OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
The New Year means it’s time to consider new culinary horizons. Whether you’re seeking a cozy bistro, a hip gastropub or an outrageous Vegas-style restaurant, here are new powerhouses to complement your old standbys. —Heather Corcoran and Cotton Delo
If you’re fed up with lunch meetings at Michael’s ...
32 W. 52nd St., 212-582-6900
The Zen-like state induced by the color palette of delicate pinks and browns and the cherry blossom artwork at Michael Psilakis’ latest venture might make it easier to broker a deal, but it’s the food that most impresses at Anthos. Diners can choose from a variety of meze appetizer platters and entrees featuring staples of Greek cooking, like the lamb burger with feta and shellfish yiouvetsi stew with saffron, orzo and fennel. For dessert, there’s pistachio baklava and honey custard.
If you can’t stand The Spotted Pig’s pomposity...
235 E. 4th St., 212-254-2900
This Alphabet City gastropub serves pan-European fare in a haute rustic setting embellished with brick walls and dish racks. The concise one-page dinner menu includes entrees like paella, roasted loup de mer, chicken and dumplings and gnocchi. Only beer and wine are served, and dandies who delight in the possibility of sampling as many options as possible can order a selection of five handcrafted, artisanal beers – mostly from Belgium – for $10. It’s a palatable alternative to the indignity of waiting for hours at The Spotted Pig – the hyped West Village gastropub with a haughty no-reservation policy – while the likes of Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow waltz right in.
If you’re tired of sparrow-like portions at Per Se...
316 W. 49th St., 212-245-0505
Beloved by Midtown suits and out-of-towners, this Brazilian steakhouse caters to gluttons. The $55 price of admission entitles you to unlimited cuts of skewered meats. Diners indicate their readiness to be served by flipping a cardboard chip to its green side. Marathon eaters know not to line their stomachs with carbohydrates or partake too heavily of the buffet fixings – including sushi – or the beans and rice, mashed potatoes and fried polenta served at every table. To show proper regard for the Brazilian barbecue experience, food should be washed down with plenty of caipirinha – the ubiquitous cocktail made with muddled lime, sugar and cachaca.
If you’re looking for a classier joint than Señor Swanky’s...
179 Ave. B, 212-529-6490;
100 Seventh Ave., 212-647-0830
The consensus among many diners is that it’s hard to get Mexican comfort-food staples – guacamole, nachos and margaritas – completely wrong. But Mercadito’s two cozy locations specialize in more complex fare, including various ceviches – made with shrimp, octopus and mahi-mahi – and tacos, and the emphasis is on accentuating flavorful ingredients rather than sending diners home waddling with too much in their bellies. That said, the margaritas are a definite reason to visit – including a concoction with orange, lime, grapefruit and chile habanero.
If you’re bored with Le Bernardin as the standby for every special occasion...
65 E. 55th St., 212-307-7311
Ranked in the upper echelons of city restaurants, Aquavit features a well-appointed Scandinavian modernist interior and mouthwatering seafood, like house-made gravlax, lobster rolls, chili-dusted roasted halibut and brioche-crusted salmon. The Swedish-international fusion menu mirrors the journey of Aquavit’s star chef Marcus Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and schooled in kitchens around the world. Its location makes it popular among theater-goers, but its well-provisioned lunch-time smorgasbord also makes it a big draw for the weekend brunch crowd.
If you’re sick of Iron Chef Mario Batali’s stranglehold on Manhattan dining...
88 10th Ave., 212-989-8883
Sure, Babbo and Del Posto are perennial favorites, but another “Iron Chef” is back in town. Nobo alum Masaharu Morimoto has brought his famed Philadelphia restaurant Morimoto to the Chelsea Market and is holding court as New York’s reigning Iron Chef. The $120 omakase chef’s choice tasting menu is a crash course in Morimoto’s classic take on Japanese cuisine, and the cavernous dining room and communal table has made it a popular choice for fashionable events. Be sure to wash down your toro with the chef’s own line of Oregon-brewed beers.
If the room service at The Four Seasons has grown stale...
335 Bowery, 212-505-9100
Hotel dining’s newest hotspot is Gemma, the celebrity-studded space on the ground floor of Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson’s posh, new Bowery Hotel. Gemma’s see-and-be-scene vibe is a stark contrast to its rustic Italian menu, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of the Olsen twins from stopping by for a nosh. Adventurous gourmets may find the menu a bit boring, but old-world favorites like grilled salmon and gnocchi, plus prime people-watching, keep the chic crowds coming back. Only hotel guests can make reservations, so be sure to book a room or be prepared to wait at the bar.
If you don’t feel like trekking to
Brooklyn for Peter Luger...
Primehouse New York
381 Park Ave. S., 212-824-2600
The lack of wood paneling at Primehouse New York may arouse suspicions, but rest assured, Steve Hanson’s latest offering is pure steakhouse. The beef here is sired in Kentucky by a Black Angus stud named Prime and special “reserve cuts” are dry aged in the on-site Himalayan salt room — an additional 25 days in the salt room adds $10 to the price of the 20-ounce rib eye. Breaking with steakhouse tradition, the menu is surprisingly varied — including 10 cuts of beef, plus pork, veal, chicken, lamb and four fish dishes – and the space is as sexy and modern as it is massive. It’s proof that you don’t need to cross the Williamsburg Bridge for a juicy steak.
If you’ve had one too many pre-theater dinners at Carmine’s...
777 Seventh Ave., 212-582-1310
The Theater District has a new star attraction with Insieme’s fresh take on Italian cuisine – a restaurant so serene you’ll forget you’re in Times Square. The name translates to together, and Insieme’s menu lives up to the billing with classic options next to contemporary offerings. Chef Marco Canora’s small portions, uncomplicated dishes and greenmarket-fresh ingredients are reminiscent of his previous effort, Hearth, though this latest space favors the pared down over the homey. Start your meal with the Fritto Misto Alla Lucchese, a hearty mix of sweetbreads, calf liver and veal cutlet and tongue, and end things with a delicate dessert.
If you miss the over-the-top glory of Le Cirque 2000...
455 Madison Ave., 212-303-7788
Now that Le Cirque is firmly ensconced in more subdued digs on Beacon Court, revel in its former outsized glory at Gilt. The Villard Mansion is now home to chef Christopher Lee, who lords over the classic Midtown dining room, offering farm-fresh, seasonal American cuisine. Start your meal with a drink at the bar, where futuristic décor sets the mood for a decadent meal in the wood-paneled dining room. Fans of the rich-kid drama “Gossip Girl” may want to stop by – the Palace Hotel is the home of the villainous Chuck Bass.
Photos: Intro Box-Morimoto, Credit David Joseph; Article Body (From top to bottom) - Anthos; Mercadito; Gemma, Credit Gregory Goode; Gilt.