Saturday, April 15, 2006


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Blue Ribbon [280 Fifth Ave. (bet. 1st St. and Garfield Pl.) 718-840-0404]
This Park Slope institution offers everything from Fried Catfish to Pigeon to Tofu Ravioli on its menu, but it seems like fish is the specialty. So armed with this information, I ordered the Duck (confit) of course and it was excellent, falling off the bone and tender. Dan tried the Fried Catfish Sandwich and had similar success and got very full in the process. My parents also had fish, and the Striped Bass was especially good. I also would say that the bread here (hot, fresh rolls) was very good. I went here for an early dinner with my parents and we had no problem securing a table. However, I hear that this is definitely not the case regularly, so if you have a party of 5 or more, make a reservation.

Eleven Madison Park
[11 Madison Ave. (at 24th St.) 212-889-0905]
A beautiful restaurant with excellent food to match the stunning setting. Things are high class all the way here in lobby of a bank building. I may be calling this an American restaurant, but the food is heavily influenced by French cuisine and is extremely rich and flavorful. I recommend starting with the White Asparagus Veloute and both the Lamb 'Navarin' and the Poularde make for excellent main dishes. In addition I was impressed by the "amuse-bouche" between courses. All in all, a fantastic restaurant, well worth the high prices. My only caveat is that the portions are not that big.

Gotham Bar & Grill [12 E. 12th St. (bet. 5th Ave. and University Pl.) 212-620-4020]
Fantastic food, high prices, and a beautiful setting. This is definitely one of the classier restaurants in New York, a true treat that lives up to its lofty billing. To start with, the Seared Foie Gras is so buttery and smooth that it is worth every overstuffed goose, or at least you will think so while you are eating it. As for main courses, my friends and I sampled three of them and they were all excellent (the only things left on any plate were bones), so your choice will depend on your preference. I had the Miso Marinated Black Cod, which obviously had a distinct Asian influence and wonderful accompaniments to the perfectly cooked fish. The Rack of Lamb was not too different from what you might expect, which means that it was tender and delicious, but not necessarily unique. Finally, the Roast Squab may have been the best dish of all, with that bird prepared exquisitely and consisting of tremendously tasty meat. The service is also very attentive and professional, with a free serving of petits fours serving as a nice way to top off the meal for those of you too full for dessert.

The Half King Bar & Restaurant [505 W. 23rd St. (at 10th Ave.) 212-462-4300]
Kick it with the gallery crowd for lunch at this pub/restaurant. The lunch special is a nice deal, as you get a salad, an entree, and a soda for around $10. I went with the quesadilla, which was tasty and filling, but I hear that the burgers are pretty good as well.

The Huddle Cafe [280 Park Ave. (bet. 48th and 49th Sts.) 212-450-2000]
Open only to NFL employees, the NFL cafeteria is quite an exclusive lunch destination. Commissioner Goodell is a regular (as was Tagliabue), as are most employees. Prices are dirt cheap, especially for any sort of salad or side dish. Food is markedly better than in most cafeterias. I am especially fond of the pasta salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, antipasti, and various daily specials.

Luke's Bar & Grill [1394 Third Ave. (bet. 79th and 80th Sts.) 212-249-7070]
I liked the atmosphere and the beer selection and prices. It has a nice traditional feel to it. And the burgers are pretty good, although not amazing. All the American classics are available here.

Melt [440 Bergen St. (bet. 5th and Flatbush Aves.) 718-230-5925]
This trendy, yet unpretentious, Park Slope restaurant is a real find. The food is high quality, the service is extremely friendly, and the prices are mostly standard for New York. I say mostly, because there are deals to be had. I had an excellent prix fixe dinner for just $19, featuring an Organic Baby Arugula Salad to start and Chicken Breast with Mushroom Risotto to finish. And every Tuesday night, you can enjoy a brand new five-course meal for just $20! But if you just want to eat a regular meal here, you'll do fine as well. For starters, try the Warm Boucheron Goat Cheese. It goes down smoothly and is well-complemented by the tomato and figs. A solid entree selection is the Butternut Squash Ravioli. The Kobe Beef Burger is also very good, but you should try it at the bar for $10 (happy hour) instead of off the menu for $17. The menu appears to change regularly here, so if they do not have some of these dishes, be adventurous and trust the chef.

Mumbles [179 Third Ave. (at 17th St.) 212-477-6066]
No, this is not a Dick Tracy theme restaurant. But it is an excellent family restaurant, or a nice place to go for a dinner with friends before a night out in the Union Square area. Prices are very affordable and the portions are generally HUGE. I tried the Maryland Crab Cake appetizer with the Penne a la Vodka and I was happily stuffed. The menu is fairly diverse with all sorts of options for meat, fish, pasta, and other dishes. And you shouldn't have too much trouble snagging a table, even on a weekend night.

Park Avenue Cafe [100 E. 63rd St. (bet. Lexington and Park Aves.) 212-644-1900]
If you are under 25, you should definitely go here for dinner one night. If you are 35 or under, you should consider it. If you are older than 35, I hope that you are smart enough to go elsewhere or wealthy enough to not care about paying too much for a nice dinner. You see, Park Avenue Cafe offers a wonderful deal in which diners get to pay their age (from $25 to $65) for a three-course meal any time after 8:30 pm any night. With this meal, you get the typical appetizer, entree, and dessert combination, and an excellent combination it is. The Goat Cheese Ravioli is one of the better appetizers, and both the Duck and the Lamb are wise choices for entrees, but most of the food is very good, so you probably can't go wrong with too many of the selections. For dessert, try The Chocolate Cube (mostly for its presentation) and if you are young, you can leave the restaurant knowing that you got a wonderful deal.

Prohibition [503 Columbus Ave. (bet. 84th and 85th Sts.) 212-579-3100]
Try the mini-burgers...they are delicious. Portions are large, two appetizers could even be enough for a meal. Can also go here as a bar, live (mostly jazz) music every night.

The Yale Club [50 Vanderbilt Ave. (at 44th St.) 212-716-2100]
See how the other half lives at this fine dining experience. Choose from one of three dining rooms: the Tap Room, the Grill Room, or the Roof Dining Room. The Roof Dining Room is the fanciest, but I usually take my meals in the Tap Room. The two best options here are both lunches: Sushi Tuesdays (an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet) and Seafood Fridays (an all-you-can-eat shrimp, oyster, and crab claw extravaganza). I also recommend Pasta Pasta on Thursday. Note: Meals taste better when you are wearing a suit.

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