Her identity may be under lock and key, but it’s no secret our Culinary Insider knows her way around the New York City food scene. From a 15-course omakase with a sushi boss to a contemporary twist on Indian fare, she shares how to start 2018 with a gourmet bang.
1. Taking It to the Next (2nd) Level
How do you attract millennials to your 50-year-old kosher sandwich shop? Create a second-floor cocktail bar and stay open till midnight. Following the current trend for hipster-fied Jewish food, 2nd Floor at 2nd Avenue offers updated bites and small plates, from pastrami deviled eggs and smoked tongue sliders to “herring in a fur coat” and duck confit blintzes. Creative drinks include the Upper Eastsider (vodka or gin, celery soda, ginger, mint) and seasonal concoctions such as the Distant Memory, with gin, ancho chile and…cranberry sauce! Have fun, kids. 1442 First Avenue (between East 74th and 75th Streets), Upper East Side
2. Innovative Dishes in the East Village
Whatever associations you have with Indian food in the East Village will be erased by the stylish newcomer Baar Baar. The soaring, loungelike space—it dubs itself an “Indian gastro-bar”—serves up-to-the-minute takes on classics like butter chicken and naan, but dig deeper and you’ll find new favorites such as potato and bone marrow kulcha (flatbread), Kashmiri lamb ribs, and pumpkin mulligatawny soup. Small plates and thali platters are excellent complements to Indian-inspired cocktails, like a Negroni made with Barolo Chinato and spice-infused Aperol. 13 East 1st Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue), East Village
3. How Do Ya Like Them Apples?
You might be inspired to leave your corporate job and start a cidery and restaurant after visiting this Bushwick hang, just like the Brooklyn Cider House founders did. Their deliciously hard Raw Cider is made on-site, but you can sample the rest—made at the sibling’s upstate orchard—from their taps. You can enjoy them at the bar or tuck in for the five-course cider catching, a shared experience for the table inspired by the Basque tradition that pretty much ensures you’ll befriend any strangers at your table. (Hint: A giant piece of bread acts as your plate.) 1100 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick
4. An Aperitif With a View
Those who live in Brooklyn Heights never complain about how beautiful it is. Their main gripe, however, is with how there’s nowhere cool—let alone good—to eat or drink. The new Social Club in the stylish 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge hopes to transform the “cool drinking” part. The rooftop space is at eye level with the Brooklyn Bridge, making it the perfect perch from which to sip a passion fruit and orange blossom champagne cocktail while nibbling some Parmesan-dusted puffed rice crisps. The prices are in keeping with the elevation, making this a place for celebrating memorable occasions. 60 Furman Street, Brooklyn Heights
5. Not for Takeout
New York has its share of high-end Japanese restaurants. But Chinese? Not so great. (Don’t tell Shun Lee…) Now Beijing celebrity chef Dong Zhenxiang has rolled into midtown, opening the splashy multilevel Dadong, where his celebrated Peking duck shares menu space with modern interpretations like lime-seared Wagyu beef with preserved Sichuan vegetables. 3 Bryant Park (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), Midtown West
6. Out With the (Beloved) Old, In With the New
Those who loved Franny’s, the snug farm-to-table Italian restaurant that occupied this Park Slope space for more than a decade, loved it to pieces. Now that it’s Fausto, the love should continue (except maybe from the kids; this is more of a grown-up spot). Here, chef Erin Shambura emphasizes small plates derived from both the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket and the sea, plus excellent pastas like buckwheat rigatoni with brussels sprouts, potato, and cheese. For entrées, both of the wood-burning ovens are put to work, creating magical roasted whole fish, crispy chicken, and lamb loin chops. The small Italian wine list is on point, and the room is pretty and warm, with flattering light for an upscale feel. And soon, the basement wine cellar will be used to seat cozy private parties. 348 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope
7. Eat With the “Sushi Boss”
This multilevel Japanese newcomer has a concept for (almost) everyone. Japanese-born sushi chef Kazuo Yoshida has worked at such essential NYC counters as 1 or 8 and Jewel Bako. At Juku, you can sit down at the 12-seat omakase counter on the top floor for a 15-piece sushi tasting that features lesser-known fish as well as top-flight uni from around the world. On the ground floor is the izakaya, where elevated bar snacks like smoked hamachi join larger plates and classics like crispy pork tonkatsu. Japanese-leaning cocktails and a stellar sake list round out the libation side of Juku, while coming soon is a basement whiskey lounge that can also accommodate private events. 32 Mulberry Street (at Mosco Street), Two Bridges
8. For Those Who Like a Little Kick
You don’t have to trek all the way to Woodside for a taste of Thai cuisine at SriPraPhai anymore. The new location in Williamsburg has the same killer 10-page menu, from the papaya salad and crispy fried fish to the mouth-blistering (in a good way!) larb. The two-level BYOB space is slightly cooler, though, in that industrial way. Our move? Bring a bottle of good champagne and make it a celebration: It pairs with everything and helps cut the heat. 176 North 9th Street, Williamsburg
9. A Tasty Pick-Me-Up
Nourish Kitchen + Table might look like a basic West Village takeout place from the outside, but it’s quite the opposite. Serving healthy and incredibly flavorful food that calls to mind London’s Ottolenghi, it’s a reminder of just how delicious “slow casual” can be. But today we’re going to highlight the beverages: In addition to a full roster of coffee, it also offers a killer rose chai with house-made almond milk, a turmeric golden milk latte, and a brown butter latte. (Bulletproof coffee just got jealous.) Order a drink and a macaroon (the old-fashioned coconut kind, but a million times better) and wonder why there’s not a Nourish in every neighborhood. 95 Greenwich Avenue (between Bank and West 12th Streets), West Village
10. Havana in a Glass
Want to be truly transported by a bar? Blacktail is an adventure from start to finish. It feels like Prohibition-era Cuba with a little Irish pub thrown in, which is no coincidence since the Irish owners also run the award-winning cocktail bar Dead Rabbit nearby. Choose from five categories of drinks—highballs, punches, sours, old-fashioneds, and cocktails—in which you’ll find a multitude of wonders. There’s also a full food menu, which comes in handy once you realize that you’ve just ordered your third One-Armed Bandit (genever, aquavit, Italian bitters, sherry, and a button mushroom) and have no idea where the nearest restaurant is. If it feels like a vacation from New York, that’s because it is. 22 Battery Place, Second Floor of Pier A
Looking for rezzies? We’ve got you covered.