RESTAURANTS: GO, CONSIDER , STOP
Edible enlightenment from our eatery experts and colleagues Monie Begley, Richard Nalley and Randall Lane, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.
• The Lounge at Le Bernardin 155 West 51st St. (Tel.: 212-554-1515)
An elegant, very comfortable and much less formal alternative to the main dining room. There’s an array of caviar o erings, as well as a luxurious smoked salmon croque monsieur with golden Osetra. The à la carte menu can change, but restaurant classics are usually on o er: glistening oysters, including East and West Coast varieties; the LB lobster roll, teeming with generous pieces of lobster on a black tru e bun; the yellow n tuna pounded into delicate layers with a drizzle of olive oil; and the LB signature salmon rillette. Also on the menu are beautiful works of art created with salmon, scallops or hamachi. But the topper to this meal is the Egg—a sinful concoction of chocolate and caramel served in an eggshell. Service is impeccable. As you oat out the door, you know you’ve had a vrai Le Bernardin experience.
• Quality Bistro
120 West 55th St. (Tel.: 212-433-3330)
A big and bustling place with large portions and robust prices. The smoked salmon Lyonnaise has more frisée than sh, but the tuna carpaccio is rst-rate. The Dover sole is excellent—moist and perfectly deboned. For something unexpected, try the Moroccan fried chicken—think Colonel Sanders in the casbah! Three favorite desserts are the apple tarte tatin sundae, the oating island and the pistachio crème brûlée (rave-worthy).
• Café D’Alsace
1695 Second Ave., near 88th St. (Tel.: 212-722-5133)
Walking into this unpretentious cafe is like being transported to Strasbourg. The boudin blanc with sauerkraut is as good as any you’d nd in Alsace. The smoked salmon is classic and delicious, as is the moules frites Provençal, and the pro teroles are heavenly. If you’re not a chocolate fan, try the crêpe sou é with a passion fruit sauce. Wash everything down with a lovely chilled Gewürztraminer, and the illusion of being in eastern France will be complete.
80 Spring St., between Broadway & Crosby St. (Tel.: 212-965-1414)
As lively and loud as ever, Balthazar is packed—inside and out. There are a few lessmemorable courses, and the wait between them can be longish, but overall the service is good and most of the fare is rst-rate.
(This is also a deservedly popular place for breakfast.) The shrimp cocktail is divine, but the tomatoes in the heirloom tomato salad with peaches are disappointing. The chicken paillard and the salade Niçoise are as good as you’ll nd anywhere. For desserts, the tarte tropézienne is more cream pu than tart, but the Pavlova and the warm chocolate cake
with white chocolate ice cream are worth every calorie. A fun place for all ages.
• Le Bilboquet
20 East 60th St. (Tel.: 212-751-3036)
A pandemic survivor. Le Bilboquet’s interior is understated, and its food is uniformly fabulous. Avocado-based gazpacho is a tangy treat—ditto the grilled octopus and the perfect beef tartare. The tarte tatin—Granny Smith apples baked with caramel on a pu pastry served with Chantilly—is as good as any in Paris or Normandy. The bartender makes a mean martini, and the bar has a great assortment of calvados, as well as a great—but not underpriced—wine list.
• The Penrose
1590 Second Ave., between 82nd & 83rd Sts. (Tel.: 212-203-2751)
Home port to comfort food, this gastropub has the decor and vibe of an authentic Irish pub—lots of wood, leather, gab and laughter as customers qua unusual ales and whiskies. There are delicious nger foods: bu alo chicken wings with crumbled blue cheese; bang bang shrimp tempura with chili aioli; and crinkle-cut, ash-fried pickles with cornmeal coating and chipotle aioli. Share a broccolini and burrata grain bowl salad lled with farro grains, pistachios, dried apricot and radicchio with a chili vinaigrette. The sizzling and perfectly cooked steak fajitas come with guacamole and corn chips. The yummy three-cheese mac and cheese is served in a large cast-iron skillet. Crabby
Patty is a generous lump crab cake sandwich with Béarnaise aioli on a sesame-seed potato bun. And don’t miss the Bananas Foster churros, cinnamon and sugar-coated and served with banana-infused caramel sauce.
• Cafe Luxembourg
200 West 70th St. (Tel.: 212-873-7411)
Few restaurants can claim nearly 40 years of enthusiastic customers. Since Valentine’s Day, loyal fans have been able to go inside to the bustling bar or to the dining room with its red leather banquettes, white-and-blue tiled walls and muted lighting. This classic French bistro was created in 1983 by Keith McNally and his rst wife, Lynn Wagenknecht—and has been solely run for years by Lynn. Begin with a bubbling bowl of French onion soup, layered with Gruyère cheese; rich country frisée salad mixed with croutons, blue cheese and bacon lardon with bacon vinaigrette and a poached egg on top; or salmon or steak tartare. One of the most popular and perfectly cooked dishes on the menu is New York strip steak, which can be ordered with garlic butter, Roquefort or au poivre sauce, and is served with crispy frites. Or have a heaping bowl of moules frites in a tomato con t with leeks in sa ron cream. And there’s no point in resisting the pro teroles bathed in chocolate or the more reserved lemon tart to nish o a perfect meal.