As if we needed any more reasons to make reservations in NYC! Our “must go” restaurant list is a long one – and just got longer, thanks to these three memorable meals.
Cookshop has been popping up on my restaurant searches for a long time. Its location on 10th Avenue near the High Line is a beyond our neighborhood “walkable” zone so we haven’t been, but when I made a lunch date with a friend who lives in Chelsea, it seemed the perfect place to meet. It’s not showy but it’s got a great city vibe and a very loyal following.
Cheerful inside, but clattery loud, we opted for the outside patio on a sunny summer NYC day. Lunch was simple, but don’t roll your eyes when I tell you I had a tuna sandwich. This was the tuna sandwich of all time! It’s all about the food here and every single bite was perfect. The luscious summer tomato, the bun that was infused with flavor rather than air, and the albacore tuna was a cut way above the usual. I’ll be back, especially for those house-made potato chips. Irresistible. I made myself walk the 40 blocks home to make up for them…
Aria calls itself a Wine Bar but it is much more than that. I’d walked past its inviting rustic wood and glass facade before but didn’t realize that it was a clone of a West Village gem come to gentrify this humble Hell’s Kitchen (51st at 9th Ave.) neighborhood. Thank goodness son Daniel suggested it for a dinner meet-up – it was an instant favorite. It didn’t hurt that it was a perfect summer evening and we scored a prime sidewalk table.
The basic concept is wine and small plates, but there are plenty of pasta dishes, as well. Let’s just say that none of us left hungry.
Especially after we shared one of the best panna cottas in recent memory:
Okay, I saved the best for last.
We were mightily disappointed when Pastis closed down precipitously a few years back. It was the Meat Packing District’s not-quite mirror image of Soho’s Balthazar – both from restaurant wunderkind Keith McNally – and was sorely missed. We were thrilled to hear it had recently re-opened a few blocks away from its original site and made a lunch reservation post-haste.
The new location is on a transitional patch of Gansevoort Street (between Washington and Greenwich Streets) and our first impression was that the new setting lacked the charm of the old one. Our remembrance of things past was that the “old” Pastis had an airy garden graciousness to it while this one feels a bit more like a bustling train station.
Within a few minutes, we were enveloped by the ineffable Pastis magic. Amazing food. Perfect service. Fabulous people-watching. Everyone at ease, and an appealing din, the soothing hum of table-to-table conversations. The two women sitting next to us all but helped themselves to my Paté de Campagne, which was studded with delectable little shards of roasted pistachios. It was brilliant! As was the signature Charentes Collins:
So many wonderful choices on the menu, but for our inaugural visit there was no choice but to order the Steak Frites. Divine.
No sooner had we decided to share a Creme Brûlée than a manager sent over an order of sorbet. We took a long walk on the High Line after lunch to repent. It was all absolutely worth it. The new Pastis instantly climbed to our “top 5” list of favorite NYC restaurants.
Goodbye to all that for now – summer in the city is coming to an end, but we’re looking forward to a restaurant reprise when we return in the fall. Love, love, love NYC.