neighborhood nook—and are as nice as can be. Whether you go for breakfast and savor one of the omellettes (like I had today, with the freshest goat cheese and spinach, paired with tiny cubes of potatoes and sweet crunchy bits of red and green peppers) or the Lobster Eggs Benedict (part of the unbeatable $15 Brunch special, which includes cocktail, and super-tasty lobster) you cannot go wrong. Evenings take on a different vibe, with the flavors of Senegal fused with modern takes on sophisticated French and Mediterranean cuisine. On Friday and Saturday nights the kitchen is open til 2 am. Did I mention the 2 for 1 martinis? Stop in and try one of their 9 potent offerings: French, Apple, Bissap, Lychee, Cosmopolitan, Chocolate, Passion Fruit, Raspberry, and the Ponty Fresh Ginger. At two for $12 it’s a deal that’s hard to beat. See you there! (third between 18/19)
Stay tuned for more neighborhood reports...

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