Devi is palatial, but not in the sense of unattainable grandeur?rather, it seems stuffed to the gills with earthly comforts and visual delights that completely insulate it from the world outside. ?There are restaurants that bring you back to yourself and those that spirit you away. Devi belongs to the latter group, delivering a heady retreat even when the odds against such an escape are longest,? wrote Frank Bruni in a two-star 2004 New York Times review. He also praised the ?pyramid-shaped rice puffs, too golden, crunchy and airy to permit unpleasant thoughts,? the ?faultless? lamb chops, and the ?splendidly moist? halibut.
The tandoor is responsible for the latter two dishes, and it?s a virtuosic instrument in the hands of Executive Chef Dheeraj Tomar, who learned its secrets in New Delhi before honing his expertise at five-star hotels in Dubai. Amid all the grilled meats, his menu is exceedingly vegetarian-friendly: a vegan harvest stir-fry brims with a cornucopia of produce, joining beyond-chana-masala dishes such as jackfruit biryani, corn-and-bean curry, and tandoor-grilled vegetarian malai tikka kebabs. The eatery?s meticulously constructed wine list eschews large wineries in favor of small-batch, handmade varieties selected for their ability to complement the cuisine.
Inside Devi?s two-story space, nearly every square inch that?s not covered in richly patterned fabrics or panels of gauzy raw silk is festooned with marble and carved wooden arches and balustrades, both imported from India. Lighting is whisper-soft and romantic, supplied by lanterns of ornate colored glass that cluster across the high ceiling like artisanal party balloons left behind after the birthday of a child prince.
Dancers in shimmering gowns and tutus, tall hats, and sweeping silks—many crafted by costume designers at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre—leap, sway, and spin in front of dinner guests. They flow through choreography set to Top 40 hits, contemporary international pop, and Russian classical music, filling a Broadway-sized stage with movements that glow and cast dramatic shadows. Though the show changes frequently, it currently packs in its most popular dances from its 20-year run as a moving homage to what Rasputin Supper Club and Cabaret has been treating its patrons to throughout its history: a taste of royalty.
That doesn't stop at the edge of the stage. While the dancers frolic under a 15-foot projection screen, guests sit back under 30-foot ceilings at the center of a palatial, double-tiered club with an interior designed to reflect the opulence of the old Russian monarchies. On chairs draped in shimmering crimson, guests cluster around gold-clothed tables spread out across hardwood floors. Gilt railings and gates separate the public from performers and private diners, and columns glowing with blue and amber lights scare off swarms of lost noblemen. During meals, the space fills with aromas from the contemporary French and aristocratic Russian dishes that occupy a collection of menus. Often using local ingredients, chefs craft frequently changing dishes such as smoked-salmon rolls, pheasant julien, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, and linguine with red caviar, leaving guests in a state of supreme relaxation while the regal dining area continues to excite.
Although it has only been open since 1995, A La Turka's chefs are committed to time-honored Turkish and Mediterranean cooking. The menu's broad selection of dishes includes familiar seasonings, such as dill, which flavors the sigara b?re?i pastry rolls; tahini, whose nutty taste is essential to hummus, and olive oil, which is blended with baby eggplant in imam bayldi. Additionally, the chefs' commitment to tradition is evident in their homemade breads and yogurt, which is mixed with cucumber and garlic.
Menu at a Glance
|Whole, chargrilled trout, as well as Mediterranean fish, including branzini and orata, are accented simply with garlic, lemon, and olive oil.||Braised lamb shanks with sliced eggplant are among the chef's specialities, and the eatery's yogurt-marinated chicken kebabs earned it praise from New York magazine.||Fresh spinach is cooked with onions and topped with garlic-tinged yogurt. Diners can also opt for hand-rolled grape leaves stuffed with pine nuts, currants, rice, and herbs.|
Although many restaurants boast of their authenticity, not many can say they've served high-ranking government officials from their cuisine's native country. Not only is A La Turka the official caterer for Istanbulive at Central Park's SummerStage, but its clients also include: * Turkish Airlines * Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations * Turkish Consulate General in New York
Like Alice’s rabbit-hole, Jack’s beanstalk, or Huck Finn’s time-travelling river-raft, Grotto is an easy-to-miss gateway to a magical, otherworldly realm. A low-lying neon sign and a short descending staircase are all that mark the cozy eatery from the outside. But inside, a wonderland of refined continental furnishings unfolds in three distinct regions. A bar and intimate, candlelit leather-booth seating face each other between exposed brick walls immediately past the entryway, and in another section, navy wainscoting with porthole-shaped flourishes recall the dining hall on a turn-of-the-century cruise. On the patio out back, vines, fronds, and ferns clamber over a playground of trestles, offering a distinctly Mediterranean ambiance. In the words of Time Out New York, this “hidden subterranean spot” is “worth seeking out,” and the menu, “much like everything else about this place, provides a bounty of unexpected gifts.”
Originally from Munich, proprietor David Wiesner developed a love for Mediterranean culture and cuisine over the course of many summers in southern Italy. Along with co-owner (and German television host) Steven Gätjen, he updates the inspired menu on a regular basis. Offerings have included fragrant buffalo mozzarella, organic Cornish hen in a spicy balsamic reduction, and pumpkin ravioli. Additionally, the use of the finest ingredients paired with an immaculate sense of presentation and a romantic setting make Grotto an excellent choice for a first date.
Students often give their favorite teacher apples. Melissa Chmelar, however, gave hers homemade syrups and jams. That’s because Melissa's mother frequently took the family on syrup-making excursions, teaching them how to tap trees and boil sap into homemade batches that could compliment country-style spreads. Today, Melissa carries on her mother’s DIY attitude and passion for handcrafted foods as an adult. She even sells her own syrups and jams through the online shop portion of her culinary operation, Spoon.
Melissa doesn’t just sell her food, though—she also caters it throughout the city. With an arsenal of homemade goodies, organic produce grown in upstate New York, and local meat and seafood, she crafts delicious smorgasbords for dinner gatherings, cocktail parties, and special events. Along with baking muffins and breads, she rustles up upscale dishes such as pan-seared salmon with parsley pesto, earning herself coverage in a slew of major publications, including the New York Times, People Magazine, and Metro New York.
Melissa uses the same farm-fresh ingredients at Tbsp, the storefront portion of Spoon. There, she serves visiting patrons everything from from-scratch soups to grass-fed beef burgers flavored with house seasonings. For dessert, Melissa bakes and serves house-made chocolate chip cookies in skillets, topping them off with scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Under a typically starless Brooklyn night sky, the patio at MyMoon shines in the glow of its own twinkling overhead light strings. This is how evenings in the warmer months come and go at the restaurant, its ballroom-size dining area framed by both ivy-clad brick and the peaks and valleys of nearby buildings’ roofs and cupolas. The restaurant’s interior dining room is just as hard to close your eyes on: a former factory, the space boasts ceilings that never seem to end, steel sculptures, and ornate distressed wood in everything from the tables to the flooring. And it serves food, too. Each Spanish-inspired tapas dish made by Executive Chef Ivan Vilches supplies its own visual fireworks, from seared lamb skewers to anchovy toast with eggplant and goat cheese. Slices of albacore-tuna carpaccio glisten red atop white serving platters as they get passed around tables. When it comes to entrees, the chef’s take on a yorkshire white suckling pig with melon, beet, mango, and black garlic culls flavors from several culinary traditions into a work of edible art. Should the menu prove too challenging to whittle down to a few options, the chef shares some advice he gave readers of the Brooklyn Paper: “I always recommend that first-time customers try the tasting menu; it’s the best way for them to get to know our food.” Yet it does require a sense of adventure—each dish in a four- or five-course menu gets chosen by the kitchen.
New York’s oldest restaurant might also be its most innovative. In 1838, when “eating out” in New York meant eating whatever was on hand at the local boarding house, Delmonico’s revolutionized the city’s dining scene by giving patrons something they had never had before: a menu. Soon, high-profile patrons such as Theodore Roosevelt, Napoleon III, and the Prince of Whales were dropping by to try new, never-heard-of delicacies such as eggs benedict and baked Alaska, solidifying New York City’s place as a culinary capital of the world.
Of course, you don’t have to be royalty to eat like one in New York. Manhattan is as renowned for its humble food trucks as it is for its upscale establishments, ensuring diners can enjoy a bite of the Big Apple, no matter their budget.
Today, New York City’s restaurants continue to set the standard for refined dining. At Midtown’s Per Se, it’s hard to say what dazzles more, the signature “Oysters and Pearls” appetizer––Island Creek oysters paired topped with sturgeon caviar––or the Limoges china it arrives on. In the West Village, rich fabrics, fireplaces, and candlelit chandeliers inspired Zagat to proclaim One if by Land, Two if by Sea “devastatingly romantic”. Though pricey, the three-course prix-fixe menu provides a taste of black bass tartare, beef wellington, and a chocolate-caramel pot de crème by award-winning pastry chef Ilan Ades. A James Beard Award distinguishes the chef at The Modern, where roasted diver scallops and ravioli stuffed with veal sweetbreads are served in full view of the MoMA sculpture garden.
Middle of the Road
New York City is ripe with restaurants that walk the line between haute cuisine and hot dog cart. At Five Napkin Burger, gruyere and rosemary aioli top the signature sandwich that first tempted diners at Upper West Side hot spot Nice Matin. The latter also showcases reasonably priced French dishes such as escargot and hanger steak au poivre. In the East Village, Momofuku Noodle Bar, tops Japanese ramen with sumptuous pork belly or spiced Sichuan sausage and parties of four or more can reserve a dinner that pairs Southern- and Korean-style fried chickens with mu shu pancakes, veggies, and four sauces. Still hungry? Try a slice of history at Lombardi’s, the 100-year old establishment widely lauded as the birthplace of New York-style pizza.
Whether it’s a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery or a potato knish from a sidewalk cart, many of New York City’s best eats are grab-n-go. For a truly moveable feast, track down the Wafels & Dinges food truck, which Zagat named the city’s best in 2010 for its waffles topped with BBQ pork or nutella. Of course, no guide to New York’s restaurants would be complete without a stop at one of its world-famous diners and delis. Try Brooklyn’s Mile End Delicatessen for classics like smoked brisket on house-baked rye, or grab a counter seat at East Village staple Stage Restaurant to sample homemade corned beef hash and pierogis with fried onions.