A Word From Ms. Platt, Miss Platt, and Miss Platt
My wife and I used to spend our time distracting our restless, occasionally riotous daughters with great stacks of coloring books when we took them out to restaurants, if we took them at all. But now, as they enter their precocious adolescent years, the Platt girls have morphed into full-blown restaurant snobs, with their own voluble opinions on everything from ramen to pasta to where to find the best new iteration of southern fried chicken. The correct answer to the previous question, as Daughter No. 1 will happily tell you, is the thin-crisped, expertly seasoned fried chicken at Michael White and Eben Freeman’s posh Tribeca restaurant, The Butterfly. And if it’s a perfectly al dente bowl of spaghetti al pomodoro you’re after, she recommends Rosemary’s, in the West Village, although for the best possible results order this classic dish in the summertime, when tomatoes are at their peak, and always go at lunch, when the pleasant, sunny room on 10th Street is much more peaceful than at dinner.
Daughter No. 2 is the Platt family’s resident ramen connoisseur, and until we get a chance to visit Ivan Orkin’s just-opened Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, at the new Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen, her choice for best new ramen joint in the city goes to Ippudo Westside, on 51st Street, where we like to repair on chilly winter afternoons and slurp down generous, milky bowls of the great Japanese noodle chain’s signature Akamaru Modern ramen, while sampling the impressive selection of “specialty appetizers” that you won’t find at the original Ippudo downtown. The best new burger in town, both girls agree, is the classic Cali Burger that the harried chefs at the new Umami Burger outlet on lower Sixth Avenue construct with caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, and umami-laced American cheese, although if hipster barbecue is your thing, their father recommends Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, down on Second Avenue, where the blimp-size, elegantly messy pulled-pork sandwich (served with artisanal pickles on a puffy brioche-potato hybrid bun) puts most haute hamburgers in this town to shame.
Ms. Platt’s favorite new brunch dish is the deliciously savory Parmesan French toast that Gabe Thompson cooks on weekends only at his modish downtown establishment L’Apicio, but if it’s a truly sturdy weekday breakfast you’re after, her husband respectfully recommends a bite or two of the exceptional bacon-and-egg sandwich that is part of the newly expanded breakfast program at Mile End Delicatessen, followed by a small taste of the sublime house porchetta and eggs that the rustico geniuses at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria serve each morning to grateful neighborhood fatsos around the corner on Great Jones Street. The best all-around new brunch currently being served in the distant border regions uptown, the Platts agree, is the one at The Cecil, on 118th Street in Harlem (try the chicken dumplings, says Daughter No. 1), and the blue ribbon for best pancake goes to the great hat-shaped German pancake served weekend mornings and afternoons, with a proper frosting of powdered sugar and a wedge of lemon, at Calliope, in the East Village.
The grilled, soy-and-papaya-marinated pork chops are this critic’s favorite dish on the predictably inventive menu at RedFarm, which has been overrun by a rabble of grateful neighborhood Chinese-food addicts ever since Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld opened the latest outlet of their popular Chinese restaurant a couple of months back in the old Fatty Crab space on Broadway. For a more classic Chinese feast, however, the Platt family’s default choice, these days, is Han Dynasty, which the frenetic Philadelphia restaurateur Han Chiang opened in August on a busy corner of Third Avenue and 12th Street, in the East Village. My daughters prefer all the noodle dishes (particularly the one drenched in the tangy, beautifully balanced housemade sesame sauce), the dumplings (which you can order with spice or without), and anything with the words “dry pepper” in front of it. To experience the impressive range of flavor and technique, their father suggests that you call ahead for a tasting menu, which, starting at $20 per person for six people, is one of the best tasting deals in town.