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Best of – NYC’s Healthful Haute Cooking

Pure_lasagna.jpgThe holidays have officially come and gone, and as much as we love all of the festivities and food, we’re ready to come up for air.  Just because we need a break from the holiday excess doesn’t mean we plan on staying in – and you shouldn’t have to either! There are plenty of ways to make the most of New York’s dining scene, while still sticking to healthful New Year’s resolutions.  There’s a host of talented chefs all over town, serving imaginative dishes that will fill you up without filling you out.  (We couldn’t resist the pun.)

You can still sample newcomers, like the Meatpacking’s new, tri-level seafood spot, Catch or Japanese home cooking at Family Recipe on the Lower East Side. There’s the all-vegetable menu at Le Verdure in Eataly or buckwheat noodles and much more.  Here’s to a happy – and healthy – New Year and here’s a few great restaurants to eat by in 2012.

Family Recipe
Address: 231 Eldrige St., at Stanton St.
Phone: (212) 529-3133

Though chef-owner Akiko Thurnauer grew up in Tokyo in a foodie family,
her tastes were heavily influenced by her father’s travels around the
world and the ingredients he brought back from those trips. At Family
Recipe, she blends her Japanese upbringing with international
inspirations to create a truly distinct menu all her own. Think Japanese
home cooking with an eclectic edge and you get sake-steamed mussels,
homemade seasonal pickles and black sesame and walnut tofu. And that’s
just for starters.  There’s Brussels sprouts with capers, shallots, miso
and pine nuts, or oyster salad with mizuna and pink peppercorn
vinaigrette, The menu changes regularly, but you can count on healthful
finds that put a new spin on Japanese fare.

Eataly Verdure.jpgCatch
Address: 21 9th Ave., at 13th Street
Phone: (212) 392-5978

This recent newcomer to the Meatpacking District, Catch is the latest
venture from the guys that brought us Abe & Arthur’s and Tenjune.
And with Top Chef winner Hung Hyunh in the kitchen, the food is as good
as the scene. We were impressed by the Dungeness crab spaghetti with
tomato and flying fish roe, but there’s much more to explore on this
Mediterranean and Asian-inspired seafood menu. The raw bar
includes a bounty of choices, from oysters, clams and peekytoe crab, to
sushi and sashimi, as well as a selection of tartare and carpaccio.
There’s a standout salmon belly carpaccio with watercress, sweet and
sour onion, and yuzu, or hamachi tartare with pear and avocado. If
you’re craving something warm and a little more filling, try the
herb-roasted branzino or head to the “Simply Cooked” section of the menu
with an array of grilled fish, including sole, salmon, or shrimp.

The Fat Radish
Address: 17 Orchard St., near Canal St.
Phone: (212) 300-4053

From the looks of it, you’d never know this chic, Lower East Side gastropub specializes in healthful cooking.  And while you wouldn’t typically associate British pub grub with light fare, The Fat Radish‘s menu is the delicious exception to that rule.  That’s because Silkstone, a catering and event company, and chef Ben Towill apply their healthy and sustainable food philosophy to the British classics they grew up eating.  Vegetables shine thanks to simple preparations and bold flavors, like an appetizer of beet crumble with goat’s cheese, Swiss chard, hazelnuts and oats, or roasted cauliflower with castelvetrano olives, almonds and raisins. Follow one of those up with the Montauk diver scallops accompanied by a golden beet and sweet potato mash and chinese broccoli, or the heritage pork loin (decidedly lean) with greenmarket cabbages and prune gravy. They even grow some of its produce in the rooftop garden, giving new meaning to “local” food.

Pure Food & Wine
Address: 54 Irving Place, btw. 17th Street & 18th Sts.
Phone: (212) 477-1010

While we usually aren’t proponents of raw food, cleanses, juicing and
the like, we take exception at Pure Food and Wine.  This chic Gramercy
spot offers inventive raw fare. which translates to nothing heated above
118 degrees. The kitchen’s inventive use of ingredients and techniques
make for a menu that sounds anything but bland, like hazelnut crostini
with crimini mushroom and capers bearnaise or mushroom scallops in a
lemongrass coconut broth.  Craving lasagna sans the carbs, they’ve got a
pasta-free version, layered with zucchini, tomatoes and pistachio
pesto.  And since there’s no reason to skip dessert here, go for the
apple tart tatin or the salted chocolate caramel tart.
Upstairs Interior-1.jpg
Rouge Tomate
Address: 10 East 60th St., btw Madison & Fifth Aves.
Phone: (646) 237-8977

Sanitas Per Escam, otherwise known as SPE or Health Through Food, is the
culinary philosophy behind Rouge Tomate.  While that sounds academic
and unexciting, it’s thankfully far from it thanks to Michelin-starred
chef Jeremy Bearman and in-house nutritionist, Kristy Lambrou.  They’ve
design a menu that feature the best of seasonal ingredients, prepared
in ways that maximize their nutritional benefits and their flavor. Even
the cocktails, which feature fresh fruit juices and minimal sugars, stay
true to the restaurant’s mission, so drink up.  As for the winter menu,
there’s brussels sprouts with roasted pear, La Quercia prosciutto, and
hazelnuts, Alaskan spot prawn agnolotti in a ginger-lemongrass consomme,
or wild striped bass a la plancha with French lentils, parsnip,
spinach, pomegranate, and pumpkin seed vinaigrette.  And those are just a
peek at the a la carte dishes! Rouge Tomate also boasts a six-course
tasting menu for indulging without blowing your caloric budget.
Le Verdure at Eataly
Address: 200 5th Ave., near 23rd St.
Phone: (212) 229-2560

Vegetables take centerstage at Le Verdure, one of several eateries
tucked inside Eataly.  The menu is built around seasonal and local
produce, and the result is tons of texture and flavor.  Take for
instance, the verdure alla piastra, a plate of warm grilled vegetables
over a faro salad, healthy comfort food to cushion the cold.  Or start
with the pinzimonio, a salad of crisp, fresh raw vegetables with a lemon
citronette, and work your way into one of the chef’s specials, which
are updated daily, but typically include a soup du jour and several
types of bruschetta.  When you think of Eataly and all things Italian,
you might immediately think of La Pizza, La Pasta, or La Piazza
(charcuterie and cheese), but Le Verdure is definitely worth a visit.

Soba Nippon
Address: 19 West 52nd St., near 5th Ave.
Phone: (212) 489-2525

As the name implies, Japanese soba, or buckwheat noodles, are the
specialty here and this midtown spot serves some of the best in the
city.  Soba Nippon makes their noodles in house with buckwheat sourced
from the restaurant’s own farm in Canada.  Their made in the “ni-hachi”
style, which means the noodles are 80 percent buckwheat flour and 20
percent wheat flour. Among other health benefits, soba is much higher in
protein than wheat or white flour noodles.   More importantly, soba is
deliciously versatile as it can be served both hot and cold in soups,
salads or heartier dishes.   One of our favorite ways to eat soba here
is an order of cold soba with grated daikon radish, or with tororo,
grated mountain yam.  Seeing as it’s the middle of winter, we prefer hot
soba served in soups with anything from shrimp tempura to duck breast
or curried broth with pork and onions.  Soba Nippon serves lots of
noodle-free dishes, including sushi and sashimi, which are also good,
but we believe in concentrating your efforts on the main attraction.

The Green Table
Address: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave., near 16th St.
Phone: (212) 741-6623

The Green Table is brought to us by the people behind The Cleaver Co.,
a  30-year-old catering company that has been sourcing from local family
farms and promoting sustainability long before it was status quo.  At
this Chelsea Market restaurant and wine bar, the guiding principles are
the same, which means the seasonal menu is complemented by a list of
organic and biodynamic wines and beers. It’s a great spot to grab a
drink and a couple of small plates, like ceviche, vegetable crudite with
housemade dips, or roasted beets with fennel and ricotta salata. Or you
can stay for dinner and settle into their pan-seared snapper with a
green pistou.

ABC Kitchen
Address: ABC Carpet & Home, 35 East 18th St., near Broadway
Phone: (212) 475-5829

ABC Kitchen has a commitment to sustainability that goes far beyond the
food. The chic dining room is furbished with reclaimed wood tables and a
host of other recycled materials, courtesy of ABC Home (of course). But
with chef Daniel Kluger in the kitchen, our focus remains squarely on
the food, which features the best of the Union Square Greenmarket.  We
recommend starting with their signature, roasted beets accompanied by a
housemade yogurt as well as the ginger and mint-marinated tuna sashimi.
Follow those up with the steamed salmon salad or one of our favorites,
the wood oven roasted lobster with oregano and lemon-chili vinaigrette.
No need to skip dessert when you can finish with fresh strawberries and
juice with mint.  ABC Kitchen didn’t win the James Beard Award for Best
New Restaurant 2011 for nothing.

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