New York restaurants in October 2021: where to go
Edible lightening from our catering experts and colleagues Monie Begley, Richard Nalley and Randall Alley, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.
155 West 51st St. (Tel: 212-554-1515)
An elegant, very comfortable and much less formal alternative to the main dining room. There’s a range of caviar offerings, as well as a luxurious smoked salmon croque-monsieur with golden Osetra. The a la carte menu may change, but restaurant classics are typically offered: sparkling oysters, including east and west coast varieties; the LB lobster roll, teeming with generous pieces of lobster on black truffle bread; yellowfin tuna, pounded in thin layers with a drizzle of olive oil; and the LB signature salmon rillette. Also on the menu, beautiful works of art made with salmon, scallops or hamachi. But the garnish for this meal is the egg, a sinful concoction of chocolate and caramel served in an eggshell. The service is impeccable. As you float out the door you know you’ve had a true Le Bernardin experience.
120 West 55th St. (Tel: 212-433-3330)
A big, busy place with big portions and robust prices. Lyonnaise smoked salmon has more curly than fish, but the tuna carpaccio is top notch. The Dover sole is excellent, moist and perfectly boned. For something unexpected, try the Moroccan fried chicken — think Colonel Sanders in the Kasbah! Three favorite desserts are the apple tarte tatin sundae, the floating island, and the pistachio crème brûlée (rave-like).
1695 Second Ave., near 88th St. (Tel: 212-722-5133)
Walking into this unpretentious cafe is like being transported to Strasbourg. The white pudding with sauerkraut is as good as in Alsace. The smoked salmon is classic and delicious, just like the Provencal mussels and chips, and the profiteroles are heavenly. If you’re not a fan of chocolate, try the pancake soufflé with passion fruit sauce. Wash it all off with a nice, fresh Gewürztraminer, and the illusion of being in the East of France will be complete.
80 Spring St., between Broadway and Crosby St. (Tel: 212-965-11414)
As lively and noisy as ever, Balthazar is packed, inside and out. There are a few less memorable dishes and the wait between them can be long, but overall the service is good and most of the prices are top notch. (It’s also a deservedly popular breakfast spot.) The shrimp cocktail is divine, but the tomatoes in the Heirloom Peach Tomato Salad are disappointing. The paillard chicken and the nicoise salad are as good as you will find anywhere. For desserts, the Tropézienne tart is more of a cream puff than a pie, but the Pavlova and the hot chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream are worth every calorie. A fun place for all ages.
20 East 60th St. (Tel: 212-751-3036)
A survivor of the pandemic. The interior of the Bilboquet is understated and its cuisine is uniformly fabulous. The avocado-based gazpacho is a tangy treat, the same goes for grilled octopus and the perfect beef tartare. The tarte tatin – Granny Smith apples baked in caramel on a puff pastry served with Chantilly cream – is as good as any in Paris or Normandy. The bartender makes an average martini, and the bar has a large assortment of calvados, as well as an excellent wine list, but not overpriced.
1590 Second Ave., between 82nd and 83rd Sts. (Phone: 212-203-2751)
Home of comfort food, this gourmet pub has the decor and vibe of an authentic Irish pub – lots of wood, leather, chatter and laughter as patrons enjoy unusual beers and whiskeys. There are delicious appetizers: Buffalo chicken wings with crumbled blue cheese; bang bang shrimp tempura with chili aioli; and fried and cut into folds pickles with cornmeal coating and chipotle aioli. Share a salad of broccolini and burrata bowls filled with farro grains, pistachios, dried apricots and radicchio with a chili vinaigrette. The perfectly cooked sizzling steak fajitas are served with guacamole and corn chips. The delicious three-cheese mac and cheese is served in a large cast iron skillet. Crabby Patty is a generous chunky crab cake sandwich with Bearnaise aioli on a sesame seed potato bun. And don’t miss the Bananas Foster churros, coated in cinnamon and sugar and served with a banana infused caramel sauce.
200 West 70th St. (Tel: 212-873-7411)
Few restaurants can boast nearly 40 years of enthusiastic customers. Since Valentine’s Day, worshipers can enter the lively bar or the dining room with its red leather banquettes, white and blue tiled walls and subdued lighting. This classic French bistro was established in 1983 by Keith McNally and his first wife, Lynn Wagenknecht, and has been run only for years by Lynn. Start with a bubbling bowl of French onion soup, topped with Gruyère cheese; rich country side salad mixed with croutons, blue cheese and bacon diced bacon with bacon vinaigrette and a poached egg on top; or salmon tartare or steak. One of the most popular and perfectly cooked dishes on the menu is New York strip loin, which can be ordered with garlic butter, Roquefort, or pepper sauce, and is served with crispy fries. Or enjoy a bowl filled with mussels and fries in a confit of tomatoes and leeks with saffron cream. And no need to resist the chocolate-drenched profiteroles or the more reserved lemon pie to finish a perfect meal.