Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Elan, Nightingale 9, and More
Each week, Grub Street surveys the entire restaurant landscape of New York, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this: a list of the most-talked-about, must-visit places in the city. They might be new, or they could be older places that have gotten a recent jolt of buzz. No matter what, these are the restaurants where you should make a point to eat sooner rather than later.
1. élan (Last week: 4)
David Waltuck is back with his new restaurant on 20th Street. There is seafood sausage (of course), sweetbreads with General Tso's sauce, a casual vibe, and a ton of goodwill for a chef whom New York has missed over the last few years.
2. The Nomad Bar (3)
We don't want to keep going on about this place, but it's pretty cool that Brian Canlis has been working here, more or less undercover, since it opened. It is equally cool that the high-end pub food and cocktails are all pretty outstanding.
3. Bâtard (9)>
Will this be the year New York sees a full-on return of elegant dining options? Maybe, and if so, Drew Nieporent's new Tribeca restaurant will be helping lead the charge with sensible prix fixe pricing, assured cooking from chef Markus Glocker, and an excellent wine list.
4. Cherche Midi (1)
Keith McNally's Bowery restaurant is like a greatest-hits compilation, pulling together the best parts from his various other restaurants and re-assembling them into a comforting package that's simultaneously new and familiar.
5. Wilma Jean and Nightingale 9 (Wilma Jean was 2)
Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond's reshuffling of their Smith Street restaurants is complete now, with the Vietnamese restaurant Nightingale 9 moving into the Seersucker space, and a Southern Seersucker-ish restaurant dishing up fried bologna just up the street. The revamps mean you should stop into at least one, and preferably both, soon.
7. Grindhaus (Off last week)
Speaking of critical praise, the Times' Pete Wells is quite fond of this Red Hook favorite, offering a two-star review that praises owner Erin Norris's tenacity and style, along with chef Aaron Taber's inspired cooking.
8. Grand Banks (12)
Don't you want to be eating oysters and drinking cocktails on a boat? Of course you do, and this brand-new spot, docked in the Hudson near Tribeca, is the place to do it.
9. Meadowsweet (7)
In Williamsburg, the former Dressler space has an appropriate new tenant: former Dressler chef Polo Dobkin, who has opened this comfortable, casual space. The menu's firmly set to crowd-pleasing mode with things like handmade pastas, dry-aged strip loins, and Mediterranean touches throughout. This could quickly become a Williamsburg staple.
10. Bar Primi (6)
What do you want to eat when you're hung-over? How about something called "breakfast spaghetti"? The carbonara-y invention is just one of the dishes available on Andrew Carmellini and Sal Lamboglia's just-launched brunch menu.
11. Mimi Cheng's (11)
This new East Village spot offers just three types of dumplings — chicken and zucchini, pork with bok choy and cabbage, or veggie — yet there's a great deal of excitement about this opening, owing in part to the promise of high-quality technique and ingredients and the charming family backstory that serves as the restaurant's foundation.
12. Neerob (8)
The biggest winner of the latest Cheap Eats package is this Bronx Bangladeshi destination, which scored the top spot on the entire list. As the Underground Gourmet puts it, "A meal at Neerob is an eye-opening, palate-thrilling crash course in gingery chana dal, fragrant goat biryani, and vegetables like cabbage and spinach cooked into soft, intricately spiced succulence, not mush."
13. Xi'an Famous Foods (Off last week)
You want cold noodles, really. And the Underground Gourmet says that the chilled, hand-cut noodles at this growing mini-empire are just the thing to satisfy such a craving. Seriously, just look at these things.
14. Claudette (18)
Hand it to Claudette owner Carlos Suarez: Dude's got killer timing. He opened this Provençal restaurant just in time for the summer when literally every single person Grub Street has ever met has decided this is the year they're going to drink rosé, pretty much exclusively, until Labor Day. (Or later? Who can say?) There's plenty here, and it's just the thing to order with charred octopus or some Bouillabaisse En Croute.
15. Russ & Daughters Café (15)
Though it only opened two months ago, the Lower East Side restaurant feels like an institution: Granted that's because the Russ & Daughters shop already is an institution, but this is nevertheless a follow-up that manages to hit all the correct notes.
17. Barchetta (Off lastweek)
Reports back on Dave Pasternack's Chelsea restaurant are mixed: Some people have great experiences, while others, like the New Yorker's Amelia Lester, find a restaurant with some kinks left to work out. If you haven't been yet, your move might be testing the waters, so to speak, with a drink at the bar before going in for a while meal.
18. Root & Bone (17)
People are excited about Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth's brand-new East Village Southern spot, but, like Barchetta, the response so far is mixed. It's got its fans, and hopefully the restaurant irons out its early service issues.
19. Bar Chuko (19)
Chuko, the popular Prospect Heights ramen bar, has given way to this across-the-street izakaya spinoff, which just opened. If the success of the original is anything to go on — and in situations like this, it is — expect the new spot to become another neighborhood favorite.
20. Crif Dogs (West Village) (14)
There's a new Crif Dogs in town, this one in the West Village. Grub Street is all for another place to grab a Chihuahua dog and a Spicy Redneck.