Things are nuts in the food world right now — the new Michelin Guide was just published (with some insane surprises and upsets), Sam Sifton is leaving the dining section at the NYT, Eleven Madison Park is up for sale, and it is the time of the year when most new restaurants open in New York City.
It is like Christmas for foodies — all summer long, we stalk food blogs and troll on forums, feeding on leaks pertaining to restaurant openings in the fall. Now, we rejoice. Slowly, restaurants are finally starting to open up for business, and although many of them are well out of our price range, parents weekend isn’t that far away. Here are some of the most noteworthy:
Catch – Catch opened up earlier this week, and people weren’t sure what to expect. It has a big name chef attached to it, Hung Huynh, who you may remember from winning Top Chef season three. Being at the helm of one of the biggest restaurants in the Meatpacking District says a lot in itself. Meatpacking District restaurants are awful–always overpriced and full of generally trashy people who think that the more money you throw at something, the better the food will be. Having your restaurant located in the Meatpacking District usually means a few things: your restaurant will be big (if anyone has been to Buddakan or Morimoto, they can testify as to the sheer magnitude of the restaurants), the food will be expensive, the crowd will be less-than-savory, everyone who works there will be beautiful, and you won’t be able to get in on the weekends. You don’t usually come to the restaurants for the food, but rather for the scene that comes with it. But with such a promising chef, this restaurant may be a terrific place for a birthday dinner with out-of-towners. Catch is a monolith of a restaurant, specializing in seafood and complete with three kitchens–a sushi kitchen, a traditional kitchen, and a raw bar. Let’s see if Huynh can follow in the footsteps of Harold Dieterle (of Perilla and Kin Shop) or Wylie Dufresne (of WD~50) and make a huge impact on the NYC dining community.
Crown– John Delucie has built an incredible repertoire for opening restaurants that are sophisticated, have great food, are well designed, and are not stuffy. His past restaurants include The Lion (a personal favorite), and The Waverly Inn, so he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. His new restaurant is all the way on the Upper East Side, but maybe it is time that the often-neglected neighborhood gets some quality eats.
Romera – Let’s get this one out of the way right now. Romera set itself up to be a juggernaut in the food world, complete with a $245/person price tag (this is for 11 courses, before wine). They are located inside the brand new Dream Hotel Downtown, and instead of wine, they choose to pair everything with artisanal waters, complimenting the flavor of each dish. Let me say that again. Artisanal water pairings. Lastly, this restaurant has a ridiculous pedigree–the head chef is one of the most prominent chefs in the world. His restaurant in Spain is considered to rival El Bulli (which has been heralded the top restaurant in the entire world time and time again), and he is the only chef of his caliber to hold his MD (he was a surgeon before entering the culinary world). Romero has pioneered the neurogastronomy movement (and might be the only subscriber), which means the food here is designed, quite literally, to tantalize your senses–not just taste, but sight, smell, the textures on your tongue, and aesthetics as well. Meal cards are placed in front of every dish that described the art and inspiration behind them (some of them are multiple paragraphs, and some include full-on poems). The dishes here are breathtaking aesthetically, however, that is where the good news stops. Multiple accounts have claimed that the food was extremely disspointing. To Romera’s credit, it was almost destined to fall below people’s expectations, not by their own fault, but by sheer virtue of the fact that the bar was set so incredibly high. Perhaps they have yet to work out some kinks, but at $240/seat, perfection is expected.
This list is brief—there are many more restaurants opening up this fall, so be sure to keep a look out as I continue to sift my way through them (as my wallet and my health allow).