Packed since the day it was launched in December 2007 by a trio of Bouley veterans, Bar Blanc exudes a grown-up glamour and self-assurance rarely seen in this era of slacker neighborhood joints. Retro-looking metallic lamps illuminate leather banquettes in the long white-on-white room that dead-ends into a striking geometric light panel. A little French, somewhat Japanese, and completely beguiling, the menu of César Ramirez—formerly chef de cuisine at Bouley—is packed with delicious surprises. The baby Boston lettuce salad with heart of palm and poached egg is transformed by a three-dimensional sweet-tangy dressing that takes three days to concoct. The slow-cooked salmon in a tomato marmalade hinged with vanilla is the best thing ever to happen to the pink fish; and the baby pig composition—including braised belly and pig head terrine—is so dainty and light it practically floats off the plate. Bitter chocolate cake offset with salted caramel ice cream makes for a rousing finale.
Tip: Can't snag a reservation? A full menu is served behind the beautifully smooth white-stone bar.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.