RESTAURANTS: GO, CONSIDER , STOP
Edible enlightenment from our eatery experts and colleagues Richard Nalley, Monie Begley and Randall Lane, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.
538 Madison Avenue, between 54th & 55th Streets (212-980-5908)
This small second-floor restaurant is a civilized oasis where you can enjoy a conversation on comfortable banquettes surrounded by lovely murals and hushed and helpful service. Such pleasure does not come without cost: 50 grams of osetra logs in at $190 but arrives with crème fraîche, chopped chives and your choice of tiny warm blinis, slivers of toast and sliced potatoes upon which to spread it all. While the rich smoked salmon is plentiful, the dry-aged ribeye with celery-root puree and small potatoes leaves one hungry for more. The basket of miniature madeleines is so good you can skip dessert.
Knickerbocker Bar & Grill 33 University Place, at 9th Street (212-228-8490)
Classic, comfortable neighborhood fixture serving hearty American fare. To start, try the crab cakes, which are star-worthy, or the shrimp cocktail, which is straight out of the 1950s. The chicken pot pie, which could feed four, is as tasty as it is plentiful. Ditto the barbecue ribs. Bread pudding or a slice of carrot cake—enough to feed an entire bridal party—will put you over the top. It’s all good and all reasonably priced. And you can still converse when the musicians are playing.
Land of Plenty
204 East 58th Street (212-308-8788)
Great spot (a short walk from Bloomingdale’s) for a delectable Chinese meal for two—with wine—for under $80, including tip. When the word amazing is in front of a chicken or shrimp dish, expect your taste buds to be warmed by a very hot and spicy sweet sauce. The crispy shredded sesame beef crackles, and there are braised fresh mushrooms with bok choy for those looking for “healthier” fare. Plenty to like and plenty to eat in the land thereof.
20 Hudson Yards (929-450-4050)
This is the anchor restaurant in an over-thetop mall, and it’s clear who will be paying for all this “luxe.” Though good, the food lacks the flourish of chef Thomas Keller’s usual creations. The menu is fairly classic Continental cuisine, but the prices are colossal (and the service is never attentive). Many plates are offered for “two”—Dover sole for two for $110; New York strip steak for one or two for $160, with a variety of sauces at an additional $7 to $12. There are less expensive offerings, but not by much; a lone crab cake is $27. Desserts are quite good—try the coconut or chocolate cake.