Pair of 8’s
The lofty goal of this Upper West Side newcomer is not, as its name suggests, to impart poker tips, but rather to demystify wine, through informal food pairings and a 150-bottle list that offers 30 selections by the glass or two-ounce taste. Its owner and wine director are veterans of Café des Artistes—as is the chef, Bill Peet, whose globally inspired American menu includes lobster kebabs, Chablis-steamed mussels and littlenecks, and sautéed skate wing with arugula noodles. Peet smokes his own fish (in bold indifference to nearby Barney Greengrass), mixes Pecorino Romano and bacon into his burgers, and aspires to seduce the neighborhood with Monday’s $25 two-course-and-a-drink prix fixe.
568 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 88th St.; 212-874-2742
And … Askew plays on its name with fashionably skewered global tapas (jerk chicken, yogurt-marinated lamb) in an angled-surface setting inspired by designer Karim Rashid’s interpretation of the word askew (504 La Guardia Pl., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-529-3560).
Aspen goes for a seventies ski-lodge vibe with a fireplace, Lucite deer heads, and small-plate fare like black-Angus sliders, blue-corn dogs, and a chocolate dessert fondue. The private dining room is named for Hunter S. Thompson (30 W. 22nd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-645-5040).