Hot Eats

A close look at three of the hottest foods trend­ing in NYC restau­rants right now.

Where New York - - Insider - By Meryl Pearl­stein

Re­mem­ber when or­der­ing chicken usu­ally meant an or­di­nary grilled breast, or per­haps a plain pail­lard topped with greens? Or, if you were go­ing veg­e­tar­ian, search­ing for a (bor­ing) non­meat op­tion of steamed veg­eta­bles? My, how culi­nary choices have changed: Not­ing to­day’s ori­en­ta­tion to­ward mind­ful and health­ful eat­ing, here are three trends that are grab­bing the at­ten­tion of New York City din­ers.

Chefs are rein­vent­ing chicken with in­no­va­tive dishes crop­ping up on menus through­out the city. De­spite hav­ing a name that be­lies an ex­ten­sive food menu, Cof­fee­ma­nia leads the el­e­vated chicken train, us­ing a Josper grill-oven from Spain to cre­ate wings with a smoky, char­coal fla­vor. The gra­cious and tal­ented Ge­or­gette Farkas turns ro­tis­serie into an up­scale ex­pe­ri­ence at the epony­mous Ro­tis­serie Ge­or­gette, where all birds are roasted over open flames, with sauces and gar­nishes on the side. Eth­nic ver­sions are plen­ti­ful, too. Korean chicken wings laced with gin­ger, gar­lic and red chili paste raise the heat at 5 Nap­kin Burger. Sfoglia sears up juicy chicken al mat­tone (un­der a brick), an Ital­ian spe­cialty, while Por­tuguese stand­out Lupulo dishes out im­pres­sively spicy chicken piri-piri cooked on a wood-burn­ing grill. Com­plet­ing the Euro­pean tour, Lit­tle Frog Bistro’s ten­der coq au vin gives you a mas­ter­ful ver­sion of the French sta­ple as do the high-stan­dard chicken cre­ations at An­toine Wester­mann's Le Coq Rico, where chicken lit­er­ally rules the roost (eggs and feath­ers decorate the walls) at the Parisian im­port. Don’t miss the Al­sa­tian-in­spired baeck­e­offe with ar­ti­chokes and Ries­ling jus.

For more casual choices, chicken ap­pears as a beef al­ter­na­tive at Shake Shack with a breaded chicken sand­wich that’s pure bliss.

El­e­vated chicken, crudo gone wild, dressed-up veg­eta­bles.

The fried chicken craze isn't go­ing away ei­ther. Take note of the long lines for both restau­rant seat­ing and take­out at tiny Root & Bone. In an­other sliver of a space, Birds & Bub­bles on the Lower East Side serves up one of the city’s best South­ern ex­pe­ri­ences, with sin­fully ten­der dry-brined chicken dipped in but­ter­milk, pan-fried one piece at a time.

Two other trends are catch­ing fire in the city, one ac­tu­ally us­ing no heat at all. Raw fish isn’t a stranger here, ap­pear­ing on sushi menus for decades. But it’s the dressed-up ver­sions and eth­nic spins that have grabbed the at­ten­tion of the health­con­scious diner search­ing for new taste sen­sa­tions. Latin Amer­ica has brought won­der­ful raw fish choices to New York City. Some of the best are ce­viches, fish sim­ply cooked in citrus juices and tarted up with pep­pers, onions or even man­goes. En­rique Olvera’s Cosme takes wild striped bass and spikes it with poblanos, av­o­cado and black lime, cre­at­ing a modern Mex­i­can ver­sion of Peru­vian tira­dito. Euro­pean in­flu­ences abound as well. Thinly sliced carpac­cio is served four ways at Nat­sumi Tapas where Ja­panese meets Ital­ian, or at Se­abird with branzino sliv­ers dressed with mint, citrus and jalapeños. Crudo, sashimi’s pop­u­lar Ital­ian cousin, en­hances the silk­i­ness of tuna, yel­low­tail and fluke with driz­zles of salt, citrus, gin­ger and chili at Coarse and Rouge To­mate Chelsea in Man­hat­tan and Lady’s in Brook­lyn. French-in­spired tartares get a photo-per­fect up­date at Ben­jamin Prime, with a tuna and sal­mon duo jazzed up with citrus crème fraîche.

But the new­est en­try in the raw-fish pool isn't ac­tu­ally new at all. Born in Hawaii to take ad­van­tage of the area’s bounty of fresh fish, poke has made a full- frontal at­tack on New York City, ap­pear­ing in restau­rants like Poke­works and Sweet­catch Poke. There you cre­ate your own poke bowl (think: salad or break­fast bowls): Pick your fish, top­pings and sea­son­ings, and you have a meal that’s healthy and per­son­al­ized. There’s an Ital­ian ver­sion of poke made with sea­weed salad, tuna and shaved truf­fle at Davio’s in Mid­town, and tuna poke won­ton tacos at hip­ster haunts Beauty & Es­sex and The Stan­ton So­cial.

Fi­nally, veg­eta­bles have moved up the food pyra­mid from ho-hum to hot. All-veg­etable restau­rants are the rage, like Jean- Ge­orges Von­gerichten’s new abcV or the en­dur­ingly pop­u­lar Dirt Candy, and while blis­tered shishi­tos sea­son­ally heat up menus at The Wooly Pub­lic, it’s hard to find a restau­rant that doesn’t have a dressed-up ver­sion of Brus­sels sprouts year-round. This once-ma­ligned veg­gie is now so cool that it’s of­ten re­ferred to only as Brus­sels. Other con­tenders in the veg­gie cat­e­gory are cau­li­flower and com­bos be­decked like beauty pageant con­tes­tants. No­table are the crushed cau­li­flower at Harold’s Meat and Three, crowned with fried onions and pep­per; Char­lie Bird’s Si­cil­ian ver­sion with hot pep­pers and mint; or the fiery Manchuri­anIn­dian flo­rets at Tulsi. A side dish that can hold its own is the veg­etable suc­co­tash at Tommy Ba­hama Restau­rant, an is­land twist on the clas­sic with hari­cots verts, car­rots, corn, shi­itakes and onions sautéed in jalapeño lime but­ter and adorned Monet-style with ed­i­ble flow­ers. Now, that’s a dish that’s ready for its close-up.

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