A wine importer I know recently proclaimed that there are “no more than ten places in New York City where you can eat or drink really well.” At first that sounds extraordinarily hyperbolic, but let me point out that this importer focuses on artisanal, natural wines, and very, very good ones. So, he’s a snob.
I have no problem with snobbery — if you’ve got great taste, then stick to your guns and accept nothing other than the best, I say. Yet, I believe that there must be more than ten places in NYC where you can eat well and choose from a well-curated list of interesting, well-made wines.
So, here’s my first pass. Gonna see what he thinks.
1. Reynard – pretty much hands down bad-ass menus and wine list. Entirely unobjectionable. (Let’s include all Tarlow restos here as one list item, tho Reynard is my fave.)
2. Estela – haven’t eaten there yet but I suspect it’s a winner.
3. King Bee – Acadian food and natural wine in the East Village. Want!
4. Dirt Candy – have a res for Friday and high expectations; the list looks killah.
5. Gramercy Tavern – I personally can’t afford to eat there but can we agree it deserves a spot on this list?
6. The Dutch – OK, I know my importer friend would disagree with me re: the list, since it’s entirely domestic except for Champagne, and that’s fine — some people really only like Old World wines — but I am all about the food at the Dutch, and I also totally dig Cali wines. So there. (p.s. maybe inquire about leftover wines from pre-domestic!)
7. Trestle on Tenth – this was his addition to the list. Looks good.
8. Glasserie – let’s discuss whether having a very, very eclectic list that’s got “something for everybody” counts as good, but let’s also accept that the food at Glasserie is out of control insanely delicious.
9. Prune – when I ate there, we had a “cheap and cheerful” Jaqueres from Savoie for 36 bucks alongside a truly memorable meal of maitake mushrooms on toast, and lamb. Anything wrong with that?
10. June – guys, I love June so much, I have friends who work there and I find the space inspiring and inviting, plus, duh, the wine rocks. But having eaten there twice, I feel totally unmotivated to re-order anything I tried. So, that’s not good. Maybe the menu will get more exciting?
11. Maison Premiere – also iffy, unless you really only want seafood.
12. Contra – absolutely, fucking yes, was pretty much made for this kind of natural-wine-meets-innovative-food kind of thing.
13. Pearl and Ash – they should be on here just for the octopus and the chicken butter bread. And, yeah, the wine is not bad.
14. Semilla – if you are a living breathing human being and you occasionally read the food media, you are probably aware that Semilla is like the resto of the century, in terms of its food. And having seen Pam and Jose at a number of wine tastings, and watched them select wine before, I’m gonna say it’s a win-win here.
15. Cosme – word on the street is you want their stuff in your mouth, alls of its.
I MADE IT TO FIFTEEN. So, there. And I missed, like, so many . . . which you’ll probably tell me about? Go ahead, jump in! But don’t get mad because I forgot something. This is just a stupid blog post, after all.
Upland – no wine menu listed on their site but their home page shows pics of Steve Matthiason so, I’m on board.
Roberta’s – great wine, but I’ve never been thaaaaaat into the food.