First and foremost, Maysville is a great business idea. A bar and restaurant dedicated to bourbon, the fastest growing spirit category in the U.S., situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of NoMad (the Breslin, the John Dory Oyster Bar, and of course the NoMad), is just the right concept in just the right location. Maysville just opened a couple of months ago, but it’s already a popular after-work destination for a grown up crowd – the sort who can afford to pay $16 for two ounces of bourbon. If you can secure a seat at the bar here (go early), the glowing wall of backlit bourbon bottles that give off the same psychological warmth as a roaring fire.  (more…)

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The NoMad

Not only is the NoMad a shiny new restaurant in a shiny new hotel, it’s the reason Danny Meyer sold Eleven Madison Park, to avoid the competition from another high-end place up the street. And the buyer of Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm, who just won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, is now in the kitchen at the NoMad. The buzz about this place has been huge, and the stakes are high.  (more…)

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The John Dory Oyster Bar

If April Bloomfield were a fashion icon instead of a chef, she would surely be a maximalist along the lines of Anna Dello Russo or Daphne Guinness. Just as those two specialize in outrageous outfits that elicit stares of utter disbelief, Bloomfield serves up food that makes you want to put down your fork and say: No she didn’t.

Dining Room, the John Dory Oyster Bar

A pot full of pigs’ feet? A bowl full of liquified butter? A bag full of fried pork skin? Yes, yes and yes. Her fearlessness in the kitchen makes it surprising to hear a note of vulnerability in a recent profile in the New Yorker, as she wondered if there was too much butter in the fare at the original John Dory on Tenth Avenue, paraphrasing a New York Times review she’d apparently memorized. But fans of her maximalist culinary style will respond: of course it can be over the top – that’s the whole point. (more…)

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Eleven Madison Park

The democratization of the food world is in many ways a good thing. An appreciation of taco trucks, Chinatown pastry shops and country barbecue stands has trickled up from the populace to food authorities like the NYT and Food and Wine Magazine, which expanded its circle of “Best New Chefs” to include not just Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller (both class of ’88) but Roy Choi of LA’s Kogi Korean Barbecue trucks (class of ’10). A more level playing field has encouraged restauranteurs and chefs to strive for greatness, no matter how small or casual the venue.

Eleven Madison Park, Interior

But what’s been lost in the transition from “gourmand” (farewell, Gourmet) to “foodie” (hello, Yelp) is an appreciation of truly excellent food and service. When seeking out the latest “it” food, be it a pig roast or a roving dessert truck, diners are now willing to endure long lines for bad cuts of meat while Josh Ozersky snacks in the background. Just as it’s important to study the cut and feel of designer clothing to see what H&M should approximate, you have to visit a four-star place like Eleven Madison Park every once in a while to understand what lesser dining experiences lack. (more…)

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The Breslin

The Breslin is a restaurant for people who like to eat. That may sound redundant, but given the lengths to which some restaurants go to accommodate picky eaters (an entrée of “steamed vegetables with boiled egg” at one downtown spot comes to mind), the Breslin embraces food with genuine gusto.

April Bloomfield, the Breslin

Granted, chef April Bloomfield’s British pub fare is extreme cuisine. Bacon-wrapped eggs, stuffed pig’s foot and fried head cheese are all on the menu, should you be craving them. But there’s also sea bass, chicken (aka poussin) and some excellent salads if you’re not a particularly adventurous diner. The menu—and the food—almost seeks to provoke: the “onion and bone marrow soup with parmesan toast” ($10) turns out to be a particularly meaty, velvety riff on French onion soup, with the bone marrow only adding to a beefy flavor that already existed in the original. Tread carefully, but do not be afraid. (more…)

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Restaurant partnerships can be a tricky thing. As with any celebrity couple, there are joyous, hyper-publicized births (of new restaurants) and bitter divorces played out in the tabloids (or Flo Fab’s column). So it’s a good thing that Tony and Marisa May are father and daughter, because the dining public would benefit from them sticking together for a while. The new SD26 injects Marisa’s modern, even trendy style into the old restaurant San Domenico, but maintains Tony May’s hospitality and chef Odette Fada’s classic Italian cuisine.

SD26 Lounge

Anyone interested in Italian wine should come here for the bar, where a huge wine selection is listed on Palm-Pilot-like devices. Sort the list by country, then by region or varietal, or sort the entire thing by price. SD26’s Italian wine consultant wrote extensive descriptions of each wine, though a few things get lost in translation to amusing effect: The bottle we chose on a recent night apparently goes well with “white meats and redheads.” (more…)

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