My uncle Frank, the family gastronome, is a lifetime New Yorker and a gentleman of solid, traditional tastes. These days, he mourns the passing of the great Galician establishment, Meigas, on Hudson Street, which in his estimation served the finest dish of tripe in the entire city. But to anyone who considers New York to be on the verge of a new and chaotic Dark Age, he commends, in no particular order:
The lobster soufflé at Orsay, the cassoulet at La Côte Basque, and the chicken tetrazini at Pietro's.
Herring Week every April at The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal (or an oyster pan roast served at the counter any day, preferably by his favorite waitress, Patricia, to whom he sends a Christmas card every year).
The tripe soup and any kind of enchilada at the original Gabriela's uptown.
The midnight menu at his favorite bistro, Balthazar, particularly the duck shepherd's pie and the fat boudin noir (with gravy, crisped potatoes, and two poached eggs).
The mutton chop at Keens Steakhouse. "They get them from Montana, where they let lambs grow to be big, old-fashioned things," he says.
The minestrone at Teodora, on East 57th Street, an establishment he has been frequenting ever since he spied two portly Italian priests dining happily at the bar some years ago.
To this list, I would add, in no particular order or preference:
A luncheon of blinis and Osetra caviar at the Grill Room of The Four Seasons.
Christian Delouvrier's confit of suckling pig at Lespinasse, the rack of lamb at Daniel, and the braised fresh bacon on the tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern.
The hot pastrami sandwich at Carnegie Deli, preferably devoured next to a gaggle of fellow patriots from Sioux City or Dubuque.
A bowl of clam chowder at Pearl Oyster Bar, any croissant at Fauchon, a vodka martini and a Portale tower of seared tuna at Gotham Bar and Grill.
Weekday breakfast at Barney Greengrass, of salmon and eggs, preferably (as recently happened to me) with Philip Roth the only other diner, sitting in the corner pondering his morning bagel and cream cheese.
A weekday lunch at Peter Luger.
Most anything for lunch at Union Square Café and most anything for dinner at Jean Georges; most anything any time at Bouley Bakery, provided the joint reopens.
And finally, a simple cup of the special split-pea soup at the original Joe Jr., on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 12th Street, where I like to repair, on my off days, with the morning papers and a soothing green canister or two of Extra Strength Mylanta.