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Looking for recommendations for playful renditions of american cuisine

HI everyone,
A friend from Atlanta is coming up to visit us this weekend and wants to find a restaurant that plays with American Cuisine in new and interesting ways. His fav's in Atlanta are Empire South, Leon's, Flip Burger, etc.

We suggested WD-50, but their tasting menu is out of his price range. My wife and I usually eat non-western cuisine, so we're unsure what will be a fantastic New American restaurant. We're taking him to Momofuku Ssam, but that is it so far.

I really appreciate your thoughts!

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  1. Gwynnett Street

    Brooklyn Star

    The Dutch

      1. If you can get a reservation, the tasting menu at Torissi ($65) might fit the bill. Their style is slightly reversed from what you described (an Americanized take on Italian food) but it's definitely playful and very delicious.

        I would classify ABC Kitchen as "Seasonal New American" and would highly recommend that as another higher-end option.

        Other suggestions would be Prune or Shopsin's (open on Saturdays until 2pm).

        I can also suggest a number of restaurants in the outer boroughs that would be perfect if you are willing to travel to Brooklyn or Queens. My top picks would be Do or Dine in Bed Stuy or Salt and Fat in Sunnyside.

        1. Gwynnet St and Marc Forgione are both great calls. Also, there are two tasting menus at WD - the cheaper one is $75 for five (smallish) courses, IIRC.

          And yeah, hit Shopsin's for brunch. There isn't much that's much more "playful" than some of his creations, even without the transglutaminase and Ultratex and sous-vide and liquid nitrogen...

          Only one I'll add is Public - esoteric "fusion" cuisine but based around local / seasonal stuff. Very creative, and reasonably priced for what they serve. If your guest will be around Sunday night, the Sunday Supper is a steal, $50 for 5 courses. They're also a great brunch option - super-creative takes on classic brunch fare - on either Sat or Sun.

          5 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            I'm not sure if you're recommending Public as "new american" cuisine as requested by the OP. But if so, why is it that Public never strike me as American at all? Seems more like a fusion of various international stuff with mainly Australian/New Zealand as a base.

            1. re: RCC

              He does use primarily local / seasonal produce, so the roots of the food are just as much "New American" (an admittedly vague category of cuisine) as many other places - does he touch on Australian and Southeast Asian flavors? Sure. But then every "New American" place has it's own fusion-y touchstones. I mean, Momofuku Ssam, which is self-described as American, is even further down the fusion rabbit hole...

              1. re: sgordon

                Chang calls his food "American" -- but nobody in his right mind agrees with him.

                1. re: Sneakeater

                  Actually, I agree with him, though there are dishes that are all over the map. I recall a pasta dish a year or so ago that might best have been described as Italian-Japanese-Mexican. But - leaving out the perennial items like the pork buns, sausage & rice cakes, etc - it's mostly rooted in American cuisine, to my mind. Sort of. I'm looking over the current dinner menu right now, and god only knows what culture "pea soup with snails, pork jowl, and jalapeno" is rooted in.

                  But maybe I'm not in my right mind...

                  1. re: Sneakeater

                    I call it eclectic. Some of his stuff is very clearly American, but most of it is fusion.

            2. I think this recommendation will illicit some negative response but playful American is kind of David Burke's forte. Maybe you want to check out one of his places.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                No negatives from me - I quite like Burke. Surprised I forgot him, actually. Good suggestion.

                1. re: sgordon

                  Thanks sgordon. I guess I have to be honest though and give the credit for the idea to my GF, she's the one that reminded me about Burke. : )