Fall In Love! Three New Dining Destinations in NYC

There's nothing like the Fall season in New York City!  Everyone's back from summer vacations and there's a hustle and bustle in the streets, shops, theaters and restaurants. The trade and media wine tastings start up in September and I always enjoy seeing my industry friends again.  My birthday also happens to fall smack in the middle of Fall and while I am not enamored with getting older, I do enjoy all the love that comes my way, particularly in the form of food and celebrations in great restaurants!  The birthday dinners have even been known to stretch into the winter months!  It's also a time for restaurant openings all over town and here are three new restaurants which are terrific additions to the NYC dining scene.  Go check them out and report back to me as I've only dined at each of them one time so far.  I would love to hear what you think.  Bon Appétit!

 

KING

18 King St, New York, NY 10014 - (917) 825-1618 

This cozy, charming restaurant which opened in early September in West Soho is run by three women who hail from London:  chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, alums of the highly esteemed River Cafe and the General Manager, Anni Shi from The Clove Club.  The front area has a few tables alongside a small, marble-topped bar.  The friendly bar staff make it a great place to sit and enjoy a pre-dinner martini or perhaps your whole meal!  In the back of the restaurant is the square-shaped, simply decorated, bustling dining room with an open kitchen on one end.  The vibe and the food at King is simple and seasonal yet also refined and elegant with dishes like whipped salt cod with grilled polenta, chili and olives and chicken with lentils, celery and sauce ravigote.  The flavors of the food are inspired by Southern France and Italy and, with the daily-changing menu, you can always try something new no matter how many times you go here.   And one more thing, be prepared to feel like you're at a house party and chat with your neighbors if the mood strikes you. King is a fun place!

King is a Cozy restaurant full of people enjoying the food and the company!

King is a Cozy restaurant full of people enjoying the food and the company!

Shaking it up on the label and behind the bar!!  I loved my dirty gin martini (Greenhook Gin and Contratto Bianco Vermouth) made by David, the bartender that night.  Perfecto!!

Shaking it up on the label and behind the bar!!  I loved my dirty gin martini (Greenhook Gin and Contratto Bianco Vermouth) made by David, the bartender that night.  Perfecto!!

This Sardenian style crispy cracker with olive oil and herbs  is known as a "Carta de Musica" (music paper bread).  It was a great start to the meal accompanied by theA++ dirty martini..

This Sardenian style crispy cracker with olive oil and herbs  is known as a "Carta de Musica" (music paper bread).  It was a great start to the meal accompanied by theA++ dirty martini..

This veal, pounded thin and topped with artichokes, parsley, capers and anchovy was unique and fabulous!  yum!!

This veal, pounded thin and topped with artichokes, parsley, capers and anchovy was unique and fabulous!  yum!!

OMG!  Melt in your mouth pumpkin ravioli with marjoram butter.  Unbelievable!!!!

OMG!  Melt in your mouth pumpkin ravioli with marjoram butter.  Unbelievable!!!!

This halibut was pretty amazing and roasted with crushed borlotti beans, treviso, thyme and red wine vinegar.  I saved the last few bites just so I could have more for lunch the next day....A good move!!!!

This halibut was pretty amazing and roasted with crushed borlotti beans, treviso, thyme and red wine vinegar.  I saved the last few bites just so I could have more for lunch the next day....A good move!!!!

Doesn't this look really great?!  And it was....juicy and succulent Guinea hen with spinach, lemon and ricotta.  It was supposed to be for two but my friend Harry ate the whole dish!

Doesn't this look really great?!  And it was....juicy and succulent Guinea hen with spinach, lemon and ricotta.  It was supposed to be for two but my friend Harry ate the whole dish!

This Chocolate tart with creme fraiche was very light and airy with a crispy top

This Chocolate tart with creme fraiche was very light and airy with a crispy top

 

ROUGE TOMATE

126 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 - (646) 395-3978

This is the new (and in my opinion, improved!) Rouge Tomate, now located in a landmarked carriage house in Chelsea.  The original location, on the Upper East Side, was a much bigger, fancier, more formal spot.  It was a lovely space for a special dinner, yet not as warm and welcoming as the new place.  My first visit to this somewhat rustic, visually stunning restaurant was at an industry event for people in the wine business.  The beverage director and partner, Pascaline Lepeltier was mingling in the crowd which was happily sipping many selections of her mostly organic, biodynamic wines.  It was a late-night event and I had already eaten dinner so I left there curious about what the food would be like.  Luckily I already had made plans with a friend to celebrate my birthday at Rouge Tomate.  Two weeks later, we were sitting at the long copper bar and dining on food that is beautifully presented, with lots of fresh vegetables and flavors that pop.  The menu,  divided into Snacks, Small Plates, Large Plates and Dessert, features many vegetable and fish selections with less choices for poultry and meats.  We both opted for seafood and vegetable dishes, although my friend had previously had the venison and chicken and loved both.  We enjoyed everything:  wahoo crudo, mushrooms with fingerling potatoes, cod and snapper.  It was all beautifully presented!  The staff  is warm, welcoming and very professional. The owner, Emmanuel Verstraeten, a charming Belgian gentleman, stopped and chatted with us at length about life in the restaurant business and the friendly General Manager, Rachel Palczynski, came over to check on us a few times.  This restaurant is on fire and I suggest you get your reservation now!

The lovely bar at Rouge Tomate is a wonderful, comfortable spot to spend the evening.

The lovely bar at Rouge Tomate is a wonderful, comfortable spot to spend the evening.

This light, elegant Lemberger from Element Winery in the Finger Lakes was perfect with all of our dishes.

This light, elegant Lemberger from Element Winery in the Finger Lakes was perfect with all of our dishes.

Wahoo crudo with pineapple, lime, cucumber, tarragon, mint and avocado puree

Wahoo crudo with pineapple, lime, cucumber, tarragon, mint and avocado puree

Mushrooms with fingerling potato, roasted garlic and watercress.  Delicious!!

Mushrooms with fingerling potato, roasted garlic and watercress.  Delicious!!

The Ling Cod was so fresh!  Served with fennel, clams, potato gnocchi, lettuce and apple.

The Ling Cod was so fresh!  Served with fennel, clams, potato gnocchi, lettuce and apple.

At the Industry event, when Discovering A gem like this mirror at the staircase, my friend Robin and I couldn't resist taking a photo!

At the Industry event, when Discovering A gem like this mirror at the staircase, my friend Robin and I couldn't resist taking a photo!

By the kitchen there is a lovely little bar to sit at and watch all the action!

By the kitchen there is a lovely little bar to sit at and watch all the action!

Happy Birthday to me!  Roasted pear with polenta cake, almonds and goats milk ice cream.  

Happy Birthday to me!  Roasted pear with polenta cake, almonds and goats milk ice cream.  

 

LE COUCOU

138 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013 - (212) 271-4252

Shortly after my husband and I were seated at a plush banquette for my birthday dinner at this stunning and luxurious restaurant I noticed the two woman seated next to us were drinking a sparkling wine being poured from a beautiful vintage decanter.  Was that Champagne in a decanter?  Highly unusual, I thought.  I didn't want to bother them but my curiosity got the better of me!    I'm glad I asked because it was indeed a Champagne and we chatted briefly about the merits of decanting it.  (For more on the debate about decanting champagne, click here).  She then called the waiter over to have 2 glasses sent to our table so my husband and I could have a taste.  Le Coucou is that kind of place, where sharing with your neighbors comes naturally.  Turns out this woman was Victoria Kulinich,  the Wine Director at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley and she was in town to accept an award (an impressive "Grand Award" from the Wine Spectator) honoring restaurants for extraordinary wine lists.  When she told us her profession, we realized that she had been the one who had helped us pick out a wonderful wine (a red wine from Champagne!) when we had dined at Meadowood this past summer!  And now here we were, chatting with her and tasting her wine at this lovely new restaurant in lower Manhattan!  We also got to talking with our neighbors on the other side who shared with us their thoughts on the best dishes on the menu - pretty much everything they had eaten!  Although Le Coucou has a refined, opulent feel to it with grand, gold-gilted mirrors and many large, beautiful, glowing chandeliers, it is not stuffy.  It's an accessible French restaurant, one to have fun in, not just a  serious temple of fine dining.  But fine dining it is!   I can't wait to go back and try other items on the menu like the Quenelle de Brochet, Sauce Americaine (pike quenelles with lobster sauce), such a classic French preparation!  We started off with a lively and fresh dish of poached endive with a grapefruit vinaigrette and crispy Iberico ham.  It woke up our appetites and made us want more of Chef Daniel Rose's amazing cooking!

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The beautiful vintage decanter filled with Champagne!

The beautiful vintage decanter filled with Champagne!

Endive with a grapefruit vinaigrette and crispy Iberico ham.

Endive with a grapefruit vinaigrette and crispy Iberico ham.

Lobster stuffed squash blossoms.  Delicious!

Lobster stuffed squash blossoms.  Delicious!

lobster tail, basil, tomato, baby boston lettuce.  Divine!

lobster tail, basil, tomato, baby boston lettuce.  Divine!

Does this piece of black bass look incredible?!  One of the best pieces of fish I've had in 2016.  Perfectly cooked!

Does this piece of black bass look incredible?!  One of the best pieces of fish I've had in 2016.  Perfectly cooked!

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Aioli with crispy croutons to mix into the broth.

Aioli with crispy croutons to mix into the broth.

This is a delightful, light-bodied red wine from Domaine Abbatucci in Corsica.  It goes particularly well with seafood.

This is a delightful, light-bodied red wine from Domaine Abbatucci in Corsica.  It goes particularly well with seafood.

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Pave au Chocolat with hazelnut ice cream

Pave au Chocolat with hazelnut ice cream