The fun thing about fall is that it’s kind of the best of both worlds. The weather is warm enough to go apple picking without a jacket, yet still cool enough to cuddle up in front of a fireplace come nighttime. And the same thing goes for food. You’ll find the last vestiges of summer produce on menus, integrated seamlessly into heartier dishes alongside the likes of apples, pumpkins, and squash.
Here are a few standout plates that we think strike the perfect “start of autumn” balance — from the Rabbit, Snail and Squash Paella at the newly opened Toro in Manhattan to the Sea Scallops with Lentils and Cider Reduction at Brooklyn’s new Belli Osteria.
A palette of fall ingredients and flavors play perfectly into the cuisine at the just opened (and already too popular) new tapas restaurant, Toro. Partners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bisonnette pair luxurious proteins with market vegetables to make modern Spanish small bites, like Foie Gras with Piquillo Peppers and Cider Gastrique, Smoked Duck Drumettes with Quince Glaze, and Crispy Pork Belly with Roxbury Russet Apples and Rutabaga. There are also heartier feeds, like Rabbit and Snail Paella with Nepitella (an herb) and Squashes, and a Catalan Stew with Lobster, Parsnip and Sea Beans, ideally enjoyed with one of their spicy, Sherry-based cocktails.
The East Pole
The team behind Chinatown’s hip, British-leaning Fat Radish has opened this slightly more upscale restaurant (in an infinitely posh-er location) on the Upper East Side. We particularly appreciate chef Nicholas Wilber’s creative, vegetable-focused spins on classic comfort foods, like a vibrantly colored Hummus made with ruby-red Beets and Walnuts, an elegant Fennel and Fish Pie, flavored with Lobster and Tarragon, rich Chicken Kiev, sitting atop a Charred Broccoli and Timberdoodle Cheese Puree, and Heritage Pork Osso Buco, plated with ground Sweet Corn “Polenta,” a side of salty Hushpuppies, and Pickled Okra made from Wilber’s last summer trip to the greenmarket.
Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne has gotten a fresh fall makeover, complete with sleek, reworked interiors and an overhauled menu from Jim Burke, the new Executive Chef. Don’t worry, you can still get that outrageous db Burger (a $32 sirloin patty stuffed with braised short rib, foie gras and black truffle), but we’re much more interested in Burke’s own market-based creations. Try the Barbajuans Monegasque (deep-fried pasties stuffed with Butternut Squash), Garganelli with Rabbit Ragout and Fall Vegetables, Warm Kale Salad with Duck Confit and Figs, and Salt Baked Celery Root with Wild Mushrooms, Apple Confit and Toasted Barley Jus.Read More
Shaun Hergatt’s brand new restaurant in the Hotel Chandler is the Latin word for “June,” or the height of the growing season. But that doesn’t mean that Hergatt approaches fall produce with any less respect. His tasting menu currently reads as an ode to autumn, including a Chef’s Garden Salad with Butternut Squash Puree and Pumpkin Seed Powder, Tuscan Kale Soup with Pork Neck and Sprouted Lentils, Montauk Striper with Tri-Colored Carrots and Nasturtium Emulsion, and an unusual sweet-savory dessert of Caramel Corn dusted with Tarragon, Lime and sharp Cheddar Cheese.
Yes, this is a salad bar and not a fancy, sit-down restaurant. But we’re not exactly talking about your average steam trays full of limp greens at the back of a Korean deli. This stylish, D.C. based “Farm-to-Table Salad Shop” just opened its first location adjacent to the swanky NoMad Hotel, and they take seasonality extremely seriously. Make a healthy and satisfying meal of warm grains, like organic Quinoa, topped with elevated add-ins that include roasted Sweet Potatoes, raw Beets and local Goat Cheese. Or just ask for one of their special “September Salads,” an au courant assortment of organic Arugula and Mint, shredded Kale, local Watermelon and Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Spicy Sunflower Seeds and Champagne Vinaigrette. The salad bar game just got a lot more interesting.
Atrium has taken over the glorious Dumbo building designed by former occupant, Governor, inheriting floor-to-ceiling windows with water views, a mezzanine reached by a spiral staircase, and an open kitchen complete with a wood burning oven. And thankfully, the food more than stands up to the visual impact of the space. Provence-born chef, Laurent Kalkotour (an alumni of db Bistro Moderne), doesn’t limit himself to identifiably French dishes, serving a starter of Seasonal Vegetables with Buttermilk and “Wheat Soil,” Quinoa Tagliatelle with Cauliflower, Lemon and Cumin, and even a Southern-style Pork Chop sided by Spoonbread, Piquillo Peppers, Corn and Bacon.
Jason Marcus is known for breaking the rules. The Jewish chef is unapologetic in his use of pork and shellfish at his Williamsburg eatery, Traif, and now has reimagined Mexican food at his newest restaurant, Xixa. He makes a mean Guacamole of mashed, braised Artichokes, flavored with Cumin and Toasted Peanut Macha, tosses a Grilled Carrot Elote with Honey Butter, Lime Crema, Feta and Dill, and rests a slab of Foie Gras al Pastor atop sticks of Torrejas (Cuban-style French toast) and rings of roasted, Chipotle-spiced Pineapple.
Andres Rodas has bragging rights to Italian restaurants all over Brooklyn, from Fragole in Carroll Gardens to Piccoli in Park Slope. And his newest, Belli Osteria, has quickly become a favorite in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Clinton Hill, serving house-baked breads, hand-cranked pastas, and silky, slow-simmered risottos. We’re particularly enamored with the seasonal salads, like Raw Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Marcona Almonds, and Roasted Butternut Squash with Mozzarella de Bufala and Brown Butter-Balsamic Vinaigrette, as well as daily specials likePan-Seared Sea Scallops, served with Lentils, Bacon, and a fragrant Apple Cider Reduction. We’d add this newcomer to your to-do list.