To keep tabs on every New York bar and restaurant opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past thirty (or so). Let’s eat!
Benjamin Steakhouse Prime
You wouldn't think that remaining Zagat's number one steakhouse in Manhattan would be easy, but Benjamin Prime certainly makes it look that way. The newest addition, their third Manhattan resto and second Benjamin Steakhouse, is double the size of the previous locale, with a whopping 356 seats. But it still feels just as intimate, with loads of modular private dining rooms and a still-tough-to-get reservation policy. You'd be a damn fool to go and not get the Filet Mignon Tartare with Black Truffle Crème Fraiche and Fresh Truffle and Grilled Oysters to accompany your cut whilst perched in their 2,000-bottle transparent wine loft (which is also a private dining room, mind you).
23 East 40th Street (map)
Showcasing on-premise dry-aged USDA Prime beef and a star-studded wine list, this sophisticated Old World club atmosphere is the work of mother-daughter owners Babette Haddad and Melissa Haddad Malaga along with Stratos Georgedakis, formerly executive chef at the highly acclaimed Quality Meats. It's one of the city’s only restaurants presenting hand-picked, in-house dry-aged USDA Prime beef (Porterhouse, New York Strip, Bone-in Rib Eye and Prime Rib cuts are all in the offing). And then there's the fact that every meat on the menu — including Double Cut Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon and Whole Roasted Organic Chicken — can be upgraded to surf-and-turf with Lobster Tail, Crab Meat or Garlic Shrimp at an additional charge. You can also go double-turf and accompany with Foie Gras.
1184 Broadway (map)
Serving a Southern Italian menu with coastal influences from chef Andrew Carmellini and Noho Hospitality, Leuca is just what this area needed. In the increasingly hyped William Vale hotel, the large, warm space adds a measure of elegance to an already food-saturated 'hood. The wood-paneled main dining room with leather banquettes and marble-and-wood tables gives way to an open kitchen with an expansive view of the wood-fired oven and grill. Take note of the Cuddlefish and Squid Ink Pastas, along with the 28-seat private dining room with its own private bar.
111 North 12th Street, Brooklyn (map)
This casual space is broken into a market area and a dining area. And it's your new excuse to eat as much as you want and not feel guilty about it in the least. It's hearty but healthful, offering options like chicken shawarma, braised lamb and fish kofta available in a sandwich or on a plate. See also: rotating salads and homemade sweets like tahini cocoa pudding and olive oil date cake.
495 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn (map)
When we heard that Pepsi Co. was opening a restaurant (in the Meatpacking, no less), you could say we were skeptical. They proved us wrong. It's fun. And more, it's delicious. And it's exactly where you want to go to have a fine dinner before hitting the town for the night: you new jump-off spot, if you will. Expect American shareables with global influences by Executive Chef Jon Feshan (previously of ABC Kitchen). Try the pork shoulder carnitas with homemade kola nut ground spice rub or the prime steak with kola salt. Note: not every dish contains kola nut. And try the ravioli. You'll die happy.
408 West 15th Street (map)
Fowler & Wells
Tom Colicchio has never done us wrong. And with his newest iteration at the just-opened Beekman Hotel — a revival of a 130-year-old skyscraper — he remains the reigning champion. The dining space, which bathes in the light of the hotel's towering atrium, feels old school, but not in a way that comes across as campy or ordinary. And that's before you even get to the food. The Hamachi is fresh, bright and zinging. The Pink Peppercorns and Bitter Greens salad is simple but engaging. And while OG items like Lobster Thermidor and Beef Wellington will be tempting, the Sirloin is the star of the show here. Make sure you get enough to share.
5 Beekman Street (map)