With Alsatian André Soltner in the kitchen Lutèce set the gold standard for what a French restaurant should be in America.
2. The Four Seasons:
Austerely luxurious, staunchly American in a fancy-French era, an early booster of California wines, and the inventor of the power lunch.
3. Maxwell’s Plum:
The first scene. Presided over by Warner LeRoy in wild plaid taffeta suits, it was both a mating bar of mythic reputation and a restaurant whose eclectic American menu won four stars from Craig Claiborne in the early seventies.
4. Shun Lee Dynasty:
This uptown, upscale Chinese restaurant arrived at a time when Chinese was only cheap and introduced New Yorkers to subtle, elegant Asian cooking.
5. Le Cirque:
Sirio Maccioni’s A-list eatery has been both a club for defrocked presidents, the jet set, and the ladies-who-lunch crowd, and a serious eatery.
6. Windows on the World:
Restaurant visionary Joe Baum’s instant landmark signaled a financial turnaround in the city and revitalized downtown.
7. River Café:
A romantic riverfront view looking back at Manhattan, plus chef Larry Forgione championing fresh and local ingredients.
8. Quilted Giraffe:
Outsize service plates, the first “degustation,” Japanese small plates, and sous vide; Giraffe introduced nouvelle cuisine trends to New York.
Lynn Wagenknecht and the McNally brothers Brian and Keith helped create a trendy neighborhood and made a faded Deco cafeteria the American-bistro prototype.
10. Gotham Bar & Grill:
Alfred Portale bonded French technique to an American sensibility, setting a new casual-but-crisp tone that became the modern New York restaurant standard.
11. Le Bernardin:
Parisian siblings Gilbert and Maguy LeCoze’s minimalist approach to seafood forever changed the way Americans cook and eat fish.
12. Lafayette at the Drake:
Jean-Georges Vongerichten launched a flavor revolution here based on vinaigrettes, perfumed oils, and vegetables juices.
13. San Domenico:
Tony May’s 1988 take on upper-crust style and regional taste inspired Italian cooking citywide and set the stage for the empire of Babbo.
Impresario’d by Drew Nieporent, Nobu arrived in 1994 with ice-cold sake, Peruvian-Japanese fusion, and the lure of partner Robert De Niro.