100 best New York restaurants: Best fine dining

Some of the best New York restaurants can also be the most expensive. These fine dining splurges justify their cost with dazzling food and sparkling service.

Photograph: Daniel Krieger
100 best New York restaurants: The NoMad

Well-funded locals may disagree, but for most of us, some of the best New York restaurants aren’t every-day pleasures. The fine dining gems on the far end of the price-per-head spectrum are the sorts of places we reserve in advance, anticipate for weeks and then savor when the moment finally arrives. From Wylie Dufresne’s molecular modernism to the white-glove grandeur of Per Se, here are the best fine dining restaurants in town—apotheoses of upscale dining as seen through a distinctly New York lens.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants

Eleven Madison Park

Critics' pick

Swiss chef Daniel Humm mans the kitchen at this vast Art Deco jewel, which began life as a brasserie before evolving into one of the city’s most rarified and progressive eateries. The service is famously mannered, and the room among the city’s most grand. But the heady, epic tasting menus are the true heart of Eleven Madison Park, a format that spotlights Humm’s auteur instincts. Tableside flourishes are part of the fun: Look out for even more dazzling showmanship—including one dish presented by way of a sleight of hand trick—when the restaurant relaunches its tasting menu format in fall of 2012.

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Flatiron

The NoMad

Critics' pick

The luxurious setting, flawless service, and preponderance of foie gras and truffles call to mind an haute cuisine titan. But with its fashionable crowd and cool, voluptuous vibe there are clearly some young Turks behind the wheel. Chef Daniel Humm and William Guidara, the celebrated team behind Eleven Madison Park, turn the music up for their sophomore venture in the NoMad Hotel. Ditching EMP's tasting-menu-only format, Humm takes a more democratic approach with an à la carte menu of seasonal, French-inflected fare. The food, like the space, exudes unbuttoned decadence. A poached egg stars in one over-the-top starter, its barely contained yolk melting into a sweet, velvety soup of brown butter and Parmesan, with shaved white asparagus and toasted quinoa for crunch. And while there are plenty of rich-man roasted chickens for two in New York, the bird here—with a foie gras, brioche and black truffle stuffing under the skin—is surely the new gold standard. Try it with the sweet amber Le Poulet, a Brooklyn Brewery ale designed to be paired with the designer fowl.

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Midtown

Momofuku Ko

Critics' pick

Make it through the reservations ringer (the system mandates booking six days in advance, at 10am, only via momofuku.com) to gain access to chef David Chang’s minimal 12-seat spot. Here, the chefs double as waiters, serving eight or so dazzling courses from behind a counter. The ever-evolving menu features raw fluke, in a coating of tangy, mellow buttermilk, poppy seeds and sriracha chili sauce. A frozen foie gras torchon is brilliantly shaved over lychee puree and pine-nut brittle. Ko’s embrace of dessert may signal Chang’s high-end arrival. A panna cotta made from milk that’s been mingling with cornflakes is nothing short of genius.

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East Village

Annisa

Critics' pick

A fire shut down chef Anita Lo’s sparely apppointed West Village flagship, but the restaurant’s rebirth makes it once again worthy of citywide buzz. Lo’s complex, refined food—much of it inspired by her global eating adventures—is more exciting than ever. From the Japanese canon there’s a tuna starter: a shimmering tartare on one side and grilled belly seasoned with yuzukosho (a condiment made from hot peppers and yuzu) on the other. Lo’s reverence for French technique comes through in a veal loin entrée, drizzled with truffled veal jus, oyster cream sauce and brown butter. Her desserts are as nuanced as everything else: Conclude with crispy beignets filled with warm salted butterscotch.

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West Village

The Kitchen at Brooklyn Fare

Critics' pick

Chef César Ramirez spends his days preparing deli-case items at the Brooklyn Fare supermarket—and one luxurious, 15-course meal in the store’s kitchen each night, which is some of New York's best small-plate cuisine. The dinner-party vibe is convivial: Diners perch on stools around a prep table, the menu changes daily, and wine is BYOB. A Kumamoto oyster reclines on crème fraîche and yuzu gelée; halibut is served in a miraculous broth of dashi and summer truffles. For dessert: an airy parfait layering mango mousse, coconut froth, candied cashews and rum-soaked brioche.

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Boerum Hill

Per Se

Critics' pick

Expectations are high at Per Se—and that goes both ways. You are expected to come when they’ll have you—you might be put on standby for four nights, only to win a 10pm Tuesday spot—and fork over $150 a head if you cancel. You’re expected to wear the right clothes, pay a non-negotiable service charge, and pretend you aren’t eating in a shopping mall. The restaurant, in turn, is expected to deliver one hell of a tasting menu for $250 ($280 if you want foie gras). And it does. Dish after dish is flawless and delicious, beginning with Thomas Keller’s signature salmon tartare cone and luxe oysters-and-caviar starter. Have you tasted steak with mashed potatoes and Swiss chard, or burrata cheese with olive oil drizzled on top, or chocolate brownies with coffee ice cream? Possibly. Have you had them this good? Unlikely. In the end, it’s all worth every penny (as long as someone else is paying).

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Upper West Side

Aldea

Critics' pick

This Portuguese eatery is a low-key stage for one of the city’s most original chefs: George Mendes. While the minimalist space is restrained, the food certainly isn’t. Tender baby cuttlefish is the centerpiece of a complex starter featuring coconut curry broth, sea beans, bonito flakes and mint. More-traditional fare also gets an haute spin. Beautiful garlicky shrimp alhinho are finished with an intense shrimp-and-brandy reduction. Desserts strike the same rustic-refined balance. Among the simple pleasures: custard-soaked brioche served with pink-peppercorn ice cream and blood orange gelée.

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Flatiron
More of the 100 best New York restaurants

Comments

5 comments
Michael D
Michael D

Everyone of us have dined with these restaurants &  have been impressed sometime with the quality of food, texture, ambience. Keep up the good work and high standards of these restaurants. Congratulations to all who have contributed to the restaurants success and sharing the list. <a href="http://www.michaelsonsimcoe.com/fine-dining/

Ashna C
Ashna C

Chef César Ramirez is a talented chef, but I also was asked to leave and not served coffee at Brooklyn fare, as they were running behind.. The food is good, but the interaction with the chef a little awkward.

Ashna C
Ashna C

I don't know why Atera is not on the list. Its so much better than Aldea or WD-50. A MUST TRY!