Sleek, chic … and a lunchtime bargain. That's Perry St., a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the West Village. Who knew?

About every two weeks or so, as I join the herds pouring out of the New Jersey Transit train from Princeton Junction into Penn Station, I decide to treat myself to a bagel from Zaro‘s Bakery, part of the Zaro’s Bakery family chain. To my mind, a Zaro bagel is the best in town, and my particular Zaro’s is tucked away at the Seventh Ave. entrance at Penn Station.

Sometimes rising early is hard (yes, even in a city where each day offers marathon excitement and countless cultural opportunities). The solution? As a born and bred New Yorkah would say it: caw-fee. Coffee, coffee, coffeee. And lots of it. Get it at Bushwick's Swallow Café.

Like the name, the restaurant Oceana conjures up thoughts of an aquatic oasis: nautically inspired blues are everywhere, from place mats to chairs, and colored etchings of sea shells decorate the walls. On a recent midday trip, the packed restaurant suggested that perhaps the three-martini lunch is not dead after all: I saw more men in suits and more cocktails passing me by at 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday than I had in a very long time. Meanwhile the choices! My friend, being the indecisive foodie that she is, suffered in trying to make a decision

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Alexander Lohkin, chef at Mari Vanna, one of New York’s coziest Russian restaurants. Here is what he had to say on inspiration, how to design a great menu, and where to go eat when he’s off duty.

Chez Josephine, easily one of the sexiest and most romantic eateries in town, is offering a seductively delicious New Year’s Eve menu for those in the mood for love (with another, or with food, or with both!). For $200 per person, your ring-in-2014 feast will include Petrossian smoked salmon, terrine de fois gras de canard with black mission fig marmalade, and an intermezzo of grapefruit sorbet, followed by more gastronomic decadence, such as sea scallops with truffle pommes mousseline, filet mignon with chanterelle mushrooms and potato croquettes, chocolate profiteroles and more. With your feast comes party favors and live entertainment. Surely the ghost of chanteuse Josephine Baker will be with you to ring in all the fabulous fun!

There is nothing like the holidays to put my sweet tooth into overdrive. And so I recently had the oh-so-sweet opportunity to indulge in a variety of treats from Financier Patissiere, the French Patisserie chain in New York. The bakery/café offers a number of holiday yule log desserts, both traditional (chocolate, Grand Marnier, praline and coffee) and “modern” (a dark chocolate, raspberry and pistachio mousse sitting atop a pistachio biscuit and finished off with chocolate lady fingers and chocolate glaze).

It's no wonder that the West Village's newest Malaysian restaurant, Rasa, has a name that translates to "taste" in English. The tastebuds of all who enter will be electrified. Mine certainly were.

I was lucky enough to experience a hefty and authentic slice of Cuba in Midtown Manhattan the other day. The hospitable people at Victor’s Café arranged for a press lunch in order to showcase a genuine soup-to-nuts Cuban banquet.

I went to a special tea party the other day. It was in honor of Eloise, that famous six-year-old resident of NYC's most famous hotel, The Plaza, and her favorite mostly companion (next to her Nanny, dog Weenie and turtle Skiperdee, of course): artist Hilary Knight, whose pen first sketched the little lady almost 60 years ago.


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