Dining Out on Xmas Eve:
355 West 14th Street (at 9th Ave)
Scott Conant puts his stamp on Christmas Eve with his “Feast of the Seven Fishes”. How many courses? Seven of course. Southern Italian specialties include a duo of crudo, roasted scallops, black maccheroni alla Chitarra, and roasted black cod. If you’re not quite up for the feast, the regular menu is also available. If you’re taking the a la carte route, it would be a shame to miss out on his trademark spaghetti with tomato and basil or the roasted capretto.
75 Ninth Ave. (at 16th St.)
It’s been a strange year to say the least. So if you’re feeling like straying from tradition in style, Buddakan’s a great option. This is haute Chinese served in a glossy brasserie located in the heart of the Meatpacking District. And you don’t have to commit to any prix fixe here or multi-course meals. We suggest you start off with the lobster egg rolls or frog legs. You can still eat traditional Xmas meats in more exotic preparations. Try the Monglian lamb chops with crystallized ginger or the grilled pork tenderloin with Chinese sausage and Beijing eggplant. The menu also features a vast seafood selection for those who prefer to stick with the fish feast of it all. For dessert, there’s ginger-spiced doughnuts and chocolate with malted white chocolate ganache will leave you with visions of sugarplum fairies.
45 Tudor City Place (at 42nd St.)
The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate makeovers and make New Year’s resolutions. If you need a little push or inspiration, eat at Convivio, which was just recently made-over itself. Formerly L’Impero, this Italian spot in Tudor City has changed for the good and is thankfully much more affordable. Chef Michael White is offering a six-course, feast of seven fishes. If you can’t resist the lure of his sweetbreads, you’ll be happy to know they are offering the á la carte menu too. That also means ricotta cavatelli with goat ragu. The best part, Convivio is donating $25 of each check during the holiday season to City Meals on Wheels!
106 E. 57th St. (bet. Lexington and Park Aves)
If you’re family is anything like most, everyone wants something different for dinner. Even on the holidays. BLT Steak might make everyone happy. Chef Laurent Tourondel certainly makes an admirable attempt with a menu that covers all its bases and the warm popovers. There’s seafood, chicken, and yes, lots of steak. My favorite dishes are the tuna tartare, bacon, NY strip, the skirt steak, sauteed dover sole, and parmesan gnocchi. Cap off the evening with the warm chocolate tart or lemon-cassis pie.
The Little Owl
90 Bedford St. (at Grove St.)
It’s hard to believe, but there are a few tables available in this
28-seat eatery in the West Village. It’s also hard to believe Joey
Campanaro’s still actually cooking, considering the restaurant’s considerable
success. But he is, and he’s preparing a four-course menu with Christmas goose. If fowl’s not your thing, there’s always the a la carte menu. Besides,
what’s dinner at The Little Owl without the chef’s trademark meatball
sliders? If you couldn’t guess, the chef’s Italian and he’s preparing
the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve.
68 Fifth Ave. (bet. Bergen St. & St. Mars Ave.)
Park Slope, NY
If you want a warm and cozy, think Convivium Osteria for Xmas Eve. This rustic Mediterranean menu will have plenty of festive specials. Start with a bit of charcuterie and their terrific seafood tapas. For entrees, the spinach and ricotta gnocchi are some of the best in the city. (So is their braised rabbit.) Christmas evening in Park Slope sounds like a lovely idea.
Gotham Bar & Grill
12 E. 12th St. (bet. 5th Ave & University Place)
For a more classic Christmas eve, celebrate at Gotham Bar & Grill
located in Union Square. If Alfred Portale’s proved anything over the
years, it’s that he always delivers first-rate food. (And the elegant
atmosphere certainly doesn’t hurt either.) This year, he’s offering a
four-course dinner for $110, with highlights like a roasted pear and quince salad, muscovy duck and foie gras terrine and a trio of Gotham desserts with a mascarpone gingerbread mousse. If you eating alone, the bar here is one of the best in the city.
Dining out on Xmas Day or Eve:
2 E. 55th Street (at The St. Regis Hotel)
If Santa didn’t bring you everything you wanted, buy yourself dinner at the St. Regis and pretend you’re in Paris. Alain Ducasse is offering an opulent French, five-course tasting menu for $145. On the menu: lobster medallions, butternut squash ravioli, scallops with black truffle, and chicken filet á l’unilatéral. Do save a little bit of room for chocolate composition with mandarine marmalade and a Bailey’s emulsion. If $145 sounds a bit too steep, the a la carte menu will more than suffice.
Shun Lee Palace
155 E. 55th Street
I don’t know why, but I always crave the peking duck at Shun Lee for Christmas dinner. You might consider taking a break from your usual take-out habit for the duck here. If you order family-style, you can win points for embracing your relatives. (And get to taste more.) I like to start with the Cantonese wonton soup and the Shanghai shrimp dumplings. They also offer an excellent entree of prawns in lobster sauce. For classic Xmas meats, there’s braised duck with seasonal vegetables and sliced pork with string beans.