Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.
Voted Best Authentic Crepes in 2009 by Westchester Magazine, Rue des Crepes conjures a Parisian ambiance with a colorful street-side mural, cobblestone floors, and authentic French fare that "transports you to the quais of the Seine." According to metromix.com's mustachioed detectives, "all the classic fillings are there," including lemon, plantain, ham, and chorizo. Chefs prepare savory crêpes with a buckwheat-flour batter and, upon request, serve dessert crêpes à la mode. Rounding out the menu, pots of cheese fondue arrive with bite-size dunkers such as focaccia, shrimp, and buttons from Napoleon's doublet.
It's not often that The New York Times is charmed by something being untrendy, but the publication said a few years back that Brasserie Swiss's lack of chicness "is the key to its appeal." The timeworn decor leaves glittering fixtures and pomp to new culinary kids on the block, and instead complements the restaurant's menu—a roster of traditional dishes such as fondue and snails bourguignon. Many of the meats come from a Colorado butcher, because the Geneva Conventions state that Swiss food can only be sourced from mountainous regions. These meats include the veal cutlets used for the sauteed wiener schnitzel, and the lamb chops that are paired with roesti, a crispy potato side. In true European fashion, the desserts are hardly overlooked: diners should save room for decadent creations such as chocolate mousse or coupe cherry Swiss steeped in wine.
As Rolf Baumgartner, co-owner of Brasserie Swiss for nearly 35 years, prepares the European-inspired meals, his wife Verena minds the dining room. "She's an enthusiastic interpreter of Swiss culture," the Times said adoringly. "Ask her about the large Alpine horns on the walls or about Swiss culinary preferences, and she will have stories to tell."
Though he has spent so much of his life in the kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten ironically finds some of his favorite foods in the street. Inspired by Thai street vendors, the internationally renowned chef branches out from his formal training to craft French cuisine that carries a distinctly Asian tune, such as a cut of salmon with spiced jade emulsion.
Chef Thomas Keller is known for his emphasis on local foods. He and his team at Per Se have created a pair of nine-course tasting menus that celebrate the harvests of New York’s farmers. The small plates are designed, somewhat cruelly, to leave diners wishing they had just one more bite of foie gras or poached quince.
Named after an olive native to France and Italy, Picholine fittingly infuses French cuisine with Mediterranean notes. Considering how close the two regions are to one another, this fusion consistently yields surprises, such as a sea-urchin panna cotta with caviar and chilled ocean consommé.