Restaurants open on Christmas Day
Traditions have to start somewhere, and we can think of no better ritual than spending Christmas Day with comforting, cooked-to-order dim sum. Keep it classic with crispy scallion pancakes and pan-fried pork dumplings, then test the waters with tender stuffed eggplant filled with spiced shrimp and squid.
Michael White strives to continue the comeback that began at Convivio and Alto with the seafood-centric Marea, his third and most ambitious venture with partner Chris Cannon. An upmarket shrine to the simple pleasures of the Italian coastline, the project is a gutsy gamble from a chef with bravado to burn. The high prices and opulent dining room—with silver-dipped seashells and rosewood walls—suggest a restaurant with the loftiest auteur ambitions.
Noah Bermanoff's Montreal meets Manhattan sandwich shop is among the city’s most cultish, with locations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. On Christmas Day, a playful Jewish Christmas Chinese Feast is offered for the non-traditional. This year's dishes included baogels (bao-bagel hybrid from Black Seed), turnip cake and Mongolian smoked beef.
RedFarm is indeed groundbreaking: an interpretive Chinese restaurant with high-end ingredients and whimsical plating that have packed the dining room since opening night. Dressed in farm-to-table drag with potted plants in the windows, blond wood pillars and gingham booths, the place could easily pass for another seasonal New American restaurant, but don’t be fooled: RedFarm offers a glimpse back into the golden age of Chinese fine dining.
Georges Vongerichten’s hippie restaurant, as he’s taken to calling it, is a stunner, as artfully merchandised as the shop that surrounds it. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables and chandeliers entwined with flowering vines, is gathered from local artisans. But the cooking, based on the most gorgeous ingredients from up and down the East Coast, delivers one message above all: Food that’s good for the planet needn’t be any less opulent, flavorful or stunning to look at. It’s haute green cuisine.
Each menu at ABCV—already littered with wellness buzzwords like “restorative tonics” and divided into categories that include Energizing & Fresh and Warm & Sustaining—arrives with a supplementary insert chart detailing the health benefits of various vegetables. (Eggplant is “an ally to your arteries and circulation,” FYI.) This chia-bowl wonderland is ABCV, an expansion of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Paulette Cole’s ABC restaurant empire inside Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home complex, and the V stands not for “vagina steaming” (sorry, Paltrow) but for “vegetables.”
The name means “grandma” in Yiddish, but to celebs, hipsters and stroller-pushers who wait all morning for a table, it means the best brunch. The fluorescent dessert cases and gaudy floral wallpaper will fade after one of the signature loco cocktails (the Slow Comfortable Screw blends Southern Comfort, champagne and OJ). Just don’t forget to top off your buzz with Bubby’s mile-high apple pie.
Architect Richard Bloch (Masa) muted the colors and created a distinct sushi bar and dining room at 15 East, turning what felt like a country inn into a solemn temple of Japanese food. And the meals are to be taken seriously: The multi-page sake list is on point, and the sushi is very expensive. Fortunately, it’s worth the steep prices.
The contemporary Chinese restaurant is fitted with a theatrical glamour. Black half-moon banquettes, towering tropical plants and plenty of burnished brass define the sprawling downstairs dining room, with intimate two-tops perched on the theater’s mezzanine level above for ample people-watching. In another life, the clubby room could have served as the suave setting for a Scorsese mob epic. But instead of pinstripe-primped gangsters seated around its white-marble tables, you have leather-jacketed editors and long-haired downtown gents who you’ll have to look at twice to figure out if they’re that actor from that show. (They are.)
Around since 1969, this old-school Italian joint knows what it's doing. Go for traditional Italian dishes with a twist, such as pizzettas and lump crab meat cocktails, or straight-up comfort fare like stuffed chicken parmesan and penne alla vodka.