The 2014 List Of The Top 10 New Restaurants in NYC Courtesy Of New York Times Restaurant Critic Pete Wells!
If you are wondering where to eat come 2015 when it’s time to celebrate after a New York City real estate closing, here are the 2014 Top 10 restaurants courtesy of the New York Times Food Section and Pete Wells!
This list will ‘serve’ you well as an excellent guide until new restaurants are sampled during 2015.
And by way of an explanation, Pete’s Top 10 rankings do not necessarily follow a strict Star formula as a 1-Star restaurant makes his final list (Delaware and Hudson), some 2-Stars do not and a 2-Star (Russ & Daughters) is ranked above a 3-Star establishment (Simone). Go figure!
And now, without the typical wait you might experience when you are trying to get a reservation at one of these fine establishments, here are numbers 1-5 with a link provided to the NYT article and numbers 6-10.
For New Yorkers who’ve been eating and drinking at this address since the Montrachet era, Bâtard reads like a new chapter in downtown dining. It makes a clean break with the style of the last restaurant in this space, Corton, which demanded that you submit to the will of the chef as Paul Liebrandt’s tasting menu went through its stunning gyrations. That had its rewards, but a high-spirited dining room was not one of them. Bâtard brings back the fun. You hear it in the voices and see it in the smiles of customers as they realize that this place revolves around them, not the artistry on the plate. There is plenty of that in Markus Glocker’s cooking, but it doesn’t demand supplication. The menu is à la carte, hardly a radical idea but one that puts the customer back in charge. (It also makes it much easier to pick a bottle from Bâtard’s great, largely Burgundian cellar and stick with it throughout the meal.) Mr. Glocker’s flavors make sense, and when he fusses with an ingredient, it’s not for the sake of showing off; it’s because he’s bringing to the foreground some quality that we may have missed. Some of his most enjoyable food leans toward Austria, where he was raised, like the chicken schnitzel served with what has to be the finest potato salad in the city. It’s a wonderfully sane dish in a restaurant that tries to bring sanity back to high-style dining. 239 West Broadway (Walker Street), TriBeCa; 212-219-2777.
A sit-down branch of the century-old Russ & Daughters appetizing business finally arrived this year, and not a minute too soon. As the death of Cafe Edison this month has reminded us, New Yorkers can’t keep taking blintzes, latkes and borscht for granted. The cooking of Eastern European Jews helps make up the flavor of New York, and its survival in a city of changing demographics and pitiless real estate churn isn’t guaranteed. If that food has a future, it may look like Russ & Daughters Cafe. The place offers modern innovations, like servers who don’t grumble and bark. The interior, with white marble tables and vintage photos, is soaked in history without feeling dated. And there is liquid relief for the herring-besieged palate, from a beet-lemon shrub to stronger mixed drinks and a wine list brief but built with care. All of this should help build a new audience for traditional flavors, like the mushroom-barley soup with its dark, woodsy, creamless mushroom stock or the improbably fluffy baby knishes. And, of course, there are the fishes, each more luxuriously oily than the last. The Lower East Side probably has twice as many restaurants as it needs, but this one feels essential. 127 Orchard Street (Delancey Street), Lower East Side; 212-475-4881.
3. The Simone
With its menus written in cursive, its sedate townhouse dining room on the Upper East Side and its waiters in vests and tightly knotted neckties, the Simone is easily the year’s least trendy restaurant. But trends aren’t always interesting, and the Simone’s retro ideas aren’t stale. They honestly express the sensibilities of the owners, Chip Smith, Tina Vaughn and Robert Margolis, who believe that the old-fashioned niceties are still relevant. While you’re at the Simone, you believe it, too. This extends to Mr. Smith’s cooking, which is classically French in technique but feels timeless and natural in his hands. Ms. Vaughn, his wife, has a talent for finding the right wine, and she’ll tell you why with a minimum of wine-speak but a winning level of enthusiasm. Like the restaurant, there’s nothing starchy about her.51 East 82nd Street, Upper East Side; 212-772-8861.
4. Cherche Midi
Keith McNally says he builds the kind of restaurants where he’d like to eat. Anyone seeing how well Cherche Midi has turned out will wonder why all other restaurateurs don’t do the same. The music plays so quietly that you register it subliminally, if at all. The service is free of pretense and amateurism. The menu requires no introductory speechifying, although it helps to be familiar with premodern French totems like frogs’ legs in parsley sauce, steamed mussels, crêpes suzette and îles flottantes. The star is that banquet war horse, prime rib, elevated to heroic stature. Very little about Cherche Midi is new, but there is plenty to lure you, and presumably Mr. McNally, again and again. 282 Bowery (East Houston Street), NoLIta; 212-226-3055.
5. Ivan Ramen
The name may be a mistake. Certainly it doesn’t give the full picture. Like Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ivan Ramen is more than a place for noodle soup, though its shio ramen is a dashi-loaded blast of shimmering Jewish-grandmother chicken broth, and the spicy red chili ramen could probably end wars. Purists who measure this restaurant against traditional ramen-yas are missing the point: Ivan Ramen is a chef’s restaurant, where Ivan Orkin, a son of Long Island, plays delicious and witty games of his own with Japanese food. If you know another ramen shop in the city serving braised beef heart in dashi and beef broth that can touch Mr. Orkin’s, please send the address, now. 25 Clinton Street (Stanton Street), Lower East Side; 646-678-3859.
Numbers 6-10 can be found at The 10 Best New Restaurants of 2014 here.
Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.
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