The Food: Playful Pan-Asian platters, perfect for sharing: radicchio andromaine leaves to stuff with spicy marinated beef; spring rolls whimsicallypaired with a potato knish; toothsome chicken shumai; hot sesame-slickededamame; and a pile of toasted pita points with three zesty chutneys of theday.
The Drink: Appealing wine and beer list, plus novelties like a $35Châteauneuf-du-Pape tasting flight and eight-year-old sherry-style sake.
• 21 W. 17th Street, 212-691-8888
Cafe de Bruxelles
The Food: They don’t ask you; everything comes with fries. Thick, fleshy, goldenfrites, that is, nestled in a sheath of paper and served in a silver cuplike a blessed Belgian sacrament. Skip the burger; go for the moules. Thelovely zinc bar with a view of the beer selection is the best seat in thehouse.
The Drink: Twenty-five Belgian brews, all served in their corresponding glasses, at theproper temperature, and nary a frosted mug.
• 118 Greenwich Ave., 212-206-1830
The Food: The Venetian tea sandwiches and one of the best croque monsieurs in town aredainty but delicious. Ordering the Prosciutto Tower – a triple-tier cascade ofParma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and melon – is the Cipriani equivalent ofjoining Don Shula’s 48-ounce porterhouse club.
The Drink: Bellinis, of course, but also some inspired cocktails like the Perfect Roger,a succulent, citrusy concoction.
• Grand Central Terminal, 212-973-0999
The Food: Some bars offer complimentary Goldfish. D’Artagnan gives you a bowl offritons (duck cracklings). Think duck: duck confit, duck soup, duck salad.And foie gras: stuffed into prunes, molded into terrines, and burgerizedinto a brioche bun. Great bread, cheese, and charcuterie, too.
The Drink: A fat-cutting, post-meal shot of white Armagnac served in a baseless glassdesigned to discourage tentative sipping.
• 152 E. 46th St., 212-687-0300
The Food: Hungry young night owls and the random post-shift chef (Mario’s a regular)snack on crisp pressed panini, soft, crustless tramezzini, and a fleet ofbruschetta – all rendered exceptional by first-rate ingredients and brilliantcondiments. The truffled egg toast has a cult following.
The Drink: Wine by the glass, carafe, or bottle. And great fresh OJ at brunch.
• 21 Bedford St., 212-989-5769
The Food: You’ve got to love a place that caters both to genteel palates, with radishesto dip in salt, and unregenerate fried-food fiends, with bacon-wrapped datesand fried oysters. Not to mention a grilled-cheese sandwich with garnishesthat vary seasonally (ramps for spring, fried eggs for winter).
The Drink: A classic cocktail or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap.
• 9 Jones St., 212-229-9999
The Food: Stay high and dry in the crimson-hued bar above the moat-ringed dining room,eating your way through Luis Bollo’s exquisite mouthfuls of aïoli-tingedtortilla; a sliver of seasoned Manchego and nugget of quince; vinegarypiquillo peppers; and pungent sobrasada slathered on toast.
The Drink: A food-friendly sherry, serrano-chili margarita, or hot spiced buttered rum.
• 109 Ludlow St., 212-982-5714
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