User's Guide

A Restaurant Week Guide to the Forgotten and Underappreciated

Vongerichten 101: Get your lesson while you can.Photo courtesy Jean Georges Management
The Restaurant Week participants we’re about to endorse aren’t obscure, strictly speaking. You just wouldn’t find their names in the same sentence as the word “buzz” – not, at least, since the Clinton years. But they’re all more than worth the $24.07 you’ll pay for lunch ($35 for dinner) starting on Monday, and you might even beat the crowds.

This is where Über-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten first captured the American imagination. It’s less formal and less expensive than Jean Georges and Perry Street, but although the chef is rarely there, his signature tropes are in full flower: the nicely balanced flavors, the essences of juices and herbs, and the flawless fusion of Asian and French elements.

Here’s a restaurant you would most likely never go under ordinary circumstances. It’s astronomically expensive, for one thing, far more so than the very good but not great food merits; for another, its crowd tends toward an elderly, plutocratic character. But the 100-year-old room is one of the most beautiful in New York, a true throwback to the grandeur of Old New York. And during this most special of weeks, you’ll actually be able to afford to eat inside of it.

It’s hardly a secret, of course: The place was a synonymous with fine dining in the nineties and maintains a brisk business today. The culinary currents simply seem to have passed David and Karen Waltuck’s restaurant by, and it rarely figures into discussions of New York’s best. But during lunch service, when the room is flooded with light from the huge windows, well, few dining experiences are more soothing. The food is still of the highest level too, especially the signature seafood sausage.

Despite being the darling of gastronomes and food writers, Indian food never quite caught on in New York the way other Asian cuisines have. But we doubt that would be the case if there were more places like Dévi. Unlike Tabla, which seeks to fuse Indian and American tastes, Dévi is a straight-up Indian experience, with an emphasis on Hemant Mathur’s way with tandoori and complex spice masalas. The cocktails are quite good, too.

Winter Restaurant Week 2007 [NYM]

A Restaurant Week Guide to the Forgotten and Underappreciated