Fifty Best New York Restaurants
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  Cuisine: Nouveau  
  Location: Greenwich Village  


What began as a grand café in 1984, Gotham has become a trusted American standard. Through gracious service and a tasty menu, co-owner/chef Alfred Portale has achieved enduring success in this city's ever-changing restaurant scene by pursuing perfection in the kitchen.

In the lofty dining room, informal but informed service pervades( the room). Portale's dinner menu is divided into three courses, with a melange of flavors skillfully combined in finely sculpted dishes rich in taste and look (appearance). Depending on the season, there are a range of favorites including (Portale's) lush risotto with sweet turnips and duck confit, the seared yellowfin propped against pappardelle rolled around caponata, miso-marinated black cod, and the wonderful ricotta cheesecake dotted with huckleberries. Given the range of menu selections, not every dish needs intricacy to be flavorful.

12 East 12th Street      212-620-4020

Gotham Bar and Grill


  Cuisine: French  
  Location: Columbus Circle  

JEAN GEORGES          French Moderne

For the New York in-crowd, legendary French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's mastery of fine French cuisine is unmatched.

Of course with such a reputation in mind, Chef Mark Lapico and his team prepare their fare to exacting standards. And the result is perfection. Whether it's the Sea Scallops (with sweet caramelized cauliflower) or the Lobster (either in a Gruyere-green chili sauce or a lemongrass-fenugreek broth), the Seafood has never been more flavorful. Classic main dishes are enlivened with a fusion touch as in the Tuna Wasabi Wonton or Asian-pear-and-candied-tamarind-enhanced Squab. Freshness is a bylaw here, and well expressed in the remarkably tasty vegetables. The just-picked Morels over perfectly tender Asparagus combined with the Napa Salad, can be meal in itself. Dessert is an experience in exquisite decadence, with a rustic Apple-and-Pear Streusel Tart as the clear favorite.

From the source to plate display, this is fine dining to be sure, so it's hard to quibble with the high price. But there are prix fixe options with choices from a divine three-course ($98), or the superb seven-course ($148) menu. The extraordinary wine list is an oenophile’s dream featuring bottles that can run into the thousands, but also includes selections under $100 from most regions. The parting gift of boxed chocolates offers a simple reminder of an elegant and graceful dining event.

1 Central Park West      212-299-3900



  Cuisine: Japanese  
  Location: TriBeCa  

MEGU                   Japanese

Megu offers great food, presented beautifully with an Asian grace. The sumptuous menu is divided into several categories (Crown Jewels, Gems From Japan), with most everything presented for sharing. The shared plates, from yuzu-doused micro-greens and flower petals to bonito-rich edamame puree, or the raw fish--such as uni sushi or toro tartare--is as fresh as can be. Cooked plates such as the Kobe beef, the soy-buttered scallops in sweet brine and Chawanmushi custard, or the quivering in eel-soy broth with black truffles and foie gras, are over the top.

The modern, largely organic, high-dollar Japanese menu deserves its showy setting. Meticulously designed in a mix of modern and antique motifs, the original Megu (there's a second midtown location) has porcelain rice-bowl columns cris-crossing an auditorium-sized dining area, with a gigantic temple bell suspended over a bottom-lit ice carving of Buddha. Decked out in haute Japonica, servers move softly between deep leather booths and the long sushi bar.

Though there's a good wine list ($40-$60 Reislings, Gruner Veltliners and Gewurtztraminers), the exhaustive sake and sochu list is sure to please. The 75-seat upstairs bar, wallpapered with bolts of antique kimono fabrics is a serene place to try all those sakes before or after dinner.

62 Thomas Street      212-964-7777



  Cuisine: Greek, Seafood  
  Location: Midtown  


Greek cuisine offers a distinct and special experience for those with tastes that lean toward salt and sea. Though often overshadowed by the mainstays of Italian or French haute cuisine or such ethnic favorites as Chinese or Japanese, nobody makes more light, succulent seafood dishes than a Greek chef. And when it comes to discovering such cuisine in Manhattan, Milos is the perfect choice.

In a large airy space with tons of light and high curved ceilings, Milos offers the full range of classic Hellenic dishes with appetizers from the Milos Special-- thinly sliced, fried zucchini enhanced with a tangy dip of eggplant and fried saganaki cheese, to the main course of fresh fish, which varies daily.

Depending on the season, the weather, and the luck of the fishermen, Milos offers their fish either charcoal grilled or cooked in sea salt, with olive oil and lemon sauce, priced per pound. Besides whole fish, Milos offers another dish unique to Greek gastronomy: Lavraki and Petropsara soup-- A hearty traditional fish soup from the island of Cerigo. Take a quick voyage of Mediterranean flavors through a platter of spreads --Tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil), Tarama (fish roe, olive oil, lemon), Ktipiti (Holland peppers, feta cheese, olive oil), and Skordalia (almonds, garlic), served with eggplant croquettes and grape vine leaves.

The management prides itself on its special sources for ingredients-- from small family-owned fishing companies based in the Mediterranean, Morocco, Tunisia and Portugal to independent North American fishermen to organic farms that produce everything from their yogurt to honey (from bees fed on wild thyme flowers grown on Kythira, a small island in the Aegean Sea).

The ample wine list includes well-paired selections chosen to satisfy the oenophile.

125 West 55th Street      (212) 245-7400



  Cuisine: Japanese  
  Location: TriBeCa  

NOBU                Asian-Japanese Fusion

Restauranteur Drew Nieporent's much vaunted sushi house has become overshadowed by its reputation as a place for celebrity sightings (aided by his partner, actor Robert DeNiro), but it is still one of New York's great modern Japanese-Asian fusion restaurants. The sleek, Asian-accented interior by star designer David Rockwell, offers a calming touch to an often hectic and packed place.

Legendary fusion chef Nobu Matsuhisa has had a big part to play in creating this hybrid cuisine during the '90s, and his miso-marinated sweet black cod, rock shrimp with spicy mayonnaise, and tuna tartare with a bed of crushed avocado, continue to define this culinary style. His squid "pasta"--tender pieces of squid and crunchy asparagus, coated with a rich butter and garlic sauce--make for another unique eating experience as is his Kumamoto oysters with Maui onion salsa. Of course the sushi and sashimi are classic, as are the Omakase dinners which are sumptuous in both the dishes and the price. Extraordinarily well-matched wine and sake list.

105 Hudson Street      212-219-0500



  Cuisine: American, French  
  Location: Columbus Circle  

PER SE              American Nouveau,

With its ethereal view four stories up overlooking Central Park South, the uber-pricey restaurant Per Se offers ethereal food fare, as well. No wonder, since the restaurant was conceived by the much acclaimed chef, restauranteur, and author Thomas Keller--owner of the Napa Valley based French Laundry, a place often hailed as the best restaurant in the States. When Per Se debuted in February 2004, Keller knew he had established it as one of NYC's best restaurants in short order. With only 64-seats in the main dining room, a 10-seat private dining room, lounge, bar and remarkable wine cellar (standing like a viewable vault right before the dining area), Per Se suggests both a discreet hideaway and a place of elevated, refined luxury.

Keller's New York presence is maintained by Executive Chef Jonathan Benno, and continues to present Keller's high standards. Those standards include such succulent dishes as Coddled Eggs tipped with Black-Truffle purée and the Chef’s famous “Oysters and Pearls” (Island Creek Oysters, pearly tapioca, Osetra caviar); various unique Foie Gras based creations; and a flight of Lobster Tails poached in butter and painted with a remarkable medley of saffron-vanilla sauce, red-beet essence, or vermouth. Per Se offers two prix fixe tasting menus--there's a nine-course Tasting of Seasonal Vegetables or the nine-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, which changes daily, in addition to a shorter five-course lunch menu.

From its strict jacket/no-jeans dress code and no walk-ins accepted rule, down to the draping of the white pristine table cloths, Per Se defines the idea of an exorbitant, luxurious dining experience.

10 Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Building

Per Se


  Cuisine: Steak  
  Location: Brooklyn  


The act of eating a rich, thick cut of beef is something so primal and testosterone-charged. And a steakhouse, by its very definition, is all about the beef-- sumptuous gorgeous, marbled cuts, rich in protein, full of juice-- where no-holds-barred cuts like a Porterhouse or Strip Sirloin sit atop the pantheon of steak dishes. A classic steak house with a history that goes back to 1897 (though it changed hands along the way)-- Peter Luger sticks to the basics of aged beef and staple side dishes of potatoes and vegetables.

This no-frills restaurant is a local landmark where menus aren't offered unless asked for, waiters provide friendly though matter-of-fact services, and the dining rooms-- with its exposed beams and worn furniture-- are about as basic as can be for a restaurant that's among the best in New York City.

Yet it's so good that, even though it's just over the bridge in Brooklyn, Peter Luger provides the model that sets the style for other steakhouses. The dry-aged Porterhouse-- butter-painted slabs that arrive on sizzling plates-- adorned with sides such as German fried Potatoes, Onion Rings (for two), and creamed Spinach (for two). Start with a salad of thick-cut beefy tomatoes and sweet onions, or a crisp Caesar Salad with grilled bacon so thick it's like a ham steak.

A temple for beef eaters--no apologies or mercy for vegetarians--Peter Luger is the kind of place that transforms the New York Porterhouse Steak into something more than a meal-- it's a gustatory icon.

178 Broadway at Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn

Peter Luger Steak House


  Cuisine: American, French  
  Location: Midtown  

THE MODERN     American Nouveau, French

Though situated inside the Museum of Modern Art, The Modern is no mere adjunct to the Museum--but a work of art in design and cuisine. Inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the '20s, this haute café from Restauranteur/proprietor Danny Meyer is adorned with furniture and tableware from the modernists, with a focus on the Danish style.

The Modern is actually two environments--the Bar Room and Dining Room. A little more casual and abuzz with energy, the bar offers an abbreviated version of the dining room menu with an array of over 30 savory dishes. While the bar suggests a lively, aesthetic debate, the dining area offers a more austere space ideal for reflection and conversation. The two spaces montage through a frosted glass partition. In the clean, stately dining room, patrons can admire the sculptures from the adjacent garden while enjoying the finely crafted menu.

Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s nouveau French-American cooking partly inspired by his Alsatian roots is as refined and aesthetic as the room itself. He applies a finely tuned palate that can devise unique dishes of familiar ingredients, as in the Hamachi Tuna with a tart Grapefruit sauce and spice crust, a Potato Escargot Gâteau, or a Cod graced with thin discs of Chorizo and Harissa oil. Kreuther transforms the generally prosaic Liverwurst or Roast Duck into something truly special. The restaurant offers three tasting options: three courses for $85, chef's seven-course tasting menu for $125, and a seven-course seasonal tasting menu for $138.

A meticulously chosen international wine list features more than 900 selections deep in Alsatian choices, including wines by-the-glass, and an innovative cocktail menu available both in the bar or dining space.

9 West 53rd Street      212-333-1220

The Modern


  Cuisine: Nouveau  
  Location: Union Square  

UNION SQUARE CAFÉ     American Nouveau

Among the restaurants that represent a pinnacle of the haute dining experience, master gastronome Danny Meyer's Union Square Café would be one of the top five in New York. Though the three rooms look as if they were designed by some refugee from a rustic hunting club—with green wainscoting, deep wood floors, ivory colored walls and warm mahogany accents—the entire space hums with the energy commensurate with a power player's palace. The restaurant embodies the philosophy of taking familiar fare, and ratcheting it up to a delicious refinement so that it is both easy to appreciate, yet memorable as well.

Chef Michael Romano's seasonal menu draws on the local greenmarket to create ultra-fresh dishes that become instant classics. He devises uncommon combinations such as wasabi mashed potatoes, uniquely sauced pastas and courses that even vegetarians will find not only filling but more flavorful than ever. And the meats, like a succulent, crispy lemon-pepper duck, are no less worthy. As for a closer, the banana tart with honey-vanilla ice cream will make you a convert. A beautiful, well-selected and award-winning wine list. The bar is a great place to lunch solo--and there is a full range of appropriate alcoholic accompaniment.

21 East 16th Street      212-243-4020

Union Square Café


More to come.

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