food 01.3.07

Hot List

Boqueria, 53 W. 19th [5th/6th] 212.255.4160. Unanimity of opinion is rare in these parts, but this tapas restaurant, inspired by the Barcelona market, gets pretty close; in this case, high marks all around. Credit goes to chef/owner Seamus Mullen and co-owner Yann de Rochefort. Note: they don't take reservations.

Cafe Cluny, 284 W. 12th [W. 4th] 212.255.6900. For anyone happy to go for the 1000th time to Odeon or Cafe Luxembourg (that would be us), Cluny is the quintessential West Village bistro version of same. To paraphrase Mr. Spock, may it live as long and prosper.

15 East, 15 E. 15th [5th/Union Sq. W.] 212.647.0015. In the old Tocqueville space, the Tocqueville team pairs up with an ex-Jewel Bako chef to offer Japanese dishes, including sushi. It seems like yesterday that Marco Moreira and Jo-Ann Makovitzky opened the little takeout place that evolved into this Fifteenth Street fiefdom. A tip of the toque to them.

Gordon Ramsay, 151 W. 54th [6th/7th] 212.468.8888. Ramsay Schmamsay. This is Neil Ferguson's place. Ferguson has been in the three-star kitchens of Marc Meneau's L'Espérance, L'Arpège (a restaurant we can't stand, but never mind), the Connaught, and London's Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. New York is lucky to have him.

At Klee Brasserie, 200 9th [22nd/23rd] 212.633.8033, you'll find chef Daniel Angerer in the kitchen — which is a good thing to find. The place bills itself as a 'European-American brasserie' and indeed the menu runs to Alsace, Austria, Italy, and Rhode Island.

Mai House, 186 Franklin [Hudson/Greenwich] 212.431.0606. Two-starred in today's Times, this Vietnamese newcomer in Tribeca boasts Michael Huynh of Bao 111 in the kitchen and Drew Nieporent in the back office.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, 207 2nd [12th/13th] 212.254.3500. David Chang and Joaquin Baca move beyond noodles to Asian burritos, with things like Berkshire pork and kimchi puree wrapped in a pancake. What not to love?

Russian Tea Room, 150 W. 57th [6th/7th] 212.581.7100. Bruce Chatwin wrote "the question of all questions" is "the nature of human restlessness." Someday, we're going to talk to the highly talented chef Gary Robins about this. We've been tracking him since his Aja days (that's practically ancient history now) and what seems like a dozen or more kitchens since then. The last place we'd expect to find him is at the RTR, but here he is. Robins is nothing if not confounding, not to mention endlessly restless, and endlessly reinventive.

The Waverly Inn, 16 Bank [Waverly/4th]. In the theater, this would be called a vanity production, an apt moniker since it's the plaything of Graydon Carter (Vanity Fair editor). There's no published phone number, which raises the desirability of a table for a certain segment of the population. For us, though, life's too short for that crap.

lafayette street

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