Time was, Central Park was the great divide when it came to food – one dined on the Upper East Side and simply ate on the Upper West Side. These days you can dine exquisitely on either side of the park and should make it a point to venture north of 59th Street, east or west, for at least one meal.
To say Daniel is one of the city’s temples of gastronomy would sound more trite than it does if the opulent dining room weren’t so beautifully graced with rows of Greek-looking columns and if chef Daniel Boulud weren’t the high priest of innovative French cuisine, elevating such basics as ribs and pork belly to divine realms (closed on Sunday).
An approachable, unpretentious and beachy elegance prevails at Dovetail, where chef John Fraser has carefully curated an experience which pays homage to his California roots. The vegetable-rich menu is anything but boring and will have you gorging on things like sweet pea and wasabi tartlet or cured carrots before your tender plate of duck arrives.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants cover the planet, and the epicenter of the empire is the airily stunning Jean-Georges overlooking Central Park. Creations such as wild mushroom tea and beef tenderloin topped with foie gras quickly put to rest any fears that expanding the brand has taken away from serious cooking. At just under $30 for two courses, Jean-Georges is the best weekday lunch deal in New York (reserve, closed Sunday).