A Chef’s Guide to The Best Restaurants in New York

By Laura Fowler

Like the 1920s, the Monkey Bar is fashionable all over again. New owner and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter reopened the legendary establishment recently with a refreshed interior and a whole new team, including restaurateur Ken Friedman (the Spotted Pig) and head chef Damon Wise.

Since Wise has overhauled the menu, Manhattanites have been slipping into its red-leather booths for several seatings a day, and the critics have all left reaching for the stars. Here he reveals his favourite restaurants in the city that never sleeps but loves to eat, from Madison Avenue to Brooklyn.

What's new at the Monkey Bar?

'Everything! I've introduced the $24 burger to the menu  – I had to do it – people love the burger up in Midtown Manhattan. And the smoked fettucini with caviar seems to be hugely popular – people are actually Tweeting about it. It's simple, but super-tasty.'
Monkey Bar, 60 East 54th Street (00 1 212 288 1010; monkeybarnewyork.com)

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Where else can you get a great burger in New York?

'The lamb burger at The Breslin is awesome.'
The Breslin, 16 West 29th Street (00 1 212 679 1939; www.thebreslin.com)

Where's your local?

'Home is in Brooklyn, and the restaurant that I usually go to is a little place called Roman's – it's fresh, greenmarket cuisine with a little Italian flair to it. I also like Roberta's quite a bit.'
Roman's, 243 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (00 1 718 622 5300; www.romansnyc.com).
Roberta's, 261 Moore Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn  (00 1 718 417 1118; www.robertaspizza.com)

Any recommendations for lunch?

'There's a new place that opened up recently called Mas (La Grillade). The chef's name is Galen Zamarra and he cooks everything on a woodburning grill, and when you walk in you get this pungent smell of sweet smoke. The fare's very simple, but the depth of flavour is incredible. The room is beautiful; they've got this great skylight in the middle of the dining room with lots of natural light so I think lunchtime is the best time to go – and they do such a great deal.'
Mas (La Grillade), 28 Seventh Avenue South (00 1 212 255 1795; www.maslagrillade.com)

Best for fine dining?

'I like Eleven Madison Park quite a bit. They work really hard for your experience. The service is totally on point, the plates are beautiful, the room is dynamic – and it's friendly as well.'
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue (00 1 212 889 0905; www.elevenmadisonpark.com)

Which is your favourite Michelin-starred restaurant?

It would probably be Corton. It's extravagant and expensive to eat there; but the way Paul Liebrandt comes up with these dishes – it's super-interesting.
Corton, 239 West Broadway (00 1 212 219 2777; www.cortonnyc.com)

If you had just 24 hours in New York, where would you eat?

I would check out one of David Chang's restaurants (Momofuku), and one of Ken Friedman's – his restaurants are awesome. And I would definitely check out a late-night dining scene, like Chinatown. I always thought Great New York Noodletown was very good.
Great New York Noodletown, 28 Bowery, at Bayard Street (00 1 212 349 0923)

Your best-kept secret?

Soto. It's not really a secret, but they don't have a sign on the front of the restaurant. It's Japanese; the chef there is very intense, his ingredients are super-fresh, and the dishes are very interesting.
Soto, 357 Sixth Avenue, West Village (00 1 212 414 3088; www.sotonyc.com)

What's Graydon Carter like to work for?

He's great! He enjoys the food, which makes me very happy.

Source: Conde Nast Traveller

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