Entirely separate from the hotel of the same name, The Four Seasons is more than a restaurant, it’s a New York institution. Considered one of the best restaurants in New York for decades, the eatery has been serving the rich, the powerful and the famous since 1959. The interior, which was designed by building architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, remains the same as in 1959, even designated an interior landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The furniture, silverware, glasses and even bread trays are celebrated as well, all part of the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Aside from its interior, The Four Seasons known for a number of other groundbreaking firsts, including introducing seasonally-changing menus to the states, as well as the use of fresh, wild mushrooms as opposed to the dried variation. The restaurant’s award-winning New American cuisine has not received as much praise as some of its contemporaries recently, but a meal at the Four Seasons is about the entire experience rather than just the food, although with a 28 Zagat rating and a James Beard award, the food certainly holds its own.
57 East 57th Street (Located in the historic Seagram Building)
Celebrity chef Danny Meyer opened Gramercy Tavern in 1994, after almost receiving the key to the city for his Italian/American crowd-pleaser Union Square Cafe. Gramercy Tavern’s New American cuisine has been a New York favorite since it opened, with both an elegant dining room and casual bar area serving fantastic food day in day out. The restaurant has often competed with Meyer’s own Union Square Cafe for the Zagat most popular prize, and currently holds the Zagat spot for favorite bar area eating. The restaurant is a leader in New American cuisine, with interesting combinations such as Chilled Carrot Soup with Shrimp and Citrus, Spring Greens Salad with Quinoa, Sunflower Seeds and Pecorino, and of course the novel Butternut Squash Custard. Gramercy Tavern is a great choice if you want to try upscale American food without taking a risk – as one of the most successful chefs in the country, Danny Meyer always delivers.
42 East 20th Street
After a facelift in 2009, Daniel Boulud’s most famous restaurant brought its decor back up to the level of its cuisine. Years of feminine and pastel accents were transformed into a more neutral and comfortable look, the neo-Classical columns and arches now highlighted by more modern browns and silvers. The jewel of Chef Boulud’s restaurant empire that stretches from New York to Europe to Asia and back, Daniel’s interpretation of classic French cuisine using seasonal American ingredients has won him four stars from the New York Times, 3 Michelin Stars and 3 James Beard Awards, even a distinction from the government of France.
The kitchen staff at Daniel likes to tie together different parts of a dish with overlapping notes, taking familiar foods and pushing them to a luxurious extravagance. For example, beets next to a beet salad with candied walnut and horseradish – and then a beet-cured hamachi on the other side of the plate – and then a tiny beet velouté in the middle of it all. As opposed to its extremely pricey competition, Daniel has early prix fixe meals for under $150/ person – perfect for a pre-theater experience of luxury.
60 East 65th Street