2000s Archive

Having a Grand Time, New York City

Originally Published October 2009
Here’s the deal: We offered some of our favorite restaurant critics a theoretical $1,000 to spend dining out in their home city. In considering how they would use their funny money, which had to cover meals for two, drinks, tax, and tip, these professional omnivores cast a spotlight on their own proclivities, as well as on the thrilling diversity of their respective cities. The result? Some very tasty inspiration.
new york city skyline

$700 I’m beginning my spree with one major splurge. After all, I want more than a meal—I want memories. And Per Se’s tasting menu is one that I’ll look back on for the rest of my life. The combination of incredible food (I still remember the first time I tasted Oysters and Pearls, an ethereal combination of caviar, tapioca, and oysters), thoughtful service, and a luxurious setting induces a dreamlike state. I don’t easily spend this kind of money on a meal, but, with a good bottle of Ribera del Duero, this seems like the right moment. 10 Columbus Circle, New York City (212-823-9335; Per Se)


$40 With what’s left, I’m going to visit a few of my favorite haunts. First, I’ll head to Peter Luger for the best hamburger in the city. Served only at lunch, it is made with spectacular meat and very little else. Don’t forget the french fries. 178 Broadway, Brooklyn; (718-387-7400; Peter Luger )

$75 At Momofuku Ssäm Bar I’ll share four exceptional dishes with a friend. We’ll begin with sea urchin in whipped tofu with scallions and beet-infused tapioca and a glass of house sake. We’ll revel in the decadence of pork belly wedged into steamed buns and the spicy heat of pork sausage mixed with Chinese broccoli and crisp bits of rice stick. We’ll end with cool curls of hamachi sprinkled with edamame and pea leaves. 207 Second Ave., New York City (212-254-3500; Momofuku Ssäm Bar)

$100 I must have a lobster at Pearl Oyster Bar, which serves the choicest crustaceans in town. We’ll start with robust Caesar salads, tear our lobster apart until there is nothing left but the shell, and wash it down with glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. 18 Cornelia St., New York City (212-691-8211; Pearl Oyster Bar)

$65 Next we’ll stop in at Halfsteak, the bargain lounge at Craftsteak, where we’ll share fried oysters with smoky coleslaw and sip icy Martinis. Then we’ll each have a rare, aged bone-in strip steak and a handful of fries. At $14.50, there’s no better treat. 85 10th Ave., New York City (212-400-6699; Halfsteak at Craftsteak)

$20 With just $20 left, I’m going to sneak off all by myself, sit at the bar at Lupa, and have one of my very favorite dishes: spaghetti alla carbonara. This is elemental food, the perfect union of pasta, eggs, and pork. Maybe the bartender will take pity and pour me a glass of wine on the house. 170 Thompson St., New York City (212-982-5089; Lupa)

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