Brasserie 8 1/2

I have never been a big fan of NYC Restaurant Week but it is great for discovering restaurants. I have passed by this building many times and never thought there was a restaurant downstairs. It is a very beautiful venue where you enter the bar and lounge area after the winding stairs. The seating in the dining room is spread out, very atypical of a New York City restaurant establishment!

Though the food is not really worth writing home about (other than the perfectly cooked medium rare duck!), it is a great place to have a nice, quiet dinner. No obnoxiously loud music and the waiters are very attentive. Come here and  enjoy the ambience.

Tip: This place has 1 dollar oysters during Happy Hour in the bar and lounge area. Perfect for midtown slurping after work!

Brasserie 8 1/2
9 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Union Square Cafe

Union Square Cafe reopens in Gramercy/Flatiron district and it looks brand spanking new and classy as hell! There are two bars, downstairs and upstairs and two levels of table seating area.

Tip: The Lamb Shank is a great dish to share. It is this humongous piece of meat on bone with a side of perfectly cooked fingerling potatoes and arugula.

Union Square Cafe
101 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003

Paowalla

I have never been to a modern Indian restaurant until this one. I really enjoyed every dish but the portions are a bit small. It is probably a good idea to order a few appetizers and and a main course per person. You will be able to try out different things this way.

Drinks wise, I really like the double insulated cups! The cocktails are good but the mixes are a bit inconsistent.

Tip: Try to arrive before 1pm on the weekend. It gets pretty busy!

Paowalla
195 Spring St., New York, NY 10012

Ootoya Chelsea

Tip: Go for the ‘mini’ version of the soba and dinner sets if you want to try everything.

My two favorite things: the asparagus wrapped pork belly and the pumpkin and sweet potato ice cream. Wrapping asparagus in anything meat related will get me to eat it. Otherwise, I would never order asparagus by itself.

Why was the ice cream a favorite? There was a small potato in the parfait!! And it worked! Imagine eating a really sweet cold boiled potato with your ice cream. I kid you not, it was so good!

OOTOYA Chelsea
8 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011