Ever since my first plate of buttery kasha varnishkes (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta) from my Rumanian-born Grandma Rose’s Lower East Side kitchen, I have been an unapologetic foodie. So, for me, picking a place to eat in NYC is akin to asking for a good bottle of wine at Bouley: The choices are dizzying. Nevertheless, I decided to have fun with a day of culinary adventuring and so stopped in at three personal favorites. Feel free to join me!
Years ago, when I worked for Rolling Stone magazine, I remember supping at midnight at the iconic Empire Diner with members of a famous 1980s rock band. The diner originally opened in 1946, resembling a railroad dining car, built by the Fodero Dining Car Company. After a couple of closings and openings it came back in full force in 1976, starting the trend of upscale retro diners. The diner was renamed for a brief period of time, closed again, and reopened last January. It has also appeared in a number of films including Manhattan, Men in Black ll, Home Alone 2 and City Island. But, on this particular morning, I put all its colorful history aside and dug into a comforting pate of buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and fruit compote. Breakfast isn't its only specialty, though. Stop by the Empire for any meal, including brunch on Sat. and Sun.
The sliders at Brasserie, a sleek French restaurant in Midtown's handsome Seagram Building, are sinful—plump, juicy pillows of Angus beef, buoyed by melted Gruyère cheese, bacon and housemade pickles, wedged between a savory pastry—but sometimes a girl’s just gotta be bad. Still, if one is feeling virtuous, there are plenty of other, lighter choices, including Skkuna Bay salmon with sunchoke and sage; grilled whole fish with herbes de provence; lemon sole with celeriac mousseline, and more.
One of the city’s most opulent dining rooms, Petrossian is also the place to go if it’s caviar you are craving with your champagne. An evening of West Coast sturgeon with Petrossian caviar beurre blanc, a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot brut, and the world is your oyster. And, if you want to go beyond caviar, dig into any one of the sophisticated main courses, including roasted Maine lobster risotto, New Zealand lamb rack, Atlantic char or Dijon mustard- crusted flank steak.