Believe it or not, there are some three-star restaurants that are not overseen by flunkies and stand-ins. The following restaurants all boast a famous chef who is actually there most nights, cracking the whip and steering the ship.
For all its asian inflections and supremely elegant simplicity, the food at Le Bernardin is potent to the point of richness -- a testament to chef Eric Ripert's vision and balance. Service is impeccable and the sommelier, Aldo Sohm, the best in the country.
Precise almost to a fault, this expression of eponymous chef Jean George Vongerichten provides one of the most buttoned-up, elegant, and thoughtful taste experiences in America -- and sometimes, the most surprising.
New York's most famous modernist restaurant is entirely the expression of its chef, the brilliant Wylie Dufresne. Why? Because he's in the kitchen every night, tasting every dish and expediting ever order, that's why.
Say this for New York's sushi king -- he is at work behind the bar every day, and when you splurge on his omakase menu, it is the master himself who hands you each piece of magic.
The food, like the room, is somewhat austere here, but if you are a serious student of gastronomy, you probably can't afford not to see what chef Paul Liebrandt is up to -- such is his influence and reputation among New York chefs.