Destination: New York
Abe & Arthur's
This swanky hot spot in the Meatpacking District checks off all the right boxes when it comes to showing visitors a New York scene or organizing a fun girls night out.
Best-known for being the LT in the uber-successful BLT outposts, Laurent Tourondel’s Upper East Side Arlington Club (in the old Payard space) will open in conjunction with Tao’s owners and feature a menu of steak and sushi.
Some mornings after a dark night of the soul, there is no more restorative act than having breakfast at Balthazar. Just walking into the bustle and flow of that big SoHo eating room is a mood-changer. The power of owner Keith McNally’s theatrical vision—great gilt-framed mirrors tilted to reflect the human swirl, tables of dark wood well-worn by life’s dramas (think La Bohème’s Café Momus)—makes this not so much an American version of a French brasserie as a glad and glittery place that’s seen it all. Or at least everything since 1997. It’s this obvious stagecraft that makes Balthazar doubly endearing.
And of course those vast bowls of creamy café au lait, the soft-boiled egg in its shell with crispy toast “soldiers” for dunking, and the breads (those croissants and brioches! those tartines of real baguettes) from the restaurant’s own exemplary bakery, next door: each gives one courage to face the day. But there’s more. Onion soup gratinée at 4 p.m., or at midnight, or for weekend brunch. Classics like choucroute and bouillabaisse, steak frites and duck shepherd’s pie, towering Parisian plateaus of shellfish. Here’s a place that can be what you need it to be, almost any time of day.
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone are at it again, reinventing the New York Italian restaurants in a nostalgic but innovative way. Carbone will offer the old-school white tablecloth Italian restaurants of decades long past
When the owners’ apartment-based supper club started attracting too many people, they took the concept to the streets; Cómodo (which means “comfortable” in Spanish) opened its doors on a quiet stretch in SoHo in July. Chef Donnelly stays true to his Central and South American influences serving a pan-Latin cuisine—the lamb sliders on Brazilian pão de queijo cheesy bread have garnered a cult following. A rustic and relaxed dining room looks into the open kitchen and its picture windows swing out over the sidewalk, drawing in neighbors and passersby. Every night at Cómodo feels like being at your coolest friend’s dinner party; it’s the epitome of comfort.
Read a review of this hot spot on the Bowery: a hip fusion restaurant masterminded by Avroko, the city’s most cutting-edge design firm and chef Brad Farmerie.
Chef Hooni Kim’s restaurant Danjin, the first (and only) Korean restaurant in the U.S. to be awarded a Michelin star, is primed to open Hanjan (Korean for “cup” or “glass”) this Fall. Chef Kim plans to feature casual Korean fare traditionally found in his native country’s street markets.
Don’t be fooled… This fifties-style mom-and-pop joint fronting as a grocery store is actually a hip eatery, little sister to West Village hotspot Joseph Leonard. If you make it through the 45-minute wait and snag one of a few coveted tables, you will be pleasantly surprised by the scrumptious seasonal fare. The menu changes weekly.
The masterminds behind dell’anima, L’Artusi and Anfora brought their tasty Italian cuisine to the East Village. Husband-and-wife team Gabe and Katherine Thompson provide the bites (she the sweet, he the savory) and wunderkind Joe Campanale mixes the perfect cocktail. Not to be missed: the honey rosemary gelato with apple compote cookies.
The fact that uber-cool U.K. transplant Le Caprice opened at the Pierre is proof that the venerable Upper East Side hotel is in midst of an image change, albeit a very tasteful one. The long dining room is all Art Deco, with a stark black-and-white color scheme, marble floors and silver-trimmed dark walls accented with chrome-clad lights. Chef Michael Hartnell comes from London’s Ivy (which is run by the same owners as the Caprice) and his menu showcases British classics from breakfast (eggs with pork sausage and black pudding) and lunch (fish-and-chips with mashed peas) to dinner (Dover sole). The bar, which specializes in such old-fashioned favorites as sidecars and mint juleps, is already a favorite hang-out for its cozy old-world ambience (with good people-watching, naturally).
Best-known for being the LT in the uber-successful BLT outposts, Laurent Tourondel is branching off on his own with the theater district–adjacent haute burger joint LT Burger.
Hot spot is often code for good scene, bad food, worse service. At Minetta, the servers are friendly, the atmosphere always fun and the food actually worth the wait, particularly if you splurge a week’s calorie count on the artery-busting bone marrow.
This new dinner/drinks spot on Houston in Soho is owned by Serge Becker of La Esquina and Cafe Select. Instead of Mexican or French (respectively), this time Becker has gone tropical and put together a casual, diner-style restaurant and lounge with red leather booths, reggae music, red stripe bottles and delicious cod fritters (skip the ceviche). They don’t have a liquor license so don’t expect rum punches; instead they offer beer or sake and soju-based cocktails. Dancing is optional, but encouraged.
From Gabe Stulman, the restaurateur behind such West Village gems as Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s comes this cozy Minetta Lane eatery, which is already garnering praise for its refined comfort food. Many dishes are for two, making this a great date spot when the weather starts to turn.
Surprisingly delicious global fusion fare. Menu highlights include the lentil salad appetizer and the lamb entree. Make sure to order two plates if you arrive hungry as portions are small. Request a table in the main bar room where the atmosphere is buzzing; if you get seated in the small wine cellar room with only two tables, your evening becomes heavily dependent on the demeanor of your neighbors. During summer months, call in advance for a table on the patio.
Chef Michael White (of Marea and Ai Fiori fame) is in the works to open Ristorante Morini, which will serve classic Italian fare in the old Centolire space on Madison Avenue between 85th and 86th Streets.
Inspired by a Milanese restaurant, Sant Ambroeus has become the new hangout for the well-heeled intelligentsia and global tastemakers, who drop by in the mornings for a cappuccino and cornetti and in the evenings for the risotto ai carciofi. The staid but elegant dining room encapsulates the relaxed refinement of prewar Milan, but be prepared: today the bill for imitating the Ambrosiani is high.
Walking through the doors of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, a 2-story cathedral-like restaurant in NYC’s Meatpacking District, is a little like entering an ultra-hot club: the first few minutes can be a bit jarring. It’s crowded; the lighting is dim and the long, hanging silk lanterns and intricately carved teak statues, which designer Jacques Garcia had shipped over from Asia, make for a dramatic, some have even said borderline-bizarre, backdrop. Throw in a chic crowd (that includes the attractive staff) and the hype is, understandably, as high as the restaurant’s elevated ceilings.
The scene, though, does not outshine the Thai/Malaysian/Vietnamese street food that’s been “reinterpreted” by Vongerichten and his business partner Chef Gray Kunz (of Café Gray and Grayz), the latter of whom grew up in Southeast Asia. Dishes such as the shaved tuna with tapioca balls and coconut sauce, the black-pepper shrimp with pineapple and the succulent cod with Malaysian chilli sauce are surprising but altogether wonderful. All come out piping hot too as the waiters deliver as soon as the chef is done (which leads to a few space issues on the table) and are served family-style with the plates placed in the center of the table. And despite Spice Market’s expansive space and the hustle and bustle when you first walk in, there are many cozy little tables and intimate nooks for the scene-phobes. While I was there the crowd was quite eclectic in a very New York way: As I sat down, an impossibly tall woman shimmered by in a long, flowing gown; to my left dined an elderly couple while on the right a grad-school type sat alone, reading a tattered paperback and munching on mushroom egg rolls.
First timers might want to get the tasting menu, which features all the highlights including the signature Thai Jewels dessert—sweet water chestnuts and tapioca dumplings served with coconut meat and papaya over a coconut sorbet—and which, at $59, is a bargain for a JGV venture. If you make a Saturday night reservations (even one for 9 p.m.) chances are there will be at least a twenty minute wait for your table, but having a drink at the bar (there’s a larger one downstairs too), where the scenery and people-watching is fantastic, is no tall order.
Chef Michael White (of Marea and Ai Fiori fame) is in the works to open The Butterfly, which will have a supper club–like feel, serving the Wisconsin-native chef’s favorites like artichoke dip.
The upstairs dining area of this hot spot is modeled after an old-fashioned supper club. The food is a throwback–think pork shanks and rack of lamb–and is tasty, but patrons come for the atmosphere and the nightly Jazz performances. An ideal late-night spot, the restaurant doesn’t normally fill up until after 10:30pm and there is a downstairs club where you might spot such celebs as Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Lobster Club
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone are at it again, reinventing the New York Italian restaurants in a nostalgic but innovative way. Down the street from Carbone The Lobster Club pays homage to that illustrious New York lunchtime specialty: the sandwich.
Culinary celebrity duo Harold Dieterle (of Top Chef fame) and Alicia Nosenzo add this carnivorous haven to their resume that includes Perilla and Kin Shop. Expect rich and delicious dishes with influences from Italy and Germany. Originally slated for a Brooklyn location, the restaurant is planned to open this Fall in the old Paris Commune space.
The Standard Grill
The Standard Hotel’s restaurant and bar has quickly become a downtown institution. The classic black and white bar is packed with beautiful and fabulous of all ages, nearly every night; heels and suits tipping back Prosecco and gin cocktails. Casual but elegant red leather banquets line the perimeter of the dining room, where huddles of giddy revelers tip drinks, share oysters and slice steak. The classic steakhouse menu delivers consistent satisfaction. Warm weather expands the seating area to the sidewalk, and the adjacent Standard Beer Garden under the shade of the Highline is a loud raucous. Great for a business dinner or night out with friends. Reservations recommended, serves late-night.
The rooftop bar of this new Williamsburg hotel boasts one of the most beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. Hipsters from both sides of the East River have been flocking to the outdoor terrace since its opening in May. After a cocktail like the Salty Dog (vodka, grapefruit juice and salt), those in the know head down to Reynards, which features a menu full of foodie favorites like radishes with toast and bone marrow butter.
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