701 W. 135th St., at Twelfth Ave.; 212-491-8300
When you dine at Talay, don’t give the cabbie the exact address, unless you want to spark a heated debate about its geographic existence. Instead, direct him to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, then disembark a couple blocks north, where a 1926 West Harlem freight house has been converted into a new dining destination that has yet to land on New York’s collective taxi-driving radar. Give it time: Talay, a Thai-Latin duplex with a morphing colored-light scheme and a bottle-service lounge upstairs, is the latest arrival on a slowly emerging restaurant row that Realtors have dubbed Viaduct Valley, or ViVa—home to Dinosaur, Hudson River Cafe, Covo, and the pioneering Fairway. Talay’s kitchen is about as big as co-chef King Phojanakong’s entire first restaurant, Kuma Inn, and turns out such savory fare as lemongrass-garlic baby back ribs and Szechuan-pepper-crusted New York strip.
1420 Third Ave., nr. 80th St.; 212-288-0012
You might not expect a former Café Boulud captain from Bangladesh to own a Persian restaurant. Parvez Eliaas actually owns two. His Iranian partner, Kaz Bayati, opened Persepolis on the Upper East Side seventeen years ago, and this week the two debut Shalizar seven blocks north. As at Persepolis, the menu features such traditional fare as lamb and beef kebabs, characteristically sweet-and-sour stews, and tasting trios of eggplant appetizers, yogurt spreads, and Persian salads. Besides a few new menu additions like ash-e-reshteh, a Persian green-vegetable soup with noodles, the slightly more upscale Shalizar also offers thematic cocktails, like pomegranate martinis and mojitos, at an expanded bar area.