The James Beard nominees weigh in on their favorite city restaurants
Two James Beard Award nominees, Pichet Ong and Joe Bastianich, named Gotham Bar and Grill among their favorite New York City restaurants.
On May 4, The James Beard Foundation will bestow its coveted awards on some of the culinary industrys most outstanding talent.
In advance of the event, we caught up with four New York-based nominees and asked them to do the honoring in this case crowning their favorite city restaurants (aside from their own), in both the fine dining and budget categories.
Joe Bastianich of Babbo, nominated for outstanding restaurant
Gotham Bar and Grill, one of the citys most long-standing, classic restaurants, still serves high-quality food after 25 years, Bastianich said. He said he usually eats there about twice a month. To him, menu standouts include the toro tuna appetizer, grilled octopus and miso-marinated black cod, though there are too many favorites to name, he said. They have great wine service and some of the best floor service in the city. Plus, he said, their $25 lunch deal is one of the best deals in town.
In terms of budget spots, Bastianich goes to Grand Sichuan on 24th and Ninth Avenue about once a week. Its my favorite Chinese restaurant, he said. Get the lobster Sichuan style, fresh killed chicken with black bean sauce and green beans and shrimp dumplings. You can get lunch for $15, he said.Pichet Ong, nominated for outstanding pastry chef
When asked for his favorites, Ong replied, There are too many to mention! But, he said, for dinners out, I love Falai, WD-50, Gotham Bar & Grill and Jean Georges. I usually love tasting menus, particularly seasonal ones, he said. When asked to pick one standout, Ong said he always orders Jean Georgess molten chocolate cake. Ive had it for 18 years, and Ill have it for another 18.
For bargain, I love Dim Sum Go Go, Wondee Siam, Rhong Tiam and Grand Sichuan, he said. The dim sum at Dim Sum Go Go is the best in New York. I love the orange beef at Grand Sichuan, the basil duck at Wondee Siam and the eggplant salad at
Dan Barber of Blue Hill, nominated for outstanding chef
Barber said it was hard to pick favorites, but he recently ate at Bouley in its new space, and thought it was great. He said he tried about 20 different courses, and it was all delicious. The new menu was great. The main thing, he said, is to order the tasting menu, so you can have lots of little tastes of everything.
For budget dining, he recommended Dumpling House on Eldridge Street. He favors the steamed vegetable and scallion pancake. We go there every moment we can, when ever I get off of work early, but, its not enough, he said. And just how cheap is it? Its real cheap, he said. You cant spend more than $5.
Aldo Sohm, sommelier at Le Bernardin, nominated for outstanding wine service
Sohm said his favorite restaurant for a splurge (aside from Le Bernardin) is Per Se. I like it because it has class and style and the people who work there deliver a truly unique dining experience, he said. I also love the view over Central Park. Sohms gone a few times, and said he doesnt look for a favorite dish, because I dont want to limit myself. They offer such a amazing experience and take such good
care of you, that you can leave yourself in their capable care.
To save, he recommends Pearl Oyster Bar. He likes the West Village neighborhood and the casual atmosphere. And, he said the food is simple but very good.I looooove their lobster roll and mussels, but I always try something new too.
Tickets for the awards, which are $400 for James Beard members, $450 for the general public, are still available through jbfawards.com or 212-925-0054.