Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 05/01/2009
25 Cooper Sq., 212-475-3400, East Village, Manhattan, thecoopersquarehotel.com
After much anticipation and a weeks-long soft opening, Table 8 officially opens May 6 in the slick new Cooper Square Hotel, a dramatic glass tower on the edge of the East Village. The dining room is dark and sexy, with a big square bar that allows for lots of solo dining, people-watching and couples that like to canoodle shoulder to shoulder. Chef/partner Govind Armstrong has relocated to New York after successful ventures in Los Angeles and Miami, bringing a steamer trunk full of creative, seasonal ideas with him. His "salt bar" selections are not from an actual salt bar but rather a classification for charcuterie and cured fish. Armstrong's seafood and meat dishes come with a full complement of vegetables. "Small accents"—small plates to you and me—offer a further garden variety of nature's bounty. Tip: Visit the roof deck, with views that rival the best in the City.
49 Clinton St., 212-614-3234, Lower East Side, Manhattan, clerkenwellny.com
In the mood for some Yorkshire toad-in-the-hole? It's the signature dish at Manhattan's latest gastropub, The Clerkenwell. Owner Stefan Ching hails from Clerkenwell, an area of London where the first gastropub was launched, jump-starting the trend. The Lower East Side space, formerly aKa Cafe, looks handmade and charmingly unfinished, with a framed old map of the London tube system. The full bar serves a late-night menu until 2am on weekends. Earlier in the evening ex-London chef Shay Kelly turns out smoked haddock and green pea fishcakes, a half-pound Angus beef burger with twice-cooked chips, and beef and ale pie.
247 S. 1st St., 718-218-8047, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Rye looks like a well-preserved saloon that's been around for 100 years but, in fact, its former life was as a humble bodega. Owner and chef Cal Elliott made the transformation a labor of love, painstakingly restoring and installing a gorgeous late-19th-century mahogany bar and scouring estate sales for other period touches, like a massive vintage mirror, which came from a Philadelphia mansion. And while the tile floors and pressed-tin ceiling look original, they're not. Elliott gained a following from stints at Dressler and DuMont and has also cooked at such illustrious places as Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill. His menu is traditional American but his innovative training is revealed in short rib terrine, deconstructed wild mushroom lasagne and a stew of lemon confit, whole artichoke heart, roasted tomatoes and fresh cranberry beans.