Dining Room, Chumley'sIn the dead quiet of Bedford Street at night, without even a sign to guide you, you might ring the wrong buzzer in your attempt to find Chumley’s, the historic NYC speakeasy just reopened as a full service restaurant. But just push the door of number 86, and it will open into a dark, wood-paneled dining room filled to the rafters with vintage book covers and portraits of the writers who wrote them – many of whom were Chumley’s patrons of years past.  (more…)

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Milk & Hops

Exterior, Milk & Hops

Wedged between a Starbucks and a Chase Bank is an unlikely interloper among the chain stores on lower Broadway: Milk & Hops, a sliver of a market and bar dedicated to all things cheese and beer.

This space has bottled beer and packaged food for sale on one side and a long marble bar running down the other. Here you can order up various spins on grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a selection of seasonally rotating cheese and beer. On a recent visit, there were some trusty cheese standbys like Bayley Hazen Blue and Kunik, but also a few rarities like Red Dragon, a Welsh cow’s milk cheese made with ale and studded with mustard seeds. (more…)

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Prolific restauranteur Stephen Starr has created many restaurants that loom large in our collective New York memory, but most are not memorable for the food. If you ever had a girlfriend who wanted a “Sex and the City” type experience when visiting New York, all you had to do was book a table at the latest Stephen Starr place. They were all consistently glitzy, sleek and populated with pretty young things. But now Starr has made an interesting match with chef Justin Smillie, who’s just as serious about food as Starr is about setting the scene.  (more…)

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Hunt & Fish Club

Main Dining Room 2, Hunt & Fish Club

There’s a glitzy newcomer in town on 44th Street, a midtown stretch that desperately needs more dining options. Hunt & Fish Club falls squarely into the expense account steakhouse category, but here the fish is just as good as the meat. Go for the macho name or the promise of wild boar on the menu, but if you end up ordering something gathered instead of hunted, you will be equally happy.  (more…)

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Chefs Club by Food & Wine

Open Kitchen view 2, Chefs Club

There’s something to be said for good bones. Restaurant decor can go a long way in transforming an odd space into a good one – see Claudette, for example – but when you start with something as architecturally impressive as the interior of the Puck Building, you have more leeway in what you can hang on the walls – and put on the menu. It’s an unusual concept to open a restaurant that’s not the vision of any one particular chef or restauranteur but a magazine. Fortunately Chefs Club by Food & Wine Magazine gets a certain gravitas from the surroundings, whereas otherwise it might seem utterly newfangled. (more…)

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Brooklyn Crab

Dozen Medium Crabs, Brooklyn Crab

In Maryland, you have not had a true taste of summer until you’ve eaten blue crabs coated in Old Bay and served with a pitcher of cold, cheap beer in a shack right on the water. You get to this place by boat (often the fastest way), and spend the better part of an afternoon picking chunks of crab meat out of cracked shells. And yes, it is worth the effort.

Could there be a place like this in New York? (more…)

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Back Dining Room, Narcissa

Narcissa is the new restaurant in an odd, L-shaped space that they said couldn’t be saved. When Sam Sifton reviewed the old tenant Faustina here in 2010, he praised Scott Conant’s food but said “no matter the meal, you will eat it uncomfortably…in what is unmistakably an institutional setting.”  (more…)

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Distilled Sign, Distilled NY

A popular, relatively new place on the main drag of Tribeca, Distilled fills up on a weekday night with people who seem to have made it their neighborhood canteen. Indeed, Distilled’s motto is “redefining the public house.” With its soaring ceilings, big glossy dining room set with casual four-tops and a bar that runs along the entire side wall, it has the feel of a modern day dining hall. But this isn’t just the place to load up on drinks and grub on your way to somewhere else. Distilled has the kind of food that merits a special visit.  (more…)

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Charlie Bird

Olive Oli Cake, Charlie Bird NYC

Charlie Bird: the name is like a catchy tune that everyone is humming. You hear it on the streets, you see it in the papers, until you too are thinking Charlie Bird, Charlie Bird, I’ve got to get there. And once you’re inside the place, the song keeps going, this time as actual music, not Charlie “Bird” Parker’s bebop but hip hop with a beat. Even the Conde Nast editor sitting next to me was bobbing her head in time, as were the post-production guys at the next table. This is a place that brings together New Yorkers from all walks of life.  (more…)

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Atrium Dumbo

Of all the neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Dumbo is perhaps the most radically changed since the bad old days of early ’90s New York. Where there once were abandoned factories, artist squats and dark, deserted streets, there’s now a buzz of pedestrian activity, luxury condos and even a fancy florist taking up two storefronts. Atrium Dumbo is a sign of the times, bringing artisanal food and $13 cocktails to a once forlorn area right by the river.  (more…)

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The Wren

“Go ahead and grab a table.”

These words, spoken offhandedly by our server, could have knocked us over with a feather on the first night we dined at the Wren. It appeared that this newish place might not be like the rest of the new Noho establishments that claim to be “neighborhood” restaurants, where you can usually expect an hour or more wait followed by a bill of $70 or more per person. Multiply this by the amount of visits it takes to become a regular to skip the hour and or more wait, and the only “neighbors” in the so-called neighborhood place are the very wealthy.  (more…)

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When Wylie Dufresne’s 71 Clinton Fresh Food opened in 1999, it was notable – and notorious – for luring wealthy uptown diners to the Lower East Side, then the land of artists and immigrants. Blocks away from early hipster hangout Max Fish, Clinton Street was clogged with black Town Cars loitering outside while their well-heeled charges dined inside, drawn by news of Dufresne’s molecular gastronomy.  (more…)

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Runner & Stone

A baker from Per Se and Bouchon Bakery sets up shop in a restaurant-and-bakery in the underserved neighborhood of Gowanus, and the first question the table next to us asks at dinner the other night is: What do you have that’s gluten-free?  (more…)

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Pearl & Ash

As restaurants go, Pearl & Ash has all the makings of a super trendy one. It opened in a one-block area of Chrystie and the Bowery where four other concept restaurants (the Bowery Diner, the General, Cata, Cocktail Bodega) and two cocktail bars (Bantam, Experimental Cocktail Club) have opened in the past year. It has the currently favored __ + __ name scheme, and chef Richard Kuo used to be one half of the popular pop-up restaurant Frej, which was – of course! – Scandinavian.  (more…)

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Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue

“The best barbecue comes from someone’s backyard,” D. said, recounting childhood times in Georgia when he and his dad would track down the local guy with an outdoor pit, ring the front bell and exchange money for a styrofoam container of pulled pork or ribs. This might be a little too Texas Chainsaw Massacre for me, but the point still stands. I have been in the big backyard that is Smorgasburg on the banks of the East River, waiting in line with dozens of other people for a taste of Mighty Quinn’s barbecue there. Follow the scent of wafting smoke and queue up for some very good ‘cue.  (more…)

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