You know a restaurant opening is an important one when, a few months later, you can't imagine New York without it. 2012, despite plenty of closures even before a catastrophic storm that crippled, closed, or delayed so many restaurants, was a fantastic year for eating in the city. Here are my favorites of the year: not just full-service restaurants, but the odd bakery, cocktail bar, and Mediterranean lunch joint thrown in for good measure.
'neta' on Serious Eats
Looking back on 2012, here are the bites and slurps I remember most fondly. From oysters to fried chickpeas to soba and uni, here we go...
Only after putting together my list did I realize that a full seven out of eight of the very best bites I had in New York this year were from East Asian restaurants. Not a single burger or pizza on the list!
"People talk about how cocktails don't pair well with food," says Aaron Polsky, the man behind the menu at West Village Japanese restaurant Neta. "And sure, maybe cocktails as we know them don't pair with food. But what if there were a paradigm shift?" I've seen other savory cocktails that, say, use vegetable juices, or actually incorporate salt. But Polsky's push much farther into the territory. When was the last time you had a cocktail that made use of sautéed maitake mushrooms; or infused a spirit with bonito flakes? Umami bombs are all over the place. Come take a look at Polsky's favorite drinks on the menu (and a few soon to come).
Salty and briny with a metallic twang and more than a hint of iodine, sea urchin is (along with oysters) the most ocean-evocative food in the world, and as a seafood lover and lifelong coastal resident, I'm often in the mood to have the ocean evoked to me. Here are seven of my favorite ways to get sea urchin in New York. Some are simple, some are more complex, all are delicious.
I've long been scouring New York for what Ed Levine aptly describes as the "Holy Grail of Sushi": the one sushi joint where uncompromisingly fresh fish and perfectly cooked rice can be enjoyed without pretentious attitude and at a reasonable price. With the opening of Neta, I believe I finally have an answer.