NYC Sizzling Again!

Alex Stupak during the opening week of Empellón (now Empellón Taqueria)

It’s been a little while since I have been as excited about the NYC dining landscape as I am now. I love Italian food as much as anyone, but when every other new restaurant is a variation on the same old comfort food, no matter how good, I have to stifle a yawn. Happily, that has all changed within the last few months with the arrival of a number of new restaurants that I am dying to try.

ACME – The new Nordic cuisine is the real deal. It is creative, beautiful and when done right – delicious. Few are closer to its origins than Mads Refslund, who started noma alongside Rene Redzepi. What makes this truly interesting though, is that Refslund is not simply looking to transplant what works in Copenhagen to NYC. Instead, he is transplanting the ideals to work with local ingredients to produce what should be a NY locavore’s dream. It must be working, because the reviews so far have been great and scoring a table has become one of the new year’s big coups.

Atera – Matthew Lightner’s migration from Portland, where he started the much-heralded Castagna to NYC was done amazingly sotto voce. There was hardly a peep about this small restaurant before it opened, but now that it has, it is getting raves, with someone as experienced as Steve Plotnicki already saying  “it is only a matter of time until in becomes the best in the country.” I can’t wait to find out for myself!

Empellón Cocina – When Alex Stupak left the high end creative pastry world to start Empellón (now Empellón Taqueria), it appeared that creative cooking had lost one of its stars. That may still be somewhat true for pastry, but Stupak is back to maximizing his creative skills and instincts, this time in the world of Mexican cooking. High end, modern, creative cooking outside of Mexico is a rare commodity, especially done by someone with the acumen of Stupak. Once again the early reports are positive and my salivary juices are flowing as I write this.

NoMad – The NYC food world was abuzz last fall summer when word got out that the team of Chef Daniel Humm and restaurant manager Will Guidara were engaging in a hotel restaurant project not under the auspices of über-restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group. It later came as no surprise that they would be leaving Meyer and his cozy umbrella, but the surprise was that they were buying Eleven Madison Park from USH and opening Nomad too! Once again, the initial reports are very flattering for this upscale restaurant.

The North End Grill – Meyer and USH are by no means sitting still. With Floyd Cardoz, they have opened this grill lover’s dream in the former culinary wasteland of Battery Park City. The creative aspects may not be as exciting as some of these other new restaurants, but there will always be a place for good quality food prepared well.

With signs that the economy may be turning around, I hope the time is right for these restaurants and others to thrive. Another one coming down the pike that has me very excited is Dani Garcia’s venture. Garcia is one of Spain’s top Vanguardist chefs. So long as he doesn’t come in with the pretensions of Romera and too much hype, I expect this to be fine. The future is looking rosier, indeed, and I haven’t even included what is going on in Brooklyn!

What new NYC restaurants have you excited?

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2 Responses to NYC Sizzling Again!

  1. All of them but Stupaks!

    Just kidding. Going to Nomad tonight. And you should have out Isa on your list.

    • docsconz says:

      Isa does belong there, but I didn’t include anywhere in Brooklyn, which is a category of its own. Enjoy NoMad!

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