By Claudie Benjamin
Brunch, that very American creation, is truly proving itself a classic at The Consulate. The partners who own the two-year-old restaurant at the northeast corner of 85th Street clearly have what it takes. There are lines and many regulars. Brunch items with French and Italian origins like whole grilled artichoke with lemon aioli, tiramisu and creme brûlée are among many that were unfamiliar in NY forty years ago years ago. Today they are prepared and served with panache at The Consulate.
The founders have created a spacious environment where everything from the restaurant’s name to its menu suggests foreign travel to unspecified destinations. Perhaps a hint of Paris, a weekend in Budapest, a journey to the Maldives, or to the Caribbean… The eatery pre-dates Covid, and now the idea of getting away to a distant location continues to be a challenge. And, The Consulate provides just the right mood and touch of foreign flavor for the scores of Upper West Siders who arrive not only for brunch, but for a menu of changing items prepared by Chef Alan Vargas. Pre-Covid, a special dish was presented from a different country every week. Specialties from Greece, Korea and the Balkans were served. The website suggests, “Your passport to a unique dining experiencce…take your taste buds on an international trip”. The hope is that this feature will return. In the meantime, The Consulate’s signature succulent roast chicken and mouth watering Tomahawk grilled steak are among the most popular dishes.
The restaurant’s four partners are an international group of immigrants. Kiril Mihajlov and his identical brother Metodija Mihajlov, are natives of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Metodija arrived in NYC in 2011. Immersed in the in industry for eight-plus years, he opened notable NYC establishments including Olio e Piu, Dominique’s Bistro, Whynot Coffee and Boucherie.
The two other partners are from Serbia. Igor Drca, from the city of Subotica. A certified sommelier, he has worked at the 3-Star Le Bernardin restaurant. Miljan Komljenic, from Majdanpek, has been rated highly in several World Cocktail Championships.
Before joining his brother in New York City in 2016. Kiril used to run interior and kitchen designing company and at the age of 45 was ready to launch into a new career. The brothers met their future business partners in NYC. After a year the group settled on the UWS location. Kiril says his wife, Larisa Mihajlova, an award winning designer in Macedonia, designed the restaurant’s inviting interior. Kiril says the name of the restaurant was inspired by our experience as immigrants. “When my brother first came to America the Consulate of the Republic of Macedonia helped him a lot. So we wanted to create a place where people would be welcome to feel comfortable, make new friends, exchange experiences and most importantly feel at home having a nice experience with quality versatile food and outstanding service.” The quirky way the Upper West Side location was initially discovered was key to the start of The Consulate. Metodija was riding his motorcycle up Columbus Avenue when he saw a woman fall on the sidewalk. He went to see if he could assist and noticed a “for lease” sign posted in the store front of 519 Columbus Avenue.
Kiril says running a restaurant involves never ending challenges, but having a plan and following the rule sis his guiding principle. Although he admits his English isn’t perfect, he finds he is an Upper West Sider at heart. Once the service of alcohol is expanded, a boost to business is expanded. The partners invested heavily in a comfortable, well appointed temporary shelter, “it’s lighted, heated and with music”. All this helps explain why locals keep coming, joyfully even for a cozy environment, a satisfying meal and the suggestion that there are places to see and experience…if not today, in the months ahead.