There have been some new finds of late, and although one or two were in Chicago (props to Chef John Bubala at Timo!) there are some in NYC as well.
1. Takashimaya: When C suggested we go there for tea, followed by a visit to MOMA, I was suprised and delighted. Usually our weekend plans involve an EV or LES brunch and some good old fashioned retail. Nestled in the windowless basement corner of this jewel-box Japanese department store, Takshimaya's cafe has many charms. The first is that it brings you to this beautiful store. Not that I or anyone I know could afford a sock in this place, but it is one of those places that just knowing it exists and taking it in, makes your world a more beautiful place. I imagine I'll be 60 and dreaming: "when I grow up and become a millionaire...I'll buy this frock...." Anyway, it is quiet and serene down there and the bento box is terrific and I am happy to report that it goes well with champagne. The meal was so good, it comforted me through the sad surprise of hearing that my dear friend C is moving away from NYC.
2. Grand Central Oyster Bar: Do you have a friend who lives in Westchester? Do you struggle to find a place to eat together when she comes in to Grand Central Station? Does the thought of eating oysters in said station give you the giggles? or, the heebyjeebies? Well, get over it, because it turns out that this strange place, caught in time, is a really good place to get--yup, you guessed it, oysters. Crazy, right? Make sure to use the bathroom, because it affords you the opportunity to pass by the old school countertops and then through the saloon. Wacky.
3. Palo Santo: It's all well and good to drag my old friends on my food quests; they are mostly a game bunch, humoring me, and eating well along the way. But it is also fun to make new friends, people whose priorities line up more clearly with my own (1. food 2. wine 3. everything else). One of these friends brought me to Park Slope new-ishcomer Palo Santo, on a strange stretch of Union Street, just east of Fourth Ave. It's Latin-Mediterranean fusion, nestled in the ground floor of a refurbished brownstone. Counter-seating with a view of the kitchen is fun, but so is the back room with three communal tables and windows looking out on what appears to be a Zen garden. Go for appetizers and wine--the food changes almost daily but there are, according to my friend, a few repeat appearances. I loved everything, especially the pork belly with fennel grapefruit salad and the octopus with cilantro and jalapeno. Damn!