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Posted on Mar 12, 2007 in Reviews

204 West 55th St., btwn. 7th & Broadway Aves. 212-245-1234 TYPE: Mediterranean-American VIBE: Whimsical opulence OCCASION: Chichi date or group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Roasted sea bass with rock shrimp DON’T BOTHER DISH: Stuffed ribeye steak DRINK SPECIALTY: Aperitifs & global wine list PRICE: $55 & up HOURS: Dinner, Sun – Mon, 5 PM-10 PM; Tue – Thu, 5PM-11PM, Fri & Sat, 5 PM – 12 AM.  Lunch daily, 11 AM – 3 PM (Start date TBD). INSIDE SCOOP: Lounge open with a separate 55th St. entrance, Sun – Wed, 5PM – 2AM, Thu-Sat, 5PM- 4AM (Start date TBD). RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 5.5 on food, 8 on atmosphere FINAL WORD: While undeniably posh, this well-heeled newcomer leans on style over substance: the cuisine slightly falters.  When in midtown, drop into Amalia for exotic desserts & handcrafted...

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Posted on Feb 27, 2007 in Reviews

211 Waverly Place, at Charles St. 212-627-7575 TYPE: Regional Italian VIBE: Rustic trattoria OCCASION: A date, bar dining, or hip group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Braised sea bream with tomatoes & olives DON’T BOTHER DISH: Simply couldn’t find one – a first DRINK SPECIALTY: Italian wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. PRICE: $60 & up HOURS: Open seven days a week, 8 AM – midnight. INSIDE SCOOP: Prime al fresco dining in the warmer months RESERVATIONS: Reservations highly recommended, RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 8 on food, 8.5 on scene FINAL WORD: Who would’ve thought French-fixated McNally could nail rustic Italian?  He does and the West Village landscape – a sceney bonus.  It’s no secret Keith McNally knows how to build restaurant institutions – Balthazar, Pastis and Schiller’s Liquor Bar – that will perhaps outlive McNally himself.  But just what makes...

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The House

Posted on Feb 18, 2007 in Reviews

121 East 17th St., btwn. Park & Irving Place 212-353-2121 TYPE: Continental grab bag VIBE: Charmed townhouse OCCASION: A romantic date or glass of wine DON’T MISS DISH: Roasted zucchini with pattypan squash & cracked olives DON’T BOTHER DISH: Seared branzino DRINK SPECIALTY: A sturdy wine list with quartino & half-bottle offerings PRICE: $50 & up HOURS: Dinner, Sun – Tue, 5 PM – 2 AM; Wed – Sat, 5 PM – 3 AM; Sat & Sun, Brunch, 11:30 AM – 3:15 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended for third floor dining. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 4 on food, 8 on ambience FINAL WORD: You’ll want to move into this bewitching Gramercy townhouse, but beware of a grumpy master of “The House” and a dull hodgepodge of undistinguished fare. It’s not often you discover a restaurant quite as inviting as The...

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Le Cirque

Posted on Feb 4, 2007 in Reviews

151 E. 58th St., btwn. Lexington & 3rd Aves. (212)644-0202 Website TYPE: Modern French VIBE: Austere elegance OCCASION: A momentous date or family affair DON’T MISS DISH: Spaghetti primavera (off the menu) DON’T BOTHER DISH: Scallops with walnut crumble & cauliflower a la Grenobloise DRINK SPECIALTY: A lengthy and expensive wine list PRICE: $90 & up HOURS: Dinner, Mon-Sat, 5:30pm-11pm, Sun, 5pm-10:30pm; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11:45pm-2:30pm. RESERVATIONS: Reservations highly recommended. DRESS CODE: Jacket required in the main dining room (not the cafe). RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 6 FINAL WORD: Stuck in a culinary catch-22 of sorts, Le Cirque seems trapped between a new and old restaurant world order.  As chef Christophe Bellanca throws his hat into the ring, he plays it a little too safe with overly polished, but somewhat uninspired French fare.  Go for the Maccioni family theatrics and coax...

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Posted on Jan 28, 2007 in Reviews

235 East 4th St., btwn. A & B Aves. (212)254-2900 EU Website TYPE: European gastropub VIBE: Rustic farmhouse meets brasserie OCCASION: Neighborhood nibbles or casual date DON’T MISS DISH: Grilled octopus with chickpeas, tomato & preserved lemon DON’T BOTHER DISH: Foie gras-stuffed quail DRINK SPECIALTY: International beer & wine list PRICE: $40 & up INSIDE SCOOP: During daylight hours, E.U. will double as a greenmarket/deli (TBD) HOURS: Dinner, Tue – Thu, 5:30 PM – 11:00 PM, Sat, 5:30 PM – 12 AM, Sun, 5:30 PM – 10 PM; Brunch, Sat. & Sun, 11 AM – 3:30 PM.  Closed on Mondays. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended on weekends. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: N/A (Opening night for Chef Akhtar Nawab) FINAL WORD: With a menu that seems to span the global map, this European gastropub overextends itself.  Perhaps E.U. should hone in on...

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Posted on Jan 23, 2007 in Reviews

222 W. 79th St., btwn. Broadway & Amsterdam (212)873-0200 TYPE: Rustic Greek cuisine VIBE: Snug isle oasis OCCASION: A neighborhood outing or casual affair DON’T MISS DISH: Flat pasta & braised rabbit DON’T BOTHER DISH: Shrimp & scallop souvlaki DRINK SPECIALTY: Greek wines & house cocktails PRICE: $30 & up – CASH ONLY HOURS: Dinner, 7 days a week, Sun – Wed, 5 PM – 10 PM, Thu – Sat, 5 PM-11PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended on weekends. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 for food, 6 for atmosphere FINAL WORD: The food at the newly reinvented Kefi, a family-style Greek, may be his mother’s cooking in theory, but Michael Psilakis is clearly the talented executioner. Chef-owner Michael Psilakis has reinvented his modern Greek restaurant, Onera, transforming it into a peasant-style Greek.  Perhaps, the Upper West Side wasn’t the most ideal neighborhood...

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Dennis Foy

Posted on Jan 11, 2007 in Reviews

313 Church St., btwn. Walker & Lispenard Sts. (212)625-1007 LX TV with Restaurant Girl TYPE: French-influenced Contemporary American VIBE: Cozy elegance OCCASION: A romantic date or civilized family celebration DON’T MISS DISH: Sauteed gnocchi with sage & chives DON’T BOTHER DISH: Wild striped bass with tomato confit DRINK SPECIALTY: 100-bottle global wine list PRICE: $55 & up INSIDE SCOOP: A downstairs private room for parties. HOURS: Dinner, 7 days a week, Mon – Sun, 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM; lunch & weekend brunch, starting late January (tbd). RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 FINAL WORD: As the trend toward Contemporary American cuisine trickles outside its West Village epicenter, veteran chef, Dennis Foy, sets his sights on Tribeca with a splendidly well-executed, French-influenced menu of his own.  After spending over thirty years in haute kitchens...

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Tori Shin

Posted on Jan 7, 2007 in Reviews

1193 1st Ave., btwn. 64th & 65th Aves. (212)988-8408 TYPE: Japanese yakitori VIBE: Cozy hideaway OCCASION: Journey to a Tokyo eating counter on the UES DON’T MISS DISH: Miso-marinated chicken skewers DON’T BOTHER DISH: Chicken hearts DRINK SPECIALTY: BYOB (liquor license pending)… PRICE: $45 & up HOURS: Dinner, Monday, Wed. – Sun., 5:30 PM – 11 PM.  Closed on Tuesdays. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended for large groups. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 (very good) FINAL WORD: An unlikely dining destination, Tori Shin makes its mark with a celebration of yakitori, elevating organic chicken to a simple, but inspired plane. After a disappointing visit to Ariyoshi for less than mediocre izakaya fare, I was hell-bent on uncovering a newcomer worthy of an authentic Japanese badge of honor.  While searching for a sushi joint on the Upper East Side, I accidentally stumbled...

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Posted on Dec 29, 2006 in Reviews

810 Broadway, nr. 12th St. (212)388-1884 TYPE: Japanese izakaya VIBE: Lackluster neighborhood spot OCCASION: A “something for everyone” Japanese outing DON’T MISS DISH: Cooked taro with baby shrimp & special sauce DON’T BOTHER DISH: Toro tartar with quail egg DRINK SPECIALTY: Sake and Japanese beers PRICE: $35 & up HOURS: Dinner, 7 days a week, 6 PM – 4 AM; Lunch, Mon – Fri, 12 – 2 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, but not necessary. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 5.5 FINAL WORD: With a menu that reads like a culinary encyclopedia of all things Japanese, Ariyoshi overextends itself, resulting in a flurry of well-priced, but unmemorable dishes.  Seeing at it was the night after Christmas, I was in the mood for something other than peking duck and moo shu shrimp.  First, I squired a reservation at Dennis Foy’s new Tribeca haunt...

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Posted on Dec 11, 2006 in Reviews

104 8th Ave., btwn. 15th & 16th Sts. (212)488-4800 Hours: 7 days a week, 11AM- 11PM (soon to keep hours until 2AM) The newest player in the lunch arena, Swich, short for sandwiches, attempts to put itself on the map with pressed sandwiches.  This modern, lunch cafeteria is sparsely outfitted with wood floors, a white communal table, and bright green & mirrored walls.  Though sleek in that futuristic, Pinkberry sense of the word, Swich manages to evoke a warm vibe.  Perhaps that’s due to the contagious excitement of owner, John Garguilo, who personally welcomes customers into the space.  Swich even encourages its customers to linger over a cup of damn good, Le Colombe coffee (Le Colombe) and a hip, ipod playlist.  But dedicated to the almighty sandwich, John has crafted fresh and creative combinations with cutesy names, all served...

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Kobe Club

Posted on Dec 6, 2006 in Reviews

68 West 58th St., btwn. 5th & 6 Aves. (212)644-5623 TYPE: Swanky Steakhouse VIBE: Clubby lounge dining OCCASION: A date or festive group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Roasted bacon with black truffles DON’T BOTHER DISH: Crab cake “double stuffer” DRINK SPECIALTY: Netsuke fizz PRICE: $70 & up HOURS: Dinner, 6 days a week, Mon – Sat, 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM; Late-night dining menu, Thur – Sat, 11:30 PM – 2 AM (beginning in January). RESERVATIONS: Reservations highly recommended, especially on weekends. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 (opening night rating) FINAL WORD: Despite its uber-swanky setting, Kobe Club deftly deals in juicy Wagyu from around the world. Attempting to erase the memory of Mix, Alain Ducasse’s failed attempt at casual French/American home-cooking, Jeffery Chodorow has literally raised the roof, dangling 1865 Samurai swords from the ceiling, and refurbished the modern...

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Bar Martignetti

Posted on Dec 3, 2006 in Reviews

406 Broome Street, at Cleveland Place (212)680-5600 TYPE: American brasserie with a French bent VIBE: A definitively social spot OCCASION: A casual date, bar dining, or group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Skate with cauliflower puree, maitake mushrooms & brussel sprouts DON’T BOTHER DISH: Tuna tartare DRINK SPECIALTY: Bar Gibson (the house favorite) PRICE: $45 & up HOURS: Dinner, 7 days a week, 6 PM – 2 AM; Lunch, Sat. & Sun., 10 AM – 5 PM; Lunch, Mon. – Fri., 11 AM – 6 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted & recommended for dinner. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 on food, 9 on scene FINAL WORD: Not your ordinary restaurant du jour, Bar Martignetti is intent on reinventing the lost art of table-hopping.  With some kick-ass cocktails and a satisfying menu, this spot will undoubtedly breed a following of aspiring regulars. After...

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Posted on Nov 28, 2006 in Reviews

Sasabune 401 East 73rd St., nr. 1st Ave. (212)249-8583 TYPE: Sushi VIBE: No nonsense UES sushi joint OCCASION: Serious sushi endeavors DON’T MISS DISH: Albacore sashimi, amberjack with ponzu sauce, crab hand roll – basically, the entire omakase menu.  DRINK SPECIALTY: Sake & Japanese beer PRICE: $60 & up HOURS: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM; Lunch, Mon – Fri, 12 PM – 2 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted, recommended for the sushi bar. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 8.5 FINAL WORD: The best sushi this side of Tokyo, Sasabune is a sushi trek definitely worth taking. At the risk of waging a culinary cook-off between Los Angeles & New York, I contend  that LA’s only got one thing on NYC as far as food goes – sushi.  But that’s all changed now that Sasabune has graced Manhattan with...

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The London Bar

Posted on Nov 20, 2006 in Beer Bars, Best Of, Reviews

151 West 54th Street, nr. 7th Ave. (212)468-8889 website TYPE: Asian-inflected French VIBE: Modern elegance OCCASION: A mature date or civilized family affair DON’T MISS DISH:  White onion veloute with duck ragout DON’T BOTHER DISH: Peekytoe crab with avocado & sweetcorn sorbet DRINK SPECIALTY: An extensive wine list & classic cocktails. PRICE: $70 & up HOURS: Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 365 days a year, 6AM – 11PM in the London Bar.  High tea served every afternoon at 4 PM.  Dinner only in Gordon Ramsay at the London, beginning at 5:30 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations are recommended, especially for dinner.  Be prepared to dial two months before you actually care to dine.   RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  6 (pretty good) FINAL WORD: A royal mess – The London Bar was wildly inconsistent on opening night. Still, it’s well worth a visit...

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Mai House

Posted on Nov 16, 2006 in Reviews

186 Franklin St., at Hudson St. (212)431-0606 TYPE: Modern Vietnamese VIBE: Earthbound sleek OCCASION: A hip date or group dinner DON’T MISS DISH:   Fresh dungeness crab DON’T BOTHER DISH: Duck leg confit DRINK SPECIALTY: Buddha’s eye cocktail PRICE: $55 & up HOURS: Dinner, Monday – Saturday, 5:45 PM- 11:30 PM.  Lunch hours are imminent. RESERVATIONS: Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.  RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  7 (very good) FINAL WORD: Drew Nieporent of Nobu fame gets back in the game with modern vietnamese of the exotic wild boar sorts. CHEAT SHEET: DRINK: Buddha’s eye cocktail or a Mai-jito NIBBLE ON: Shrimp chips START WITH: Hot mushroom spring rolls  ORDER: Fresh dungeness crab FINISH WITH: Almond banana cake With a number of prominent restaurants in his back pocket (Nobu, Centrico & Tribeca Grill), Drew Nieporent has set his sights…across the...

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Cafe Cluny

Posted on Nov 9, 2006 in Reviews

284 West 12th St. (at 4th St.) (212)255-6900 TYPE: French-American restaurant VIBE: Charming neighborhood haunt OCCASION: A casual date or group dining DON’T MISS DISH: Duck confit with baby brussel sprouts DON’T BOTHER DISH: Roasted cod DRINK SPECIALTY: 21-bottle wine list; 16 by the glass PRICE: $45 & up HOURS: Open seven days a week, 5:30 PM-12 PM; Brunch, Saturday & Sunday 10:30 AM-3 PM; Breafast, Monday-Friday, 8 AM-11:30 AM (starting November 13th) RESERVATIONS: Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.  RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  6.5 (good) FINAL WORD: Quaint makes a comeback this fall as charming bistros of the Cafe Cluny sorts, emerge in the West Village. Cozy is the new black this fall as far as restaurants are concerned.  While last spring was marked by an invasion of Asian mega-restaurants the size of airplane hangars, New Yorkers fled...

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Russian Tea Room

Posted on Nov 4, 2006 in Reviews

150 West 57th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.) (212)581-7100 TYPE: Pan-global with a Russian bent VIBE: A grand theatrical affair OCCASION: A nostalgic trip down memory lane, family dinner or special occassion. DON’T MISS DISH: Foie gras pelmini DON’T BOTHER DISH: Soy butter poached maine lobster DRINK SPECIALTIES: Vodkas a plenty, classic cocktails and an elegant wine list. PRICE: $80 & up HOURS: TBD RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended.   RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  7 (very good) FINAL WORD: Travel back in time to the historical Russian Tea Room for an evening of elegance and a noteworthy taste of Gary Robin’s gifted cuisine.  On the highly anticipated opening night of the Russian Tea Room, doormen amiably guarded the red carpeted-entrance of the famed institution.  As I passed through the original revolving door, it was like entering a time warp, a...

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Frederick’s Downtown

Posted on Oct 29, 2006 in Reviews

637 Hudson St. (at Horatio St.) (212)488-4200 website LX.TV TYPE: Modern french bistro VIBE: Fashionably civilized dining OCCASION: A cozy date or group dinner DON’T MISS DISH: Creamy orzo with lobster & chanterelle mushrooms DON’T BOTHER DISH: Roasted codfish DRINK SPECIALTY: 28-bottle wine list; 16 by the glass; 1/2 and whole carafes also available. PRICE: $60 & up HOURS: Open seven days a week, 5:30 PM – 2 AM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.  BONUS: Outdoor seating’s perfect for weekend brunch. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  8 (excellent) FINAL WORD: Retreat from the frenetic Meatpacking streets into this warm French bistro and dine in style on splendid Provencal fare. Owners Frederick and Laurent Lesort have decided to venture outside their midtown comfort zone (Frederick’s on Madison & Frederick’s on 58th St.), this time with a French bistro, safely situated...

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Posted on Oct 24, 2006 in Reviews

26 Little West 12th Street (btwn. 9th & 10th Aves.) (646)624-2444 website TYPE: Modern steakhouse VIBE: Meatpacking madness OCCASION: Trendy dining DON’T MISS DISH: Sweet corn pudding DON’T BOTHER DISH: Shrimp rice krispy’s DRINK SPECIALTY: 230-bottle wine list PRICE: $70 & up HOURS: Open seven days a week, 5:30 PM – 2 AM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.  RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  5 (average with standout sides) FINAL WORD: The closest thing to Las Vegas without leaving Manhattan, the food seems besides the point at this see and be “scene” steak spot. After visiting Porter House New York and STK, two of New York’s newest steakhouses, I’ve come to the conclusion that some things are meant to be feasted upon in all its gritty glory, the sacred cow being at the top of my list.  Given its location,...

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Porter House New York

Posted on Oct 22, 2006 in Reviews

10 Columbus Circle (Time Warner Center) (212)823-9500 website TYPE: American steakhouse VIBE: Simple elegance OCCASION: A business dinner or romantic dinner DON’T MISS DISH: Porterhouse Steak DON’T BOTHER DISH: Ginger Carrots DRINK SPECIALTY: American-focused Wine List PRICE: $60 & up HOURS: Dinner, Monday through Thursday 5 PM – 10:30 PM; Friday & Saturday, 5 PM – 11 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended. INSIDE SCOOP: Order a Diamond Cain RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  6.5 (good to very good) FINAL WORD: With a dazzling park view, Porter House manages to make a woman feel like she’s being taken somewhere special, while still being a steakhouse a man can sink his teeth into. Michael Lomonaco, of Windows on the World and The 21 Club fame, has inherited this park view space, formerly home to the Jean-Georges’ ill-fated V steakhouse, a garrulously over-the-top exercise...

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