Looking back, the thing that probably woke up the New York food scene was all that noise about London. England, the cutting edge? A country where, as Calvin Trillin once wrote, everyone celebrates the queen's birthday by boiling the vegetables for an extra hour? After New Yorkers got over the initial shock, they went to work on making their own buzz. That didn't take long. The city already had great restaurants; what it needed was a fresh infusion of glamour and excitement. And that's what it got. New York, always a terrific place to eat, is now the place to eat, a trendsetter for the rest of the world. Here are the top 10 reasons:
1. The Glory of Old New York
Remember when New York had hatcheck girls and double-decker buses? Neither do I. But dust off your grandfather's fedora, because those days are back. The city is as prosperous as it's been in decades, and new restaurants are celebrating with a nod to Gotham's golden age. Berenice Abbott photographs decorate City Hall, a neotraditional steak house and oyster bar. The cuisine at Eleven Madison Park is based on careful studies of vintage New York menus. With its magnificent mahogany bar and updated tavern fare (think Yankee pot roast and Irish soda bread), The Tonic creates a turn-of-the-century mood. Joe's Public offers oysters Rockefeller, Waldorf salad and other retro dishes. The message: New York is as good as it was in the good old days--except for the food. The food is better.
2. The New Grand Central Terminal
Before its eye-opening restoration, Grand Central was a bit like your grandmother: you knew she was a lovely lady, but she didn't exactly leave you weak in the knees. A thorough renovation has made the station stunning again and also transformed it into something it never was before: a culinary destination. A food concourse opening on the lower level late this spring will offer everything from caviar to frozen custard; a market on the ground level will sell fresh produce, fish and meat. Michael Jordan's Steak House has already taken up an unobtrusive post on the balcony. The most fascinating space in Grand Central may be the cocktail lounge in the long-forgotten Campbell Apartment, which was built in the Twenties as a lavish private office and modeled on a 13th-century Florentine palazzo.