It's been 20 years since Restaurant Daniel opened up, giving notice that there was a new haute cuisine luxury standard in New York, a successor to Lutece. In all those years, Daniel has been going strong, and in the process it's turned out a lot of great chefs. Here are some of them.
What can you say? It never changes, it never falters, and it's always jammed. If it wasn't such a slavish tribute to Paris brasseries, you could even call it the ultimate New York restaurant. Certainly, it's a hell of a lot better than the places in Paris that it emulates.
Combining Keith McNally's flawless art direction with co-chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson's equally accomplished cooking, this elevated take on old New York outdoes both its models and its rivals.
The consummate greenmarket restaurant (well, it and Gramercy Tavern) presents a kind of zen-like simplicity in both the room and the food. While the proteins are very good, it's in the produce, all grown for the restaurant, that is the star of the show. For that reason, and given the seasonality that is almost a religion here, you'd do better to go in spring or summer.
Pretty the much the perfect New York neighborhood restaurant. It's hidden away on a curving sidestreet in the west village; it has a perfectly preserved art deco decor; a great drink program; and, most important, one of the best chefs in New York, if not the country, in the criminally underrated Harold Moore. It can get noisy though, so come for an early dinner.
Just a perfect restaurant. The food is superior, if not great; the room is sunny and electric, and the lunch, dinner, and dessert programs are all equally perfect. The ultimate Manhattan casual Italian restaurant.
Former Per Se chef Jonathan Benno brings his precision and brilliance to the famously informal food of Italy. It should be a mismatch, but both sides benefit from this odd marriage, and Benno's commitment to changing the menu from region to region adds another level of interest. A truly special restaurant.
TV viewers may know chef Alex Guarnaschelli from The Food Network's "Chopped" but she's been a presence on the New York food scene for many years, and is held in great respect by the NYC chef community. Having made her bones at Guy Savoy in Paris and Daniel in New York, she brings polished French skills to cool downtown restaurants Butter and The Darby, the latter of which also features live music and a (too) lively atmosphere. Her lobster newburg is more than enough to make it worthwhile, even for a curmudgeon like myself.
Conceived as a classic, old New York hangout, The Dutch delivered on its promise with a swinging crowd, a good, eclectic menu, and a first-rate cocktail program. Stop in for oysters or a steak, or, if it's available, chef Andrew Carmellini's fabulous fried chicken.
The former Daniel dessert chef brings his brilliant skills to a small but ambitious SoHo bakery, with spectactular results. Bring a big box and a fat wallet.
Fatty Cue has an important place in barbecue history: it represents the first concerted effort to combine traditional American smoking techniques with Asian (in this case southeast Asian) flavors. The results are mixed, but at their best they can be astounding, and are never less than surprising. Fatty Cue is the kind of restaurant New York is best at -- a wild experiment that has enough good eaters to support it.