Best of New York: Dining and Nightlife
The 18th floor at the Standard Hotel may not have a permanent name yet, but it's the new private party hotspot.
New Brooklyn Restaurant
247 S. First St.,Williamsburg, 718-218-8047
Having already raised the level of Brooklyn dining, longtime Willamsburg resident and chef Cal Elliott — part of the gang behind celebrated spots DuMont and Dressler — went solo earlier this year with this all-American bistro. The menu offers something for everyone, from satisfying hot sandwiches (glazed meatloaf with buttermilk onions) to Long Island duck breast with Moroccan couscous and curry butter. With prices mostly under $20, it’s just another reason for Manhattanites to trek across the river.
240 Central Park S., 212-582-5100
While chefs like Daniel Boulud (DBGB) and Michael Psilakis (Gus & Gabriel) weathered the economy by giving diners cheaper versions of their otherwise tony eateries, Michael White decided to open his dream spot, showing diners what he could do with seafood from the waters off Italy. Entrees straddle the $40 line, while tasting menus reach into three figures, but what’s a few Ben Franklins among friends when grilled Mediterranean cuttlefish comes tagged with braised escarole, Taggia olives, wild oregano and a tomato livornese sauce.
New foodie neighborhood
When Farm on Adderley opened on Cortelyou Road three years ago, Tom Kearney’s seasonal American bistro fare was a big change for the deep-Brooklyn community of Ditmas Park. Three years later, Kearney has spawned a French bistro, Pomme de Terre; chef Mimi Kitani has launched her little Israeli spot Mimi’s Kitchen; and comfort food joint Picket Fence. Meanwhile, a Filipino spot called Purple Yam is scheduled to open any day now. Combine this with the Pakistani food on Coney Island Avenue and the strong Jewish mainstays that have called the ’hood home for years, and Ditmas Park has gone from dining trek to dining destination.
Afternoon high tea
Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon
56 Irving Pl., 212-533-4466
Party like it’s 1899 at this cozy Victorian tea room in Gramercy. The five-course high tea ($35) typically includes fresh scones, home-baked cookies, finger sandwiches and chocolate-covered strawberries, among other dainty delectables.
From the elegant tea sets to the ubiquitous candelabras, you’ll feel like you’re in a Charlotte Bronte novel. Reservations required.
Gay happy hour
Bar-tini Ultra Lounge
642 10th Ave., 917-388-2897
Sleek is the word at this new gay bar, formerly Tenth Avenue Lounge, predominantly decked out in shades of white accented by hardwood floors. Regulars already are dropping by to enjoy the spot’s inventive cocktails and nightly DJs. Swing by any day between 4 and 8 p.m. for a happy hour featuring half-priced cocktails such as signature cucumber martinis or B-12 mojitos. Under the weather? What better antidote than an antioxidant martini concocted with pomegranate liqueur and
All-in-one nightlife venue
61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 718-963-3369
Brooklyn Bowl bartender Tim Warner calls it a “playland for adults,” and we couldn’t agree more. The 23,000-square-foot space is part bowling alley, part concert venue, part Blue Ribbon resto and part cocktail lounge.
Located a few blocks from the Bedford Avenue L stop, the warehouse-style spot has garnered immense popularity since opening last summer, both on concert nights (everyone from The Roots to Glass Candy to an all-metal Bee Gees tribute band have played so far) and regular nights. Since lane space is at a premium (there are 16 and they fill up quickly) and prices are affordable ($30-$50 per lane per hour), you may just have to force yourself to chow down on Blue Ribbon’s fried chicken or mac and cheese and sip a Brooklyn-brewed beer while you wait.
Full English breakfast
49 Clinton St., 212-614-3234
Named after a London suburb, this LES gastropub offers a truly hearty full English breakfast, right. For $12, you get a plate filled with sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and two fried eggs, plus toast and a mug of tea. As if that weren’t enough, owner Stefan Ching, who used to live in Clerkenwell, plans to add baked beans to the dish.
New private space
The 18th Floor at the Standard
848 Washington St., 212-645-4646
While it’s only available for private events, the 18th-floor penthouse bar at the Standard Hotel has just what you might expect: gorgeous city views, impeccable service and jaw-dropping decor. Slightly reminiscent of Studio 54, the space is outfitted in decadent shades of dusty rose and shiny gold, with a circular wooden bar holding court in the center.
The star-studded opening night guest list included Madonna, Lindsay Lohan, Jude Law, Bon Jovi and more. While the owners originally tried out the name Boom Boom Room, the moniker was nixed, resulting in its temporary title. Just a warning: The restrooms are contructed almost entirely out of glass, so expect to overlook downtown when it comes time to excuse yourself.
New one-stop shop
Whole Foods Market Upper West Side
808 Columbus Ave.
While the West 50s and 60s have easy access to Whole Foods and the 70s have Fairway, the West 90s were without a gourmet supermarket until this summer. In August, Whole Foods opened its sixth city location, in a brand new building on West 97th Street. The 59,000-square-foot space is the first Whole Foods to have a stand-alone wine shop, open seven days a week. The shop offers more than 1,000 varieties of wine, with a focus on New York vineyards. As is the case at the Bowery location, customers can purchase 32-or 64-ounce reusable beer growlers and fill them with one of six beers available on tap. There’s also a Friday night jazz series.
Pork nuggets at Char No. 4
196 Smith St., Brooklyn, 718-643-2106
These square morsels of panko-breaded, deep-fried pork balls could be considered McDonald’s for the foodie set. Made from leftover, misshapen pork bits from other items on chef Matt Greco’s menu, they’re served five to an order with a super-hot dipping sauce. To complement the flavor of these pre-entree treats, why not pair them up with one of Char’s 100 American whiskeys?
Chef Nate Appleman
San Francisco golden boy Nate Appleman, who received accolades at A16 and SPQR and received this year’s James Beard Rising Star award, has set his sights on our fair city. Appleman is teaming up with buzzed-about restaurateur Keith McNally on the equally buzzed-about Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria at the corner of Bowery and Houston Street. Expect pizza cooked in wood-burning ovens and Appleman’s signature on-site butchering sometime in December.
Sighting of an old-school video game
“Burger Time” at Warren 77
77 Warren St., 212-227-8994
Owned by New York Ranger Sean Avery and the gang behind the late scenester motherland Beatrice Inn, this vintage-looking sports bar offers two tabletop video game consoles, where folks can eat, drink and play “Galaga,” “Pac Man” or, our favorite, 1982’s “Burger Time.” In case you don’t recall, the premise is hilarious: A tiny chef has to traverse a maze of platforms, running the length of beef patties, lettuce and tomatoes until they fall onto a waiting bun, all the while avoiding bad guys in the form of hot dogs, eggs and pickles. A plus? When you’re done playing, Warren comes through with a damn good burger.
Most anticipated (and delayed) reopening
Pies ’n’ Thighs
166 S. Fourth St., Brooklyn
True barbecue and baked goods fans have been waiting with bated breath for their beloved Southern-style Pies ’n’ Thighs to reopen after shutting down in January 2008. Now there’s some good news: The new Williamsburg storefront is expected to open on Nov. 1. Loosen those belt buckles now.
‘I’ve been laid off’ bar
225 W. 79th St., 212-874-9528
If you’re on the dole, head over to this Upper West Side watering hole for a few rounds of commiseration … and Guinness.
The friendly, inclusive neighborhood bar has been nursing New Yorkers through their woes since the early Prohibition days.
With pitchers that are easy on the wallet, it’s not a bad cure for the unemployment blues. Just keep your eye out for the hard-to-miss blinking neon green harp out front.
Out-of-the-way new bar
217 Pulaski St., Brooklyn, 718-928-5590
Only in New York will you find a bar that was once somebody’s two-bedroom apartment. Nestled in Bed-Stuy, this speakeasy lies on the city’s less-traveled subway lines (the G, J, M and Z), which is perfect if you like to mix alcohol with exploring. Outfitted with Depression-era decor, notably a giant antique stove, SarahJames may be out of the way, but you won’t miss the yellow facade once you’re there.
Ice cream flavor
Salted caramel pretzel at General Greene
229 Dekalb Ave.,Brooklyn, greeneicecream.com
We knew it wouldn’t take General Greene restaurant owner Nicholas Morgenstern too long to flex the pastry chef muscle that he developed at Gramercy Tavern. This summer, he expanded to an ice cream cart and out came flavors such as butterscotch black pepper, lemon olive oil and salted hazelnut gianduja. However, it may be the salted caramel pretzel that’s the most satisfying.
A perfect hybrid of dulce de leche and brown butter, the husky sweetness is both amplified and undercut by crunchy
pretzels, which lend it great textural variety.
New frat party
122 W. 26th St., 212-741-0646
Brought to you by the team behind Murray Hill’s The Hill, this gastropub embodies all the key ingredients for one “fratastic” night out: 6,000 square feet, 40 flat-screen TVs and dudes sucking back beer in cans (PBR), in pints
(Bass, Bud) and, maturely, from 100-ounce tubes. The joint also offers a fancy-ish menu, which features savory, if un-sporty, eats from chef Dave Feimster (duck spring rolls, wild mushroom pizza, lobster po’boys), in addition to familiar pub grub. The handsome decor is a step up from your typical sports bar, with rustic wood, gothic chandeliers, votives and iron gates, although it’s unlikely anyone will notice — at least not until halftime.
Breslin Lobby Bar
20 W. 29th St., 212-679-2222
The first of multiple bars to open in the Ace Hotel from restaurant impresario Ken Friedmen, Breslin is giving nightlife-starved Herald Square a new pulse. The dimly lit bar is cozy, with coffered ceilings, wood flourishes and shelves of books. Lounge on couches with a glass of wine, a beer or a classic cocktail. Feeling saucy? Give the Hound on Fire (Stoli, grapefruit juice and chili salt) a shot.
Loconda Verde (formerly Ago)
77 Greenwich St., 212-925-3797
Even Robert De Niro knows when to save face. After abysmal reviews, outlandish prices and a snobby vibe, the New York outpost of Ago, located in his TriBeCa hotel, shut its doors. With not a second to spare, De Niro snagged a big-name chef — A Voce star Andrew Carmellini — and opened Loconda Verde. Translated loosely as the “green local spot,” the reincarnation is proving popular with tough-to-snag reservations and reasonably priced Italian comfort food.
79 Orchard St., 212-219-9545
While the menu at this tiny LES spot is studded with Austrian offerings, it’s the sausage that truly stands out. Most of the half-dozen wiener offerings are made on-site and vary in taste from a mild bratwurst to spicier Emmentaler. To try them all, order the sausage sampler platter ($15 a person) and wash it down with a stein of a refreshingly frothy GÖsser.
New beer garden
4 Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-782-2829
And to think, you once had to trek out to Astoria to swig beer in the open air. Located in Williamsburg, this bi-level garden — which includes a 3,000-square-foot roof space overlooking McCarren Park — is arguably one of the city’s biggest and most raucous beer gardens, with 15 brews on tap and a late-night crowd.
New tequila paradise
109 Ludlow St., 212-228-8383
Brought to you by the team behind LES favorite Spitzer’s Corner, this sprawling den features three full floors focused on a variety of high-end tequilas and tacos. Part of the space is rustic — think a pressed-tin ceiling, cobblestone and graffiti —
with a distinct speakeasy vibe (smaller rooms,
chandeliers, moody lighting; there’s even a semi-hidden private room for diners). Tequila lovers can sip everything from anejo on the rocks to tequila cocktails to standard yet well-made margaritas, while listening to a roster of DJs spin a mix of music.
Second cut of fish
Yellowtail collar at Blue Ribbon Sushi
119 Sullivan St., 212-343-0404
When the sushi chefs at Blue Ribbon take apart hamachi, it doesn’t end when the pillowy fillets are removed for use in sushi and sashimi. Resting at the top is the protruding collar, covered in succulent meat waiting for the skillful hand of a cook to take it from the sushi bar to the kitchen and return it as a lightly spiced and roasted first-course treat.
401 W. 52nd St., 212-247-8137
With so many middling cheese programs throughout the city, it’s good to know quality still exists. Caselulla owner Brian Keyser took the skills he honed curating cheese programs at top spots such as The Modern and set out on his own. In the same vain as curd spots Artisanal and The JakeWalk, Keyser opened up this tiny cafe in Hell’s Kitchen, where he stocks an extensive selection of top cheeses that includes a perfect pate as well as both bloomy and stinky varieties from across the globe. Sample a variety with a seemingly endless array of cheese flights. Quality wine pairings complete the experience.
8 a.m. bar
48 Spring St., 212-965-1774
Ever have a hankering for a Bloody Mary at 8 a.m.? As problematic as that may seem, Spring Lounge is more than happy to accommodate such cravings — no questions asked. In the early hours of the day, expect a sedate clientele (night-shift workers, partied-out people and a few trucker-looking characters). While it’s an alternate universe compared with the bro-filled joint 12 hours later, it’s one that actually might be preferable.
New coffee spot
10 Court St.,Brooklyn 718-855-7129;
17 Clinton St., 212-253-2303
The much-awaited coffee beans from Portland roasters Stumptown are now being produced in Red Hook as well. To show off the buzzed-about beans, the team behind Italian resto Frankies Spuntino — located in both Manhattan and Brooklyn — launched coffee spots near both locations. The staff has been trained in the meticulous art of crafting French-pressed coffee and steamy espressos; these guys are serious about their java. A comfy atmosphere and fresh-baked pastries from Frankies’ kitchens add to the vibe.
Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern
9 Minetta Ln., 212-475-3850
Here in the city, a haute burger typically means a proprietary blend of meat that melds flavorful cuts of cow with just the right amount of fat. For the burger at Minetta, Keith McNally turned to famed meat wholesaler Pat La Frieda. After two months of testing, what he got was a hefty burger crafted with select cuts of prime dry-aged beef. At $26, it’s no deal, but topped with caramelized onions and served with crispy pomme frites, it’s a must-try.
Banh Mi Saigon Bakery
138 Mott St., 212-941-1541
While banh mi seems to be having a moment in the city, with a slew of news shops peddling the Vietnamese sandwich, it’s this favorite in the back of a jewelry store on Mott Street that seems to have it down to a science. Lightly brushed with mayo, French bread comes layered with meat, sliced cucumbers, pickled carrots, hot peppers and cilantro for under $5 a pop. While the crispy pork, chicken and sardines are solid protein choices, we say go for the authentic pate, with layers of fresh, cured and creamy pork.
430 E. Ninth St., 212-228-7732
Cooking sumptuous veggies has come a long way in the past two decades, and no place is doing it better than this 18-seat den tucked on a less-traveled stretch of Ninth Street. Meet perky Amanda Cohen, who bounces from kitchen to dining room, and you’ll see why.
Her fun-loving spirit blurs the lines between, sweet and savory, fried and not-so-fried. Portobello mushrooms are turned into a creamy mousse and spicy kimchi goes into doughnuts, right, but despite all the trickery, the down-home jalapeno hush puppies are a definite must.
Museum club night
One Step Beyond at The American Museum of Natural History
Enter at Central Park West and 79th Street, 212-769-5200
Nothing beats partying at a museum after hours, and the One Stop Beyond series at the Museum of Natural History offers the most rollicking museum soiree in town. On Nov. 13, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., DJ rupture will preside over a party in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, where you can dance under the stars, so to speak. The $25 ticket includes admission to the Hayden Planetarium show “Cosmic Collisions,” as well as a free pass to visit the museum during daytime hours.
240 Ninth Ave., 212-242-4730
Venturing out on her own, Alex Raij (Tia Pol, El Quinto Pino) has focused her culinary sights on the north of Spain at this Basque-only eatery. The changing menu is heavy on pork and seafood, all filled with touches of Raij’s culinary finesse. Try crispy toast points topped with whipped brandade (salt cod) or tender rotters, tripe, beef tendon with chickpeas and earthy choricero peppers. Pair it all with a glass of sherry or a regional txakolina, a young and refreshing vino.
339 Ninth St., Brooklyn, 718-788-1444
There are plenty of affordable choices on the menu, but it’s the $10 burger and hand-cut fries that draw crowds to this unfussy South Slope beer bar. Fresh meat is ground in-house, formed into two thin square patties, a la Wendy’s, grilled and topped with all the fixings (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo) and placed on a good old-fashioned sesame seed bun. For a dollar less,
order a single patty; for a dollar more, try a triple.
589 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, no phone
With the speakeasy craze branching out to outer boroughs, it’s easy to be disappointed by all the swill being shaken out there, by mustachioed bartenders posing as mixologists. Not so at this understated joint, where the unmarked subway tile entrance gives way to classic concoctions and a festive vibe. An offshoot of the Sasha Petraske family tree (owner Kathryn Weatherup was once a partner in East Side Company), the bartenders go to great lengths to make each cocktail, using fresh ingredients and classic techniques and spirits.
Reopening of a classic
361 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 347-529-6696
You go where the fans are, and after 15 years in TriBeCa, the Knitting Factory found a new and smaller home in Williamsburg last month. This is not new for this classic club for fans of all incarnations of off-beat contemporary music. The club spent its first seven years on the Lower East Side. So chances are, when Billyburg becomes too mainstream, somewhere down the road it may again be relocating to a hip new hood, as it expands its empire around the country to places such as Boise, Idaho.
New green market trend
There seems to be no shortage of creative ways to use the city’s green market bounty these days. So when Nathalie Jordi was offered a stand at the New Amsterdam Market, she turned to her inner child and out came People’s Pops, handmade, locally sourced popsicles and shaved ice. Jordi, along with co-owners David Carrell and Joel Horowitz, churns out a revolving door of flavors that focus on what city green markets have to offer that week, from blueberry and cardamom to peach, honey and chamomile. The buzz has driven demand from 300 pops a week to 1,200, while expanding to various Brooklyn flea markets, a delivery service and catering to office parties.
295 Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-388-5988
It looks and feels like any taqueria, but swing by this spot for lunch, brunch or dinner and you’ll see for yourself the importance of quality ingredients when crafting an authentic taco. At $2.50-$3.50 a pop, they’re not the cheapest in town, but they are among the tastiest. Standards include carne asada and chicken delight, but if you’re looking to be adventurous, give the tongue taco or the pigs’ feet tostada a shot.
209 Cortelyou Rd., Brooklyn, 718-284-4444
Americans love this Middle Eastern staple and, as a result, there have been plenty of restaurants serving grainy, gloopy versions. Chef Mimi Kitani, however, isn’t one of them. A trained chef from Jerusalem, she’s been enjoying the dish since childhood. Now, she’s managed to created five creamy versions at her self-named Ditmas Park hummus shop: fava bean, ground beef, tahini, masbatha (traditional) and mushroom. Secretive when it comes to her chosen ingredients, all Kitani would say is that she always uses fresh chickpeas to craft her hummus, making batches every morning. Served with pickles, olives and pita, it’s a barometer of what all hummus should be.
190 Bleecker St.,212-228-4648
Biryani is one of those oft-overlooked dishes when it comes to ordering Indian, but Sangam, a tiny outpost off NYU territory with an equally tiny menu, is looking to change that. Its outstanding version of the traditional rice dish comes with chicken, lamb or vegetables, and is made with freshly ground aromatic spices.
Piece of Chicken
362 W. 45th St., 212-582-5973
Dow got you down? At least this city is still not without a bargain. A buck will get you a hunk of chicken (ranging from standard fried to barbecue wings) at this aptly named, cash-only West Side spot. And with Southern-style sides such as black-eyed peas and collard greens also going for $1, you can afford to go all out and still have some scratch left over for after-dinner beers.
Kossar’s 367 Grand St.,
A tried-and-true Lower East Side landmark (and part of a dying breed of local businesses), this bare-bones bialy and bagel shop has been drawing a die-hard following for decades, thanks mostly to their incomparable hand-baked bialy. Whether a fan of the classic round or lengthy bulka, you’ll delight in the doughy, oniony goodness of both.
135 N. Fifth St., Brooklyn, 718-302-5151
Is fried chicken the new pork belly? It sure seems that way, with chefs such as David Chang (Momofuku) and Andrew Carmellini getting in on the act. But before all the hubbub, Stephen Tanner’s celebrated and authentically Southern bird — coated in seltzer and flour — already was drawing folks to this tiny, cash-only, BYOB cafe in Williamsburg. Clocking in at $16 a plate, the crispy chicken is served with fluffy biscuits and collard greens.