Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Berg’n, Bâtard, and Lots More

By
Photo: iStockphoto

Each week, Grub Street surveys the entire restaurant landscape of New York, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this: 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. Berg'n (New this week)
The latest, and perhaps most anticipated, of New York's grand food halls is finally open in Crown Heights, and with the long weekend looming, you can expect the masses to descend. What to expect (besides people): Plenty of grade-A vendors, craft beer for miles, and the kind of polish you'd expect from the people behind Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg.

2. Bâtard (Previously: 5)
It's a big week for Bâtard, thanks to a three-star Times review that rounds out the kind of truly universal praise not often seen for any new restaurant. The main focus of the talk: the technical acuity of chef Markus Glocker's kitchen, which is apparently incapable of sending out anything less than thoughtfully conceived, perfectly executed dishes.

3. Grand Banks (1)
It's depressing but true: Labor Day is happening, and if summer turns to fall and you never got to this oyster bar on a boat — which also happens to turn out a killer lobster roll — you will be upset. So you know what to do. Get here before it's too late.

4. Cherche Midi (4)
So far, the word on Keith McNally's latest is subdued, but warm. The restaurant feels like a mash-up of McNally's Greatest Hits, but the most impressive part is that each of Grub's visits so far has been better than the previous — always a good sign.

5. Root & Bone (17)
Eater's Ryan Sutton, for one, is a fan of the Southern restaurant from Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth. What you want to eat: the fried chicken, of course, with biscuits and maybe some shrimp 'n' grits.

6. Wilma Jean and Nightingale 9 (11)
Speaking of restaurants that specialize in the food of the South: Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond turned the original Nightingale 9 space into Wilma Jean, which is turning out some excellent fried chicken of its own, as well as fried bologna, okra chips, and lots more. As for Nightingale 9, the Vietnamese spot moved just up the street. These are the kinds of restaurants everyone wants in their neighborhood.

7. Egg Shop (New this week)
Patricia Lockwood: Not a fan of breakfast. Everyone else: Pretty onboard. And so, it's not incredibly surprising to discover that people really like this new Nolita spot that, true to its name, specializes in breakfast sandwiches and egg-topped bowls called cruisers.

8. Greenpoint Fish & Lobster (7)
This brand-new Brooklyn seafood spot has gotten plenty of attention since opening, and the early word is that it's a huge success. The combination market and raw bar keeps things simple, focusing most of the attention where it needs to be: on the freshness of the fish.

9. Corkbuzz (Chelsea) (11)
Even though chef Missy Robbins is only here temporarily, it sounds like she could be extending her stay in the kitchen a bit because she likes it so much. So stop by, check out what she's cooking, and grab some excellent wine (as if you wouldn't).

10. élan (6)
Chef David Waltuck's 20th Street spot is settling into a groove after opening earlier this summer. One thing you should almost definitely order if you go is the steamed squash blossoms with crème fraîche and confit tomatoes, one of the season's most impressive new dishes. Another point of interest: The restaurant now serves weekend brunch, too.

11. Bar Primi (18)
The Bowery spot from Andrew Carmellini, chef Sal Lamboglia, and their partners is a fairly stripped-down affair: The menu's focus is squarely on the pasta — as you might guess — and the kitchen usually doesn't disappoint. If you go, do what you can to grab a seat in the upstairs dining room, which is less chaotic than the bar-dominated downstairs.

12. Delaware and Hudson (Off last week)
Chef Patti Jackson's $48 prix fixe meals have started to generate a serious following at this Brooklyn spot specializing in East Coast Americana. As Pete Wells discovered the other week, not everything is perfect, but the minor missteps are also part of the charm.

13. Blenheim (12)
This West Village spot got off to a real rocky start, losing its opening chef almost immediately and closing to regroup. But now that chef Ryan Tate has taken over the kitchen, things are starting to turn around and the latest word is that the spot could be back on track.

14. The Dogwood (Off last week)
In addition to Root & Bone and Wilma Jean, there is yet another Southern spot generating buzz these days, this one at the southern end of Prospect Park. Would you be surprised to learn that a dish of fried pickles and okra — served with Comeback sauce — comes highly recommended? Or that the collards served alongside shrimp and grits are cooked with ham hocks? And these are good days indeed to be a lover of pimento cheese, which, here, is made with chipotles. [Update: The restaurant reportedly closed a couple days after being included on this list.]

15. Bar Sardine (14)
One of the great things about Gabe Stulman's new corner bar is that the exterior walls open more or less completely out to the street, meaning you would be well advised to get over there while the weather's still nice, grab a cocktail or three, and enjoy the late-summer breezes.

16. Sushi Nakazawa (Off last week)
Real talk: You probably aren't going to be able to get a seat at what is currently NYC's most celebrated sushi bar. But if ever there were a time when a last-minute cancellation might happen, it's a week like this one, when high-rollers are mostly out of town. Call, cross your fingers, and if you actually do score a coveted seat at the bar, make sure you know the proper etiquette.

17. The Nomad Bar (9)
There is much to like at this Nomad offshoot: superlative cocktails, an outrageously fantastic burger, and the proper stance on ketchup.

18. Al Di La (Off last week)
Here's a nice surprise: a "Sunday Night Dinner" feature focused on this Italian mainstay in Park Slope. If you haven't been in a while for beet ravioli or corn tortelli, not to mention one of the best rabbit dishes in New York City, you might want to take a trip out to Fifth Avenue.

19. Russ & Daughters Café (16)
This restaurant offshoot is, perhaps unsurprisingly, as popular and well known as the famous shop that inspired it. The appetizing options are as good here as they are at the original, and now there's a place to sit — plus cocktails.

20. Crimson & Rye (20)
Charlie Palmer has a new cocktail spot in the Lipstick Building — the first of a few upcoming projects. If you're in the area, it's worth stopping in to see what the bartenders are up to. Grab a few sliders while you're at it.