After moving out of NYC, my husband and I have decided to spend a few days above 42nd street (east and westside) for a mini vacation. We are staying on the park and need recs for brunch, lunch, and a low key dinners. We are both foodies but are always dining downtown. Cuisine is open, as is price and location (as long as it isnt downtown), but please keep in mind that we are topping off our mini vacation at Daniel, so leading up to that, we would love good food but without the pretense. Thanks so much!
That certainly leaves a *huge* swath of territory from which to select restaurants, so I'll just suggest some and leave it to you to decided if they suit you.
Convivio - http://www.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?areaid=0&restaurantid=54327&neighborhoodid=0&cuisineid=0
Alto - http://www.altorestaurant.com
Note: These two are sister restaurants. Convivio's vibe is expressed by its name -- convivial. Alto is more upscale and low-key.
The Modern - http://www.themodernnyc.com
Aquavit - http://www.aquavit.org
Pampano - http://www.modernmexican.com/pampano
Cafe Sabarsky - http://www.wallse.com
Jean Georges (particularly for the bargain lunch) - http://www.jean-georges.com
Picholine - http://www.picholinenyc.com
Telepan - http://www.telepan-ny.com
I second Alto, Picholine, Aquavit, and The Modern...though Picholine's atmosphere is kind of uptight and not comfortable. All are considerably better than the (new/old) Brasserie.
I also went to Compass about three times a few years ago and found it remarkable. I haven't been back in a couple of years, but if you're willing to venture uptown, it might be worth a second look.
Egads... went to Alto on Saturday night. Service was very attentive. Wine list fantastic. But, dinner was truly a let down. I really wanted to love my dinner but neither myself or husband were thrilled. I had a mixed greens pear gorganzola salad, tortellini bolognese, the turbot and pumpkin torte (doughnut) dessert - price fixe. My man had the salad and rack of lamb- very fatty. Overall disappointed. With a bottle of Chianti (about $75) our bill was $300. On the positive side- We were able to linger over of meals and did not feel rushed.
That's too bad. I will say that the two times I've been there and had fish, I thought the fish was a bit over cooked, and the second time my fish dish had so many capers that it really became almost unpleasant to eat. That said - everything else I've had there was just fabulous. Oh - we didn't pay the bill in either case, so you never know quite how than can colour things!
I love the Totto restaurants: Tory's, Soba Totto, Yakitori Totto. I go to the first two on a regular basis, have only been to yakitori totto once. All make really delicious yakitori. Tory's makes a fantastic beef tongue stew and a tasty bowl of tonkotsu ramen (sometimes the noodles are a titch too soft, but it's very tasty). Soba totto's soba is, not surprisingly, very well done. They're pretty low key places and i've rarely had to wait, and even then only 5-10 minutes. Majority of the clientele at these places is Japanese, which I think says a lot.