5 Happiest Restaurants in New York: (Good value/good vibrations)

1) Gramercy Tavern: You can argue the top few food spots in the city but no place makes you feel better from start to finish. Everyone who works there wants to be there and wants you to feel the same. Chances are you’ll tell someone about it after.

2) Otto: On a good night, you float in on quartinos and float out on house grappa. Lardo pizza is provocative comfort. All the joy of your high school pizza hangout with mindblowingly better food, plus you’ll probably catch a view of Mario’s calves coming in or out of the kitchen.

3) Cafe D’Alsace: Food is excellent region-specific (Alsatian) bistro fare. Wine list covers Alsatian style whites (French, German, Austrian) better than most anyone and beer list is best in city for a French restaurant. Still, it’s the feeling that plan and place have perfectly fused, that a huge need has been filled, the gratitude of people (T-shirts and tweed coexist comfortably) tired of taking taxis for Tuesday dinner when the neighborhood could and should have offered so much more. Here it is.

4) Daniel: Of the top French temples (Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, Ducasse, Daniel) this is the one in which you’re most likely to smile. Yes, they’re all stunning in their ways, but this one makes you feel good, hugged, umami of the body, mouth and soul. Especially wonderful on a quieter night like Sunday.

5) Joe’s Shanghai: Fast, impersonal and crowded, but filled with people getting exactly what they want. Prices are low, servers don’t upsell and a soup dumpling gives more joy per penny and per ounce than most anything.


2 Responses to “5 Happiest Restaurants in New York: (Good value/good vibrations)”

  1. FaHFS Says:

    After several recent visits, I’m sad to say that Cafe D’Alsace is well off its early high mark. The major reviews are printed, the reputation is fixed, and now it’s time for the traditional Yorkville Slide into mediocrity. While the crowds are still impressive, the quality isn’t, particularly in the front of house. What seemed like early kinks turns out to be standard practice: Servers and sommeliers show little love or knowledge of people, food or drink. These are the kind of folks who would never make it past day 1 of a trail at Blue Smoke, much less Gramercy Tavern.

    A few specifics:

    Last weekend, a waitress dumped our table a few minutes into service after declaring in earshot that we didn’t seem like big spenders. The waiter who took over never explained the shift, nor did he show much more restraint in gossiping about other supposed pinchpennies while milling about the bussing station. Red wine came warm and to the wrong person. Only the runners seemed to know what they were doing. I’d much rather have had any of them–friendly, quick competent–as my server and tipped them instead.

    As usual the food remains resolutely rooted in the coldest months of Alsatian winter (two seasons of fat, meat, cabbage and potatoes, two seasons of fat, meat cabbage and potatoes plus carbon footprint heavy flavor light tomato salad) A bit of waiter training and a vaguely creative chef could fix these problems. With lighting this good and clientele this loyal, I wish the owners would do so. Prospects are slim.

  2. Parlor Steakhouse: Beating Expectations in a Neighborhood Known to Dash Them « Fat and Happy Food Slut Says:

    […] having to take one.  Parlor Steakhouse has definitely joined the latter club, alongside Spigolo, Café D’Alsace and Sushi of Gari.  Below are the five most notable subpar and superior items from their non-steak […]

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