Flavor of the Month
It’s fun observing the changing fashion of restaurants: Over the last couple of years, communal hightops became all the rage. More recently, I’ve noticed a move toward rustic, yet handsome environs like the recently opened Northern Italian/Southern French Italienne (19 W. 24th St., 212.600.5139), where Edison bulbs hang on thick ropes and wood floors gleam. Casual café by day, moody bar by night is how to describe nearby Pondicheri (15 W. 27th St., 646.878.4375). Stop in for breakfast or lunch and a taste of street food from all regions of India: coconut pancakes, samosas and masala wings (with yogurt and ginger in a chickpea crust); come back at night for waiter service and craft cocktails like the Crocus Sativus, made with gin and saffron tinctures. Recently, I had the pleasure of treating my college-age son to his first Daniel Boulud meal at DB Bistro (55 W. 44th St., 212.391.2400): What a proud mama I was, watching him choose the signature burger, made with braised short ribs, black truffles and foie gras. But the magic of Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group doesn’t end there: at Boulud Sud (1 Lincoln Plz., 212.595.1313), his Mediterranean restaurant near Lincoln Center, there is a pasta happy hour: housemade pastas, from 9 pm to close, at half-price. With a manifesto straight out of the Whole Foods playbook, Le Botaniste (833 Lexington Ave., 917.262.0766) vows to be “a responsible food concept that cares about health and our planet.” Simple, good offerings include vegetable tajines, Tibetan rice bowls and chia seed pudding. And finally, a visit to the newly relocated Union Square Cafe (101 E. 19th St., 212.243.4020) proved that the restaurant is still a superstar. Winners all around included a starter of cauliflower sformato; a spectacular main course was a dish of buttery rainbow trout with leafy greens. For dessert? Don’t miss the banana tart.