New York’s high-end dining palaces don’t fail to wow the dedicated food lover and are worth a splurge, but less-expensive and just as adventurous spots beckon as well.
Chef Michael Anthony’s seasonal menu consists of elegant dishes with a rustic influence that showcase the restaurant’s relationships with local farms and purveyors.
From the amazing food trucks that dot midtown, offering some of the best food in the world, to the halls of five-star restaurants that offer rare delicacies and feats of culinary acrobatics at “robber-baron” prices, New York has something for everyone who loves food.
The jewels of the city and certainly some of the more popular fine-dining establishments have had their share of publicity, and deservedly so: Per Se, Le Bernardin, Daniel, Nobu, Jean Georges, and the Four Seasons are but a few of the most notable names. These all have wonderful food, comfortable and lush surroundings, impeccable service, and wine lists from heaven, but with prices that also look skyward. While there have been some new additions, the very highest echelon of restaurants has remained relatively unchanged since the last time New York hosted the APA annual meeting a decade ago. If you are on an expense account, some rich friend is hosting you, or you just won the lottery, by all means GO!
13 Barrow Street
42 E. 20 th Street
9 Pell Street and 24 W. 56th Street
72 W. 36th Street
39 Downing Street
28 Seventh Avenue South
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 Second Avenue at 13th Street
10 E. 60th Street
Here is an eclectic list of some less-well-known gems that should provide a good start if you want to be a bit more adventurous and are looking to explore the world of New York eating. If you don’t find something you like in the list below, don’t fret; New York has more than 4,200 restaurants from which to choose. I am sure you will find something you like.
Annisa: In the West Village. It’s small, spare, casual, and refined and focuses on the food (eclectic) and not the scene. Everything a restaurant should be. From the beginning of the meal to its end, it is about the food. Oh, but wait. I forgot. There’s that wine list. And then you notice: all of the wines are made by women! It is a consistent gem.
Gramercy Tavern: In this sublime American bistro, the more formal dining room is in the back, and the less formal is in the front bar area. It has a deep wine list. This restaurant has been around long enough to be considered an institution. It never fails to impress.
Joe’s Shanghai: The flagship restaurant in Chinatown and its outposts around town are all wonderful. Fast, pleasant service and an extensive menu are some of the allures of this basic, authentic, and exquisite Chinese restaurant. But the primary reason to dine here is for its famous soup dumplings. These amazing broth-filled treats, eaten with a spoon, are not to be missed.
Keens Steakhouse: This is my favorite steakhouse in New York. Many of the pickiest critics agree with me. It was the favorite of my father, his father, and his father as well. There is a lot of history here. Get a mutton chop at this century-old steakhouse that offers delicious food, perfect cocktails, and a killer ambiance. Those on a budget can head to the bar room. Make sure you ask for a tour of the place. You’ll see some unique historical artifacts, including the bloodied playbill Lincoln was holding when he was assassinated.
Mas (farmhouse) and Mas (grillade): The farmhouse is formal foodie dining in a perfectly romantic setting, and the cuisine is New American/French. It is perfectly thought-out and serene. Its smallish space will envelop and warm you. Mas grillade is the larger, more casual, and less-expensive venue. Almost every dish has been cooked over a wood fire.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar: Asian medley and completely fabulous. This lively, energetic eatery offers up an array of fun, easy-to-share, and delicious treats. The to-die-for noodles are a highlight of the restaurant’s inventive menu.
Rouge Tomate: This restaurant, located near the Plaza Hotel just off Fifth Avenue, has it all: an exquisite airy and light-filled room, innovative food, and dramatic presentation. The high prices suggest it is probably best managed with an expense account, but it is totally worth it. Like everything else here, its wine list is top notch—you can’t go wrong—and is overseen by an incredibly knowledgeable sommelier.
So enjoy these suggestions. In a future issue, I will offer up some more suggestions for the more budget-conscious attendee.
David McDowell, M.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and in private practice in New York.
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