Year in Review: Top 12 Meals of 2011

Peter Sherwood on the best resturants of the year.
December 16, 2011

Here’s a different sort of carol—no partridges snatched from pear trees or a feast of geese-a-laying (although I might have tried a few French hens), but these twelve places sent me out singing just the same.

  1. Oh, the Provençal fish soup! And ooh, the frog legs in garlic cream at La Promenade des Anglais (461 W 23rd St, 212-255-7400, lapromenadenyc.com)! Monsieur Alain Allegretti brings the breath of the Mediterranean and an air of the periwinkle-blue-colored Cote d’Azur to the western corridor of Chelsea.
  2. Although the locale near Port Authority is unlikely, Qi (675 Eighth Ave, 212-247-8991, qirestaurant.com), has an elegant interior and the fare is excellent, influenced from Pichet Ong’s upbringing in Bangkok. Fully flavored tuna tartare with a bunch of fragrant herbs and minty Burmese tea salad with chili lime dressing are our favorites.
  3. Jellyfish is done proud at Wong (7 Cornelia St, 212-989-3399, wongnewyork.com) with scallops, crispy duck tongue and cucumber. Resounding lobster egg foo young waltzes with leeks, dried shrimp and duck egg yolks.
  4. Bento box-sized Hakata Ton Ton (61 Grove St, 212-242-3699, tontonnyc.com) has a whole lot of Japan going on. Simmering, unnamable aromas wafting about reveal garlic fried rice with pork and Hakata’s motsu hot pot with a stunning broth flavored by Kobe beef motsu, otherwise known as intestines. Sesame chanpon noodles are a requisite accompaniment.
  5. Carefully detailed, gorgeous Duo (72 Madison Ave, 212-686-7272, duonewyork.com) is wonderfully delicious, too. Poached Maine lobster salad with Champagne mango “caviar” is a clever exercise in molecular gastronomy and glazed duck with lentil and caramelized peaches notably suit the décor.
  6. There’s a phenomenal brunch at Greensquare Tavern (5 W 21st St, 212-929-2468, greensquaretavern.com). The Benedict with fatty smoked salmon is served on a spongy English muffin topped with eggs filled with rich, sunny, runny yolks and bright hollandaise sauce. The screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed orange juice ain’t half bad, either.
  7. Get quickly acquainted with the fried chicken at Andrew Carmellini’s homey tavern The Dutch (131 Sullivan St, 212-677-6200, thedutchnyc.com). Pair it with the Asian white boy ribs and settle down to a slice of devastating peach pie.
  8. The beautiful steak tartare at Goat Town (511 E Fifth St, 212-687-3641, goattownnyc.com) is richly red with verdant parsley, and simple radishes with sea-salt butter make for perfect starters. The Goat Town Chocolate Torte with bourbon and crème fraîche is a remarkably good finish, with a “dip” of salted caramel ice cream.
  9. Northern Spy Food Co. (511 E 12th St, 212-228-5100, northernspyfoodco.com) delivers a kale salad with a harmonious blend of clothbound cheddar cheese, sumptuous kabocha squash and slivered almonds lightly dressed with lemon and pecorino. Potato gnocchi are ideally matched with an order of huge, saucy meatballs.
  10. It’s a sumptuous symphony of meat at E&E Grill House (233 W 49th St, 212-505-9909, eegrillhouse.com), particularly filet mignon with chive blue butter. Both mashed and twice-baked potatoes are a must, as is grilled asparagus with a perfectly soft poached egg perched on top. Kermit’s brownie sundae includes an onslaught of cheesecake scoops and coffee ice cream.
  11. The legendary Peter Luger (176-178 Broadway, peterluger.com) in Brooklyn, famous for its steaks, is more of a reasonably raucous German beer hall than dryly outfitted steak house. Porterhouse steaks for two, four or forty get thrown around the table and the “Holy Cow” hot fudge sundae is worth the trip alone.
  12. La Silhouette (362 W 53rd St, 212-581-2400, la-silhouettenyc.com) neatly closes out the year with its fabulousness. The duck, lamb and wild mushroom risotto are sensational when prefaced by a farm-poached egg with truffled polenta and foie gras with mustard-seed–kumquat compote—insist upon the layered pumpkin cheesecake if available.