New York sees new restaurants open — and close — with astonishing frequency. However, in the past few years there has been a relative paucity of newcomers likely to appeal to Harper members. The primary causes for this have been economic turbulence and uncertainty, with restaurateurs and chefs hedging their bets. To be sure, new establishments have often offered inventive menus, but in smaller spaces with shock-wave noise levels. This started to change last year when what the restaurant industry calls “fine dining” establishments began to return.
Keith McNally has proven to be one of the most prescient dining impresarios in New York. With almost uncanny instinct, he has sensed the potential in previously obscure locations. This, his newest venture, marks two firsts — his first restaurant in the Financial District and his first restaurant in a hotel, in this case The Beekman. Augustine embodies the aesthetic of longtime McNally collaborators Richard Lewis and Ian McPheely, who have given it brown banquettes, art nouveau mirrors, pastel tiles and a coffered ceiling. Look for rustic French dishes such as salt-baked oysters, cheese soufflé, and sea urchin spaghettini.
5 Beekman Street. Tel. (212) 375-0010
Drew Nieporent, a smart and perceptive restaurateur of great influence, has been operating in this space since he opened Montrachet 30 years ago. The kitchen is now under the direction of Markus Glocker from Vienna. His cooking is precise, and the presentation is almost Japanese in its elegance and understatement. Look for such starters as the barbecued sturgeon with buckwheat blinis and smoked crème fraîche. Among the mains, the Amish chicken comes with a mushroom-potato roulade, charred lettuce and a rich truffle sauce. The service is exemplary.
239 West Broadway. Tel. (212) 219-2777
The era is long past when most of the preeminent restaurants in New York were French. Italian cuisine was the flavor of the 1990s, while Asian establishments dominated the first decade of the new century. So the arrival of Le Coucou, and the highly favorable response it received, have given new life to French cooking in the city. Masterminded by Stephen Starr, the space could be a Parisian brasserie. And in fact, Le Coucou chef Daniel Rose made a Michelin mark in Paris at highly regarded Spring. Here in New York, he and his crew wear the high, white toques you’d expect to see in France. A typical meal might begin with a celery remoulade with smoked salmon, and move on to pike quenelles in a lobster sauce, followed by a rack of lamb with eggplant and stuffed tomatoes.
138 Lafayette Street. Tel. (212) 271-4252
I have long admired the talents of Gabriel Kreuther, the opening chef at The Modern, Danny Meyer's restaurant in New York's Museum of Modern Art. Kreuther departed a couple of years ago to open his own place on West 42nd Street, across from Bryant Park. What a pleasure to enter a restaurant and not be assaulted by a deafening blast of music and the voices of diners amplified by unrelentingly hard surfaces. Instead, we found sanctuary in an elegant, high-ceilinged spot with wood accents, subdued colors and a professional staff. Kreuther has lost nothing in his move. Highlights on the menu include a starter of Gewürztraminer-poached Sullivan County foie gras with chartreuse, pistachios and dried cranberries; and a main of Berkshire pork tenderloin with beer-braised pork cheek, red cabbage and candied sunflower seeds. The inviting front-bar area serves food rooted in Kreuther's native Alsace. This is a most welcome, sophisticated addition to the New York dining scene.
41 West 42nd Street. Tel. (212) 257-5826
When chefs well-established in one city make the move to another, success is not guaranteed — especially if the city to which they relocate is New York. Günter Seeger has long been a star in the Atlanta restaurant world. His new space in Manhattan is minimalist, with uncarpeted floors and white brick walls, and it has just earned a Michelin star in 2017’s guide. Seeger is an exciting cook, preparing such dishes as scallop quenelles with sea urchin sauce and purple potato chips, and rabbit loin with savoy cabbage and crispy bacon. The menu changes daily, with two prix fixe options.
Günter Seeger NY
641 Hudson Street. Tel (646) 657-0045
This place joins Augustine in the new Beekman hotel. Tom Colicchio’s first restaurant in six years, it has been worth the wait. The space is opulent with banquettes, tiled floors, stained glass and glowing chandeliers. With executive chef Bryan Hunt, Colicchio presents a menu of contemporary American cooking, with some nods to the past such as a starter of oysters Rockefeller; and a classic dry-aged sirloin “Rossini” with foie gras, porcini mushrooms, Madeira and delicata squash.
5 Beekman Street. Tel. (212) 658-1848
One of the perennial catches of Lincoln Center is the lack of restaurants to match the caliber of the setting and the performances, especially since the closure of Picholine. Lincoln Ristorante changed that when it opened as part of a renovation of the entire complex. Ideally located steps away from the main plaza, this handsome glass pavilion contains a marble bar, a glass-enclosed wine tower and cream-colored faux-leather chairs. Chef Jonathan Benno has had stints with Tom Colicchio at Craft, with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and as chef de cuisine at Keller’s Per Se in Manhattan. The cooking is Italian, with imaginative starters like animelle di vitello al marsala, or veal sweetbreads with endive, red beets, juniper and balsamic vinegar; pastas such as ravioli bigusto, a faro-flour pasta with roasted squash, fonduta, sage, Amaretti cookies and brown butter; and main courses like bistecca in padella, which is beef sirloin with honey crisp apple, celery root, cipollini onions, frisée and horseradish.
Lincoln Center, 142 West 65th Street. Tel. (212) 359-6500