In no particular order:
1. Most anything on the menu at Nam, which opened in October below the barricades on Reade Street. Try the diaphanous rice-paper bo dai rolls (filled with bits of shrimp, jícama, and tiny cubes of sweet Chinese sausage) and the steamed shrimp dumplings, wrapped in thin folds of banana leaf, like some exotic gift from the street kitchens of Hanoi.
2. The fried clams at The Harrison, newly opened on Greenwich Street, followed by the shell steak sprinkled with crisps of pancetta, and a quartet of warm chocolate beignets for dessert. It's as comforting a combination as you'll find right now in the city.
3. A taste of the signature strudel stuffed with oxtail marmalade, and then a serving of the noble schlutzkrapfen (cheese ravioli), part of the $21 special lunch menu in the glittering room at Danube dollar for dollar, in this era of fiscal restraint, still one of the most elegant dining experiences in all Manhattan.
4. A bowl of the homemade papardelle at Ecco, on Chambers Street, doused in orange casaligna sauce (made of tomatoes and ricotta cheese), preferably on a holiday evening, when the beautiful old mahogany-trimmed room is all aglow with Christmas lights.
5. The suckling pig at Pico, on Greenwich Street, which chef John Villa rubs inside with garlic and sea salt, spit roasts for four hours, brushes with citrus and honey, and serves in crispy round slices, like a savory jelly roll.
6. The paintings of clipper ships on the walls of the old India House at Bayard's, a perfect complement to Eberhard Müller's classic preparation of Dover sole, regally presented on a silver platter with brown butter and a squeeze of lemon.
7. The possibility of a full day's leisurely dining, beginning with breakfast among the steel workers at The Little Place on West Broadway (try the house chilaquiles). For lunch, omakase at the sushi bar at Nobu. Begin your dinner-ordering with the classic seafood-sausage appetizer at Chanterelle, and then head up the street for the beef duo entrée at Montrachet, with special attention paid to those braised beef cheeks. And, for dessert, a simple slice of cheesecake at Pepolino. Total cost: $132.50 exactly.
| Sanctuary: The dining room at Chanterelle.
8. The hickory-smoked ribs, barbecued daily near the corner of Greenwich and Hudson Streets for the disaster-relief workers by the Reverend Gary Shelby, from DeSoto, Texas. After quiet pleadings, the reverend smuggled me a plate. The meat was infused with a porky sweetness and came undone from the bone when you tweaked it with your plastic fork. I didn't have to tell the Reverend that open barbeque pits are banned on the island of Manhattan. "Can't get meat like it anywhere in New York City," he crowed. "That's real barbecue, as soft as cake." Amen to that.
|Nam, 110 Reade Street, 212-267-3777
The Harrison, 355 Greenwich Street, 212-274-9310
Danube, 30 Hudson Street, 212-791-3771
Ecco, 124 Chambers Street, 212-227-7074
Pico, 349 Greenwich Street, 212-343-0700
Bayard's, 1 Hanover Square, 212-514-9454
Nobu, 105 Hudson Street, 212-219-0500
Chanterelle, 2 Harrison Street, 212-966-6960
Montrachet, 239 West Broadway, 212-219-2777
Pepolino, 231 West Broadway, 212-966-9983