Fine dining is, generally speaking, aimed at refined palates. Discriminating conniseurs, I mean to say. Feinshmeckers. But what of the ravenous glutton with an insatiable lust for fatty foods and a thick wad to spend on it? Here are some three-star options for the gross and greedy.
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.
If you've never had the traditional cuisine classique, the old-rite French food of the past, you better hasten over here tout suite. All the great, heavy, unfashionable dishes that compose the canon are here: blanquette de veau, pot au feu, ill flotant, quenelles of pike....the surprising thing is that these old dishes, executed with meticulous care, don't taste old. The prove that history can still throw a punch, and that the new isn't necessarily the best, in French food or anything else.
For many years Ouest has a reputation as "the only good place on the Upper West Side," which, while true, did an injustice to a wonderful restaurant. Ouest was years ahead of its time in serving a richer, more rustic kind of American food in an urbane environment -- not that different, if the truth be told, from what Tom Colicchio was doing downtown at Gramercy and Craft. The neighborhood has come a long way, but Ouest hasn't lost anything in the process, and remains the first choice in the area for a lot of locals.
John Fraser's heroic effort to single-handedly bring haute cuisine to the Upper West Side has largely succeeded, thanks to his unpretentious but precise cooking. His Meatless Monday menu is so good that even I can eat it.
All the classic bistro dishes are done here to perfection, as you might expect, but the real draw are the genius charcuterie creations of Sylvan Gasdon.
The cool thing about Scarpetta is that it seems hipper than it is. I mean by that that there are a lot of meatpacking types there, and it's very big and buzz-y, but the food is really very refined and elevated. It's closer in spirit to the old San Domenico than to the other club-like restaurants in that area.
Michael White, arguably New York's preeminent Italian chef, has done four-star seafood at Marea, Northern Italian at Alto, and French-Italian at Ai Fiori, but his heart will always be in the meaty ragus and robust pastas of emilia-romagna, the spirtual home of Osteria Morini. Its pastas are dense and rich, festooned with cream or meat sauce, and as often as not butter too. The grilled meats are superb, and the cured ones even more so. A big selection of area wines, including 8 different Lambruscos, goes with it.
When it was announced that Daniel Humm and Will Guidera of Eleven Madison Park were going to do the restaurant at the Nomad hotel, everyone assumed it would be ultra-refinedd modernist food, as at EMP -- but no! Instead Humm has gone for an understated, urbane, and traditional menu, albeit one prepared with immense behind-the-scenes innovations. The atmosphere is swanky and the food perfect every time out. I actually like Humm's food in a more dressed-down form. The Library lounge is a can't miss drinking spot.