25 Cooper Sq., nr. 5th St.; 212-475-3400
From precocious beginnings as a 13-year-old Spago summer intern, Govind Armstrong has parlayed his fame into five restaurants in three cities. His New York beachhead, Table 8, is located in a boutique hotel (familiar territory for expansion-minded chefs), where the dining room is outfitted with a leather-clad wall, bookshelves, and a central fourteen-seat “salt bar” featuring house-cured meats and fish. The menu’s emphasis on small plates makes exceptions for a few dishes for two, including goat tagine and salt-baked Dover sole. There’s also the “8 oz.” burger that inspired Armstrong’s burger chainlet of the same name, plus the short-rib grilled cheese that made it onto Oprah.
Watty & Meg
248 Court St., at Kane St., Cobble Hill 718-643-0007
After working as a set designer in L.A., Sosie Hublitz moved home to Virginia, where she opened, built, or ran half a dozen restaurants. Her last, the year-old Kitchen Table, was wiped out in 2004 by Hurricane Gaston. Since relocated to Cobble Hill, she’s teamed with the owners of Building on Bond (who also operate design firm Hecho Inc.) on Watty & Meg, slated to open May 8 in the space previously occupied by Caffe Carciofo. The restaurant takes its name from a ballad by Scottish naturalist Alexander Wilson, and its salvaged furnishings from the greater metropolitan area: bookshelves from Astoria, church pews from Harlem, tiles from City Hall. The American menu is thoroughly eclectic, nodding to the South with shrimp and grits and to Hublitz’s yoga-teacher sideline with quinoa stew and a weekly “raw” special.
Sintir Restaurant, Cafe & Lounge
424 E. 9th St., nr. First Ave. 212-477-4333
Unless you are an aficionado of world music, you may not have heard of the Marrakech-born Hassan Hakmoun, but he is something like the Jerry Garcia of the sintir—a long-necked, three-stringed wood-and-camel-skin lute. He’s also somewhat of an authority on good Moroccan food: “In New York, there is none,” he says matter-of-factly. To rectify that sorry situation, he opens his own place this weekend in the East Village. Unlike his distinctive sound, which fuses Western influences with the music of Morocco’s Gnawa people, Hakmoun’s kitchen specializes in straight-up traditional fare (couscous, bisteeya, harira), and is run with an iron fist by his sister.
AND… Anella opens May 6 where the Queen’s Hideaway once stood, and if chef Michael Sullivan’s menu is less brazenly quirky than his predecessor’s, it’s no less appealing. To wit: various terrines, mozzarella in carrozza, bacon-and-pepperoni pizza, wild salmon, shell steak with marrow gremolata, and Stumptown-coffee frozen tiramisu (222 Franklin St., nr. Green St., Greenpoint; 718-389-8100).