Town:Rubenstein's pick also gets kudos for its bartenders.

Best New Restaurant

Hal Rubenstein's Pick
15 West 56th Street; 212-582-4445

Town glows like the movie set you've always dreamed of making your entrance into. Stunning, soigné, and oh so grown-up, lit like they knew you were ready for your close-up. Geoffrey Zakarian's food is miraculous in its ability to indulge till you swoon without imparting guilt. The only anxiety is over whether to devour dishes -- like risotto of escargots and truffles, or pan-roasted arctic char with Granny Smith apples -- in a heartbeat or savor them for hours. The smart staff will remind you that dessert is heaven. But they know bliss-out when they see it. No matter where you live, you may want to stay in Town forever.

Ouest:The tilt-a-whirl scene in Valentiville.

Adam Platt's Pick
2315 Broadway, at 84th Street

If this critic ever started his own restaurant, he'd feature short ribs and meat loaf, and possibly an artfully rendered dish of tripe. He'd serve chicken seared to a perfect crispness, lots of delectable smokehouse recipes (sturgeon, duck, salmon, etc.), and an elegantly chaste fish dish or two for evenings when he was feeling bilious. He'd hire a chef of supreme talent, who had been around long enough to feel comfortable in his own skin. He'd design a room that looked full but never crowded, and fit it with tall leather banquettes, a modest but carefully chosen stock of wine, and a bar built for dining. He'd situate this room in a neighborhood not known for culinary greatness and fill it with a grateful local clientele who worshipfully returned night after night. He might not choose a goofy Francophile name like "Ouest" for his new restaurant, but then again, nobody's perfect.

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Ouest Side Story (March 4, 2002)

Ouest photograph by Kenneth Chen. Town photograph courtesy of Dan Klores Communications.