There are few cities in the world that can handle crisis like a boss. Whether it’s September 11, Hurricane Sandy or this pandemic, New York always comes back. And we come back even stronger. The lesson learned is this: never bet against New York. Case in point: Last year, people said restaurants were over. That’s why this week, in honor of the city that never ceases to entertain and inspire, we have four blowout restaurants. These spots hark back to the days when Dorsia and the sea urchin at Le Bernardin were all the rage.
Chef: Daniel Boulud
Cuisine: French fusion
What it’s like: No one expected the opening of Le Pavillon, but Boulud has beat all odds. The stunning restaurant feels like an oasis amid Grand Central Terminal. With an indoor garden and wall-to-ceiling glass, the restaurant has all the light and flora of a botanical garden. The dramatic restaurant takes inspiration from the original La Pavillon, which radically changed the fine dining scene. But as usual, Boulud puts his own spin on fine dining, with a few seafood courses, no meat, and inventive and wild vegetable dishes. Unlike other French fine-dining restaurants, Boulud incorporates complex cross-cultural flavors for an entirely new experience.
Les Trois Chevaux
Chef: Angie Mar
Cuisine: French fusion
What it’s like: After Mar closed her restaurant, The Beatrice, during Covid-19, she knew she couldn’t go back. Instead of doing the dimly lit steak and Manhattans scene she had before, she took a risk and opened a radically new restaurant. And we’re glad she did. After the whirlwind of the pandemic, Mar felt a strong desire to bring New York back to life in a real way. No more athleisure — this is high-heeled, suit-jacket fine dining. The five- to seven-course prix fixe menu is different every night, but a pheasant-carving station is a mainstay. Instead of steak, there are frog legs two ways: one confited in duck fat and a second poached in Champagne beurre blanc. And her pièce de résistance is foie gras with pear, hazelnut and lobster. And though Mar truly wants to bring back the high French classics, she also takes inspiration from her roots in Taipei and her youth on the West Coast. Some say Les Trois Chevaux is restrained for her, but she disagrees, as do we. This is the future of NYC.
Chef: James Kent
Cuisine: Asian, North African, French
What it’s like: Like walking into a very fancy party at your CEO friend’s 63rd floor apartment in the Financial District. Once off the elevator, you’re greeted and ushered into an intimate, velvet-clad dining room with bars on adjacent terraces. Despite the luxury, no one feels out of place and there’s no dress code. Though, for sure, you’ll want to dress up for a meal here. Courses are paced luxuriously throughout evening and include dishes like beeswax-poached duck and fresh fluke. Of course, there is caviar and Champagne, and also Moroccan tea. The experience is unlike any other NYC fine-dining establishment, and we’re betting the uniquely intimate and unbothered ambiance is here to stay.
Eleven Madison Park
Chef: Daniel Humm
What it’s like: When Humm first announced that the legendary EMP would go vegan, he was worried people would no longer dine there. And yet, only at EMP would there be a waitlist of 15,000 for a $1,500 plant-based dinner. Everything you love about the restaurant, from the Central Park views to the crisp, white linens, is still there. Except now instead of braised duck, there is a labor-intensive tartare of diced cucumbers layered in a gradient with small bits of sweet, crisp melon over a base of avocado cream and daikon. And the flakey sunflower chickpea bread takes the whole experience over the top. For those betting on NYC’s return to normal, we think in some ways you might be right. But there’s something in the air now (perhaps, like Humm says, it’s climate change) that is reinventing the status quo.