Located in a former bank in the MetLife building, this huge space with high ceilings and grand lanterns mixes art deco with warm touches of comfy leather furniture, patterned insets and shrubbery that pull the feel of the park right into the room. Chef Daniel Humm's hospitality is reflected in the professional staff that are efficient and knowledgeable, without being stuffy.
Though the prices are overwhelming, the subtle and intricately flavored dishes are not. Many of the seafood dishes are knockouts from the rich prawn consommé to the supple salmon in fennel sauce; both offer a complexity of flavor that makes for the finest in this style of cuisine. A poached poularde with truffle and rillette accompaniment, and the soft suckling pig confit are exceptional. For a close, fresh blueberries with cornbread ice cream offer an earthy touch. Besides the 36 wines available by the glass, 11 Mad's cocktails also stand out. As part of foodie superstar Danny Meyer's empire, this place is stellar in every aspect from the exquisite food to the retro ambiance.
If any place represents a New York food experience, then the Four Seasons tops the list. Designed by architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, this restaurant is a modern classic that has been redefining American cuisine since 1959. The Grill Room at lunchtime is the single greatest room to see members of the city's power elite gather along the banquettes as part of their daily ritual.
The Four Seasons has long attracted New Yorkers with such menu items as whole roasted pheasant, saffron aoli bouillabaisse, and filet of bison with foie gras and truffle sauce. Everything on the extravagantly priced menu—$55 for a steak, $48 for crab cakes—tastes much better when you're on an expense account. And without a doubt when you sit back and enjoy the spectacle, order the sturdy bison burger ($34) and a Bloody Mary or two.
99 East 52nd Street b/w Park and Lexington Avenues 212-754-9494
What began as a grand café in 1984, Gotham has become a trusted American standard. Through gracious service and a tasty menu, co-owner/chef Alfred Portale has achieved enduring success in this city's ever-changing restaurant scene by pursuing perfection in the kitchen.
In the lofty dining room, informal but informed service pervades( the room). Portale's dinner menu is divided into three courses, with a melange of flavors skillfully combined in finely sculpted dishes rich in taste and look (appearance). Depending on the season, there are a range of favorites including (Portale's) lush risotto with sweet turnips and duck confit, the seared yellowfin propped against pappardelle rolled around caponata, miso-marinated black cod, and the wonderful ricotta cheesecake dotted with huckleberries. Given the range of menu selections, not every dish needs intricacy to be flavorful.
Among the restaurants that represent a pinnacle of the haute dining experience, master gastronome Danny Meyer's Union Square Café would be one of the top five in New York. Though the three rooms look as if they were designed by some refugee from a rustic hunting club—with green wainscoting, deep wood floors, ivory colored walls and warm mahogany accents—the entire space hums with the energy commensurate with a power player's palace. The restaurant embodies the philosophy of taking familiar fare, and ratcheting it up to a delicious refinement so that it is both easy to appreciate, yet memorable as well.
Chef Michael Romano's seasonal menu draws on the local greenmarket to create ultra-fresh dishes that become instant classics. He devises uncommon combinations such as wasabi mashed potatoes, uniquely sauced pastas and courses that even vegetarians will find not only filling but more flavorful than ever. And the meats, like a succulent, crispy lemon-pepper duck, are no less worthy. As for a closer, the banana tart with honey-vanilla ice cream will make you a convert. A beautiful, well-selected and award-winning wine list. The bar is a great place to lunch solo--and there is a full range of appropriate alcoholic accompaniment.