Bar Americain, 152 W. 52nd St.
Yes, of course I am going to start with Bobby Flay's restaurant. And I will confess to a little bit of bias, but hey - its Bobby Flay!
Located on 52nd Street, not far from Radio City, Bar Americain is just like it sounds, an upscale beautifully decorated restaurant, serving a variety of American food enhanced with the bold flavors that Mr. Flay is famous for. The restaurant is large and roomy, so you are not sitting on top of the person next to you, yet quiet enough so you can have a conversation. There is also a separate room upstairs for private parties.
The menu is varied, with something for everyone. The appetizer of lobster/shellfish cocktails, pictured below, is so delicate and fresh, but full of flavor that you almost don't want to finish it. The escargot were soft and creamy with just the right touch of garlic, not to mention the vidalia onion soup which was simply dreamy. At dinner recently, I had the mussels and fries americain with green chili broth. They were so delicious and full of flavor, I refused to share. Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention the side dishes - one of which is the cauliflower gratin. It was so good, I found the recipe and made it at home. It is amazing what Bobby Flay can do with a few simple ingredients if you put them together the right way. You can find that recipe on our side dishes recipe pages.
If you are in the midtown area, near Radio City or Rockafeller Plaza, do not miss this one.
Braai, 329 W. 51st St., South African BBQ, (authentic, fun, great drink menu)
If you you want something different in the Radio City area, you should definitely try Braai, a South African restaurant. This unique eatery is decorated with an African bush-inspired atmosphere, complete with a reed-thatch ceiling and three trunk
lined walls. They also have a beautiful, skylit separate dining room for private parties up to about 15. But don't just go for the atmosphere, because the food is incredible.
You wouldn't think it, but the ostrich meat with peppers, onions & apricots in tamarind sauce are tender and luscious. Braai is famous (well, ok, not exactly famous) for their specialty sliders of chicken, lamb, ostrich or vege, topped with shitake mushroom, caramelized onion, baby greens and peri-payo. Do not miss them.
For a main course, I had the Seafood Casserole, a veritable feast of seafood marinated in mild malay curry over a bed of mixed vegetables and safron rice. I tasted the African Road-Runner - a pan seared, herb crusted ostrich filet with curried coconut mashed potatoes, green beans, pear onions with a blackberry peri-peri sauce. The meat was tender, cooked exactly as ordered, similar to venison. The mashed potatoes were excellent. But if you are not into game meat, you can also get your more common meats like fried fish and calamari, beef or pork sausage with fresh corn polenta, ribs with polenta and rooibos chocolate glaze and cornish hen, to name a few.
The drink menu is extensive and the bar is hopping. Skip dessert, it wasn't worth it.
Try this lovely little place. It will surprise you
Toloache Bistro Mexicano, W 50 & 8th, upscale mexican
Toloache, an upscale but casual mexican restaurant is centrally located on 50th Street between Times Square and Radio City. If I'm in that area, this restaurant is usually my first choice. They stock a huge selection at their tequila bar, along
with their special trio of guacamole (traditionally spicy with chipotle queso fresco; medium frutas with pomegranate, onion, mango, apple peach and habanero; and mild with cilantro and serrano). You could actually make a meal out of that and a taste of one
of ther 4 different Ceviche choices (a tasting of 3 for $27.00).
Their taco menu is innovative and extensive. Try the maitake & huitlacoche mushrooms, cactus and queso fresco, or the spicy lobster, morita salsa and avacodo - which are both delicious and stand out among the other 9 combinations available.
The main courses are consistently very good. I absolutely love the short ribs in mole negro sauce. I do have to admit, I did not like the suckling pig here, as it was a little dry. But the Tumbada (veracruz style paella more than made up for it. You should also try te roasted garlic shrimp with a crispy tortilla, black beans, chayote squash, spaghetti salad & salsa.
When the huitlacoche mushrooms are available as a side dish, get them, along with the avacodo fries. You will have room, because the desserts are just ok. Instead, have the Toloache Martini with chilled 1921 tequila cream, dulce de leche & espresso; or the De Olla - mexican coffee with cinnamon, orange peels piloncillo sugar & tequila. **But be careful walking to your show after that one!
Plataforma Churrascaria, 316 W 49th St., Brazillian BBQ (Meat and lots of it)
Plataforma is one of the bigger, more well-known restaurants in the City, but I believe that it merits at least a mention, because it is the best of the Rodizio's in NY. Rodizio is a Brazilian and/or Portugese (depending on who you ask) BBQ, where
you are served a variety of meats, game and fish by waiters who bring them to you fresh off the grill on yard long skewers and slice them at your table directly into your plate, hot and steaming. You can pick and choose what you want, and they will keep coming
until you say stop. On Long Island we have our very own "Currrascaria Bairrada" which is the best there. But in NYC, if you find your self near Carnegie Hall or Rockefella Plaza (and your not going to Bobby's place), you have got to try this at least once.
Their first course bar is always so fresh and full of succulent delicacies that is is difficult not to eat so much that you can't try the meats. You will find all sorts of cold seafood, and seafood salads, four different casseroles, hand rolled sushi and maoldster cold salads & vegetables. This does not even begin to describe it.
The main course (the meat) will begin when you turn your cork over to "green." Then the action begins. You can sit, while waiters bring you cuts of beef like prime rib, filet mignon, beef and pork ribs, chicken boned and boneless, turkey, sausage, and more. You will also be served with a fish of the day, and roasted pig which is brought to you on a rolling cart as it makes its way around the restaurant. In the meantime, your table is served with traditional rice and beans, potatoes, fried polenta and plaintains and farofa (fresh cassava meal).
There is dessert, served on a cart, but I have never tried it. You can imagine why! Enjoy this one, but do not eat anything before you go.
Utsav, Authentic Indian, W. 48th (between the Theatre District & Radio City)
On 48th Street and 6th, Utsav is perfectly located between the theatre district, and Radio City. If you have a penchant for Indian food, you should try Utsav. Its location, high above the street, with beautiful views of the City and over a
walkway between two buildings, is unique. The decor is beautiful, at once elegant and comfortable. The food is a blend of cuisine from the spicy flavors of the Konkan coastline to the delicately spiced seafood of Bengal, and more.
They have a reasonable prix fixe from 5:30 - 7:30 daily, at $32.00, including favorites like Samosa, cauliflower in tomato garlic sauce and chicken lentil soup appetizers; Talapia, Shrimp Curry, Chicken Tikki Masala (which is rich and flavorful), lamb rogan josh, and vegetarian selections; and authentic Indian desserts.
Their a la carte menu is extensive, with vegetarian and non-vegetarian selections. The vegetable samosa pastry melts in your mouth. The panfried potato cakes and seasoned chickpeas drizzled with yogurt and chutneys are a delicious combination. If you can't pick, go for the combinaton platter.
The man courses are reasonably priced, but not inexpensive. The fish includes tilapia, many variations of shrimp and a delicate Chilean Sea Bass in a white wine infused coconut sause served with steamed basmati rice. The chicken includes standard favorites like Korma (mild almond and cashew sauce), Tikka masala (miled fresh tomato sauce) Xaccutti, (roasted coconut & spices) and Butter chicken flavored with tomato and fenugreek. Don't forget the lamb, and their wonderful Tandoor (clay oven) selections - get the mixed grill.
This is a nice change from the usual fancy fusion restaurants popping up all over the place. Give Indian a try.
Molyvos, W 54th, near 7th. (upscale Greek)
If you are looking for upscale Greek food that is authentic and classic, in a beautiful setting, you should consider Molyvos. It's perfect for pre-theatre, or a special occasion. Each time I have been there, the
food was an adventure into Greece and the service was prompt and courteous.
They have a pre-theatre menu at $38.00 per person, however it is very limited and you will not get any of the true Greek specialties from their extensive menu.
Personally, I would make a meal of the appetizers and small plates selections. Or try the Pikilia platter, which is a chef's sampling of a number selections. However, do not skip the Avgolemono soup, the grilled calamari, the Arni spare ribs with Greek spiced thyme honey glaze & the Octopus with white bean salata.
For the entrees, Vodino (slow roasted short ribs) is a silky feast for your mouth. The grilled baby lamb chops, with potato kefte, watercress & roasted eggplant salad (pictured below) are an excellent choice, as is the Moussaka. Or, try the Kouneli Stifado (slow cooked rabbit with tomato, mavrodaphne, onions, and warm semolina) or Lavraki (mediterranean bass).
No matter what you pick here, your food is carefully made with regional seasonal ingredients. You will notice the difference.
Saigon 48. W 48th and 8th, Vietnamese (and super reasonable prices for super excellent food)
Yes, Vietnamese. Its not so unusual after all. Just think Asian. This appears as a little hole in the wall restaurant nestled in between some store fronts on 48th Street, just West of Utsav. However, when you walk in you are warmly greeted and
brought into a lovely Asian themed restaurant where the decor is unique, the food is delicious, and the staff is caring and friendly. If that doesn't get you there, the prices will. You can have dinner for 2 for $50.00 here. Unless you are eating fast food,
this is unheard of in NYC.
The menu includes traditional Vietnamese foods like a Soft shrimp salad roll, beef or shrimp satay, dumplings & shumai, and Vietnamese crispy spring rolls - which are so very good you can make a meal out of those alone. They have a whole section on the menu for Pho - a Saigon noodle soup. If you have never had it, try it. A steaming bowl of soup filled with rice noodles, beef, basil, bean sprouts and hoisin dipping sauce. It overflows with flavor. I personally loved the Shrimp Satay Sauce Noodle Soup. The main course selections are similarly varied but include my favorite Pad Thai Noodles, and they were hot and spicy. It was a tough choice between that and pan fried noodles. You can get noodles in any way you can imagine - steamed, fried, boiled, flavored with peppers, lemongrass, peanuts, fish sauce, and on and on.
If noodles are not for you, they serve traditional favorites like grilled chicken, lemongrass chicken and basil chicken - to name a few. Same with the Pork, Beef and Seafood. Their seafood is particularly good, and very fresh.
I believe the most expensive dish on the menu is the Special Chilean Sea Bass with ginger & scallions at $20.95. Other than that, the prices range from $8.00 to $15.00, less for the appetizers. You have got to go for this one!