Best restaurants near Bryant Park
The ceiling and walls are hung with pipes, some from such long-ago Keens regulars as Babe Ruth, J.P. Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt. Even in these nonsmoking days, you can catch a whiff of the restaurant’s 120-plus years of history. Beveled-glass doors, two working fireplaces and a forest’s worth of dark wood suggest a time when “Diamond Jim” Brady piled his table with bushels of oysters, slabs of seared beef and troughs of ale. The menu still lists a three-inch-thick mutton chop (imagine a saddle of lamb but with more punch) and desserts such as key lime pie. Sirloin and porterhouse (for two or three) hold their own against any steak in the city.
Fresh off an acclaimed decade at Danny Meyer’s MoMA restaurant, the Modern, Gabriel Kreuther joins the grand pantheon of name-bearing flagships—the Daniels, the Jean-Georges—with cooking that’s as personal as it is precise. Regulars of the Modern will recognize the ribbons of smoke that entangle Kreuther’s famed tarteflambée ($12) in the copper-trimmed front lounge and his sturgeon-sauerkraut tart in the back dining room, hotboxed in a glass cloche with applewood haze ($98, as part of the four-course prix fixe).
New York restaurant-scene darling Michael White expanded his empire with this Italian-Mediterranean restaurant, inside the swank Setai Fifth Avenue hotel. A dark-wood dining room overlooking Fifth Avenue is the setting for savory fare like gnocchi with sage butter, mild boschetto cheese and a red-wine jus; and potato, leek and chard agnolotti bathed in ragù and watercress pesto.
The food-hall boom of 2014 keeps on keepin’ on, with trumped-up grub depots hawking plates from both street-circuit icons and chef-helmed havens (City Kitchen, Gansevoort Market). Joining the ranks is this whopping 12,000-square-foot perma-venture from UrbanSpace, the team behind seasonal streetside pop-ups like Mad. Sq. Eats and Broadway Bites. The 200-seat court plays host to market favorites—Bar Suzette crepes and Roberta’s wood-fired pizzas, including a Vanderbilt-exclusive pepperoncini pie—as well as newcomers like Ovenly, Toby’s Estate Coffee and a fried-chicken project from BrisketTown’s Daniel Delaney.
Not all sandwich shops have a chef. But Walter Momente brings Alidoro, which means "golden wings," to another level, creating not mere sandwiches but bread-bound showcases of Italian finery. He sources impeccable ingredients, hand-selecting the best loaves from several bakeries and importing superior authentic Italian products, like the stellar grilled artichokes that crown the Enzo ($12). Otherwise, his crew makes it all themselves, crafting supple sun-dried tomatoes, bright with the tang of summer, a sweet, mild eggplant caponata and, best of all, the addictive marinated hot peppers.
Flushing’s Chinatown eateries tend to skew to two extremes: They’re either fluorescent-lit canteens or Hong Kong–style palaces of glitz. Szechuan Gourmet is an exception—a quiet spot, located on a side street, serving mainland Chinese cuisine that bears little resemblance to Americanized “Szechuan” fare. Outstanding choices include peppery minced pork with cellophane noodles, garlic-bathed deep-fried chicken with chili, and ginger-sweetened crisp fried sea bass—an almost greaseless accomplishment.
Low-and-slow meats are the stars of this midtown sandwich shop, outfitted with a communal table, wood counters and exposed brick walls. Il Buco vet R.L King is behind combos like brisket with sweet-and-sour cabbage, pork butt with pepper jelly, and goat with chermoula carrots, all built atop toasted ciabatta from Grandaisy Bakery. Seasonal sides include charred broccoli and rye-berry salad.
Grab baguettes and pastries at the fourth NYC location of Eric Kayser's global boulangerie chain. The Bryant Park outpost—which boasts a standing-only coffee bar—also features a selection of grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and soup.
The owner collects unique butter plates, which are filled with creamy French beurre and adorn each tabletop. Everything on chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli’s menu shines: The seared scallops with foie gras are delectable, as are the grilled halibut with roasted asparagus and a “squashy emulsion,” grilled spice-rubbed pork loin and pan-seared tuna. There’s an extensive wine list, gorgeous (and delicious) dessert selections and waiters who make recommendations enthusiastically and knowledgably. Butter up a special client, friend or sweetheart with an extraordinary, imaginative meal.
A retro-tinged American bistro serves locally-sourced regional fare in Refinery Hotel. Chef Jeffrey Forrest (Soho Grand, the Plaza Food Hall) doles out upscale comfort food: beer-spiked corn bread with coriander-honey butter; scallop mussel escabeche; and red swamp crawfish with andouille sausage and sweet corn. Mixologist Alex Ott (Buddha Bar, Sushi Samba) complements Forrest's cuisine with beer and wine pairings, and offers VIP liquor lockers for regulars to store their favorite bottles. The space has a Prohibition vibe, sporting 1920s Carrara bar tops and—yawn—a speakeasy-style hidden entrance in the back.