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Best Weekend Food Events: Oiji’s Honey Butter Chips, Big Apple Barbecue, La Nuit en Rosé

25-Cent Nuggets
The Nugget Spot (230 East 14th Street)
Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

What’s better than cheap, delicious finger food on a summer Friday? This afternoon, the Nugget Spot will offer 25-cent nuggets until close. All seven different styles of chicken nuggets on the menu will be available — including Southern Belle, Cap’n Crunk, Cheese n’ Chong, Sriracha Nugs, Tso Tswag, Buffalo, and Skinny Nuggs.

Free Falafel Bar
Nanoosh (111 University Place, and other locations)
Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

All five Manhattan locations of Nanoosh are celebrating International Falafel Day with a free falafel tasting bar. Guests can choose from a selection of toppings like hummus, tahini, and habañero sauce to kick things up a notch.

Big Apple Barbecue
Madison Square Park (Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street)
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The country’s top pit masters will meet up in Madison Square Park this weekend for the annual Big Apple Barbecue party. This year’s lineup includes a new entrant (Dallas’s Hutchins BBQ) along with returning favorites like Sam Jones of North Carolina’s Skylight Inn and Billy Durney of Red Hook’s Hometown Bar-B-Que. VIP ticket packages start at $275 and allow guests to skip the line at all barbecue stands. Get your tickets here.

Honey Butter Chip Pop-Up
Oiji (119 First Avenue)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Craving some sweetness on the go? Oiji is offering honey butter chips with ice cream from their take-out window. Get this sweet, salty, crunchy treat for just $10.

La Nuit en Rosé
Hornblower Infinity Cruise Ship (Pier 40 at 343 West Street)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Sample over 150 different rosés from France, Italy, and California at this walk-around tasting. The event includes a brief cruise along the Hudson River, as well as food and entertainment. Reserve a ticket, starting at $95, here.

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New Year’s Resolution: Try a Tea-Infused Soju Negroni at Oiji

Ryan Te got his start in the kitchen at Oiji (119 1st Avenue; 646-767-9050), but when an opportunity came up to get behind the bar this fall, the first-time bartender got fired up about creating an inaugural drink selection. The Chicago native, whose training includes culinary school, wine studies, and working at The Modern, developed a menu designed to pair with the restaurant’s well received Korean-influenced menu, with a focus on the Korean spirit soju. Though it may take more time to develop the same cult following for soju as the restaurant’s honey-butter chips, Te says enjoys the challenge. “As a cook, you’re always learning. I love learning. I love being able to build something from scratch.”

Soju is particularly interesting to Te because the spirit is on the verge of finding a completely different audience. Due to a variety of factors, using rice to make soju in Korea became illegal at the turn of the 20th century, which is why many people grew up tasting the spirit made with sweet potato and chemical additives. Now that the ban is no longer in effect, soju is taking off not only in it’s native country, but even right here in New York in areas like the Finger Lakes. “We’re just now starting to see a rebirth in the 700 to 800-year-old traditional in soju making that’s all rice, very artisanal, very aggressive, everything like that,” Te notes.

“In my opinion, it yields a very rich product, ” Te says. “There’s kind of a sweetness to it, a fullness of body if you will, that lends itself to infusing very elegantly.” The sweetness Te refers has subtly, which makes the spirit extremely versatile whether its used as a base or a modifier.

A negroni is a classic drink and popular with guests — this variation was the first one to make Te’s new menu. Made with a jasmine tea-infused soju, the drink retains its bold character, but the infused soju tempers the bitterness associated with the Campari-based drink. Aperol and orange bitters are used to play off the jasmine and furthur tone down the impact of the Campari.

Check out the recipe for Oiji’s Hwayo negroni:

Hwayo Negroni
1 1/2 ounces jasmine tea-infused hwayo (soju)
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Campari
1/4 ounce Aperol
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
Orange peel

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a glass with one very large ice cube. Add an orange peel as garnish.

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The 20 Best New York City Dishes of 2015

Another madcap year of NYC dining comes to a close. Here are nineteen dishes (and one meal) I couldn’t stop thinking about — and that I hope to taste again sooner rather than later.

20. Beef rolls, Kottu House (250 Broome Street, 646-781-9222)
Godamba roti, the flatbread Sandya De Silva chops up for her namesake dish at Kottu House, also deep-fries sensationally. The chef, who serves up Sri Lankan street-food gems with her son, Chelaka Gunamuni, from a jewel-box storefront on the Lower East Side, rolls the roti and fills their crisp shells with ground beef, shredded vegetables, and fragrant curry before dropping the bundles into hot oil. Hot sauce comes with an order of the enlightened Hot Pockets, but throw down a few extra bucks for the house sambals. The raw onion and coconut condiments deliver chile-spiked fireworks.

19. Caramel mille-feuille, Vaucluse (100 East 63rd Street, 646-869-2300)
Oh, you like fancy, huh? At the Altamarea Group’s latest venture, Alina Martell complements Michael White and Jared Gadbaw’s unabashedly buttery, savory French cooking with a cadre of grown-up and posh sweets. Her mille-feuille sandwiches gorgeously light lemon-inflected cream between layers of flaky puff pastry. That caramelized shell, plus sweet milk ice cream on the side and a deeply flavored caramel drizzle on the plate, render this classic dessert contemporary.

18. Indian aster salad, Gui Lin Mi Fen (135-25 40th Road, Queens; 718-939-2025)
Noodle soups, a signature of the southern Chinese city of Guilin, get top billing here, but I kept going back for tastes of this salad of finely diced tofu and herbaceous Indian aster. When cooked, the plant has a texture similar to boiled tea leaves, with a grassy finish. And while it arrives looking like lawn clippings, the chilled appetizer — with its bouncy bean curd cubes — makes for a refreshing counterpoint to the warming noodle soup.

17. Korean tortilla española, M. Wells Steakhouse (43-15 Crescent Street, Queens; 718-786-9060)
Chef Hugue Dufour and his wife, Sarah Obraitis, the trout-farming owners of this charmingly wacky steakhouse built inside a former auto body shop — are well suited to brunch, a meal that can simultaneously cause and soothe hangovers. The duo added the indulgent weekend meal earlier this year, with stupendous results. This inverted and dressed-up frittata made me chuckle and then woke me up with explosive pockets of kimchi and blood sausage, the eggs stained a Seussian purple from Okinawan sweet potatoes.

16. Fisherman’s okonomiyaki, Bar Goto (245 Eldridge Street, 212-475-4411)
Okonomiyaki popped up a lot this year, and nowhere did I enjoy the Japanese comfort food more than at veteran barman Kenta Goto’s tastefully appointed drinks lair, which slays with a combination of thoughtful, fun cocktails and righteous bar snacks. The savory pancakes — made with grated yam and cabbage and served in rectangular cast-iron pans — arrive wearing artful squiggles of Worcestershire-like sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise. My favorite (with a shout-out to the wonky sun-dried-tomato-and-cheese version) is the Fisherman’s okonomiyaki, a friendly assemblage of perfectly cooked rock shrimp, squid, and octopus. Sprinkled with wispy bonito flakes, it eats like the drunk-munchies of Aquaman’s dreams.

15. Cobia al pastor, Cosme (35 East 21st Street, 212-913-9659)
Tacos al pastor are having a moment in NYC, with industry professionals using the pork-and-pineapple dish as a point of inspiration for pizza and even beer. At Cosme, Enrique Olvera’s progressive Mexican restaurant in the Flatiron, chef de cuisine Daniela Soto-Innes translates the hearty recipe into a gorgeously balanced plate of spice-rubbed cobia with chile-pineapple purée, cilantro, and paper-thin pineapple slices. Reimagined in Soto-Innes and Olvera’s hands, the rough edges of this street food are softened into something elegant that hits on both a referential and a guttural level.

14. Fig & olive dessert, Timna (109 St. Marks Place, 646-964-5181)
Nir Mesika cooks with an erratic but overwhelmingly successful creativity and isn’t afraid to take risks seasoning assertively. Although a porcini dessert perplexed me, his take on the Israeli rosewater pudding called malabi was the best kind of contemplative dessert — one that’s hard to stop eating. Salty dehydrated olive crumbs offset the sweetness from rose syrup and a mound of yuzu custard layered with black mission figs, fresh berries, and shredded halva — a symphony of fresh fruit, brightness, and brine.

13. Sunchokes with gruyère-cider foam, Wassail (162 Orchard Street, 646-918-6385)
At Jennifer Lim and Ben Sandler’s Lower East Side cider bar, chef Joseph Buenconsejo cooks with confidence and plates with whimsy. In these vegetable-mad times, this lovely bowl of sunchokes stuck out for its clever and seamless oscillation between cold and warm ingredients. Cider-spiked gruyère foam obscures tender and crisp cooked sunchokes. A top layer of shaved sunchokes, arranged like reptile scales, balances the rest of the dish’s deep, nutty elements.

12. “Fuckin’ Mackerel” dip, Whit’s End (97-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Queens; no phone)
Fine-dining expat Whitney Aycock runs a very particular kind of pizzeria out in Rockaway Beach, with occasionally flexible operating hours (check Instagram) and a menu littered with profanity. An avid fisherman, the chef aggressively smokes his catch behind the restaurant, taming the oily, locally caught bluefish or mackerel (depending on what’s in season) and producing a stunningly rich and pungent appetizer. Forget toast points — Aycock stacks a pyre of char-speckled pizza-dough breadsticks next to the dip. Topped with a puddle of imported olive oil, chopped scallions, and cracked black pepper, it’s well worth the money you’ll have to drop in your swear jar.

11. Herbie’s International, Ivan Ramen (25 Clinton Street, 646-678-3859)
Ivan Orkin put this throwback sandwich on his L.E.S. lunch menu after a friend mentioned eating the original in Canarsie at Herbie’s International, an offshoot of Catskills restaurant Herbie’s in Loch Sheldrake. Both of those places are long gone, but Orkin’s kitschy regional excavation yields gustatory pleasure. The kitchen piles thin slices of sweet and tender Chinese-style barbecued pork into a miso-garlic toasted hero roll and serves the bulky sandwich with sinus-clearing Chinese mustard, shiso-spiked citrus slaw, and syrupy roasted-garlic duck sauce.

10. Khinkali, We Are Georgians (230 Kings Highway, Brooklyn; 718-759-6250)
These dumplings from the Caucasus aren’t quite as soupy as Shanghai’s delicate, glutinous soup-concealing jewels, but they’re no less fun to eat, and these are my favorite in town. Co-owner Marina Maisuradze-Olivo stuffs her sturdy skins with pork and veal; it’s up to you to add the hot-pepper condiment known as ajika, which fairly buzzes with coriander and blue fenugreek.

9. Georgia white shrimp, Wildair (142 Orchard Street, 646-964-5624)
So many of the small plates at Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske’s funky wine bar are fun to share, but none more than a bowl of shell-on, olive-oil-poached shrimp. Unsheathe the briny creatures from their shells and snag some of the accompanying cilantro and celery garnish on the way up to your mouth. When’s the last time you wiped your shrimp hands clean before taking a swig of pét-nat, Champagne’s lightly effervescent, often cloudy cousin?

8. Pastrami and eel sandwiches, Harry & Ida’s (189 Avenue A, 646-864-0967)
Chef Will Horowitz’s obsession with preservation techniques has never been more keenly focused or better presented than at his rustic apex delicatessen, which he opened with his sister Julie Horowitz this past summer. At the small but well-stocked East Village shop, live eels are plucked from a tank, killed, and smoked. You can take the slippery bastards home or let Horowitz and his team tame them in an otherworldly sandwich layered with smoked butter, maple sauce, and a spiced relish made from parsnip, onion, and horseradish. The justly famous pastrami sandwich, first sold at sister restaurant Ducks Eatery, delights here as well, with fatty and supple smoked meat sassed with dill and buttermilk-pickled cucumbers.

7. Sardine tostada, El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette (100 Stanton Street, 212-260-3950)
Of the many fresh and refreshing small plates on the dinner menu (launched this past winter) at Nick Morgenstern and chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s quirky café, an open-faced fish sandwich beguiled me most. Gonzalez arranges meaty, oily, smoked Portuguese sardines over a crunchy corn tortilla slathered in whipped Greek-yogurt butter. Brightened with shaved radishes, carrots, and carrot-top salsa verde, this fragrant, vibrant tostada eats like a Vogue Battle on the palate.

6. Lamb coppa pizza, Bruno (204 East 13th Street, 212-598-3080)
What started as an off-menu nightly special at Justin Slojkowski, Dave Gulino, and Demian Repucci’s stark East Village pizzeria eventually became a menu mainstay. And for good reason: The talented kitchen team melds barnyardy lamb coppa, béchamel, sheep’s-milk cheese, fennel, and tomatillos. Such rambunctious toppings might otherwise inundate more subtle crusts, but the nutty, caramel-brown dough that Slojkowski and Gulino mill in-house is a perfect foil to the onslaught of strong flavors.

5. The entire Kitchen Table menu (more or less), at Empellón Cocina (105 First Avenue, 212-780-0999)
This past spring, chef Alex Stupak renovated Empellón Cocina, the most ambitious of his three Mexican restaurants, and reopened with a semiprivate dining area overlooking his kitchen. There, the New England native serves extended menus ($95 for 10 courses at 6 p.m., $165 for 22 courses at 8 p.m.) that amount to some of the most ambitious and original cooking in town, Mexican or otherwise: cerebral and interactive; elaborately composed yet altogether relatable. I won’t soon forget squash with chilmole, an obsidian sauce made from pepper ashes; the choose-your-own salsa adventure; or Stupak’s cheeky inverse al pastor with a swatch of melting pig fat layered over spiced and caramelized pineapple. For those who yearn for the restlessly creative chef’s return to his pastry roots (and who lament the loss of Cocina’s briefly offered dessert tasting), the Kitchen Table is where to find his particular brand of sweet sorcery, like white sesame and black mole sorbets. Beverage pairings are some of the most affordable of their kind ($30 and $50, respectively), likely because you’ll swig micheladas and frozen margaritas. What other tasting menu lets you do that?

4. Tum kanoon, Chiang Mai (293 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn; 646-858-5185)
The porky salad of shredded jackfruit stirred with curry and tomatoes that Kanlaya Supachana and Sirichai Sreparplarn served at their welcoming pop-up had me wondering why northern Thai cooking isn’t more prevalent in NYC. The chefs anoint their heady mash with slivers of fatty pork belly and fried hibiscus blossoms and pile crisp pork rinds on the side. Mixed up into one lush, piquant, crunchy salad, it will ruin you for all other meat salads — even the fiery, sour larbs of nearby Isan.

3. Squid ink strozzapreti, Faro (436 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn; 718-381-8201)
In a former Bushwick warehouse, Kevin Adey cooks some seriously provocative pasta from house-milled grains. His knobbly, hand-rolled squid ink strozzapreti have remarkable heft and chew and are tossed with shreds of olive-oil-poached skate wing that coat the noodles like a maritime ragù. A topping of pumpkinseed breadcrumbs adds a pervasive nutty crunch. You’ll never yearn for lobster mac-and-cheese ever again.

2. Wild sesame soup, Oiji (119 First Avenue, 646-767-9050)
Do you like tahini? OK, do you love tahini? You probably should have deep-rooted feelings about sesame seeds (or wild sesame, a/k/a perilla seed) before ordering Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku’s outrageously rich and slightly bitter wild sesame soup. Missing the heaviness of other nut soups like West African peanut-based maafe, this velvety purée is silken and almost airy. The chefs ladle the beige and burnished liquid over tender oyster mushrooms, black truffle, and chewy coins of rice cake for a truly impactful and comforting bowl.

1. Baked potatoes, Mekelburg’s (293 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-399-2337)
Alicia and Daniel Mekelburg’s baked potatoes redefine the staple comfort food as an affordable luxury. You’ve never seen spuds so glamour-shot ready, their creased and cracked salt-baked skins split down the middle and stuffed with lavish fillings. One oozes raclette and wears a crown of sour cream, pickled peppers, and double-smoked slab bacon; the other supports flaky smoked sablefish under a cloud of crème fraîche and a gargantuan quenelle of briny caviar. The rest of the menu has thrills aplenty (from monstrous porchetta and NOLA-style BBQ shrimp sandwiches to a “Mek-Muffin” brioche breakfast sandwich featuring more of that slab bacon). Still, in a million years (and hundreds of meals over the course of this one), I never thought I’d be dreaming about baked potatoes.

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The Ten Best NYC Restaurants, 2015

In a dining climate as exhilaratingly precarious as New York City’s, restaurants live and die by their ability to stand out in such a massively competitive market. Here are the openings that held our attention the most this year.

Yuba Philadelphia
Yuba Philadelphia

10. Superiority Burger (430 East 9th Street, 212-256-1192)
Punk-rock drummer and erstwhile pastry pro Brooks Headley didn’t miss a beat opening this vegan and vegetarian fast-food joint that’s short on space but unbridled in its creativity. The $6 signature sandwich – a petite seared puck of nuts, beans, and quinoa covered in melted muenster, roasted tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, honey mustard, and pickles – merits a try, but don’t miss out on Headley’s jazzed-up specials. Mock-Philly cheesesteak shames the beefy original with a stack of floppy yuba (tofu skin). Soups and sides mash-up market vegetables with a thrilling, casual playfulness, and desserts belie the chef’s pedigree with peerless soft serve in flavors like hibiscus-yogurt and toasted burger-bun. We only hope that Headley considers expanding to a location with more seating.

yukhoe
yukhoe

9. Oiji (119 First Avenue, 646-767-9050)
With time spent at Bouley and Gramercy Tavern respectively, Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku give Korean home-cooking a meticulous contemporary facelift at their sleek East Village canteen. You’ve never seen a prettier yukhoe, the chopped beef arranged into a plank dotted with ramp aioli, pickled mustard seeds, Asian pear, pickled cantaloupe, and a runny slow-cooked egg yolk. And mackerel hot-smoked over pine needles arrives with its own pine-needle brush for slathering on citrusy soy sauce. Even with painstaking care taken in the kitchen, Oiji tends to get boisterous during primetime – though that could just be the free-flowing soju.

Doubles
Doubles

8. Trini-Gyul (112-16 Liberty Avenue, Queens; 718-659-1020)
Although Ro Ramcharan was forced to relocate her Trinidadian restaurant from Bed-Stuy to Queens earlier this year, the new digs thankfully came with a boozy silver lining (a liquor license and bar area). In the morning, there are doubles — fried dough stuffed with stewed chickpeas and piquant chutneys. Show up during the day and delight from a staggering array of Caribbean staples occupying the steam tables in back, or hit up the lively, bare bones tavern after 9 p.m. – that’s when the former Carroll Gardens nanny busts out seriously flavorful bar snacks like jerk wings, shrimp wontons, and chicken glazed in peppery cassava molasses. On any given night, there might be cricket on the TV or live music blaring through the boxy dining room, and if you’re lucky, Ramcharan will emerge from the kitchen to school you and the rest of her customers on how to properly bust a move.

Sunchokes with gruyere-cider foam
Sunchokes with gruyere-cider foam

7. Wassail (162 Orchard Street, 646-918-6835)
Of the many vegetable-focused restaurants to open in the past few years, Wassail – from Queens Kickshaw owners Jennifer Lim and Ben Sandler – might be the most convivial. Whether that’s because of the bar’s many taps and 100+ cider options or chef Joseph Buenconsejo’s unlikely and charming vegetarian menu is anyone’s guess. All we know is we’ll gleefully show up during happy hour or brunch for the toniest, heftiest veggie burger we’ve ever encountered and fizzy pours from limited-edition kegs and carboys. Pastry whiz Rebecca Eichenbaum embraces sweet-savory combinations in her modernist desserts, mixing beets and buttermilk for a sherbet to pair with fudgy chocolate.

Pepperoni pizza with house-made ranch dressing
Pepperoni pizza with house-made ranch dressing

6. Bruno (204 East 13th Street, 212-598-3080)
In a city that loyally champions no-bullshit pizzerias both old and new, a place like Bruno – with its criminally unforgiving seating and starkly bright lighting – was bound to polarize both enthusiasts and the slice-eating public at large. But while you risk numbing your ass when eating here, we’d argue that it’s your icy heart that’s truly numb if you’re unable to find inspiration in Justin Slojkowski and Dave Gulino’s experimental pies. The chefs at the helm of this progressive pie parlor mill the dark, nutty flour for their ambitious pizzas and pastas, and complement their carbs with a menu of devotionally seasonal small plates. As the kitchen tinkers with the dough and learns the ins and outs of their wood-fired oven, Bruno’s fascinating rounds (lamb coppa with béchamel and sheep’s milk cheese; country ham and winter squash) have only improved.

Georgia white shrimp
Georgia white shrimp

5. Wildair (142 Orchard Street, 646-964-5624)
Chefs Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone have always cooked with fastidiousness while keeping things laid back in the dining room – first at their progressive neo-bistro Contra, which opened in 2013, and now at Wildair, the wine bar they opened a few doors down from their flagship restaurant this summer. Graze on shareable small plates, like peerless fried squid with ink aioli for dipping or black bass crudo done up al pastor-style with pineapple and ‘nduja vinaigrette, or split a blowout, $85 wagyu steak. However you use the menu, you’ll easily find something interesting to sip thanks to Jorge Riera and the many natural wines that populate his list.

Porridge
Porridge

4. Faro (436 Jefferson Street, Brooklyn; 718-381-8201)
Chef Kevin Adey opened this spacious, Italian-inflected New American restaurant with his wife Debbie in a former MoMA storage facility last spring. Adey mills his own grains, turning them into breathtaking pastas and porridges, like vivid green spinach gnocchetti with mushrooms, foie gras butter, and popped sorghum. The chef and his small kitchen staff also make ample use of the restaurant’s wood-fired oven, roasting hulking cuts of meat and greenmarket vegetable specials. Despite the looming, colorful graffiti murals spray painted onto restaurant’s surrounding buildings, Faro’s affable, attentive service (props to Debbie’s Jean-Georges training) is wonderfully, refreshingly anti-Brooklyn.

Kao kan jin, steamed rice with pig's blood
Kao kan jin, steamed rice with pig’s blood

3. Chiang Mai (293 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn; 646-858-5185)
From a pop-up restaurant inside Red Hook’s Home/Made, Kanlaya Supachana and Sirichai Sreparplarn cook uninhibited northern Thai food matched with what is easily the best beer and cider list of any Thai restaurant in the five boroughs (looking at you, Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie on tap). The duo’s silken coconut milk based curry soup, khao soy, remains a worthy signature dish, but kudos go to the whole crew here for embracing spice and not shying away from pig parts. Chiang Mai offers a multitude: from shoulder to ears, belly, skin, and even blood.

Smoked sable baked potato
Smoked sable baked potato

2. Mekelburg’s (293 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-399-2337)
People get up to some depraved things in basements, but we’re certain none are as delicious – or satisfying – as Daniel and Alicia Mekelburg’s subterranean grocery and restaurant. Make your way past aisles of specialty foods to the bar and dining room in back, where chalkboard menus tempt with the promise of earth-shattering baked potatoes and mountains of thinly shaved porchetta piled into sesame seed rolls. Place your order at the bar and peruse the sixteen available beers and ciders on draft, which rotate whenever a keg kicks. By that same measure, cocktails are ordered by name rather than from a list. Arrive before 11 a.m. and spend some quality time with the Mek-muffin, a breakfast sandwich with gravitas that tops chive and crème fraiche omelets with arugula, slab bacon, melted cheddar, and the same southeast Asian sambal the Mekelburgs use for broiling oysters at night.

Foie gras terrine with cantaloupe sauce
Foie gras terrine with cantaloupe sauce

1. Gabriel Kreuther (41 West 42nd Street, 212-257-5826)
The setup might be familiar (a la carte in the lounge area, prix-fixe in the main dining room) if you dined at the Modern under his tenure, but Gabriel Kreuther hit the ground running this year with his stylish and opulent namesake Midtown retreat set within the ground floor of the W.R. Grace building across from Bryant Park. It marks a triumphant return for one of our city’s most treasured European chefs. From deep within an elegant and airy space decorated with wood beams and stork motifs, Kreuther oversees the execution of some 40 dishes between his two menus. Bookended by a procession of amuses, bread courses, and petits fours, the standard $115 four-course dinner feels like actual value for the Benjamins you’ll throw down — especially when paired with pastry chef Marc Aumont’s stunning desserts and beverage suggestions from sommelier Emilie Perrier. This is Kreuther, having finally struck out on his own, realizing his dreams. After eating there, you’re likely to have some nice ones of your own. Whether tucking into tartes flambees and hearty plates of tripe gratin in the glossy lounge or settling in for the multicourse main event among couch-like banquettes and handbag stands, Kreuther’s team provides a seamless experience to match the chef’s artistry on the plate.