Since opening in 1994, Gramercy Tavern, has received a shower of accolades for both its food and wine. Not only does the restaurant have one Michelin Star to its name, it has also taken the coveted Wine Spectators “Best of Wine Award of Excellence” award on six different occasions, including 2012 and 2013. They’ve also achieved the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” which has been presented to the restaurant for ten consecutive years from 1995. The restaurant itself is split into two different areas; a Tavern and Dining Room. The Tavern serves relaxed fare including dishes like fish croquettes with mixed green salad and smoked oyster Sauce; butternut squash lasagne with Hen of the Woods mushrooms and kale, and desserts such as brioche ‘n’ cream sundae with maple, pear, pecans and bacon. The Dining Room is more sophisticated, seeing first courses range from warm lobster salad with cauliflower, lardo and black garlic; second courses are the likes of duck confit with wild rice, heirloom beans, celery and almonds. Dessert is an indulgent and innovative affair with dishes such as chocolate banana slice served with caramel, sesame, black cardamom and rum; and apple mousse with almonds, black sesame, basmati rice and lychee.
With a wine list of equal quality to their award-winning cuisine, Gramercy Tavern takes a well-deserved place on our Best Restaurants in New York list. The wines are selected by Beverage Director, Juliette Pope, with a focus on New World wines, in particular the wines produced in the States. There are Rieslings from Long Island and Upstate New York, Gewürztraminer from Oregon, and Chardonnay’s from California. The “wines by the glass” option rotates frequently, and presents some reputable sweet and fortified wines like a 2006 Kiralyudvar Tokaji and 2006 Rieussec.
42 E 20th Street, New York;+1 212-477-0777; www.gramercytavern.com
The Italian eatery from Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, Babbo, focuses both its cuisine and wine list on great Italian produce and gastronomy. Opening in June 1998, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, received high praise from the New York Times, and was awarded the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award the same year. The food is authentic, replicating rustic Italian dishes found in Osterie, Trattorie, and Ristoranti’s, across the country. Order traditional mussels “alla Tarantina” (a spicy soup), or pig foot “Milanese” with rice beans and argula from the antipasti section. Primi dishes include spaghettini with spicy budding chives and a one pound lobster, or goose liver ravioli with balsamic vinegar and brown butter. Secondi courses include divine creations such as grilled guinea hen with celery root fregula and black truffle vinaigrette, and fennel dusted sweetbreads with sweet and sour onions, duck bacon and membrillo vinaigrette. Italian dolcis are particularly good, think polenta budino with apple composta and vanilla gelato, or roasted white chocolate cheesecake with coconut croccante.
Presenting mainly Italian wine, Batali’s wine collection covers all of Italy’s 21 regions, as a way of exhibiting the fine wine and grape varieties from his home country. Continually growing, the list boasts over 2,000 wines, including a Mascarello Barolo for US$1,100, and even more excitingly, a 1999 Masseto for US$9,500. The ‘wine-by-the-glass’ programme at Babbo, otherwise known as The Quartino, is Batali’s way of giving guests the opportunity to taste great wines to suit their different dishes, in true Italian Osteria style.
110 Waverly Place, New York; +1 212-777-0303; www.babbonyc.com
The brainchild of chef and entrepreneur, Thomas Keller, Per Se is the “urban interpretation” of his longstanding and highly-commended restaurant in Napa Valley, The French Laundry. The two restaurants have been designed to replicate one another, both in style – with the same blue door, copper floor tiles, and marble and wood outside furnishings – and in cuisine.
Each day the Per Se team devise two nine-course tasting menus – one the ‘Chef’s Tasting’, the other a tasting of vegetables – which is done with the purpose of surprising diners with each and every course. Past menus have included dishes such as hearty Ukranian beetroot soup, borscht, served with choucroute, buckwheat, spätzle and horseradish royale; and Yukon Gold potato risotto served with a soft poached quails egg, Tuscan kale, toasted hazlenuts, castelmagno and bordelaise.
To accompany this virtuous French fare, the wine list has been put together to reflect the high quality of the food. Crafted by Head Sommelier, Michel Couvreux, the list presents prized bottles such as a 1985 magnum of Sassicaia for a £15,210 – scoring 100 points from Robert Parker and Antonio Galloni – and a 1999 Domaine Groffier, “Les Amouteuses” for $3,535.
10 Columbus Cir #4, New York; +1 212-823-9335; www.perseny.com
The eponymous restaurant of acclaimed chef and restaurateur, Daniel Boulud, is a place of exemplary food and wine. The three Michelin starred restaurant offers a private dining space called the Bellecour Room, and there is a smart Bar and Lounge for guests to enjoy a drink and a la carte dining. Dishes are refined and inventive, including plats such as sunchoke ravioli with sautéed black trumpet, Swiss chard fricassee, butter poached lobster tail and vadouvan-coral sauce; a selection of Connoisseur caviar from Golden Ossetra, Siberian Sturgeon and Northern Lights; crispy monkfish medallions served with brussels sprouts, “Cinco Jotas”, Iberico ham, pioppini mushroom and sauce “Meurette”; duo of Four Story Hill Farm squab, roasted breast with black truffle and celery, hazelnut stuffed legs with chanterelles and caramelized shallots. Desserts are just as delectable, think molasses poached pear with lime-pain de Gênes, cranberry confit and pear-Gewurztraminer sorbet.
Daniel’s wine list is a scroll of 2,000 wines from over 15 countries, most of which are housed in the 2,500 bottle-capacity temperature-controlled cellar below. Selected by Head Sommelier, Raj Vaidya, each wine is chosen because of its high quality and reliability, including a bottle of 1918 Yquem for US$10,000. Concentrating on fine French wine, in particular the fantastic wines of Burgundy near to Boulud’s hometown of Lyon, the wines at Daniel are thoughtfully chosen to drink in harmony with his modern French cuisine. There are trained sommeliers on hand to help those overwhelmed by the immense list, and there is also the opportunity to opt for a wine pairing menu to save the trouble of deciding. This year Daniel was listed on The New York Times “The 12 Best Restaurants in New York for Wine” list, and on Wine Enthusiasts “100 Best Wine Restaurants in America.”
60 E 65th Street, New York; +212 288-0033; www.danielnyc.com
Eleven Madison Park
Opening its doors in 1998, Eleven Madison Park has long been a safe spot for a very decent meal. But it’s really since Daniel Humm joined in 2006 as Head Chef, that interest in the restaurant took off. Swiss chef, Humm, was awarded his first Michelin star at the tender age of 25 whilst working at Gasthaus zum Gupf in the Alps, causing him to move on to bigger and better things in the United States whilst working at San Francisco’s Compton Place. Eventually, Humm moved over to Eleven Madison Park after being recruited by its owner, Danny Meyer. Now a three star restaurant, Eleven Madison Park combines French and American cooking techniques for truly exceptional gastronomy. The menu changes daily in keeping with the seasons, with previous dishes from the beginning of the year including, oyster with grapes, bulgur wheat and sorrel; poached lobster with brussels sprouts and guanciale; and a chocolate covered pretzel with sea salt.
Winning Wine Spectators 2013 Grand Award, the list at Eleven Madison Park is of both quality and quantity. With more than 2,500 wine on the menu, and a cellar in which one could get lost, Eleven Madison Park, certainly has its wine covered. There’s a ‘Wines of New York’ section that celebrates local boutique wines, with several hailing from the famous Fingerlakes region. Nine pages are dedicated to Riesling, including a 1990 Trimback Frederic Emile from Alsace, and a 2010 Franz Hirtzberger, Hochrain. The quality of the list is unparalleled, with fine bottles of 1995 Krug, and 1985 Romanée-Conti – which is awarded 97 on Wine Searcher – on it.
11 Madison Avenue, New York; +1 212-889-0905; www.elevenmadisonpark.com