Fourth in the series! Must admit that NoHo is our regular hangout, eating at Gato and Vic’s on a regular basis, as well as enjoying the Public Theater as often as we can.
- ATLA – 372 Lafayette Street, 646-837-6464 – Chef Enrique Olvera’s second NYC restaurant (Cosme is his first, more elaborate restaurant) serving all day (until 2AM). Olvera proved himself at Cosme, with some really creative Mexican cuisine, and now he is having fun at Alta. From the tortilla chips, thick and crunchy with a sprinkling of toasted flaxseeds, to the salads of quinoa with cucumbers and pico de gallo or radishes surround by a yummy avocado dip. The chunky guacamole is mixed with tarragon, mint and basil and arrives under the biggest chile-dusted corn chip you have ever seen.
- Aqua Grill – 210 Spring St., 1212-274-0505 – this casual seafood restaurant has been around for 20 years and once you taste the food you will know why. The bar is packed with regulars and bartenders have been there for ages, treating you like one of the family. Great fresh seafood, cooked in creative ways, with oysters one of the highlights. They fly in 25+ varieties of oysters every day – the freshest in the city. And the specials are not to be missed (but do try the Cod in Truffle Cream and the Grilled Salmon with Falafel Crust and Lemon Coriander Vinaigrette on the main menu). Bartenders are the some of the best in town – tell Stacy or Ted hello for us. (aquagrill.com)
- Balthazar – 80 Spring Street, 212-965-1414 – Keith McNally’s SoHo Brasserie makes you feel like you have been whisked away to Paris for the evening. After over a decade it is still one of the downtown places to go for upscale french bistro cooking. Little secret, it is a high-powered weekday breakfast scene for people in the know.
- Blue Ribbon Brasserie – 97 Sullivan Street, 212-274-0404 – For New Yorkers who never sleep, you don’t have to eat in a late-night low-brow dinner as this place is open until 4 AM with great food and service. Chef / owners Bruce and Eric Bromberg, were trained in France and opened Blue Ribbon Brasserie 20 years ago. They now have many others including Blue Ribbon Sushi down the street that you should also try.
- Bohemian – 57 Great Jones St. – “Exclusive” (referral-only) Japanese restaurant / bar hidden behind a butcher shop (butcher shop specializes & supplies them with Kobe beef – so don’t miss the beef tartar or one of the Kobe dishes). You need to email them requesting the phone number with a compelling “foodie” reason (www.playearth.jp). The space is small and dining room seats only 25, including a couple of couches and a six-seat bar (open to 2 AM, so after dinner it takes on a lounge vibe with jazz and Japanese music). The Chef, Kiyo Shinoki, serves a mix of American, French, and Japanese small plates. My favorites: beef tartare, poke, sashimi, branzino, and the smoked tuna with micro greens!
- Bond Street – 6 Bond St., 212-777-2500 – creative sushi & Japanses dishes in a trendy atmosphere. Was “the” hot spot 8-10 years ago but hasn’t lost any of its appeal. Food is fresh and innovative, don’t miss Big Eye Tuna Tarts (add the black truffles), the Red Snapper Tacos, or the special Sushi/Sashimi Omakase. (http://bondstrestaurant.com)
- Estela – 47 Houston St., 1212-219-7693 – you will probably walk right by this bar / restaurant on Houston without knowing it is there, but it is a hidden gem you should seek out. Mediterranean small dishes (with a few entree size ones) whose flavors continue to open up and get better with each mouthful. Great bar and cocktail menu also. (estelanyc.com)
- *Gato – 324 Lafayette St., 1212-334-6400– Bobby Flay’s latest restaurant, where he is cooking a few days a week, has become one of our regular hangouts. Food is creative and very flavorful, service is great from the moment you walk in (welcoming front desk, sommeliers , managers – Becky makes you feel instantly at home, and GREAT bartenders), wine list creative , and atmosphere comfortable and inviting. For small plates, order the three small tastes from the top of the menu, the scrambled eggs, the garlic shrimp and the octopus. For your second course try all the vegetable sides, the vegetarian paella, the rabbit, and they have the best pork chop in town. Say hello to Megan, Rosalie, and Steven at the bar for me and make sure my favorite sommelier, Simon, picks out your wines (and if your thing is eating at a table, request Steven or Steven)! (http://gatonyc.com)
- Il Buco – 47 Bond St., 1212-533-1932 – Been around for over 25 years and has turned out many wonderful chefs who are now on their own. Very cozy, with the look of an Italian farmhouse. Mediterranean and Italian small plates with daily specials. Nice, small bar. (ilbuco.com)
- *Le Coucou – 138 Lafayette Street (Howard Street), 212-271-4252 – OK the hottest new chef in NYC, Daniel Rose, (Chicago native whose fame is from Spring and La Bourse et La Vie in Paris) and the hardest to get reservations in the city. I was lucky enough to have a dear friend who is one of their bartenders, and she was able to get us a much coveted reservation. And I now know first hand what the raves are based on…it was perfect in every way. First the decor, it is one of the loveliest restaurants I have eaten in, next the service – excellent, and you couldn’t ask for a better wine list. And then the food…I don’t know what to say but WOW! Do not miss (here’s the list): Warmed oysters, Fried veal head (yes I am serious, it was one of the best dishes), sweetbreads, Crepinette (chicken, foie gras, roasted plum), Pike quenelle with lobster sauce, Rabbit (all of the rabbit), Lamb loin, and all the rest of the main courses. Cannot wait to go back!
- The Musket Room – 265 Elizabeth St., 1212-219-0764 – A taste of New Zealand, and a special favorite, which earned a Michelin Star within only 4 months of opening. Service is incredibly hospitable, the mixologist at the bar makes some mean cocktails, and the decor is farmhouse-chic. Chef Matt Lambert’s specialty is modern New Zealand cuisine, and he crafts dishes that are seasonal, delicious, and sometimes wildly creative. A rum-cured torchon of foie gras is dense yet melting upon contact, accompanied by sweet dates, tart green apple gel, and buttery brioche. And the quail appetizer with a delicious bread sauce shouldn’t be missed (below). For dessert you must order the slim chocolate torte, so smooth and sinfully rich, that my choolateholic dining companion persuaded me to get a second order (didn’t take too much persuading). (themusketroom.com)
- Prune – 54 E 1st Street (near 1st Avenue) 212-677-6221 – Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s 17-year-old tiny restaurant where she still cooks in the kitchen. The food is delicious and ambitious, and there’s a no-nonsense vibe that reflects Hamilton’s sense of confidence. Brunch draws a heavy tourist group but at night it is filled with locals who understand her interesting specialties! Love the grilled pigeon with warm-parsley dressing and the kerchief pasta with French ham, a poached egg, and toasted pine nuts. Start with the flaming pistachios, brussels sprouts and cauliflower in anchovy sauce, and radishes with sweet butter.
- Raoul’s – 180 Prince Street, 212-966-3518 – established in SoHo in the 70’s, it still is as popular as ever. If you can’t swing a trip to Paris this year, this may be your second best destination. Order the steak au poivre and duck-fat fries with a great bottle of Burgundy and you are transported.
- Sadelle’s – 463 West Broadway (West Houston & Prince), 212-245,3000 – one of the staff strolls through the dining room announcing “hot bagels”,” carrying them out 10 – 15 at a time on a wooden baton. As he approaches your table, the baton lowers and you get to remove one of these great specimens. You bite, and that moment of bliss passes over you. Nowhere else can you get heaping platters of lox with unlimited bagels served red hot! Perfect.
- Vic’s – 31 Great Jones St.,212-253-5700 – Met Chef Hillary Sterling at a “Outstanding in the Field” dinner (these dinners are amazing and if you aren’t aware of them, google it and book one in your city) in Amagansett as she was the guest chef for the evening. Instantly loved her and her cooking…man, was her food great, and cooking a perfect dinner for 200+ is not easy. She invited us to her restaurant in the City and we were there the following week, and every week since! The restaurant is lovely, lively and best of all, Hillary is cooking in the kitchen…turning out delicious, interesting dishes all night. The bartenders are great, especially Maggie, who will make you feel like a regular your first visit. A must for anyone who loves great food, interesting wines, and a fun evening.
- Wildair – 142 Orchard St – Wine bar with elaborate snacks from Chef’s Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske. An ever-evolving menu serving interesting tweaks to classic dishes, like spicy tuna spread across vast slices of bread topped with a green frizzle (turned out to be scallions) – a giant Japanese bruschetta! Try the swordfish with cranberry beans and romesco, breaded pork Milanese with egg-laden gribiche sauce, scallop tartare with grapefruit sitting in a deep-green pool of cucumber-jalapeno-kale sauce, pork rilettes, and hazelnut tart. With an unusual wine list including mostly organic and natural bottles.