For What It's Worth: Dining Out in NYC

Chef Justin Romaine of The Lobster Club | New York, NY: Wasabi Lobster
Chef Justin Romaine of The Lobster Club | New York, NY: Wasabi Lobster

There has always been great, inexpensive food in New York City: arepas, dumplings, pizza, bánh mì. But it’s largely been confined to “cheap eats” categories and mom-and-pop shops. Against the real estate odds (and arguably, the gods), there are a number of chefs and restaurants on a mission right now to serve accessible food. The neighborhood restaurant is the new chef’s counter. At the opposite end of the spectrum—high-end fine dining—chefs and FOH staff are providing something more to justify luxury price tags, whether that’s tableside flair, beverage service upgrades, or sexy custom menus. Either way, and in between the extremes, you can eat well all over this damn fine city. Here’s what New Yorkers are shelling out bones for in 2019.    

 

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THE GOLDEN DINER
Dish: Xian-style lamb gyro with pickled mustard green pita 
“I want to make real, interesting food that’s familiar and draws from classic New York diners. I’m not looking to cater to the Instagram crowd. I want this place to be affordable and appealing to cops.” ~ Chef Sam Yoo 
Price: TBD, soon to open 
Neck of Woods: Chinatown/Two Bridges 

 
MADE NICE
Dish: Curry cauliflower, tofu, couscous, grapes, lemongrass, almonds
The coconut curry sauce that dresses this bowl has been a part of the Make It Nice family of restaurants for years. Refined through the rigor of the EMP and NoMad kitchens, and sourced through the same purveyors, this vegan bowl will cost you around the same as a combo from the golden arches. 
Price: $11
Neck of Woods: Nomad
 
 
JEJU NOODLE BAR
Dish: So-ramyun: veal broth, brisket, wagyu, bean sprouts, pickled and crispy garlic, garlic oil 
OR Fish coop ramyun: bonito-chicken broth, confit chicken, cucumber, pork belly, jalapeño, herb oil
You can (and should) pile apps onto your order at Jeju, but just one bowl of ramyun may fill you up. 
Price: $19 or $17.50  
Neck of Woods: West Village 
 
ADDA
Dish: Lucknow dum biryani: slow-cooked goat, basmati, saffron
Nothing at LIC-based Adda costs more than $20, a nod to the neighborhood and the humble origins of Chef Chintan Pandya’s “unapologetically authentic” Indian food. Get the biryani and a few curries for the table, and you’re set. 
Price: $19
Neck of Woods: Long Island City    
 
 
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SIMON AND THE WHALE
Dish: Confit butterball potatoes, smoked cream, salsa verde, trout roe, potato chips
Factoid/Quote: Six potatoes fall into a vat of aged beef fat and come out as the best potato salad ever.
Price: $17
Neck of Woods: Kips Bay 

CHEZ ME TANTE
Dish: Spicy Italian sausage, maple, fennel, butter beans, shallots, fino Sherry
Chefs Jake Leiber and Aidan O’Nea’s menu is inspired by classics—Caesar salad, vitello tonnato, boudin blanc, foie terrine, steak tartare… Their technical mastery is on show in the fanciest, tastiest frank and beans your likely to come across. The tension between skin and farce is palpable, with this sausage bursting with Old and New World flavor.   
Price: $24
Neck of Woods: Greenpoint 

THE USUAL
Dish: Spicy baby back ribs, green curry, crispy shallots, cilantro
With a name like The Usual, Chef Alvin Cailan wants to make his menu accessible enough for diners to come every week. 
Price: $30
Neck of Woods: Nolita 

OXOMOCO
Dish: Build a Taco: smoked and deep-fried whole Sasso chicken, chintesle chile, honey, salsa pasilla, pickled onion, chicken fat fried red rice, guajillo-tomato salsa
“You could take pork belly, grill it and sauce it, and charge $18 dollars—and no one blinks. But put that on a tortilla, even a house made one, and it’s a different story.” ~ Chef Matt Conroy
Art Idea/Extra: Sticker that says: “That’s right. You have to pay for tacos.” or “Tacos for two: me and you.”
Price: $36, half a pollo à la brasa serves 2 
Neck of Woods: Greenpoint 

 
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THE LOBSTER CLUB
Dish: Wasabi Lobster
With a dramatic presentation, this shared starter wows and sets the tone for the entire meal.
Price: $36

Neck of Woods: Midtown East

 

ATOMIX
Dish: Menu cards
In the vein of the menu art in the days of Chanterelle, Chef Junghyun Park commissions take-away illustrated cards—with stories, inspiration, ingredients, and more—for every dish on his 10-course menu at Atomix. 

Price: $205 tasting menu + $155 for pairings

Neck of Woods: Midtown East 

 

NODA

Dish: Kiriko crystal sake cups

When you order a bottle of sake, a server brings around a tray of hand-dyed, hand-cut Kiriko crystal sake cups, so you can select your own glass. Don’t drop it. They cost $1,000-ish. 

Price: $285 tasting menu + $205 for pairings 

Neck of Woods: Flatiron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELEVEN MADISON PARK

Dish: 14-day Peking duck, lavender, honey, confit cabbage, Asian pear, smoked cabbage crumble paired with Syrah, Cornas, Rhone Valley, France, 2012 

An iconic highlight of the EMP tasting menu, the honey and lavender-lacquered, dry-aged duck breast is presented whole with a bouquet of lavender. It’s carved in the kitchen and plated with confit cabbage

Price: $335 tasting menu + 175 for pairings 

Neck of Woods: Flatiron 

 

 

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