Courtesy, Le Coucou
When it comes to eating outdoors, New York City’s dining scene seems to be taking a page from European capitals. Alfresco tables on sidewalks, in back patios, on pedestrian plazas and even in former parking spaces have proliferated during the pandemic. The trend shows no sign of abating, with heaters and sturdily built sheds to shelter diners from the elements. Legislation is in the works to make the Open Restaurants outdoor seating program permanent (setting guidelines, cutting red tape), having helped businesses survive and patrons safely socialize. Contactless menus, fewer items and curtailed business hours due to the labor shortage also seem to be sticking for now. Our new normal is all about adjustment, innovation and making sure to bring proof of vaccination and a photo ID. (For current guidelines, see our Covid-19 page.)
Eleven Madison Park. Photo: Evan Sung
Meanwhile, luxury dining has roared back, catering to people yearning to dress up and live it up. Daniel Boulud’s Le Pavillon, in Midtown, and a branch of London’s Hawksmoor steakhouse, about 20 blocks south in Gramercy, are new hits. So is Saga, featuring an elaborate tasting menu served on the 63rd floor of a tower in Lower Manhattan. Other covetable reservations include Le Coucou, a French favorite in Soho that recently reopened, and Eleven Madison Park, rebooted as a game-changing vegan destination.
First up for the new year is the return of NYC Restaurant Week®, running January 18 to February 13, featuring prix-fixe lunches and dinners at around 400 restaurants citywide. By encouraging dining out, the biannual program makes a good prompt for diners to try new spots and to assist the industry. Browse the options and book reservations here. (For information about vaccine and masking requirements, see our resources and information page.)
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are forging ahead with ambitious openings. Get ready for a new live music venue, The Atlantic BKLN (333 Atlantic Ave.) in Downtown Brooklyn, serving cocktails and finger food like pimento cheese spread with crudités, cacio e pepe gougères and mezze plates. Michele Pravda and Patrick Watson, owners of the popular wine shop Smith & Vine, expect it to be up and running by early February, booking jazz, rock, blues and folk acts.
Courtesy, Noz 17
Recently opened, Noz 17 (458 W. 17th St.) is a Chelsea offshoot of uptown’s Michelin-starred Sushi Noz. Edomae-style sushi is the focus, a centuries-old Japanese technique of aging the fish, said to bring out umami flavors. Coming soon to Midtown courtesy of Brazil’s Fasano Hotel and Restaurant Group, Fasano (280 Park Ave.) will be a fine-dining Italian restaurant housed in the former Four Seasons space.
Courtesy, Rowdy Rooster
The start of the year will see more authentic and thrilling Indian flavors when the folks behind Adda and Semma bring Rowdy Rooster (149 First Ave.) to the East Village, focusing on Indian-spiced fried chicken. The partners are on a roll, with two additional Indian spots coming: in March, the kebab-centric Kebabwala (82 Second Ave.), also in the East Village, and The Masalawala (365 Fifth Ave.), in February, in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. The latter establishment’s name means “merchant of spice,” signaling that a pantry selling Indian spice blends and other specialty products will be part of the mix.
Courtesy, Hechler Photography
Before winter is over, a terrace café is scheduled to open bordering the magical Wollman Rink at the southern end of Central Park. Melba Wilson, of Melba’s in Harlem, is behind a comfort menu of jerk chicken, collards, mac and cheese, soups and sausage sandwiches. Even if ice-skating isn’t on your agenda, it’s entertaining to watch others glide—or stumble—around.
Courtesy, Moynihan Train Hall
New York City has upward of 30 food halls as it is, and the trend continues this year. The sparkling new Moynihan Train Hall, providing ticketing operations and waiting areas for Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, is making it more convenient to bring tastes of New York City back home. Sweeten your trip by a visit to a satellite location of Magnolia Bakery on the main concourse. Luscious banana pudding and an assortment of their famed cupcakes, cookies and cakes can be boxed up to go, but do schedule extra time since lines are often long. A full-fledged Moynihan Food Hall is coming soon, including outposts of E.A.K. Ramen, Burger Joint and Jacob’s Pickles, beloved for their Southern-style biscuit sandwiches and fried pickles with spicy red mayo.
The big news blowing in from The Seaport is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s overhaul of the Tin Building, at Pier 17. What was once part of the Fulton Fish Market will be a 53,000-square-foot culinary marketplace and world of dining experiences. The House of the Red Pearl will present elegant Chinese-inspired dishes; T. Brasserie will have classic French fare; and Shikku will fulfill sushi and sake cravings.
A Singapore-style marketplace with 18 food stalls is slated for spring, convenient to Times Square and Rockefeller Center, at 135 W. 50th St. The Asian food hall had originally been the dream of the late Anthony Bourdain, and for curating help he’d enlisted KF Seetoh, an expert on Singaporean street food. Seetoh is still involved, as is Urbanspace, the outfit behind a number of successful food courts in the City and elsewhere. The name for the space has yet to be announced; expect to find modern takes on favorites like chili crab and nasi lemak, a Malaysian dish of creamy rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves.
Franklin Becker, a contestant on Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters and CEO of F. Becker Hospitality, is a partner at the upcoming Press Club Grill, in the recently reborn Martinique hotel (1260 Broadway). The Herald Square space will encompass two levels and seat 180 guests. Becker, who is behind the vegetarian-friendly Little Beet chain, is taking on Continental cuisine here—steaks, chops, fish—with some of it prepared tableside. Becker is also readying a seafood restaurant, called Uptown Trout, on the Upper East Side in another renovated hotel, aptly enough named The Franklin (164 E. 87th St.). The menu will feature a full raw bar and Atlantic-sourced seafood with international spins.
Finally, Keith McNally’s beautiful jewel of a restaurant, Augustine, in the Financial District’s Beekman hotel, did not survive the pandemic, but the space is getting new life thanks to Daniel Boulud. His Gallic bistro will debut sometime this spring, its name still under wraps (5 Beekman St.).