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Best NYC Restaurants 2015
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A Look Back at the Best Restaurants of 2015

20150617-Gabriel_Kreuther_Interior-12.0With new and noteworthy restaurants opening by the day, it takes a fair amount of doing to stand out in New York City.  Which is why we’re honoring the ten, incredible eateries that somehow managed to cut through the considerable noise this year — from Gabriel Kreuther, which gave a much needed shot in the arm to the floundering fine dining scene, to Wildair and Bruno, serving food so inspired, it made us willfully spend an evening hunched on hard, wooden stools, and the modern Korean Oiji, which launched a city-wide obsession for bowls of salty honey butter chips.

Gabriel Kreuther

Gabriel Kreuther
41 W 42nd St
Midtown West,New York 10036
(212) 257-5826

With many of New York’s most lauded chefs scrambling to open fast-casual spots (even Daniel Humm and Will Guidara are getting into the act), fine dining has definitely seemed on a downward trajectory.  Until the opening of Gabriel Kreuther’s eponymous spot near Bryant Park, that is, which gracefully repositioned eating out as a celebratory, even theatrical, event — complete with luxe accommodations, tableside presentations, and exquisitely tasty gifts (kougelhopf with scallion crème fraiche!) from the kitchen.  And that’s just the excitement that surrounds Kreuther’s caviar, foie gras, and truffle-laden tasting menus, sporting inspired creations with Alsatian flair — think Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Tart, Squab and Foie Gras Croustillant, and Fallow Venison Loin with juniper jus.

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Wildair

Wildair
142 Orchard St
Lower East Side,New York 10002
(646) 964-5624

While Contra remained relatively under-the-radar long after its debut (delighting in-the-know diners, who happily took advantage of a $50 tasting menu), NYC was hip to the talents of Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske by the time they launched Wildair, making it one of the harder to nab tables of 2015.  So best to show up early if you want to graze on utterly unique share plates, such as Persimmon with burrata and jalapeno seeds, Black Bass with pineapple and nduja, and Beef Tartare poked with chestnuts and shards of smoked cheddar.

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Sadelle’s

Sadelle’s
463 W Broadway
Soho,New York 10012
(212) 776-4926

We’re not always entirely on board with Major Food Group projects (considering the $56 carpaccio at ZZ’s and haute Italian-American cuisine at Carbone, we can hardly afford to be), but even we can admit, they’ve had a truly banner year.  It kicked off with Santina, the unequivocally charming coastal spot under the High Line (specializing in crispy chickpea Cecina and craveable, broccoli-studded rice), and closed out with Sadelle’s, which — in addition to honoring New York’s proud Jewish appetizing tradition, with freshly baked bagels, house-cured fish and legit matzoh ball soup — just branched out with an elegant, Eastern Europe-inspired dinner service; we’re talking Russian Potatoes, Romanian Steak and lots and lots of vodka and caviar.

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Vaucluse

Vaucluse
100 E 63rd St
Upper East Side,New York 10065
(646) 869-2300

Haters gonna hate (Pete Wells, we’re talking to you), but the bustling dining room and packed reservation book suggest that New Yorkers are wholeheartedly embracing Michael White’s elegant, new French eatery on the Upper East Side (and lord knows the neighborhood could use a few more good restaurants!).  With Vaucluse, White proves he’s skilled at not just Italian, but also French fare with this elegant, brasserie-style menu populated with classics, like Escargots, Veal Rossini and Duck A L’orange.  The Lobster Fricassee and Friday Bouillabaisse are a must (ditto the Hazelnut Tarte Vaucluse).

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Untitled

Untitled
99 Gansevoort St
Meatpacking District,New York 10014

It may have taken 10 years for Gramercy Tavern’s faithful chef, Michael Anthony, to branch out with a second project, but it was well worth the wait.  The James Beard Award-winning toque oversees the entire culinary program at the revamped Whitney Museum, including the soup, sandwich and salad-focused Studio Café, and the ambitious, vegetable-centric restaurant, Untitled — which serves carefully constructed plates of food that are every bit as gorgeous as the art on the walls.  Potatoes keep company with buttermilk, capers and shiny bubbles of trout roe, Cured Fluke gets a double jolt of freshness with crunchy carrot and preserved lime, and neither will leave you too sated for dessert; don’t miss Miro Uskokovic’s indulgent Hot Fudge Cake or gloriously gluten-free Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

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L’Amico

L’Amico
849 6th Ave
Midtown West,New York 10010
(212) 201-4065

Laurent Tourondel had been laying relatively low since his split with his former BLT Restaurant Group partner, save for the ho-hum debut of UES steakhouse, Arlington Club.  So we never expected the heralded French chef to come out swinging this year with an Italian concept, located in the Eventi Hotel.  And we especially didn’t predict he’d end up serving one of the city’s best new Pizzas — puffy, wood-baked beauties topped with everything from soppressata picante to shishito with fennel pollen and radicchio and kale — along with a slew of other rustic, gently priced offerings, including Smoked Ricotta Gnudi with sage brown butter, Branzino with cremini mushrooms and meyer lemon, and Roasted Spiced Duck Breast coupled with farro and quince mostarda.

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Oiji

Oiji
119 1st Ave
East Village,New York 10003
(646) 767-9050

The Korean craze pretty much reached its peak last year, but Oiji in the East Village ignited excitement again, over shatteringly crisp Fried Chicken, DIY Ssam platters, and meats slow-braised in the pungent fermented condiment called gochujang.  The Chil-Jeol-Pan — a painters palette of spinach-stained rice flour crepes, surrounded with islands of eggs, beef, shitake mushrooms and pickled veggies — may have been one of 2015’s prettiest dishes, but the Honey Butter Chips were definitely the year’s most talked about one; a tumble of translucent russets, cloaked in high-fat French butter, greenmarket honey and cayenne.

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Bruno

Bruno
204 E 13th St
East Village,New York 10003
(212) 598-3080

Bruno doesn’t put much stock in creature comforts (we have Gabriel Kreuther for that), but it’s worth crouching on a backless wooden crate in order to partake of perfect Pizzas (try the local peach and country ham) from the Box Kite team, who’ve taken advantage of their permanent, more generously sized space, in order to continue their unbridled experiments in the kitchen.  Which means, don’t pigeonhole this East Village spot as a pie parlor; you’ll also find greenmarket-inspired offerings like Fairytale Eggplant with black cashews and nutritional yeast, Squid with charred onions and wild sumac, and Diver Scallops with lion’s mane mushrooms, sheep’s milk yogurt, and pine nuts.

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Rebelle

Rebelle
218 Bowery
Bowery,New York 10012
(917) 639-3880

The Pearl & Ash team (including top sommelier, Patrick Cappielo), recruited chef Daniel Eddy (formerly of Spring, in Paris), for this sprawling spot in the Bowery — which means you can expect a truly thrilling wine list, paired with fantastic, modern French food.  We’re still dreaming about a silky surf and turf of Sweetbreads with Lobster, a light-on-its feet, scarlet colored Beet (that’s right, beet), Bourguignon, and even a fun surprise cheese course — fat ribbons of nutty, aged Compte, served with dense triangles of bread from She Wolf.  And apparently, the Michelin guides were wowed too; they already awarded the notable newcomer with a star.

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Noreetuh

Noreetuh
128 1st Avenue
East Village,New York 10009
(646) 892-3050

Probably one of the more unique openings of the year, this unassuming, 45-seat eatery focuses on Hawaiian fare — and we’re not talking poi and spam.  Well, not exactly — taking its name from the Korean word for “playground,” Noreetuh is the brainchild of three Per Se alums, which means dishes are often whimsical, and always refined.  Instead of spam, there’s corned beef tongue, cilantro and peanuts in the non-traditional take on Musubi, although the jiggly pork product does appear in tender envelopes of Agnolotti, along with black truffle, celery, and parmagiano reggiano cream.

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