Autumn in New York. As the weather gets crisper, appetites often get sharper. Luckily, a host of recent arrivals on the local dining scene stand ready to cater to them.
Chanson is a spanking-white restaurant whose British chef produces French pastries for breakfast and artisanal bread sandwiches for lunch. Order any of those for afternoon tea as well, plus scones and cakes. Carrying the patisserie party into the night, a downstairs dessert bar with cocktails is slated to open Sept. 7.
Nearby is another prime spot for carbo-loading: &pizza, where the black-and-white decor, punctuated by linear LED ceiling lights and exposed steel columns, is as jumpin’ as the sound track, sometimes spun by live DJs. Tossing out the traditional triangular slice, &pizza produces oblong slices—or entire pies—every element of which is customizable, from the dough to the sauce to the toppings. There are set versions, too, like the sweet-and-spicy "American Honey." Assembled before your eyes at the counter, your pizza slides into an oven and emerges two minutes later.
Air's Champagne Parlor
As the name implies, it’s all about the bubbly at Air’s Champagne Parlor in the West Village, a cozy, colorful living room that’s all plush furnishings, marble-topped tables and glowing chandeliers shaped like blown bubbles. The menu boasts over 120 varieties of sparkling wines along with bubbly-based cocktails. To go with: sumptuous nibbles, such as cheese and charcuterie plates, lobster salad or caviar, dramatically presented under a smoky glass dome.
NYC has never lacked for celebrity chefs. One of the stars of TV’s “Iron Chef America,” Cat Cora, makes her local debut in the Meatpacking District with Fatbird. Turns out she’s a Mississippi girl, and so offers up a menu of Southern fried specialties, from catfish to green tomatoes and sweet potato fries. One must-have: biscuits as big as hamburgers served with fruit butters. Wash it all down with drinks served in Mason jars within the light brown-and-white contemporary roadhouse digs.
Across town, famed toque Jean-Georges Vongerichten presents his latest, Public Kitchen. Dine in the leafy walled garden or the woodsy interior.
It’s one of the secrets of Grand Central Terminal: a historic lounge hidden up a secret stair within the station. The Campbell, reopened last May after a renovation, is a two-story, bronze-and-gilt pseudo-Gothic room, with a stone fireplace, forest-green velvet banquettes and leather-and-mohair chairs. It’s a place for savoring elaborate cocktails and fancy finger foods. More substantial eats are available for lunch and in The Campbell’s adjacent Palm Court.
Inside the Seagram Building, the former site of the Four Seasons restaurant, the space has been carved into a pair of completely separate restaurants. The Grill revels in steaks, chops and birds—carnivores, don’t miss the trolley of prime rib—and other old-school dishes prepared tableside.
Lighter, both in menu and in mood, is The Pool, which focuses on seafood. Both eateries are the epitome of mid-century modern chic, with the Philip Johnson-designed interior carefully restored—down to the renowned, chain curtains—and also enhanced, in the case of The Pool, by an Alexander Calder mobile hung over the namesake fixture.
If you prefer to grab your fine fish and go, though, make your way to Maki Maki. The streamlined space, decorated mainly by a drawing of a giant octopus, specializes in super-fresh sushi rolls, made to order. The menu includes the usual suspects, but combos may be customized, too. Perhaps some wild arugula or a dollop of gobo on that bluefin toro?
After an intensive day doing the town, you really should drop by The Office. Set on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental New York hotel, the library-like space includes soothing hues and sumptuous fabrics, leather club chairs, parquet floors—and a touch of whimsy with cowskin bar seats. The focus of this self-styled speakeasy is cocktails, both traditional and innovative—some drinks include mustard or black truffle. The small plates are neat, too, running toward bellota ham, foie gras terrine and sundaes constructed tableside.
A taste of Chinatown comes to the Upper West Side, in the shape of Jing Fong—an offshoot of a dim sum parlor downtown. With its rough wood tables and bars and red metal chairs, this incarnation is intimate in feel, industrial chic in vibe. Its delicate dumplings, pork buns and other dim sum delight all day, along with fresh takes on classic Cantonese mains.
More Japanese! Though it’s scarcely bigger than a bento box, Sushi Ishikawa is making a splash on the Upper East Side. Its exquisite pieces of exotic fish are served exclusively omakase-style: that is, in 12- or 15-course dinners designed by the chef, whom you can watch at work while sitting at the bleached-wood counter.
In contrast to the bare-bones Asian, Majorelle offers a feast for the eyes, with its patterned marble floor, vaulted arched ceilings, silk velvet banquettes and etched mirrors. The cuisine evokes sunny climes: southern French, with Moroccan and Mediterranean touches, à la lobster risotto, Sauternes-sautéed foie gras and snapper tagine. Memories of summer, even as we welcome autumn days.
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