Fifty Best New York Restaurants
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  Cuisine: French  
  Location: Midtown East  

ADOUR ALAIN DUCASSE       French


If there's any chef in NYC associated with an over-the-top attitude from classic French cuisine masters, it's Alain Ducasse. With Adour, which opened at the beginning of 2008, this legendary restaurateur adds to his legend with a plush, intimate environment perfectly suited to his reputation. Design guru David Rockwell has unveiled a grand, aesthetic ambience that equals Ducasse’s gastronomical vision.

Employing various baroque affectations of "le restaurant classique" as envisioned in classic cinema, the back-to-basics menu themes are embodied in Adour's look and feel. Executive Chef Joel Dennis is particular in using the finest ingredients in his seasonal menu. Foie Gras Ravioli makes for an ever-rich starter. The succulent Duck Breast or tender Pork Loin, are excellent entree choices. Pear Clafoutis, embellished with honey ice cream, is perfect to satisfy the sweet side of the palate. Expect to be pampered with the impeccable service.

Named after the Adour River which flows near Ducasse’s hometown in southwestern France, just as the best wines flow here as well, with over 600 fine selections.


At the St. Regis Hotel, 2 East 55th Street
212-710-2277

Adour Alain Ducasse

 

  Cuisine: French  
  Location: SoHo  

BALTHAZAR              French Bistro


Evoking a classic Parisian brasserie, Balthazar offers a French menu prepared by chefs de cuisine Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson. With an extensive wine list, raw seafood bar, breads and pastries from its own excellent bakery, Balthazar serves traditional bistro meals from breakfast through late-night supper.

Opened by master restauranteur Keith McNally in the spring 1997, Balthazar is also renowned for its airy design being housed in a converted leather wholesaler's warehouse; over 200 people can be accommodated in the dining room and at the zinc bar.

Balthazar is McNally's benchmark, a touch of Paris in downtown Manhattan where diners can try the house salad with baby greens, fennel, asparagus and haricots verts draped in white-truffle oil; duck confit with wild mushrooms; skate with raisins and capers; the requisite steak frites; "Le Balthazar" plateau de fruit de mer; tender braised short ribs; shepherd's pie made with duck or grilled dorade ringed by roasted eggplant and peppers. Weekend brunches draw bustling foodies hungry for savory crepes, puff pastry stuffed with scrambled eggs (doused with hollandaise sauce), and French toast made with homemade brioche.


80 Spring Street      212-965-1414

Balthazar

 

  Cuisine: French  
  Location: TriBeCa  

BOULEY                  French/American


Bouley, the restaurant, represents a landmark in fine dining and exquisite cuisine, that Chef David Bouley has worked hard to establish. As the flagship of Bouley's Tribeca restaurant empire, the level of quality serves to proclaim him as a legendary, world-renowned restaurant stylist. Now in its newer location, Bouley has put aside his boutique breads, the oven, and cafe to make room for lots more seats.

Loyal Bouley fans relish in the degustation menus that focuses on the freshest seasonal ingredients. But that's not all. Bouley's strength lies in layered flavors that don't overshadow a dish's essence. Silky black bass with porcini mushrooms carries smoky, earthy and buttery overtones that never overpower the fish; whole-roasted baby pig that's been braised for 24 hours in five spice-ginger glaze, still retain its meaty taste. A colorful terrine of lobster, mango and artichoke wrapped in Serrano ham and drizzled with a passionfruit, coconut and tamarind dressing represents the chef at his best.

The decor suggests a country-styled restaurant, low-keyed and friendly, in haute bohemian Tribeca. There's a plush feel to all that makes the place less stuffy than many restaurants of this caliber, but the service is no less polished. The sommelier will expertly pair wines from a superb list. For those on a budget there are tasting menus.


163 Duane Street near Hudson Street      212-964-2525

Bouley

 

  Cuisine: French  
  Location: Upper East Side  

CAFÉ BOULUD            French Bistro


On quiet 76th Street, around the corner from high-profile Madison Avenue boutiques, is the setting for Café Boulud. Reminiscent of an elegant little dining room found in Paris during a simpler epoch, this restaurant from master Chef Daniel Boulud underscores the idea that fine dining should be a relaxing and luxurious experience. Now a temple of global gastronomy, it still looks and feels like a quiet Upper East Side space best suited for hushed conversation and romantic dispensations.

Under the firm command of rising star Chef Gavin Kaysen, the food suggests a deep knowledge of the classic French techniques, yet also touches of innovation. Given the long tradition that these dishes reflect, the nine-course tasting menu offers a chance to get of a sense of the breadth of history embodied in the authentic cuisine served here.

Boulud has given Kaysen the freedom to develop his own stylish dishes within the café's four themes: traditional, a seasonal orientation, the feeling that this is a foreign kitchen from Europe, and that these creations are market-specific. Simple dishes are given unique accents, such as the truly sumptuous and succulent Winter Squash Ravioli. The Penne with Lamb Merguez Meatballs is a rich collage of flavours. An extremely well selected and versatile wine list leans mostly towards French gems.


20 East 76th Street      212-772-2600

Café Boulud.

 

  Cuisine: French  
  Location: Columbus Circle  

JEAN GEORGES          French Moderne


For the New York in-crowd, legendary French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's mastery of fine French cuisine is unmatched.

Of course with such a reputation in mind, Chef Mark Lapico and his team prepare their fare to exacting standards. And the result is perfection. Whether it's the Sea Scallops (with sweet caramelized cauliflower) or the Lobster (either in a Gruyere-green chili sauce or a lemongrass-fenugreek broth), the Seafood has never been more flavorful. Classic main dishes are enlivened with a fusion touch as in the Tuna Wasabi Wonton or Asian-pear-and-candied-tamarind-enhanced Squab. Freshness is a bylaw here, and well expressed in the remarkably tasty vegetables. The just-picked Morels over perfectly tender Asparagus combined with the Napa Salad, can be meal in itself. Dessert is an experience in exquisite decadence, with a rustic Apple-and-Pear Streusel Tart as the clear favorite.

From the source to plate display, this is fine dining to be sure, so it's hard to quibble with the high price. But there are prix fixe options with choices from a divine three-course ($98), or the superb seven-course ($148) menu. The extraordinary wine list is an oenophile’s dream featuring bottles that can run into the thousands, but also includes selections under $100 from most regions. The parting gift of boxed chocolates offers a simple reminder of an elegant and graceful dining event.


1 Central Park West      212-299-3900

Jean-Georges

 

  Cuisine: American, French  
  Location: Columbus Circle  

PER SE              American Nouveau,
                          French


With its ethereal view four stories up overlooking Central Park South, the uber-pricey restaurant Per Se offers ethereal food fare, as well. No wonder, since the restaurant was conceived by the much acclaimed chef, restauranteur, and author Thomas Keller--owner of the Napa Valley based French Laundry, a place often hailed as the best restaurant in the States. When Per Se debuted in February 2004, Keller knew he had established it as one of NYC's best restaurants in short order. With only 64-seats in the main dining room, a 10-seat private dining room, lounge, bar and remarkable wine cellar (standing like a viewable vault right before the dining area), Per Se suggests both a discreet hideaway and a place of elevated, refined luxury.

Keller's New York presence is maintained by Executive Chef Jonathan Benno, and continues to present Keller's high standards. Those standards include such succulent dishes as Coddled Eggs tipped with Black-Truffle purée and the Chef’s famous “Oysters and Pearls” (Island Creek Oysters, pearly tapioca, Osetra caviar); various unique Foie Gras based creations; and a flight of Lobster Tails poached in butter and painted with a remarkable medley of saffron-vanilla sauce, red-beet essence, or vermouth. Per Se offers two prix fixe tasting menus--there's a nine-course Tasting of Seasonal Vegetables or the nine-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, which changes daily, in addition to a shorter five-course lunch menu.

From its strict jacket/no-jeans dress code and no walk-ins accepted rule, down to the draping of the white pristine table cloths, Per Se defines the idea of an exorbitant, luxurious dining experience.


10 Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Building
212-823-9335

Per Se

 

  Cuisine: French, American  
  Location: Midtown  

THE MODERN     American Nouveau, French


Though situated inside the Museum of Modern Art, The Modern is no mere adjunct to the Museum--but a work of art in design and cuisine. Inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the '20s, this haute café from Restauranteur/proprietor Danny Meyer is adorned with furniture and tableware from the modernists, with a focus on the Danish style.

The Modern is actually two environments--the Bar Room and Dining Room. A little more casual and abuzz with energy, the bar offers an abbreviated version of the dining room menu with an array of over 30 savory dishes. While the bar suggests a lively, aesthetic debate, the dining area offers a more austere space ideal for reflection and conversation. The two spaces montage through a frosted glass partition. In the clean, stately dining room, patrons can admire the sculptures from the adjacent garden while enjoying the finely crafted menu.

Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s nouveau French-American cooking partly inspired by his Alsatian roots is as refined and aesthetic as the room itself. He applies a finely tuned palate that can devise unique dishes of familiar ingredients, as in the Hamachi Tuna with a tart Grapefruit sauce and spice crust, a Potato Escargot Gâteau, or a Cod graced with thin discs of Chorizo and Harissa oil. Kreuther transforms the generally prosaic Liverwurst or Roast Duck into something truly special. The restaurant offers three tasting options: three courses for $85, chef's seven-course tasting menu for $125, and a seven-course seasonal tasting menu for $138.

A meticulously chosen international wine list features more than 900 selections deep in Alsatian choices, including wines by-the-glass, and an innovative cocktail menu available both in the bar or dining space.


9 West 53rd Street      212-333-1220

The Modern

 



 
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