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.
160 East 64th Street (Tel.: 212-223-5656)
JoJo has been a Three Star in our All-Star Eateries since Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened it in 1991. Due to a glitch, it was dropped from the magazine version this year but was promptly reinstated online. Our apologies to chef Steven Boutross, the talented staff and the wonderful management, who every night deliver a magical culinary experience.
JoJo’s recent renovation has left it airy, light-filled and comfortable. Start with the delicate peekytoe crab dumplings or the spicy tuna tartare in lettuce cups. Then try two incomparable classics: the crispy-skin organic chicken surrounded by thin fried onion rings and potato skins, or the juicy, peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin with potato gnocchi and Brussels sprouts. Don’t leave without tasting the delicious carrot cake or the butterscotch pudding with caramel and crème fraîche.
■ Le Baratin
26 Greenwich Ave., between Sixth and Seventh Avenues (Tel.: 212-933-1080)
Excellent bistro fare in a fun West Village spot. The French-speaking staff further the illusion of being at a sidewalk café on the Left Bank. Steak frites with a peppercorn sauce is as good as anything you could find in Paris; ditto the magret de canard with mashed potatoes and green beans. The crème brûlée is great, but the fondant au chocolat is even better.
■ Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., between 24th and 25th Streets (Tel.: 212-889-0905)
New York’s temple of pace-setting, contemporary haute cuisine reopened with a controversial plant-based tasting menu of eight to ten courses for $335 per person, paid when reserving. Many dishes reflect a strong Asian influence, using fermented ingredients, and seemingly all add umami to their flavor profile. The result is a certain sameness to the succession of individually delicious and beautifully presented courses. Standouts include matsutake (rice pudding with pine and ginger), tonburi (squash with sumac) and cabbage with pistachio and fermented mint. The bread, a flaky, savory swirled roll, served with sunflower-seed “butter,” provides a welcome and delightful change of pace. It is an extraordinary experience, but the parts may be greater than the sum.
22 East 66th Street (Tel.: 646-596-8447)
An austere but pleasantly furnished white interior with well-spaced tables that allow for easy conversation, this is a happy find. The Dover sole with tender Brussels sprout leaves, a potato puree and a lovely sauce, is sublime. The l’aragosta poached in olive oil with a side of sautéed spinach is delicious. The tiramisu with mascarpone and candied orange sorbet and the creamy, crunchy vanilla millefoglie are both as good as you can get. The fare is first-rate, but the pace of the service is glacial.
■ Grand Salon
Baccarat Hotel, 28 West 53rd Street (Tel.: 212-790-8867)
The beautiful, high-ceilinged room on the Baccarat Hotel’s second floor abounds in chandeliers and sconces created by the eponymous firm and gives the space a feeling of restrained luxury. The branzino is perfectly prepared and presented, and the Black Angus burger with raclette cheese, tangy pickles and tomatoes is very tasty. The crème brûlée rates stars, but the chocolate temptation is too milk-chocolatey. While the food prices aren’t unexpected, cocktails start at $30, and the least expensive glass of wine is $22. If money is no object, this is a lovely place to relax and enjoy a very good meal.
■ One White Street
1 White Street, just off West Broadway (onewhitestreetnyc.com)
One White Street serves up solid farm-to-table fare in a cozy, casual space complemented by an extensive wine list. There are two distinct menus: the à la carte “Downstairs” for reservations and walk-ins, and “Upstairs” for a six-course tasting menu by reservation only. For starters, the Brussels sprout salad with buttermilk dressing is satisfying, if not inspired, and the smoked foie gras accompanied by a Parker House roll is silky and savory but a bit salty. The mains are a step up: Roasted turbot with lemon beurre blanc and the half roast duck with mashed potatoes topped with matchstick potatoes are well-prepared and attractively presented. This is a popular place, so reserve well in advance.
18 King Street, at the corner of Sixth Avenue (Tel.: 917-825-1618)
With influences from southern France and Italy, this stylish restaurant has a limited menu that changes daily. Clams alla padella in a crème fraîche broth with a crusty big crouton is a sublime start to a meal. Follow this with a fresh, thick trout filet with boiled potatoes in a creamy sauce. More substantial but equally delicious is the pork chop with peach slices and fava beans. Have the luscious tarte tatin, made to order and worth every calorie.
201 East 61st Street (Tel.: 212-207-8280)
This basement-level Italian restaurant is packed. Stracciatella is the perfect starter for a cold night, and the grilled octopus special is delicious. The chicken paillard is pounded velum-thin and perfectly grilled. The heavenly mushroom pappardelle with a dollop of extra pepper flakes and plenty of Parmesan disappears quickly. It would be hard to find a better tiramisu with which to finish off a meal.