NEW YORK CITY: DBGB Kitchen and Bar

With the opening of the huge, hip, new Bowery emporium, DBGB, the Americanization of Daniel Boulud is finally complete. For his first foray below 14th Street, Daniel does Downtown with a vengeance. Walk in, and the noise instantly assaults you; it is a raucous place filled with people having a very good time. They’re guzzling beer (the list is long) and drinking wine, which has been chosen with an eye to value. But mostly they are eating, for this fascinating menu offers an up-to-the-minute snapshot of what young New Yorkers crave right now. Where else would you find starters ranging from plateaux of seafood to matzoh ball soup, with stops along the way for iceberg lettuce and blue cheese salads, grilled octopus, and tuna crudo? I liked almost everything I tried, but it’s the sausages—from hot dogs to classically rich boudin noir—that take pride of place on the menu. The burgers are a draw, too; it’s hard not to fall in love with one that has a strip of pork belly (the meat of the moment) riding the beef. Timid souls can opt for steak frites, roast chicken, or salmon with cream sauce, while adventurers will head straight for the tablier de sapeur. I’d bet this is the only place in the country serving both crisp lyonnaise-style tripe cakes and red curry mussels in spicy coconut milk. “Look at those prices!” said a rival restaurateur I found prowling the sidewalk outside. He shook his head, a little jealously. “If he can keep them this low Daniel is going to pack them in and make real money here.”

DBGB Kitchen and Bar 299 Bowery, New York City (212-933-5300)

LONDON: The Boundary

Sir Terence Conran is sitting in a lounge chair on a stylishly accoutred rooftop beneath warm London evening skies, smoking a cigar and sipping a Negroni. He looks relaxed, and not a little proud. No wonder. Conran may be Britain’s most famous contemporary designer, but he was also largely responsible for London’s current reputation as a great dining capital, opening an amazing series of restaurants large and small over the past two decades-plus. In 2007, though, he sold 49 percent of his restaurant empire to two former employees, keeping full ownership only of his flagship Bibendum. Now he’s starting all over again, with a spectacular complex called The Boundary in East London. The rooftop includes a robata grill (the steak frites looked delicious) and bar, while on the two floors below are 17 guest rooms done in a variety of design themes (Shaker, Bauhaus, Eames, etc.). A street-level café and bakery called Avalon bustles day and night (“British café food done right,” says Conran), and in the basement, the main restaurant offers honest, old-style French fare. The oysters are perfect; the chariot of pâtés and terrines is like something you’d find in your favorite Parisian bistro; the Dover sole meunière is impeccable; and there are roast meats served with panache from a domed cart. The Boundary isn’t Conran’s swan song, by any means; in a few weeks he opens yet another place, Lutyens, in an historic building on Fleet Street.

The Boundary 2-4 Boundary St., Shoreditch, London (44-020-7729-1051)


In the land of biscuits and homestyle “meat and three” lunch joints, a restaurant named Gravy conjures a certain school of Southern savor. Even the clarifying subtitle “An Italian-American Kitchen” evokes another homey aesthetic—an everyday red sauce pungent with garlic, basil, and oregano. So it’s a bit surprising that the opening menu of this downtown Raleigh spot (another outpost of Greg Hatem’s Empire Group) skews toward subtle flavors more associated with Euro-striving Italian restaurants—the delicate tomato “gravy” is nothing like an East Coast nonna would make. A creamy, decadent Bolognese on whisper-thin tagliatelle stands out, as does a blueberry-rhubarb crumble with polenta crust and velvety lemon gelato.

Gravy 135 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC (919-896-8513; gravyraleigh.com)
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