‘Tis the season when the city transforms into a winter wonderland with festive lights abound throughout giving us just another reason to explore the city’s great culinary scene. Here are some of our favorite picks for December from theater bistro dining to a power steakhouse, to the exotic flavors of India and Armenia, and a chic farm to table spot in Harlem.
Nirvana Lives! For nearly a decade, Nirvana has been a reliable destination in Murray Hill and now owner Anil Amin introduces Michelin-starred Indian chef Peter Beck to bring Nirvana to the next level. Diners will warm their souls with authentic Indian cooking, perfect for the cold season. The menu is divided into starters, tandoori small plates, poultry dishes, lamb/goat dishes, seafood, tandoor grilled specialties, vegetables, rice and tandoori baked bread.
To start, guests can choose from an array of items such as tandoori paneer tikka, with paneer chunks marinated in Tandoori Masala, Lamb Potato Croquettes, Tawa Scallops and Shrimp Tadka sautéed in white wine and garlic. As for the main course, there is a little something for everyone like the Ajwain Shrimp, Chilean Sea Bass rubbed with cumin, coriander and pepper, Crab Masala and Goat Curry on the bone. The extensive selection of vegetarian dishes is becoming ever so popular, and Chef Beck works wonders with vegetables, and delivering layers of spice in dishes such as Srinagri Bhaji, a blend of greens, spinach, sorrel, dill, eggplant and taro. The breads on offer include Peshwari Naan, which is a sweet bread stuffed with nuts and raisins, Garlic Naan, Cheese ‘N’ Tomato Naan, Onion Kulcha, Roti and Keema Naan, all house made.
While guests indulge in heavenly Indian dishes, the bi-level serene space offers an inviting and warm space. The exposed red brick walls and upholstery reiterates the authentic element, which compliments the dishes perfectly. The bar on the bottom level seats 14 and is the ideal spot for a cocktail and a bite from the bar menu, while the lounge area has additional tables for enjoying drinks and small plates. For a truly authentic Indian experience, Nirvana is the cultivated establishment that delivers.
Acclaimed restaurateur and Chef Daniel Boulud continue to astound diners with his more casual contemporary French db Bistro, ideally located in the heart of the Theatre District, making it the perfect spot for pre or post theatre dining.
Upon arrival guests are greeted with sophistication and style, with classic elegant upholstery and light fixtures. The three rooms are connected together railroad style and each comes with defining characteristics, immersing the diners into a new setting. The wood paneled front room has a large communal table and fixed banquets, with exposed bare wood tables, while the next area offers a cozy setting with a handful of booths and beyond that, the more fine dining side is revealed in all its white linen glory and elegant setting.
The menu features updated bistro classics, with a modern twist and market-driven French-American cuisine, alongside traditional French specialties and seasonal dishes showcasing the Greenmarket’s finest produce.
Guests can choose from a prix-fixe menu, which includes three courses with choices like chicory salad, sweet potato gnocchi, escargot, and the original DB Burger and steak frites. The Dinner a La Carte options include a lobster salad with chicory, Rhode Island greening apple salsify and caviar or the filet mignon with sweet potato gratin and creamy spinach sauce au poivre is a crowd favorite.
The Wine Cellar at db Bistro Moderne represents the bounty and terroir of regional France, with a focus on classic wines often seen in a bistro setting.
In the sleek space that was once Harlem’s historic Perk’s jazz nightclub has now been transformed into Clay- a chic American farm to table restaurant and natural wine bar. This project of love was brought to life by long term Harlem residents, Executive Chef Gustavo Lopez, Wine Director Gabriela Davogustto, and Bar Director Andrea Needell Matteliano. This elegant and airy eatery feels more downtown than uptown and pays homage to the rich history of the Harlem yet also represents the vibrant transformation of the neighborhood’s culinary scene.
With previous stints at Lupa, Terroir, and DBGB Executive Chef Lopez has mastered the art of farm to table cuisine and artistic plating. Start the meal with the delicate maitake and trumpet mushroom chips emulsified with tapioca powder, American Wagyu Tartare with pickled shallot, celery root, and cured egg yolk, or the rich flavors of Chicken Liver with preserved fig and toast. The delicious house made pastas showcase the bounty of the fall season. The light Gnocchi is delicately fried with butternut squash, hazelnut, mushrooms and pickled fresno; Garganelli is tossed with crumbled housemade pork sausage and kale; and Bucatini is enhanced with lobster, bottarga, Calabrian chile and breadcrumbs. Standouts from the mains include Pork Tenderloin with apple mostarda, potato and charred romaine, and American Wagyu Strip Steak with soubise, yuzu, hen of the woods and chimicurri. A perfect complement to Chef Lopez’s culinary masterpieces is the curated natural wines on offer that have been sourced from around the world including the Canary Islands, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and South Africa to name a few.
The modern and neutral atmosphere awash in a palette of greys and whites and designed by Roberto Sosa is as soothing to the soul as the cuisine is pleasing to the palette. By Hillary Latos
Since its birth in Beirut, the Armenian-Lebanese restaurant Almayass has expanded into Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and now New York City in the heart of the Flatiron district. Almayass introduces a distinguished culinary experience to the refined palates of New York City with the infusion of authentic Lebanese cuisine and the exotic flavors of traditional Armenian dishes.
Guests are greeted with a comfortable space, boasting fresh whites against natural wood and brick to create a warm space with a buzzing atmosphere. The subtle elements of green plants contrast perfectly with the dark wood floors, ceiling and chairs to transport diners on a journey to the landscape of Armenia.
The Armenian tasting menu is the journey your taste buds have been craving. Start your adventure with the Armenian salad, or lentil kafta with onion and parsley. The Dolma with Italian eggplant stuffed with rice, tomato, olive oil, and lemon and topped with yogurt is guaranteed to warm your heart and is the perfect accompaniment to the salad or kafta. Opt in for one of the many hummus varieties such as hummus Almayass or mixed with pine nuts, meat, lamb or fried cauliflower. The Subereg is an oven baked; multi layered homemade pastry, filled with cheese and parsley and is the perfect ending to a wondrous expedition. Almayass is a family friendly, comfortable space, meant to evoke eating at someone’s home with family and friends.
SPRING AND VARICK
Spring and Varick is the newest restaurant offering a twist on modern American cuisine to bring an exciting, new and elevated dining destination to the luxurious SoHo area.
This restaurant and bar, which accommodates 90 with additional private dining rooms on the mezzanine level is an ideal location for a daytime or evening event with friends, fellow coworkers and is even suitable for private cocktail parties.
Designed by the acclaimed Lesly Bernard, the room plays on art deco meets modern décor with a rotating mix of local art adorning the walls. Diners are treated to a sophisticated, buzzing atmosphere, with warm lighting and fresh perspective all around.
Executive Chef John Creger highlights Spring and Varick with playful and interactive dishes incorporating fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. The complex and diverse flavor profiles combined with familiar dishes create a remarkable culinary experience and acts as a direct representation of the kind of diversity and culture this establishment aims to cultivate.
Diners will indulge in flavorful dishes such as Beet Ravioli, with pesto, ricotta, spiced pepitas and beet caramel, the S & V Burger with tempura comte, brioche, S & V Burger sauce and a side of fries or the 12oz Bone in Pork Chop is a crowd pleaser with braised red cabbage, apple bourbon compote and pork demi.
For the cherry on top of a perfect dining experience, opt in for the Vanilla Saffron Panna Cotta with candied orange, pistachio, blood orange caviar and baslsamic soaked figs or go the classic S’mores option with dark chocolate mousse, chocolate “cake”, torched marshmallow and graham crackers, guaranteed to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Experience the finest beef in Manhattan at 212 Steakhouse, the first and only member in New York of the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association from Japan.
This stylish new restaurant located in the heart of Midtown East specializes in prodigious Kobe Beef and steak entrees, as well as offering seafood, salads, creative sides and appetizers to satisfy every palate. The elegant surrounding welcomes guests into the dining room. The rich dark wood tones offer class and sophistication, reminding visitors of its affluence. The marble bench top bar and pendant lights contrast beautifully with the patterned ceiling and striking columns offering soft ambient lighting which creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
As for the menu, diners will find appetizers such as zucchini chips, a cheese plate, classic burrata, and grilled octopus to tie them over until the main event. The raw bar also offers some delightful seafood options like the seafood platter for two with half Maine lobster, PEI Oysters and octopus or opt in for half dozen oysters. For the main event, diners can choose to be adventurous with the Kobe tasting option, which includes Kobe beef rib eye, striploin and tenderloin or just one cut and a side dish. Also on offer, is the option of USDA Prime steaks such as the classic New York Strip or Filet Mignon, or try some Australian Wagyu for a multicultural dining experience. With each steak, comes the choice of steak sauces, which includes bourbon peppercorn, béarnaise, bordelaise and chimichurri.