Edible enlightenment from our eatery experts and colleagues Monie Begley, Richard Nalley and Randall Lane, as well as brothers Bob, Kip and Tim.
Sammy Musovic, indomitable owner of Sojourn (which is 10 blocks south and about to celebrate its 15th anniversary), is also the owner/creator of the satellite, Sojourn Social. The setting is welcoming, with a busy, long bar near the entrance and a great garden in the rear for summer dining. But it’s the food that lures you here. Peter Petti, gifted chef and alumnus of Eleven Madison Park, hits all the marks. To start, try the small plates of favorites: tuna tartare; crispy calamari served with smoked lemon aioli; or duck rillette croquettes with mustard aioli, thyme and shallots. There are about a dozen large plates on offer: among them lobster truffle mac and cheese; Faroe Island salmon with braised leeks and quinoa risotto; creamy bucatini cacio e pepe; and a world-class Kobe burger with caramelized onions. For a side, try the delicious duck confit fried rice. Top it all off with rich zeppole or the Sojourn cheesecake with strawberry sauce.
Greek cuisine varies from island to island; Marathi’s is distinct, regional fare from Crete. Chef Nicolas Poulmentis’ creativity and attention to authentic detail is evident in his many unusual dishes. He’s partnered with seasoned restaurateur Andreas Koutsoudakis, who spent his childhood summers at the Marathi beach on Crete. Rich olive oil imported from Crete touches almost every dish, along with a celestial local honey. First-course musts: black truffle tarama over salmon caviar dusted with truffle powder, or delicious tiger shrimp saganaki bathed in feta tomato sauce and red quinoa. For mains, there’s lobster pasta in a mildly spicy tomato sauce, ouzo flambé; a whole roasted branzino; or, for carnivores, a perfectly presented platter of lamb chops. For sides, choose the spicy honey Brussels sprouts and the lemon potatoes. Have a dish of tzatziki at the ready throughout. For dessert: banoffee—an insane layered dessert of butter biscuits, chocolate caramel, orange whipped cream and bananas.
One of the most beautiful and serene French-inspired interiors created in recent memory. It’s a shame the fare isn’t equal to the setting. The white asparagus is as thin as pencils and about as hard to cut. The accompanying sauce Maltaise adds nothing to the taste. The tartare de la mer is a much more satisfying first course. The ballotine of guineafowl and lamb with wild mushrooms in a cognac sauce is quite tasty (though the two bits of pounded lamb gristle are not). The dungeness crab dish arrives in a magnificent-looking croute, but it not only encases the crab but kills it with an off-putting sweet taste. Synchronized service is the order of the day, and watching the entire waitstaff deliver domed dishes simultaneously to a large party is pure theater.
On a cool spring night this place was packed. The menu isn’t long, but the food is superb. The calamari with shishito peppers and the fluke crudo with apples partnered with a tangy sauce are delicious. The hanger steak with Brussels sprouts is perfect, as is the pappardelle mixed with richly flavored short ribs. The chocolate hazelnut tart may send you to the gym for several extra hours, but every bite is worth it.
Don’t confuse this flagship with its more modest progeny at St. Mark’s Place and Avenue A, which is much more informal with lots of tacos and guacamole. The setting here is sophisticated, sleek contemporary, and the service is efficient and friendly. The lunch prix fixe at $42 is a relative bargain, despite the number of “supplements.” The tortilla soup with its tangy chili broth, shredded radish and small chunks of avocado is delectable. The four-bean salad with quail eggs in a tomato vinaigrette is in a class by itself. The pumpkin-seed cappelletti is unusual, with the extra dash of honey nut squash juice adding to a memorable taste experience. Jumbo prawn salad is so generous with its prawns that if you don’t have help eating it, you may need to ask for a doggy bag. The citrus flan with sour orange marmalade is the perfect way to round off a most enjoyable meal.
Opened in 2016, Loring Place survived the pandemic and is deservedly thriving. The low-key contemporary décor and friendly service make it easy to concentrate on the fabulous food. From a menu replete with many vegetable options, you will eat well and healthfully. The asparagus fries would make any tempura chef in Tokyo jealous, and the grilled sugar snap pea salad and tuna crudo are among the small plates that whet one’s appetite for the crispy cauliflower cutlet and the sublime moist chicken breast. The almond cake with homemade ice cream and kumquat marmalade is delicious, as is the cookie box. The crowd is as understandably cool as the place itself.