Chef Michael Gershkovich’s story is a familiar one: a young man strays from tradition to forge his own path, discovers his true passion, and returns home to reconcile his past with his new way of life. With a future of strict religious study expected of him, the young Chef Michael left his Orthodox Jewish community to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Diving head first into the culinary world, he followed the scent of fine foods to kitchens as far as Napa Valley and Hawaii, all the while weaving the cooking techniques he learned into a culinary style entirely his own. When he realized that his methods were perfectly compatible with kosher dietary laws, he returned home and founded Mike’s Bistro, where he creates elegant dishes under the traditional glatt kosher laws of food preparation.
The result is a cuisine that’s equal parts tradition and innovation. Braised boneless short ribs arrive at the table dressed in sun-dried-tomato barbecue glaze, and white-truffle oil and duck jus adorn handmade gnocchi. Chef Michael visits as many tables as he can during the night, whether it’s to recommend a wine pairing, to discuss his favorite menu items, or simply to tag someone because he’s tired of being It.
Anyone craning their neck to gaze at the Museum of Arts and Design at night will find a shocking pop of color bursting forth from the 9th floor windows of the otherwise stark, grey. It’s coming from what could be considered the museum’s most interactive exhibit: its restaurant, dubbed “Robert” in tribute to legendary New York event planner Robert Isabell. There, guests dine upon plush, curved sofas or neon pink chairs, their artfully plated diver scallops and codfish croquettes set aglow by yellow lighting that somehow manages to stay moody, despite its almost radioactive hue. Around them, video-art installations virtually guarantee that there will be no lulls in dinner conversation, as does the sight of the “communal table”, split into two halves by a sculpture mimicking the shape of a sound wave. Still, the most dazzling feature of this lavishly designed eatery may be its address, as a glance out the window procures views of Columbus Circle, Broadway, and Central Park West.
For an eatery whose branches stretch as far as Dubai and Kuwait City, Shake Shack hails from undeniably humble roots. Namely, a hot-dog stand in New York’s Madison Square Park where cooks doled out burgers to support the park conservancy’s first art installation. The temporary eats drew a following so ravenous that the stand was able to disengage its wheels and hunker down permanently in a sleek, tree-flanked kiosk at the park. The burgers landed in CBS New York’s Best Burgers of New York list, in large part because of the 100% Angus beef patties loaded with toppings such as special ShakeSauce, strips of applewood-smoked bacon, and melted muenster cheese. A side of crinkle-cut Yukon fries and a frozen custard milk shake fill in the portrait of classic hamburger joint with a few inventive culinary brushstrokes.
Down-home Southern cooking journeys to Harlem at Miss Madue?s Spoonbread Too. Owner, caterer, cookbook author, and unconfirmed superhero Norma Jean Darden honors her Aunt Maude?s family-famous meals. Served Southern style, meals begin with baskets of hot cornbread and are paired with candied yams, mac 'n' cheese, and other comfort sides. Entrees such as southern fried chicken, Louisiana catfish, short ribs, and BBQ ribs have earned the eatery rave reviews from the New York Times, the New York Post, and O, The Oprah Magazine, along with happy customers in veggie- or peach cobbler-induced happy dazes.
Ayurveda Cafe’s prix fixe meals consist of 10 rotating vegetarian menu items that span the six Sattvic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Drinks such as the mango banana lassi are less concerned with balance, favoring sweetness above all else.
Couples cultivate their relationship while also restoring and maintaining New York City parks and community gardens. Surrounded by forest, New Leaf provides a countryside feel inside the city and a menu of American fare made from locally grown ingredients and inspired by New York’s Community gardens.