THE TOP TEN Chef's Tables New York City
If you're looking for the ultimate eating experience, booking an exclusive chef's table promises excitement and a multitude of surprise tastes. Whether you're seated at a small table right in the heat of the kitchen or nestled in a plush banquette watching all the action from a comfortable distance, a multi-course meal at one of these Top 10 Chef's Tables in New York, presented in alphabetical order, is sure to be a night you won't soon forget.
If you're looking for the ultimate eating experience, booking an exclusive chef's table promises excitement and a multitude of surprise tastes. Whether you'r... more
65 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022 / 212-307-7311
Talented chef Marcus Samuelsson culls inspiration from traditional Swedish products and runs with it. On the three-course dinner menu, you might start off with such Scandinavian standards as pickled herring, gravlax, smoked salmon and a lobster roll; or creations from his vivid culinary imagination like foie gras ganache with ocean trout, grilled octopus, blood oranges and goat cheese. The second course gives a greater sense of his talent with dishes like milk-poached halibut with potato-bone marrow terrine; poached lamb loin with wild mushroom ragoût; and New York Strip steak with beer-braised oxtail. What to drink with all of this? To start, a shot of one of the eight varieties of flavored aquavits; to finish, a Finnish liqueur.
1422 Third Ave., New York, NY 10028 / 212-744-6327
Ostrich burgers and quality French wine on tap are featured at Phillipe Feret's brasserie. Did we pique your interest? There's more: Since leaving Windows on the World, Chef Feret has also been promoting the meat of the American bison. He offers it four ways---carpaccio, steak, short ribs or burger---at the bright, friendly restaurant named for his young son. This veteran of Le Doyen and Taillevent in Paris also makes richly satisfying brasserie fare such as cassoulet, steak tartare, beer choucroute and even Savoyard cheese fondue for two. Feret's latest gambit is serving six French wines from the barrel, wines he says are superior to many of his bottled wines, but fresher and less expensive. In this, he modestly says, We are the first restaurant on the planet to sell such wine on tap.
2 Harrison St., New York, NY 10013 / 212-966-6960
Chef David Waltuck and his wife, Karen, who runs the dining room at Chanterelle, make the most welcoming hosts, just as they did when Chanterelle first opened in 1979. And Waltuck is still at the top of his game. Much ado has been made about the room over the years, and for good reason. It's a study in taste and simplicty. The design may indicate old world, but it's anything but staid inside the high-ceilinged dining room adorned with grand flower arrangements. The prix-fixe menus, influenced by French contemporary and Far East leanings, change monthly and might include Waltuck's signature grilled seafood sausage, poached halibut with mussels and saffron, loin of lamb or grilled foie gras with portobellos. For a little extra, you'll be seduced by a fine assortment of French, Italian and American cheeses selected by the fromager. The wine list compels a visit with longtime sommelier, Roger Dagorn, just one of the dedicated professionals who have made this place so special for so many years.
60 E. 65th St., New York, NY 10021 / 212-288-0033
Daniel Boulud, born in Lyon, is very comfortable in the garb of Lord of the manor at this Venetian palace. Daniel is as majestic as modest in this aristocratic role, ruling this grand and elegant space with Byzantine and Moorish flair. The main dining room is a courtyard of graceful arches and stately columns. Light levels are romantically low. The staff layers on pinpoint service, discreet but always there, anticipating every need. Sparkling crystal and silver, fresh flowers and china (designed for the restaurant by Bernardaud) complement the Daniel experience. Dinner is preceded by three amuse-bouches. The cuisine of Daniel and executive chef Jean-François Bruel is a beguiling blend of informed hominess and truffle-steeped excess. There's no getting around Daniel's signature sea bass in potato shell with Syrah sauce. Carnivores can't resist the beefy double feature: short ribs braised in red wine paired with young carrot fricassée and a seared rib-eye teamed with allumette potatoes. Sommelier Philippe Marchal will help you choose from the wine list which boasts more than 1,000 selections. After dessert, perhaps a bittersweet chocolate praline crémeux with dark chocolate ice cream, the intricate petits fours are always delightful, but they are overshadowed by the exceptional buttery madeleines that are brought to the table warm from the oven. Forget Proust, the memory of these cookies is positively Pavlovian.
Gordon Ramsay at The London
The London NYC, 151 W. 54th St., New York, NY 10019 / 212-468-8888
Since Gordon Ramsay at The London opened in late 2006, the original chef de cuisine has departed and head chef Gordon Ramsay has now moved on to other ventures. But fortunately for New Yorkers, chef Ramsay has left the day to day operations of his New York flagship in the highly capable hands of Josh Emett. New York diners won’t leave disappointed; neither will foodies familiar with Ramsay’s London twin, as the menus are refreshingly different. Recommended appetizers include a topnotch roasted Hudson Valley foie gras with an almond crust and creamed turnips, nicely finished with a ham gastrique that enlivens the flavor and adds the necessary touch of saltiness. Indeed, much of the cooking under chef Emett achieves flavors that are both subtle and complex, such as the excellent baked fluke with almond bread, celery hearts, cucumber and Concord grapes, finished with a Champagne velouté. The ingredients all work together to produce a light, satisfying dish that doesn’t overwhelm the delicious fluke. For meat dishes, try the classic roasted cannon of lamb served atop a rich-tasting confit shoulder. Lastly, indulge in the apple tarte Tatin with vanilla ice cream or the intense mint chocolate fondant; however, the roasted peach with vanilla millefeuille, Amaretto ice cream and praline mousse may be less than satisfying---the parts clearly greater than the whole. Service is superior and thoroughly professional. And if you’ve never before tried Krug or Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, be sure to order a glass before dinner when the Champagne cart rolls your way.
47 Bond St., New York, NY 10012 / 212-533-1932
If you are looking for a quaint (though not quiet or cheap) country setting, Il Buco is about as close as you can get without leaving the city. Owners Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle originally opened this hole-in-the-wall (Il Buco literally means the hole in Italian) as an antique store in 1994, then decided to sell wine and food as well. They soon realized that more people were interested in buying tapas than rusty watering cans. From the original regulars who happily nibbled Italian and Spanish morsels amidst old wheelbarrows and mirrors, Il Buco's following has grown. Reservations are a must, especially on weekends, when the kitchen is open until 2 a.m. Chef Ignacio Mattos makes such Mediterranean-inspired dishes as Dijon-encrusted lamb chops with puntarelle and slow-roasted porchetta over white polenta. Don't become too attached though---the menu changes nightly. The wine list is considerable, and dotted with unusual Italian selections.
The Equitable Building, 155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019 / 212-489-1515
The verdict is in. After more than 20 years of beguiling boulevardiers and becs fins with things that swim, Le Bernardin can claim to be the best fish restaurant in New York, America and arguably, even the world. The high-ceilinged teak-toned dining room with marine-themed paintings feels like a luxury liner, with Eric Ripert at the culinary helm. The acclaimed chef has a light, fastidious touch. If you've never eaten skate prepared at Le Bernardin or even fried calamari there, you have no benchmark or frame of reference to judge all the other pretenders to Le Bernardin's crown. To experience Ripert's repertoire at its best, order one of his tasting menus, which start at $135. A minimalist dinner might offer among other refinements thinly sliced conch marinated Peruvian style and barely cooked wild Alaskan salmon. A mousse-like sea urchin “custard” plays up the lushness of the spiny sea creature. Ripert even works his Neptune-like charms with beef in a pairing of buttery Kobe with a citrus and kimchi-shocked escolar. A milk chocolate pot de crème with caramel foam, maple syrup and sea salt offers a sensual ending. Since the talented brother-and-sister team of the late Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze opened the restaurant in 1986, Le Bernardin has been a highlight of the New York dining scene---both enlightening and seducing diners with what was then a revolutionary approach to seafood. Service is proper and reserved. Co-owner Maguy has insured smooth sailing at the front-of-the-house for the last two decades. This is not a place for the faint-of-wallet. The attention to detail, the stability and the quest for perfection for almost a quarter of a century have made this a restaurant that is as good as it gets.
One Beacon Court, 151 E. 58th St., New York, NY 10022 / 212-644-0202
Few would deny that Sirio Maccioni is emblematic of the New York gastronomy and that his creation, Le Cirque, is an institution. Both have gracefully fared across the twentieth century in the midst of recessions, crises, catastrophes and whirlwinds of fading glories, disdainful of the passing crazes, enticing us to believe that whatever happens, Sirio’s Le Cirque will always be Le Cirque. When serious diners enter the latest rendition of Le Cirque, they should keep in mind that such a glorious status is the result of half a century of relentless effort seasoned with talent and tenacity. Le Cirque, version three, consists of a glass-enclosed aerie on the ground floor of the spectacular glass and steel Bloomberg monumental compound. Its modernity erases the wrinkles that could have marked the face of a restaurant that has been around for so long. Billowing silk on the ceiling, gauzy shades, a central pillar encircled by porcelain monkeys, all evocative of the first Le Cirque; these features bear the signature of famous architect Adam Tihany. Does the food need to be as contemporary or avant-garde as the design? Master Sirio has wisely left the option open. If it is the filet of sole meunière, côte de boeuf for two, osso buco and the pasta that whip our taste buds and make our mouth water, we’ll order them all right, flawless as ever. They have their place here, as these are eternal values, and there’s not much to rhapsodize about. But there’s also space for Christophe Bellanca (who hails from illustrious Pic in Valence) to express himself in favor of newer flavors with the enthusiasm of his youth. The seven-course menu dégustation offers him the opportunity to treat the beautiful ingredients of the traditional cuisine with a fresher approach without disconcerting a conservative palate. This is explicit with his crunchy zucchini flowers stuffed with zucchini, Parmesan and pesto, melting tuna tartare with mango vinaigrette and lemon grissini or langoustine in coconut lemon grass jus. The ingredients and the flavors play well together, avoiding the collisions and even the near misses. Considering the history of the place and of its enduring solemn image, Christophe has justly evaluated the limits of audacity. Sommelier Paul Altuna has prepared a wine pairing to match the dishes of this exciting menu. Desserts reflect the dual face of Le Cirque with the old-fashioned tall napoleon opposed to or complementing the subtle creations of pastry chef Vincent Jaoura such as the warm blueberry tart.
62 Thomas St., New York, NY 10013 / 212-964-7777
Megu (which means blessing in Japanese) is set on two levels and 13,000-square-feet of shadowy space. The $6 million restaurant, designed by Yasumichi Morita, is dynamic and sexy, so, as you might imagine, it is also very loud, with 120 speakers set around. The menu is enormous, going from category to category, and owner Koji Imai insists he brings in only the very finest ingredients from all over the world. The proof of all this planning is, of course, in the food. Crown Jewels are the most extravagant items on the menu, like toro steak with white truffle oil and Kobe beef Châteaubriand with fresh wasabi and saké juices. The extensive appetizer menu, Gems from Japan, includes tatsuta-fried chicken in a jubako box; Kumamoto oysters grilled on a river stone; and madai sashimi salad with sizzling sesame oil. There are also soups and noodles and an array of better-than-usual French-accented Japanese desserts, including bitter chocolate soufflé with warm ogura azuki cream. The only question is the price: When you choose from this category and that, this page and another, sharing plates of sushi and Kobe beef---in most cases small portions---the bill can mount fearfully.
Park Avenue Summer
100 E. 63rd St., New York, NY 10021 / 212-644-1900
Formerly known as Park Avenue Spring, this modern space evolves to reflect the seasons (and changes its name accordingly). The innovative dishes from chef Craig Keketsu will trick your taste buds, no matter what season it is. Starters include French onion soup and porcini ravioli with Swiss chard and Gorgonzola cream. Entrées reflect inspirations from all over the map. Try coriander-seared yellowfin or the filet mignon with braised short rib and root vegetables. The modern, mostly American wine list is reasonably priced for this neighborhood. For a real culinary adventure, book the chef's table in the kitchen for up to ten.
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