MANH July/August 2010 : Page 56

Special 0 to 210 nYC live&Dine in The Big Apple just keeps getting tastier! By the editors, with Adeena Sussman, Jocelyn C. Zuckerman and Joshua David Stein When chefs trek through the Greenmarkets to prep their pantries, they bend over the splintered crates and inhale, then tear off a leaf and chew, imagining how the flavor will play out on the plate. And in the pages that follow, Manhattan does something similar in assessing today’s diverse restaurant scene. Of course, opinions are like “Guess who I saw at Babbo?” stories—everybody’s got one— so we began this process by asking a group of contributors to weigh in on our editors’ picks for the city’s most exciting restaurants, the classics and the scenes that are truly worthy of the hype. (See the banner along the top of the pages that follow to see our contributors’ quips.) Ten our editors and restaurant critics went out and tried them all again—many more than once—to distill all the opinions and information down into this definitive package.Tink of it as a tasting menu of the top toques and trends. Tink of it as an edible love letter to New York.Tink of it as a snapshot of what the rest of the country will be cooking next year. { contributors } GAIL SIMMonS, judge on Bravo’s Top Chef; AdEEnA SuSSMAn, Manhattan’s restaurant critic; FRAnCIS LAM, senior writer for Salon.com; JoSHuA dAvId STEIn, senior editor of Eater.com. JoCELyn C. ZuCkERMAn, former deputy editor of Gourmet; MARk RoZZo, former deputy editor of Men’s Vogue; JAnE LERnER, food writer; RyAn PATRICk SuTTon, new york food critic for Bloomberg News; AndREW STEInTHAL & CHRIS STAnG, Founders of ImmaculateInfatuation.com. MICHAEL CIRIno, co-founder of the supper club a Razor, a Shiny knife; JoHn MARIAnI, Food columnist for Esquire; SCoTT LIPPS, Founder of the modeling agency onE Management; ELIZABETH BISHoP, Manhattan’s dining consultant; WILLIAM SERTL, new york editor for BlackboardEats.com. 56 | | July/August 2010 BETTER WITH AGE The staff and its manager Charles Masson (in dark suit, left), unwind after close at La Grenouille— a timeless classic and blueprint for how to keep things exciting after five decades. aurantRest Photo by ben Pier

To Live And Dine In Nyc

Adeena Sussman, Jocelyn C. Zuckerman and Joshua David Stein

The Big Apple just keeps getting tastier!<br /> <br /> When chefs trek through the Greenmarkets to prep their pantries, they bend over the splintered crates and inhale, then tear off a leaf and chew, imagining how the flavor will play out on the plate. And in the pages that follow, Manhattan does something similar in assessing today’s diverse restaurant scene. <br /> <br /> Of course, opinions are like “Guess who I saw at Babbo?” stories—everybody’s got one— so we began this process by asking a group of contributors to weigh in on our editors’ picks for the city’s most exciting restaurants, the classics and the scenes that are truly worthy of the hype. <br /> <br /> (See the banner along the top of the pages that follow to see our contributors’ quips.) Ten our editors and restaurant critics went out and tried them all again—many more than once—to distill all the opinions and information down into this definitive package. <br /> <br /> Tink of it as a tasting menu of the top toques and trends. Tink of it as an edible love letter to New York. Tink of it as a snapshot of what the rest of the country will be cooking next year.<br /> <br /> 1. Marea Now that they’ve won practically every award, Marea’s chef Michael White and partner Chris Campbell’s decision to go all-out (million-dollar marble bar, anyone?) <br /> <br /> At the nadir of the stock-market crash looks like nothing less than sheer genius. <br /> <br /> Whether you’re indulging in the most innovative raw-fish tasting menu in the city at the front-room crudo bar or having a full-tilt dinner in the Love Boat–like dining room, the pristine seafood dishes and killer pastas have combined to elevate the dining scene in Manhattan.<br /> <br /> 2. Aldea Talk about stealthy. In an environment where well-kept secrets become double-height headlines with a single keystroke, Aldea has truly managed to stay under the radar. On a quiet Flatiron block, George Mendes catalyzes 20 years’ cooking experience and uses it to fashion a dining progression unlike any other in the city right now. <br /> <br /> With his Iberian heritage as his guide, he takes ingredients other top-tier chefs wouldn’t dare touch—soy nuts, almond milk—and integrates them in preparations that go beyond merely edible to downright addictive. 31 W. 17th St., 212.675.7223<br /> <br /> 3. Minetta Tavern Step one: Abandon the pretense that a mere mortal can secure a prime-time reservation. Step 2: Walk in for a 5:30 or 11pm reservation if you can—chances are Madonna, Jerry and Gwynnie have called it a night. Step 3: Sit where you’re told, soak in 85 years of West Village history and relish that butter-drenched juggernaut, the $26 Black Label burger. 113 MacDougal St., 212.475.3850<br /> <br /> 4. Corton Don’t wait for a special occasion: Head to Corton for dinner tonight. Seemingly past his youthful indiscretions, Paul Liebrandt has become one of the city’s most innovative chefs, both artful (that salad!) And luscious (rabbit with shrimp and artichokes). From a quiet white-walled room to a can’t-lose wine list stocked with both incredible values and abandon-worthy splurges, this Drew Nieporent–owned spot is one to love. 239 W. Broadway, 212.219.2777<br /> <br /> 5. ABC Kitchen Rumor has it Jean- Georges Vongerichten resisted this Greenmarket-gone-glam concept, but now he and partner Phil Suarez are laughing all the way to the bank. If the food wasn’t so damn good—the Arctic char, crispy chicken and carrot salad are all standouts—then the flea-market finds and mildly preachy manifesto could have led the place off the rails. Instead, JGV is now the engine driving this undeniably cool and delicious movement. 35 E. 18th St., 212.475.5829<br /> <br /> 6. La Grenouille At 48 years old, this bastion of elegance (its weekly flower bill is $3,000), is back in vogue with the fashion, media and culinary glitterati. Lately, you’re as likely to see Anna Wintour here as you are Henry Kissinger. And whether you choose the $29 lunch prix fixe or the $95 threecourse dinner tasting with options like frog legs Provençale, this restaurant excites by changing as little as possible. 3 E. 52nd St., 212.752.1495<br /> <br /> 7. Locanda Verde With all due respect to Nobu, Tribeca’s restaurant cred got an instant boost when chef Andrew Carmellini launched this instant-classic Italian inside the Greenwich Hotel. A year later there are still things to relish on its menu (including one of the best brunches in the city), not to mention its easy elegance (everyone looks good in front of a well-lit brick wall) and a lively scene that spills out onto the street. 377 Greenwich St., 212.925.3797<br /> <br /> 9. Recette Young, hungry and talented, chef Jesse Schenker started a private supper club in Harlem when he lost patience with the constraints of working in other chefs’ kitchens. Last year, the boy-wonder took that same pioneering spirit and opened Recette in the West Village, where the dishes— wild-arugula salad with kumquats, hazelnuts and ricotta salata; Berkshire pork belly with rock shrimp and sherry caramel—are as perfectly restrained as his ambition is rampant. 328 W. 12th St., 212.414.3000<br /> <br /> 10. Momofuku Ssäm Bar David Chang’s acolytes are many, but among his geeky, foodie-hipster clientele, Ssäm Bar is the favorite. <br /> <br /> The spartan décor allow diners to focus on the food, which runs the gamut from simple dishes like fried baby artichokes scattered with pistachio to the Bo Ssäm, a feast of gluttonous proportions consisting of a roasted pork butt served with oysters, kimchi, rice and lettuce leaves for wrapping. Did we mention a late-night caviar menu and Milk Bar around the corner? 207 Second Ave., 212.254.3500<br /> <br /> The 5 Best Classics<br /> <br /> 1. Le Bernardin Eric Ripert’s nickname, the Ripper, is more than just funny wordplay. After all, this is the guy who tore up the seafood-restaurant script, modernizing a tired genre by imbuing every aspect of Le Bernardin with a cutting edge so subtle, you hardly feel the blade. <br /> <br /> Ripert ignores labels like “fusion,” “small-plates” and “molecular gastronomy,” instead focusing on dishes that traverse the globe—like monkfish with honshimeji mushrooms and turnip-ginger emulsion—but never lose their focus. 155 W. 51st St., 212.554.1515<br /> <br /> 2. Gotham Bar & Grill For 25 years, Gotham has been a study in consistent perfection. It’s still the city’s best bar for a proper meal; great for either a power lunch or a festive dinner; and still looks fresh despite a lack of seismic changes in design and food philosophy. Tanks to chef Alfred Portale and his massive talents, there are no flashes in the pan here—just an ongoing, shimmering brilliance. 12 E. 12th St., 212.620.4020<br /> <br /> 3. Daniel He may be an avowed partyhopper who shows up, Waldo-like, at every bash in town, but the standards at Daniel Boulud’s eponymous restaurant remain impossibly high, and his clientele is the cream of the Upper East Side ruling class. An Adam Tihany redesign only reconfirms that this is a restaurant willing to spare no expense for its diners, a fact that makes the $105 prix fixe, rife with luxe touches from frog’s legs to foie gras, seem like a steal. 60 E. 65th St., 212.288.0033<br /> <br /> 4. Babbo Rumor has it Mario Batali was banished from the Food Network for being too smart—after eating at his signature West Village trattoria, it’s easy to understand why. <br /> <br /> Never one to cook down to the common denominator, he hews to the authentic flavors of Italy in ways that are simultaneously strong and seductive. Tat’s why Babbo and its menu—with dishes like truffle-napped beef-cheek ravioli and a tomatoey stew laced with calamari rings—never gets tired. 110 Waverly Pl., 212.777.0303<br /> <br /> 5. Peter Luger Williamsburg may be a destination now, but Luger was popular before most New Yorkers even knew how to find the L train. <br /> <br /> If you’re craving a steak in its most primal form, relent to the porterhouse for two—the meat’s good, but those drippings could turn even an avowed vegetarian into a bloodsucker worthy of a Sookie Stackhouse novel. With its occasionally dismissive service, shabby (not chic) interiors and still-tough reservations, Luger isn’t for everyone. But that’s OK; they don’t need you anyway. 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718.387.7400<br /> <br /> On the high concept: We set up an exciting New York environment, including the entrance, where you step up so the whole dining room can see you arrive. It was designed with dining as theater in mind. On Setting himself apart from other restaurants: Te see-and-be-seen atmosphere, the democratic door policy and fine dining without pretention never existed under one roof back then. <br /> <br /> Now it’s the prototype for the contemporary American restaurant. On keeping up with the times: We’re not jumping on every trend or fad, but we remain current by working at it. <br /> <br /> On becoming a classic restaurant: People tell me it’s that we’ve been consistent, and they trust us with everything from a romantic dinner to a big celebration. On the secret to success: Choosing, training and caring for your staff is very important—you can have a brilliant concept and great chef, but without the team to execute you’re sunk. <br /> <br /> On friendly competition: We’ll have people come in and say they’re meeting the Johnson party at 8pm, but they’re not on the books, so we call Gramercy Tavern and they have their reservation. And vice versa. We both have a strong belief in hospitality, relaxed service and market-driven cuisine.<br /> <br /> { best wAiter }<br /> <br /> Upon requeSt In a town where waiting tables is more a way station than a way of life, Louie McCullough is the exception to the rule. <br /> <br /> A captain in the Pool Room at the legendary Four Seasons restaurant, the Irish native has become a keen observer of social anthropology in his 27 years on the job. Tere was the time four ladies from Palm Beach jumped into the pool, the Louisiana businessman who regularly drops a $1,200 tip on lunch or the guy who ordered one of everything just to impress a date. <br /> <br /> “I was there until 2am, but I never refuse a customer,” says McCullough, who has served everyone from Henry Kissinger to Tom Cruise, scribbling their likes and dislikes on his ever-present notepad. So the next time you enjoy sterling service, find out the server’s name. It’s always to good to have a friend in the business.<br /> <br /> { three Perfect designs }<br /> <br /> Chewing the ScenerY<br /> <br /> In 1837, Delmonico’s—the city’s first restaurant—set up shop on South William Street, with fancy inlaid floors and marble columns imported from Pompeii. Little has changed since then: Manhattan may have gained nearly 20,000 dining establishments, but the good ones know that the way to the stomach has always been through the eyes. At Upper East Side mainstay Daniel (60 E. 65th St., 212.288.0033), an Adam Tihany–led makeover two years ago was quickly followed by an upgrade to three Michelin stars—and a price hike. “Tihany… has very expensive taste,” Boulud said at the time. “If I go broke now, at least I’ll have done it in style.” <br /> <br /> Fortunately, the new furniture, neutral color palette and vaguely Scandinavian carpet transplant were well-received. Downtown, the diminutive sushi spot Jewel Bako (239 E. 5th St., 212.979.1012) trades the grandeur of Daniel’s 18-foot ceilings for one covered with a striking arch of gilded bamboo; when it opened in 2002, the Village Voice fondly referred to it as a “little jeweled coffin.” Perhaps most impressively, however, the ceilings at Park Avenue (100 E. 63rd St.,<br /> <br /> 212. 644.1900) are designed to morph with the seasons—from plaster to cork and back again, while the lighting and furniture cycles through four separate wardrobes of their own. <br /> <br /> Designed by the James Beard– Award winning interiors firm AvroKO, the scheme takes 12 people two full days to pull off each time the weather changes. Te only thing that stays the same is the quality of the food, of course—in restaurants, you simply can’t have style without substance.<br /> <br /> The 5 Best Chefs<br /> <br /> 1. Paul Liebrandt He earned his stripes in the kitchens of Pierre Gagnaire and Marco Pierre White, so demure this 32-year-old is not. But Liebrandt isn’t the total crazy man he was back in the Atlas days, and the food he’s serving at Corton, in the old Montrachet space, is as inventive and weirdly wonderful as anything you’ll find in town.<br /> <br /> Nabe Faves Upper East Side: Le Bilboquet At this tried-and-true slice of Paris, it helps to be a regular, a blonde or an older European male with impeccably pressed shirts. But upon sitting down, you’ll feel as if you’ve been here tri-weekly since Jacques Chirac’s first term. Te superb menu skews classic: endives Roquefort, salade Niçoise and hanger steak with some of the best fries in toute la ville. 25 E. 63rd St.,<br /> <br /> 212. 751.3036 Soho: Raoul’s Ever since the Alsatian Raoul brothers opened their cozy bistro in the’70s, it’s oozed charisma and Gallic home cooking. Te pictures cramming the walls, reminding patrons of Soho’s arty past, mimic the packed-in booths. (Need more space? Head upstairs for a tarot reading.) Stick with mainstays like oysters, frisée with lardoons and duck egg, and steak au poivre. 180 Prince St.,<br /> <br /> 212. 966.3518 Upper West Side: Cafe Luxembourg Tis downtown-meets-uptown eatery has been hot ever since 1983, when the kitchen caught fire on opening night. <br /> <br /> Tough Keith McNally ceded the spot in his divorce years ago, it remains the model for Balthazar, Pastis and his other gems: impeccable atmosphere, no-nonsense food (including the terrific Luxemburger) and a perfect balance of comfort and glamour. 200 W. 70th St., 212.873.7411 Flatiron: I Trulli Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Nicola Marzovilla’s Apulian outpost is still going strong. <br /> <br /> Loyal patrons still stampede the place for three reasons: Marzovilla’s all-Italian wine list; the signature grano-arso pasta, made from toasted durum flour; and Marzovilla himself, whose disarming bonhomie makes him an honorary mayor in these parts. 122 E. 27th St., 212. 481.7372 <br /> <br /> Tribeca: Nobu Next Door Te ranks of illuminated sake bottles tell the story: Tis is Nobu, but nudged over into the casual-party zone. After 12 years, the walk-ins still clamor for uni tempura, halibut cheeks and omakase, all lubricated by chilled sake served in bamboo. It’s the best way to experience the global phenomenon of chef Nobu Matsuhisa in a neighborhood setting. 105 Hudson St., 212. 334.4445<br /> <br /> { chef secrets }<br /> <br /> Straight to the SourCe<br /> <br /> <br /> Pichet Ong, the puckish pastry chef behind Spot Dessert Bar and the Village Tart (as well as the nowclosed P*ONG), has traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia—he was born in Tailand—so his whimsical desserts and savory creations tend to incorporate ingredients not often seen on other menus. <br /> <br /> (Can we ever forget that durian ice cream he served at Spice Market?) Ong is a regular at Chinatown haunts like the tiny Udom Grocery (81 Bayard St.), where he gets Tai products like fresh pandan and Kaffir lime leaves, mali flower extract, sala syrup and coconut water. <br /> <br /> At the nearby Asia Market Corp (71 Mulberry St.), he picks up taro and yam powders (he uses the latter, which he emphasizes is high in estrogen, as a thickening agent). At chefs’ darling Kalustyan’s (123 Lexington Ave.), Ong picks up Mediterranean spices and rose water, and dips into Sunrise Mart (29 Tird Ave.) <br /> <br /> For Japanese ingredients like white miso. He uses the miso in a semifreddo that he serves with olive oil cake, raspberries and candied sesame at Spot. “At first bite,” he says, “it tastes like miso cod.” We presume it gets better from there. Spot Dessert Bar, 13 St. Marks Pl., 212.677.5670; Te Village Tart, 86 Kenmare St., 212. 226.4980<br /> <br /> The 5 Best Dishes<br /> <br /> 1. Omakase tempura It’s hard to find a more sublime dinner than this, and the only place to get it is at Manhattan’s original Japanese restaurant, Nippon. Sit at the counter in back, near the table where JFK Jr. Took first dates, and a flight of feather-light vegetables and seafood will flow for the next hour. A little lemon, a sprinkling of salt and you’ve just become part of an ancient tradition.<br /> <br /> 2. Pasta with bone marrow Marea chef Michael White gives baby Spanish octopus a bath in Sangiovese; tosses it with fusilli; folds in braised bone marrow; and sends it out in San Marzano sauce. 240 Central Park S., 212.582.5100<br /> <br /> 3. Ricotta ice cream Prune’s Gabrielle Hamilton nestles a rash of toasted croutons among a snowy scoop of house-made ricotta ice cream, then unifies it with a puddle of warm salted caramel. If Proust had never tasted a madeleine, this would be the dessert to inspire countless philosophical ramblings. 54 E. 1st St., 212. 677.6221<br /> <br /> 4. Deep-fried hominy Over at Cookshop, the kitchen turns out bowls of crisped-up hominy about as fast as tables can order them. Tis app starts with oversize corn kernels that are deepfried, then dredged in a mixture of sweet-and-savory spices that practically beg to be slaked with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. 156 Tenth Ave., 212. 924.4440<br /> <br /> 5. Pan-fried trout Supreme among Standard Grill chef Dan Silverman’s dishes is a buttery, pan-fried trout fillet topped with toasted pine nuts and black-currant relish. By taking prosaic ingredients and keeping the preparation simple, Silverman ensures that the sum adds up to far more than its parts. 848 Washington St., 212.645.4100<br /> <br /> Hot Trends<br /> <br /> Hon Shimeji At SHO, in the Financial District, chef Shaun Hergatt uses these dainty little creamcolored fungi to accessorize his Japanese escolar, arranging pale pink slices of the buttertender fish over stewed celery and completing the plate with crisp basil seeds and a vibrant Tai basil froth. Somewhat difficult to cultivate, hon shimejis—also known as white beech mushrooms—are native to East Asia. SHO Shaun Hergatt, 40 Broad St.,<br /> <br /> 212. 809.3993 Pop Rocks “I always revert to childhood when creating desserts,” executive pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini says of the crackling secret inside the citrus dessert tasting at Jean Georges. “It’s that element of surprise that’s so much fun.” Sure, there’s an almond-butter praline, a crunchy feuilletine, a tangy Meyer lemon sorbet and a velvety matcha parfait, but it’s that familiar intersection of pleasure and pain—courtesy of neutral-flavored Pop Rocks—that makes this special. Jean Georges, 1 Central Park W.,<br /> <br /> 212. 299.3900 Pandan Leaf Te flan on the dessert menu at DOB 111, Michael Bao Huynh’s new French-Vietnamese place in the East Village, gets its exotic perfume from pandan, a plant native to Southeast Asia. H<br /> <br /> uynh buys frozen pandan leaves in Chinatown and cuts them into one-inch pieces before adding them to cream to infuse it with their flavor. He serves the pale green custard in a sweet coconut sauce dotted with such equally intriguing sidekicks as gingko nuts and lotus seeds. DOB 111, 115 St. Marks Pl., 212.228.2500<br /> <br /> { Perfect PlAting }<br /> <br /> Jungle love Eating your way through the spring salad Justin Bogle serves at Gilt means discovering some magical new vegetal creature at every turn. Tere are doll-size pea pods, pickled morels, miniature favas and fiddleheads. Nudge aside a chubby baby carrot and you’ll find a mound of red-onion marmalade or a vibrant green puddle of tarragon puree. <br /> <br /> Beneath that wee basil leaf? A beet chip and a sun-colored saffroninfused marshmallow. A paper-thin fennel chip rises from the center like a diaphanous sea creature, and underpinning it all is a crumbly dirt base with notes of mushroom and cocoa. Gilt, 455 Madison Ave., 212.891.8100<br /> <br /> { toP desserts }<br /> <br /> Sweet Sensations<br /> <br /> 1. Eton Mess So perhaps it’s not the most alluring name currently gracing a Manhattan dessert menu. No matter. Te Breslin’s Britstyle pavlova makes up in flavor and texture whatever it lacks in etymological finesse. Paper-thin pineapple wedges and skinny ribbons of mint enliven the snowy canvas that is a mound of crisp, melt-in-your-mouth meringue sitting atop a scoop of sour-cream ice cream in an oversize bone-white bowl. 16 W. 29th St., 212.679.1939<br /> <br /> 2. S’mores Some of us would have deemed it impossible to improve on the campfire original, but the deconstructed Girl Scout classic that Christina Lee is sending out at Recette—incorporating graham-cracker ice cream, toasted marshmallow and cayenne-spiked chocolate ganache—has us seriously reconsidering. Order two of them. 328 W. 12th St., 212.414.3000<br /> <br /> 3. Almond Coconut Semifreddo You couldn’t possibly eat another thing, except you must: Tis chilly concoction— paired with shaved pineapple and mango sorbetto—is a lusciously light way to complement the other three quarters of Locanda Verde’s menu. But Karen DeMasco’s not afraid to pull out the big guns as well; the chocolate fantasy for two is seriously dreamy. 377 Greenwich St., 212.925.3797<br /> <br /> 4. Strawberry Float On a hot summer day, it doesn’t get much better than the old-fashioned ice cream–parlor classic they’re serving up at Chelsea’s Cookshop. Pastry chef Heather Miller uses fresh strawberries to make her own soda, which your server pours from a little carafe over homemade vanilla ice cream mounded in a slender parfait glass. A pair of cocoa nib–flecked cookies adds a smooth, bittersweet counterpoint. 156 Tenth Ave., 212.924-4440<br /> <br /> The 5 Best Scenes<br /> <br /> 1. Monkey Bar Tough the Lion may be the king of the restaurant jungle, Graydon Carter, the wizened Canadian editor of Vanity Fair and partner in the Waverly, still has Monkey Bar. It’s a beautifully renovated, golden-muraled room at the Hotel Elysée and a fun house for ice Vogue-r Anna Wintour (who has been spotted toying with some strange thing called “food”) as well as for anyone who wields any substantial power in the realms of media, politics, food, culture, mathematics, philology and ethnomusicology. 60 E. 54th St., 212.308.2950<br /> <br /> 2. Kenmare Tere will be a day when the actress Chloë Sevigny will be identified as “Paul Sevigny’s sister,” and that day will be soon if he keeps opening spots this hot. With chef Joey Campanaro (the Little Owl), Sevigny delivers a restaurant that’s part Rose Bar and part Beatrice (RIP), where models, directors, artists and the stray civilian gather for Campanaro’s meatball sliders. 98 Kenmare St., 212.274.9898<br /> <br /> 3. Pulino’s Keith McNally, restaurant hobbit of Manhattan, is slowly checking off mastery in every restaurant genre. Now in addition to hipster brasserie (Schiller’s), fin-de-siècle restaurant (Balthazar), Italian trattoria (Morandi), sepia-lit Greenwich Village saloon (Minetta Tavern) and B&T trap (Pastis), he can include neo-Neapolitan pizzeria. With San Fran’s Nate Appleman as pizzaiolo, the Bowery as a backdrop and tortuous waits, Pulino’s is by far McNally’s best in show. 282 Bowery, 212.226.1966<br /> <br /> 4. La Esquina Te first time any new New Yorker finds out about the “secret” Mexican lair underneath the divey corner storefront at the base of Cleveland Place, it’s a moment of nightlife satori. “OMG,” they scream, “I made it!” Te thrill doesn’t fade when they realize everyone has the number to Serge Becker’s subterranean restaurant and that Scary Guy with Clipboard is nothing more than a glorified maître d’. 114 Kenmare St., 646.613.7100<br /> <br /> 5. Te Lion After John DeLucie opened this West Village bistro, most of the media moguls and sundry boldfacers who haunted the Waverly Inn defected here. (Men’s Health’s absentee editor David Zinczenko is a co-owner.) <br /> <br /> Now, instead of murals of moguls past, patrons dine beside Basquiats, a David LaChapelle print of Andy Warhol and the eight incredibly lucky bastards who have scored a seat at the Lion’s Trone, a VIP table with its own private staircase that perches above the dining room. 62 W. 9th St., 212. 353.8400<br /> <br /> A SiDe orDer of DrinkS? Finding great food and drinks used to be an either-or proposition. Tese days, a crop of resto-bars combines ambitious cocktails with grub that spares us the need to grab a slice on the way home. Employees Only (510 Hudson St., 212.242.3021) is one of the West Village’s busiest bars, but its better-kept secret is the latenight snacks menu, featuring bonemarrow poppers in a puff-pastry shell and truffled grilled cheese with parmesan fries. At PDT (113 St. Marks Pl., 212.614.0386), Jim Meehan’s cult cocktails, dispensed by a staff that exudes the cool nerdiness of lab technicians, are best consumed with specialty hot dogs conceived by celeb chefs including Daniel Humm and David Chang. Phil Ward and his cooks at Mayahuel (304 E. 6th St.,<br /> <br /> 212. 253.5888), have devised dishes perfect for pairing with tequila-centric cocktails, like crisp pork-belly nuggets with papayamango mustard. Te boisterous Spitzer’s Corner (101 Rivington St., 212. 228.0027) <br /> <br /> feels like a postmodern indoor beer garden, filled with drinkers devouring pork-fat edamame and a grilled sandwich of ham, gruyère and quail’s egg. Te clamor around Death + Company’s (43 E. 6th St., 212. 338.0882) <br /> <br /> designer drinks—the Joy Division (gin, vermouth, Cointreau and absinthe) is particularly alluring—makes for long, appetitebuilding waits outside, but once in, revelers can feast on lamb quesadillas with tahini-mint yogurt, and tempurabattered charred cauliflower.<br /> <br /> Seen and Herds<br /> <br /> Dining out in Manhattan is as much about spotting cliques as it is about cuisine. Here’s where to find 12 of the most colorful tribes.<br /> <br /> 1. IDle MoDelS on offhours– and they’re all off hours–gather to not eat pasta at Nolita’s Epistrophy. 200 Mott St., 212.966.0904<br /> <br /> 2. In bespoke suits and pearls, exileD eurotraSh meet at Le Caprice at the Pierre hotel, a spendy brother of the Piccadilly Circus institution. 795 Fifth Ave., 212.940.8195<br /> <br /> 3. At Peasant, Boho gYp- SetterS tuck their bangs behind headbands and head into the Middle Ages–chic basement wine bar. 194 Elizabeth St., 212.965.9511<br /> <br /> 4. The BeSt MinDS of MY generation (DeStroYeD BY MaDneSS) love a 3am plate of pierogi at the East Village institution Veselka. 144 Second Ave., 212.228.9682<br /> <br /> 5. The BeSt artiStS of MY generation (who’ve MaDe it) lunch at Te Red Cat, unaware they’re borrowing against future earnings. 227 Tenth Ave.,<br /> <br /> 212. 242.1122<br /> <br /> 6. Hell’s Kitchen’s Totto Ramen, is home to MiDtown raMenheaDS in search of noodly authenticity. 366 W. 52nd St., 212.582.0052<br /> <br /> 7. L’anCien régiMe traDitionaliStS dine on pasta primavera (off-menu, of course) at Le Cirque. 151 E. 58th St., 212.644.0202<br /> <br /> 8. Who’s sipping $22 martinis under the mural at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis? Hot MiDDle-ageD woMen. 2 E. 55th St., 212.753.4500<br /> <br /> 9. Fine-Dining noMaDS include Jean Georges in their endless loop of Le Bernardin, Daniel and Per Se. 1 Central Park W., 212.299.3900<br /> <br /> 10. Cool CarnivoreS head to the Ace Hotel’s Breslin for pork scratchings. 16 W. 29th St., 212.679.1939<br /> <br /> 11. MoDern-DaY MaD Men mix business and licoricecaramelized hamachi fillet at Te Modern in the MoMA. 9 W. 53rd St., 212.333.1220<br /> <br /> 12. Long lines hungry for Shake Shack burgers are comprised of neo-SuMMer noStalgiStS. Madison Ave. And E. 23rd St., 212.889.6600<br />

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