Back in December we announced we were giving away a granddaddy of a prize: 2 tickets to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, including airfare from New York, a two night hotel stay, and passes to two grand tastings, two dinners, and an event. All we asked of you: tell us the best New York dining or drinking secret that you swore you'd never tell anyone. We received a number of Chowhoundy "secrets" (tacos out of a garbage bag, duck buns in Flushing, zzzz) and some truly worthy tips, but due to the breadth of the list of the following secrets and the timeliness of the Cipriani downfall, we've chosen them for the grand prize. Now that we've alerted the winner and all of the travel details have been nailed down, it's sharing time:
"1) Tip a twenty (per two people in party) to sit down in 5 mins - no huge shocker I know
2) Tip the bartender Cipriani $50 (before you drink) per two people while at the bar and pay for nothing, no matter what you drink, it pays off huge...$ is good for before and after dinner drinks
3) When the penguin sits you down tell them you want a "Pink Star Card" this is huge VIP service indicator for the waiter and kitchen staff. When on this secret VIP service you get the best lettuce in your salads, the best cut of steaks and the freshest lobsters. I know for you guys its no shock but yes VIP's get much much better food than the common man.
4) Ask the waiter to have Mana the appetizer chef to whip you up crab meat cocktail oreganata. Its not on the menu and is pure heaven on a plate.
5) And to me the best of all if Steve the owner's son (Mike) is not there the penguins for the right tip will let you smoke a cigar and have a after dinner drink in basement in a empty private room.
6) BIG VIP's get invited for free drinks, food and cigars and watch all the F1 races in the basement while the place is closed which most of the time begins at 1-2am."
And his second secret:
"This is one I have shared with very few people...Want a impossible Babbo, Le Bernardin or a Waverly Inn resy last min (or any rest)? Easy and free... Go to the Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street. Pick up a house phone ask to be connected to restaurant of choice. When restaurant picks up tell them you are calling from the Four Seasons Hotel for Mr "YOURSELF" and need a reservation for 2 or 4 or whatever. Tell the host at the restaurant that dinner will be quick for you have a art gallery show to attend which you can look up on http://www.artinfo.com. Has worked every time!"· Eater Giveaway EXTRAVAGANZA: Trip for 2 to the South Beach Wine & Food Fest [~E~]