By Haiting Tan.
As we transition out of winter, chefs have introduced new offerings to reflect the bounties of spring- creating new dishes that infuse seasonal herbs and vegetables into their classic menus. We’ve had a chance to explore New York’s culinary scene from haute Japanese to contemporary Italian, classic seafood and steakhouse fare to elevated comfort food. In NYC there is truly something to satiate every gastronomic craving.
A testament to the popularity of Sushi Seki’s fine cuisine, their third outpost has just opened in Hell’s Kitchen in the heart of the theater district. Significantly bigger than the Upper East Side boite, the West 46 street location exudes the same minimalist Zen aesthetic that spans 2 floors with the sushi bar upstairs and main dining area downstairs replete with tatami rooms, a communal table and 12 ‘Chef’s table’ seats overlooking the kitchen. Chef Edward Wijaya and Chef Seki showcase their extraordinary talents in their delicate and artful kaiseki menu that takes the diner on an otherworldly culinary journey through haute Japanese cuisine. This is only matched by the exquisite sakes selected by the sake sommelier Yasuyuki Suzuki. Seki’s creativity might have placed the restaurant on the map but their cocktails are taking them to new heights.
City Lobster & Steak
Stepping into the 4,700 square foot brasserie style restaurant, you would be greeted not just by the cheerful hostess but with a gigantic tank of live North Atlantic lobsters. Given its ideal location between Rockefeller Center and the Theater district, this seafood centric steakhouse is aimed at attracting theatregoers with their fresh seafood and high quality steak as well as a pre theater menu. Though they are famous for their bounty of fresh lobsters, King Crab Legs and crispy golden Maryland Lump Crab Cake, City Lobster & Steak also serves a range of prime dry aged steaks. Their happy hour is also popular with the after work crowd that comes for their bargain priced specials such as a 1/2 dozen oysters and a pint of beer for only $12 and 99 cents oysters that are served at the bar.
Frankie & Johnnie’s
With a history that began during the days of Prohibition, Frankie & Johnnies was once THE after hours speakeasy and hangout for the who’s who in the Broadway world. Frankie was the secret password to enter and Johnny was the confirmation- hence the moniker. To keep the strong heritage of its theater heritage, it was only befitting that they open their new location in the heart of the theater district on 46th between 8th and 9th Avenues. Since the end of prohibition, the restaurant transformed to a steakhouse institution known for its steaks and chops which are cooked to perfection. Other noteworthy dishes include the tuna tartare with white soy and ginger, oysters Rockefeller, smoked Applewood bacon, and housemade burrata and tomatoes all of which will reassert their position as one of top steakhouses in the city.
Louie & Chan
Located on the Lower East Side, the restaurant reflects the confluence of Little Italy and Chinatown, with contemporary Italian cuisine served upstairs and Asian inspired cocktails in the club below. One of the specialties of the house is their wood fired thin crust pizzas with creative toppings such as spicy blue crab and artichoke puree or wild mushrooms and truffle oil. It is no wonder patrons keep coming back for unique dishes such as the tagliatelle served with sea urchin, caviar, and spicy cucumber. Situated beneath the bustling restaurant is 303 Club which is designed like a speakeasy with a separate entrance and different DJs setting the vibe. Every Tuesday step back in time to their weekly Roaring Twenties parties with flappers, live music and burlesque, and patrons are anachronistically dressed to the nines. Louieandchan.com
Da Claudio NYC Ristorante e Salumeria
When Barbarini Alimentari & Mercato was destroyed by Super Storm Sandy, co-owners Claudio and Linda Marini conceived their newest brainchild, Da Claudio on the historic Ann Street in the Financial District. Having the feel of a contemporary Italian trattoria with modern Italian furnishings, high ceilings, banquettes and a salumeria upfront, Claudio Marini stuck to his Italian roots to curate a selection of authentic cured meats and cheeses imported from Italy. He also oversees the kitchen to ensure that every dish is made in the same fashion as it would be in Northern Italy. Be sure to try some of the specials of the day including a housemade tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and truffle, lasagna with wagyu beef and béchamel, and squid ink linguine with prawns and a spicy tomato sauce. Leave room for the rich desserts such as tiramisu or house made gelato.
What was formerly New York’s most famous after hours underground club in the 80s and early 90s, Save the Robots, has been completely transformed into a colorful Tex Mex joint that still retains a sliver of the original brick wall from its former life. The owner, a famous rapper from Austin, was craving true Tex Mex, which ironically is an American bastardization of Mexican food, and created a menu filled with plenty of crave worthy comfort food options. Reasonably priced and generously proportioned elevated comfort food are served into the wee hours of the night. The downstairs club has been remodeled into The Mockingbird Bar that features live music, potent margaritas, mezcal elixirs, and turns into a party scene Tuesday through Sunday until 3 am. Avenida Cantina has been warmly received by its neighbors. Avenidacantina.com
Bounce Sporting Club
As brunches have become a weekend institution amongst New Yorkers, Bounce Sporting Club has launched a series, Not Your Basic Brunch, every Saturday that lives up to its name. Executive Chef Sean Olnowich serves decadent brunch favorites that are designed to cure even the worst hangovers. Calorific renditions of classic brunch fare include cornflake crusted rum soaked French toast, beer braised short rib hash, and the Notorious B.R.G. made with 3 La Frieda patties with banana Jameson soaked buns, maple pork belly, cheddar cheese, truffled hash browns and Hollandaise sauce. If that weren’t enough of a cure, wash it down with a potent brunch cocktail designed by mixologist Spencer Elliott.