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Posted on Sep 18, 2007 in Reviews

The dressed-up Chinese at Wakiya gets lost in translation. 2 Lexington Ave., at 21st St. (Gramercy Park Hotel) (212) 995-1330 Dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:45 p.m.-11 p.m, Sunday, 5:45 p.m.-10 p.m. Cuisine: Contemporary regional Chinese Vibe: Moody Asian den Occasion: Swanky night out Don’t Miss Dish: Shanghai soup dumplings Drink Specialty: Cucumber martini Price: Appetizers, $6-$34; Entrees, $13-$38; Desserts, $9-$14. Reservations: Highly recommended Designer-clad servers amble down a red carpet that streams through Wakiya’s glossy dining room, flourished with floor-to-ceiling red tassels and dark wood tables. “It’slike a catwalk,” Richie Notar, a managing partner of both Wakiya and Nobu restaurants, enthusiastically notes over the phone. “Women love it.” On one visit, I spied Anna Wintour dining front row center. I nearly expected she might pull out a pad and jot down her impressions of Wakiya’s fall food collection. As fashionable as...

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Posted on Sep 18, 2007 in Reviews

1621 Second Ave., at 84th St. (212) 772-2242 Dinner: Mon.-Sun., 5:30 p.m.-midnight Cuisine: Authentic northern Italian Vibe: Boisterous, cozy classic Occassion: Family affair, festive occasion Don’t Miss Dish: Spaghetti frutti di mare Price: Appetizers, $8-$17; entrees, $17-$38; desserts, $8-$12 RESERVATIONS Recommended Some restaurants never change – it’s precisely what people love about them. Unlike newcomers who bend to the latest culinary whims du jour, there remain a few steadfast institutions that succeed simply by resting on their laurels. There is the timeless glamour of lunch at the Four Seasons and the inimitable nostalgia of a hefty porterhouse at Peter Luger’s. Then there’s the charming lure of old-world Italian at Elio’s. Upper East Siders have been loyal members of this “clubhouse” for nearly 26 years. With its dark wood paneling and handsome wainscoting, the decor reinforces the supper club aura....

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Sea Salt

Posted on Sep 11, 2007 in Reviews

You haven’t truly eaten at Sea Salt until you’ve shopped for your dinner in the fish market tucked into the back corner of this East Village nook. There lies the best of what chef Orhan Yegen has to offer – an icy display of seafaring wares. To Yegen, these aren’t just fish: This is his religion. “I’m the only one who truly understands them,” he declares matter-of-factly over the phone. “I taste and tune the fish. That’s my talent.” He designed much of the ­restaurant himself, painting the broad, creamy stripes that wrap themselves around the space, accented with butcher block tables and black and white photos – a bit Miami Beach meets Mediterranean seascape. Tables spill onto a span of Second Ave., brimming with students and artsy types. An impossibly outspoken and restless nomad, Yegen has rambled through...

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Centro Vinoteca

Posted on Sep 3, 2007 in Reviews

Centro Vinoteca. A dazzling array of dishes served up by New York’s newest celebrity chef. This is chef Anne Burrell’s domain. If you’re lucky enough to pluck a reservation, be grateful. Visible through an open kitchen, Burrell (Felidia, Savoy) dons a cowgirl skirt and a newly minted executive chef coat, her spiky-haired likeness stitched onto the sleeve. She’s the embodiment of a rock star chef: ambitious, saucy and thrilled to be making her long-awaited debut. These traits texture nearly every fearless dish on the Italian menu, a welcome detour from the garden variety trattorias of late. Owner Sasha Muniak (Gusto, Mangia) and designer Thomas Juul-Hansen (Perry Street) have morphed what was formerly Lemongrass Grill into a sleek, two-story eatery that is a tale of two restaurants. On the one hand, the neighborhood set eagerly crowds around a stylish bar,...

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Posted on Sep 1, 2007 in Reviews

The cuisine is secondary to the parade of fashionable downtowners. 335 Bowery, at Third St. (212) 505-9100 Dinner: Seven days. Breakfast and lunch: Monday through Friday. Brunch: Saturday and Sunday. CUISINE Modern Italian trattoria VIBE Casual bustle OCCASION Group dinner or date DON’T-MISS DISH Four-seasons pizza; cedar-plank-roasted sea bass. DRINK SPECIALTY Acqua di Gemma – sparkling and flat water filtered and bottled in-house, $4 a bottle. PRICE Appetizers, $5-$12; entrées, $14-$39; desserts, $3-$10. RESERVATIONS Available only to Bowery Hotel guests. So go early, and prepare to wait at the bar. As the masses descend upon this decorated spot – dripping with candles, wine bottles and chunky chandeliers – it’s become clear that Gemma has managed to wed the glamour of exclusivity with the democratic accessibility of a no-reservation policy. Owners Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode have seamlessly bridged the...

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Revel’s Garden

Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in Al Fresco Dining, Best Of, Reviews

I’ll admit: The Meatpacking District has most recently evoked unfortunate memories of emasculated steaks at STK, inebriated hordes swarming Tenjune and many a wintry night battling for a taxi.  Revel has revived my hope for sanctuary in the midst of the madness.  Once known only as the “Bar With No Name”, this spot has recently gotten an actual name, a menu and a phone number to boot. Call me old-fashioned, but personally I’m partial to the reservation system and food.  A girl’s gotta eat.  Owner Paolo Secondo (Barolo & I Tre Merli) has implemented an international menu with delicate Mediterranean undertones.  With a backyard garden that seats 80 and dishes, the likes of spaghetti with lobster and bay scallops with chestnut honey & bacon, the Meatpacking District suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting.  That is, until you try to hail...

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Thai Select

Posted on Jul 22, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 472 9th Ave., at 36th Street Phone: 212-695-9920 Cuisine: Modern Thai Vibe: Buddhist-Zen Hours: Sun-Thu: 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat: 11:30am-12am First Bite Impressions: Unexpected delight Note to Self: Order the mojito Don’t Miss Dish: Tamarind Duck- Crispy duck served with smoked tamarind soy sauce over a bed of baby bok choy Price: Appetizers, $5-10; Entrees, $9-18. Reservations: Reservations recommended. A diamond in the rough you might say, at 36th Street & 9th Avenue there lives a quaint and nondescript new Thai restaurant that is anything but mundane Woks abound with jumbo shrimp – plump & delicious – glass noodle pad thai’s and the duck I dare contend is as crispy on the outside & juicy on the inside as any you’ll find in Chinatown. Pad Thai spring rolls are double-rolled for an extra crunchy effect and even gimmicky pork poppers with...

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Posted on Jul 20, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 406 E. 64th Street, at 1st Ave. Phone: 212.750.0434 Cuisine: American Nouveau Scene: Upper Eastsiders Hours: Dinner, Mon-Sun, 5:30pm-11pm; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm; Brunch, Sun 11am-3pm. First Bite Impressions: Simply inconsistent Don’t Miss Dish: Salt Cod and Gnocchi Ragout Don’t Bother Dish: Bay Shrimp and Chorizo Risotto, Proscuitto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Price: Appetizers, $11; Entrees, $25. Restaurant Girl Rates: 6 for food, 6 for atmosphere Reservations: Accepted & recommended for prime-time. Tucked into a quiet railroad-style nook on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, modestly emerges the modern American Solace.  Unlike most restaurants that razzle dazzle us to garner attention, husband-and-wife duo, David & Mary Regueiro have instead set out to lull their “suburban” clientele.    Decor The space is simple, perhaps to a fault: creamy leather banquettes wind their way around the edges of the dark wood beam-accented minimalistic dining room,...

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Park Avenue Summer

Posted on Jul 2, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 100 E. 63rd. St., at Park Ave. Phone: 212.644.1900 Cuisine: Summer-inspired American Scene: Mixed bag Hours: Dinner, Sun-Thu, 5:30-11pm, Fri & Sat, 5:30-11:30pm; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11:30am- 3pm; Brunch, Fri & Sat, 11am-3pm. First Bite Impressions:  Splendidly summer Don’t Miss Dish: Soft shell crabs with strawberries, soy & avocado Price: Appetizers, $16; Entrees, $32. Reservations: Accepted & recommended for prime-time. Park Avenue Cafe had fallen into the category of steadfast old-timers, wrestling with the demands of a new generation of diner, who eat as stylishly as they dress, while still trying to appease seasoned regulars.  That is, until Alan Stillman’s son recently took over the restaurant’s reigns.  Michael Stillman first tempted fate when he transformed the seafaring Manhattan Ocean Club into Quality Meats, a chic new steakhouse species. At Park Avenue Summer, he’s again ventured out on a limb...

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Posted on Jun 21, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 165 Allen St., btwn. Rivington & Stanton Sts. Phone: 212.253.8840 Cuisine: “Freestyle” Latin American & Spanish Scene: Island chic Hours: Dinner, Sun-Thu, 5:30-11pm, Fri & Sat, 5:30-12pm; Brunch, Fri & Sat, 10am-5pm. First Bite Impressions: An admirable work in progress with a truly inspired cocktail menu Don’t Miss Dish: Ecuadorian seafood stew Price: Appetizers, $13; Entrees, $25. Reservations: Reservations accepted. Chef-owner Maximo Tejada (Patria & Lucy) & restaurateur Hector Sanz couldn’t have chosen a more favorable season to introduce New Yorkers to their sexy, tropical oasis with a freestyle menu that liberally wanders through Latin America & Spain.  While Allen Street’s only just beginning to reap the benefits of a Lower East Side dining boom, this Latino-bent newcomer has undoubtedly made aesthetic strides on this otherwise bleak street.  Rayuela’s airy, two-story space is furbished with natural wood tables,...

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Hill Country

Posted on Jun 9, 2007 in Reviews

If opening night is any indication of Hill Country’s big city debut, New Yorkers are rolling out the welcome wagon for the newest in barbecue.  This generous bi-level space on the outskirts of the Flatiron District, embraces its down & dirty southern roots with Western accoutrements, unfinished wood floors, communal tables and Americana signage.   First-time restaurateur Marc Glosserman, an ambitious Jew from nowhere near the Lone Star state (Maryland), has wisely recruited Queens pitmaster Robbie Richter and “lady of the grill”, Elizabeth Karmel, to run three high-tech Hickory smokers and a well-endowed assemblage of southern-stamped sides and desserts. Pass your wait at the front bar, where you can buy a round of tequila shots, browse the all-Texan wine list or elect for a cocktail.  I kept returning to an addictively refreshing caipirita, a cilantro-spiked blend of tequila, lemon &...

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Posted on Jun 7, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 9 Jones St., near W.4th St. Phone: 212.929.6868 Cuisine: Asian-influenced American Scene: Irresistibly bustling gem Hours: Dinner, Mon-Thu, 5:30-10:30pm, Fri & Sat 5:30-11pm, Sundays, 5-10pm. First Bite Impressions: Ethereal experience Note to Self: Order spicy duck meatballs Don’t Miss Dish: Langoustines in sweet peppercorn sauce Price: Appetizers, $11; Entrees, $25. Reservations: Reservations essential. The secret’s indisputably out on Top Chef Harold Dieterle and his gracious partner Alicia Nosenzo’s first restaurant endeavor as prime time reservations at this month-old restaurant have become preciously scarce.  Tucked away in a quiet Greenwich Village nook, Perilla has quickly found itself a destination audience.  Rotating on an American-bent axis, Harold wanders into Asian, Italian and even South American territories.  Clearly a stage for the confident young chef to make his real world debut, but the real question on everyone’s minds — can a...

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Scott Conant Summers in Tutto Il Giorno

Posted on May 30, 2007 in Reviews

New York City’s loss tastes a lot like Sag Harbor’s gain as Scott Conant resurfaces at the beach.  After his recent split with partner Chris Cannon, Conant made an exit from the kitchens of L’Impero & Alto.  But before parting, he left his mark as a capable Italian chef with a clientele so loyal they followed him all the way to a quaint new eatery overlooking the Sag Harbor Marina.  Co-owners Larry Baum & retired Conde Nast CEO Steve Florio brilliantly wrangled Conant to consult on the straightforward Italian menu.  “I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Scott explains as he details the bold, but simple flavors in an asparagus & mussel soup or fritto misto. The cozy, yellow-tinted setting offers 30 thirty already very precious seats.  Only the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and there was already a 45 minute...

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Posted on May 15, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 71 Spring St., btwn. Crosby & Lafayette Sts. Phone: 212.966.5050 Cuisine: French-bent global Vibe: Modern swank Scene: Euro crowd Hours: Dinner, Mon – Thu, 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Fri & Sat, 5:30pm – 11pm; Lunch, Friday, 12pm-2:30pm. First Bite Impressions: Lost in translation Price: Appetizers, $14; Entrees, $30. Reservations: Reservations recommended. Chef Didier Virot & his partner Philip Kirsh are testing their luck at NYC’s restaurant roulette again.  While Virot’s first venture notably brought refined French to the Upper West Side, he’s decided this time to tempt fate in Soho with a mixed bag of nearly every cuisine under the “French sun” (Lebanon, Morocco, Vietnam, & Africa to name a few).  The two-level space also happens to be in throwing distance from Balthazar, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid side-by-side comparisons to McNally’s French tour de force. ...

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Posted on May 12, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 357 Sixth Ave., at Washington Place Phone: 212.414.3088 Cuisine: Japanese/sushi Vibe: Unadorned serenity Scene: Serious sushi endeavors Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:45pm – 11:45pm.  Closed Sundays. First Bite Impressions:  Transcendent tryst Inside Scoop: Omakase service begins later this month Note to Self: BYOB (If you forget, Waverly Liquors is nearby) Don’t Miss Dish: Steamed lobster with uni mousse Price: Appetizers, $10-20; Entrees, $20-30. Reservations: Reservations recommended. After eleven years of sushi service in an Atlanta strip mall, chef Sotohiro Kosugi has shut his doors and set off for the big city.  The notoriously temperamental, “sushi nazi” wrangled a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 1997 for his masterful way with creatures of the sea.  But after one too many tantrums, the chef wanted to start with a clean slate.  And that’s exactly what designer Hiro Tsuruta...

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Posted on May 3, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 137 MacDougal St., btwn. Prince & Spring Sts. Phone: 212.475.7500 Cuisine: Provencal French Vibe: Country charm Scene: An unassuming romantic Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:30pm – 11:30pm. Inside Scoop: May 1st, Sunday night dinner begins.  Come mid-May, lunch 7 days a week. Don’t Miss Dish: Salt cod fritters First Bite Impressions: Neighborhood gem Price: Appetizers, $10; Entrees, $23. Reservations: Reservations recommended. In this freakishly fast-paced dining climate, restaurateurs often resort to convoluted fusion tactics & garish gimmicks to garner attention.  It’s easy for diners to get caught up in the rat race, too busy sampling the latest in foie gras powder or Italian-Japanese fusion to revisit our neighborhood favorites.  We take steadfast spots like Provence for granted.  And then one day, owner Jean Michael & his restaurant shutter after nearly twenty years. But Marc Meyer and...

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Posted on Apr 19, 2007 in Reviews

The latest in a series of tapas joints to grace Manhattan kicked-off Tuesday evening after a number of setbacks and massive speculation (myself included).  Of course I had to see this with my own eyes.  Opening night and Noho’s newest resident was abuzz, brimming with tapas loyalists, gourmet groupies and trendy types.  Every chair was taken in the narrow 90-seat space, industrially-outfitted with unfinished wood tables, brick walls and an eating counter with a view into a white subway-tiled open kitchen: think Casa Mono meets Boqueria on a dimmer.  But Mercat’s most inviting accessory was a centerstage ham-and-cheese station, which will no doubt allure potential loiterers (myself included). Owner & native Barcelonian, Jaime Reixach, has enlisted chefs David Seigal (Bouley) & Ryan Lowder (Jean Georges) to employ his Catalan-inspired vision of small plates, which take the form of snails...

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Landmarc – Delivery

Posted on Apr 16, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip, Reviews

Ladies and gentlemen, this is delivery at its finest.  Behold, what I ate for lunch… What was once a delivery ghost town just may have changed forever this fine Nor’easter afternoon as Landmarc was transported to my midtown doorstep in just under forty five minutes.  Not bad for opening day.  While I’ve never had tartare of any kind delivered, I tempted a chunky salmon tartare, washed in a lively dijon mustard and handsomely speckled with zesty lemon confit & fleur de sel.  Monday’s rigatoni alla genovese arrived blissfully sauced with an unusually soothing walnut-spiked pesto. I’d say the real estate value in these parts just went up. Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl...

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Posted on Apr 11, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 137 East 55th St., btwn. 3rd & Lexington Aves. Phone: 212.755.7055 Cuisine: French-Moroccan Vibe: Exotic Arabian escape Scene: Euro crowd Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:30pm- 12am.  Lounge hours, Mon – Fri, 5:30pm – 4AM, Sat. 10pm – 4am. Scoop: Multitask – shop while you imbibe in the downstairs store filled with Moroccan wares Price: Appetizers, $5-11.  Entrees, $22-34. Reservations: Reservations accepted. Ever wonder what happened to Fizz, that members-only supper club & lounge in midtown, which suddenly lifted its exclusionary policy to fill the swanky void within?  Neither did I, but apparently it “fizzled” into the night, not shocking considering the allure of downtown Lotus, Marquee and Stereo.  In its wake, Restaurateur Djamal Zoughbi and his partner Thierry Pomies have ambitiously revamped the space, unveiling French-Moroccan Azza.  Gone are the moneyed namedroppers and impossible Fizz guest...

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Posted on Mar 24, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 226 W. 50th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Aves. Phone: 212.258.2988 Cuisine: Japanese-Italian fusion Vibe: Typical modern Asian Scene: Times Square escapees Hours: Sun – Mon, 11:30am – 11pm, Tue – Fri, 11:30am-11:30pm. Sat, 12pm-12am. Scoop: Separate bar & lounge with sushi-slanted lounge menu. Price: Appetizers, $2.50-$15.  Entrees, $16-38. Reservations: Reservations accepted. Times Square’s a tricky stretch to open an ambitious restaurant.  The late 7Square, a modern chophouse with Lespinasse-trained chef Shane McBride, quickly comes to mind.  With Ruby Foo’s, Carmine’s & the relentless bowl of pasta at the Olive Garden, tourists & theater-goers are pretty much covered.  But with numerous successes under their belt, restaurateurs Barbara Matsumura & Haru Konagaya seem to know how to please the public at large.  Inspired by a recent trip to Italy, their newest gig is a bold move: a Japanese-Italian...

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