Roast chicken is hardly a dish on the cutting edge of gastronomy; but I'm not sure there has ever been a time when New York has seen so many great restaurants make the humble dish a spectacular centerpiece, with all the pomp and effort more typically given to be roasts and prime steaks. There are no less than TK restaurants in New York where you can see what I mean.
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.
Jonathan Waxman, though not a name to conjure with anymore, is still a true chef's chef and a giant in New York cooking history. His current restaurant, Barbuto, features superb simple American food (particularly a famous roast chicken) in a former garage on a beautiful corner.
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.
Secluded, rustic, and romantic (it's in an area so secluded you can hear birds chirping outside), Vinegar Hill House doesn't seem likely to have great food. After all, why bother? But the food is, amazingly, the main reason to go. The wood oven is, for once, used as an engine for cast-iron cooking and simple food made with the best possible ingredients. This is one of the best restaurants in New York, period.
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.
If you love the "three Ps" of Roman cooking -- pork, pecorino, and pepper -- you will love Maialino, which is uniquely dedicated to that flavor profile. Danny Meyer's Italian restaurant has the usual flawless service and a big, sunny room at Breakfast with its own wonderful menu.
Talented, ballsy, and not afraid to experiment, the young eponymous chef is making as big a contribution to his generation's dining scene as his famous father did twenty years ago.
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.