From the moment guests step into its entryway and pass its showcase of Fabergé eggs, Tatiana Restaurant & Cabaret Show carefully choreographs a journey through the nobility and flair of Russia's history. Like an Eastern European palace, its opulence stretches through three levels and 10,500 square feet, adorned with grand-cathedral balconies, Murano glass fixtures, and an ornate ceiling hammered with 24-karat gold accents that took artists four months to complete. And yet, this splendor can be quickly eclipsed once dinner begins. From à la carte and prix fixe menus, up to 600 guests dine on traditional Russian cuisine that includes a cold beet borscht, but is not limited to it. When a Miami.com reviewer visited Tatiana’s, she praised the vareniki—semicircle ravioli filled with potatoes, cheese, or sour cherries.
After the meal, Tatiana’s swaps bustling servers for a swarm of singers, dancers, and DJs. During shows that pay homage to Russian culture, Moulin Rouge, and Las Vegas–style cabarets, the performers twirl through smoke and light on and off a stage that can rise six feet in the air to aid performers in midshow slam dunks. The house band continues to wail after the smoke has cleared, opening up the dance floor for couples who can pas de deux into the wee morning hours.
Though Bagel Hole opened in 1985, the staff’s knowledge of the old-fashioned hand-rolled art form goes back to the 1940s. That’s when their teacher began making bagels as a young man in Germany, and it’s his expertise that still guides their craft today. The staff uses all-natural ingredients to make 11 types of bagels, which are all hand-rolled, boiled, and baked until they reach a crispy, golden-brown exterior and chewy, hot insides. To bedeck the rings, they add slices of nova lox or slather them with cream-cheese spreads such as fresh scallion and walnut-and-raisin. For afternoon staff makes it a point to pile Boar’s Head cold-cuts high, or stuff sandwiches with the same amount of fresh-made whitefish salad found in a typical teddy bear. The old-fashioned bagel-making methods take more time, but they’ve paid off. CBS hailed Bagel Hole as one of the top six bagel shops in the city, and the staff of Serious Eats awarded them the coveted title of best bagel in New York.
Patties of free-range beef, turkey, or chicken sourced from organic farmers fill brioche buns at Bareburger, which eschews the added hormones commonly found in burger meat for locally sourced, all-natural ingredients. Fries cooked in 100% peanut oil complement bites of the Jalapeño Express burger’s pepper jack cheese and chipotle ketchup or the Mediterranean’s cool spread of cucumber-mint yogurt. Though Bareburger sources its meat and produce from sustainable farmers, its food isn’t the only reflection of its eco-conscious values: Trees felled in storms end up as hardwood tables in the dining room, whose tin-siding ceilings have been reclaimed from barns deconstructed during philosophers’ countryside lectures.
Grilled cheese may seem simple, but to Stephen Cusato, Dave Cusato, and John Coppola—known collectively as the Food Freaks—the art of bread and cheese is anything but. The trio grills eight types of sandwiches within their bright yellow food truck, including the classic Old School—made with a single cheese such as gouda and a choice of homemade sauce—and the chicken-parmesan grilled cheese, prepared with fresh mozzarella from Casa Della Mozzarella. Perhaps their most crowd-pleasing creation, however, is the short rib, which was lauded by Ligaya Mishan of the New York Times as an "impeccably proportioned sandwich of short rib, Gruyère and blackberry jam on sourdough." It also caught the attention of CBS New York’s food critic, who went on to applaud the Food Freaks for their signature side dish, deep-fried brussels sprouts tossed with agave syrup and served with a permission slip that lets you get out of eating broccoli. Lately, the trio has branched out from grilled cheese with their Banh Mi concept, with which they grill up three baguette-bound Vietnamese sandwiches: the pork-belly banh me, the chicken banh mi, and the mushroom banh mi.
Over a plate of fresh Maine lobster that they brought back to the city themselves, husband-and-wife duo Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich wondered aloud, “Why doesn’t someone in New York start a fresh-seafood business?” Their destiny as restaurateurs was realized the moment those words were uttered: they opened Red Hook Lobster Pound a mere six months later. Gorham began traveling to Maine every weekend, scoping out catches and making deals with fisherman, choosing only those that partook in environmentally sustainable practices. Meanwhile, Povich experimented with recipes in order to add to an already lengthy repertoire of lobster-based recipes she learned while growing up in the Northeast. Word of mouth helped spark interest in their eatery, and before long, the demand compelled them to expand their storefront to include a picnic-style dining room. They’ve even added a food truck––nicknamed "Big Red"––that brings lobster-based dishes to diners across the city.
According to The New York Times, success has had little effect on Red Hook Lobster Pound’s menu: “It tastes as fresh as can be, which matters when you’re dealing with a trend that’s growing so fast.” Their lobster rolls—served on split-top buns and garnished with just enough homemade mayo—have been lauded by Zagat, Bloomberg News, and Gourmet.com. Other popular dishes include lobster bisque, lobster mac-n-cheese, and a lobster dinner, served with homemade coleslaw, potato salad, and fresh, lake-caught corn.
Sohui Kim’s culinary education began in Seoul, Korea, where the young chef-to-be watched street vendors grill skewers of shrimp and sauté sizzling chicken livers in hot peppers. She infuses her culinary heritage into The Good Fork’s menu of Asian-inspired dishes, flavoring ingredients from the neighborhood farm with Korean-style seasoning and sauces. To craft her New York Times-lauded steak and eggs, she marinates a grass-fed skirt steak in her mother’s spicy Korean short-rib marinade. Sohui’s plump pork and chive dumplings gained national renown when they prevailed over her celebrity competitor’s version on the Food Network’s Throwdown With Bobby Flay. Ben Schneider— Sohui’s actor-carpenter husband— designed the cozy dining room himself, fashioning a curvy wooden ceiling, setting up intimate booths, and whittling a life-sized host staff out of Birchwood. Beneath the cozy space’s exposed brick walls, animated locals chat over slices of key lime pie and glasses of draft beer.
It’s hard to miss anything on Twenty3 Supper Club’s menu. The restaurant has actually commissioned menus that light up when you open them, meaning they’re easy to read despite the dark retro-Vegas-nightclub atmosphere and the fact that miner helmets are no longer in vogue. Good thing, too. It would be a shame to overlook, for example, the section on small plates, which includes grilled sand shark in pineapple salsa and shrimp and chorizo on toasted Cuban bread. Order enough of them and the plates can be a meal in themselves, or else they can function as appetizers for the 23-oz. dry-aged rib-eye or the grilled lamb over chickpea hummus and cucumber salsa. After dinner, stick around for a trendy martini at the glowing blue bar and listen to the thumping beats of a live DJ.