Jean-Georges Vongerichten breaks through culinary barriers at Public Kitchen, devising an enormously appealing, cross-cultural menu. His crispy basil pancakes resemble Chinese scallion pancakes but add a Mexican twist: avocado-lime dip. There are also wonderful wood-fired pizzas, pasta, cheeseburgers, and New York–style smoked salmon and potato latkes. Thomas McKenna is the executive chef. The modern, commodious restaurant occupies much of the lobby level of Ian Schrager’s fashionable Public Hotel on the Lower East Side.