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Fodor’s Choice New York: Dining

Alain Ducasse
Created by France’s most copiously decorated chef, this shrine to French cuisine is an exercise in unbridled luxury. If you manage to reserve a table in the hushed 65-seat dining room, it’s yours for the entire evening, and you’ll need the time to navigate through some of the most luscious food in town. Let sommelier André Compeyre partner your dishes with exquisite wines. Reservations essential. French, $$$$

After one bite of the ethereal homemade pasta or the tender suckling pig, you’ll understand why it’s so hard to get reservations at Mario Batali’s flagship restaurant. A full, complex, yet ultimately satisfying menu includes such high points as spicy lamb sausage and fresh mint “love letters,” and rich beef-cheek ravioli. There’s something for everyone from simple dishes like succulent whole fish baked in salt to custardy brain ravioli for the adventuresome eater. Italian, $-$$$

BLT Steak
Chef Laurent Tourondel sets a new steak house standard in this classy space all decked out in beige and suede and black tables. The no-muss, no-fuss menu is nonetheless large, and so are the portions of supple crab cakes and luscious ruby tuna tartare. A veal chop is crusted with rosemary and Parmesan, which imbue the veal with more flavor than veal ever has. The quintessential BLT includes Kobe beef, foie gras, bacon, and tomato. Steak, $$-$$$$

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Soft peach walls, luxuriously spaced tables, and towering floral arrangements set the stage for what is the most understated of New York’s fancy French restaurants. Chef David Waltuck’s simple, elegant creations include delicious signature grilled seafood sausage that will always be available, but the bulk of the prix-fixe menu is dictated by the season. French, $$$$

Crafting your ideal meal here is like choosing from a gourmand’s well-stocked kitchen — one supervised by the endlessly gifted Tom Colicchio, also chef at Gramercy Tavern. The bounty of simple yet intriguing starters and sides on the menu makes it easy to forget there are also main courses to partner them. Seared scallops, braised veal, seasonal vegetables — just about everything is exceptionally prepared with little fuss. American, $$-$$$

Celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has created one of the most memorable dining experiences in Manhattan today. The prix-fixe-only menu is predominantly French, with such modern classics as roasted venison loin with braised red cabbage and a sweet potato-apple gratin. Equally impressive is the professional service and primarily French wine list. Don’t forget the decadent desserts and overflowing cheese trolley. For a more casual evening, you can reserve a table in the lounge area, where entrées range from $36 to $50. French, $$$$

Gotham Bar & Grill
A culinary landmark, Gotham Bar & Grill is every bit as thrilling as it was when it opened in 1984. Celebrated chef Alfred Portale, who made the blueprint for architectural food, builds on a foundation of simple, clean flavors. People come to gorge on transcendent dishes: no rack of lamb is more tender, no scallop sweeter. A stellar, 20,000-bottle cellar provides the perfect accompaniments — at a price. Contemporary, $$$$

Gramercy Tavern
Danny Meyer’s intensely popular restaurant tops many New Yorkers’ “favorite restaurant” list. In front, the first-come, first-serve tavern presents a somewhat lighter menu than the main dining room. The more formal dining room has a prix-fixe American menu overseen by founding chef and co-owner Tom Colicchio. For $72, choose from seasonal dishes such as roasted monkfish with pancetta, beets, and grapes, or braised lamb shoulder in a minestrone with tiny ricotta ravioli. American, $$$$

This culinary temple focuses wholly on superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s spectacular creations. Some approach the limits of the taste universe, like trout sashimi with trout eggs, lemon foam, dill, and horseradish. Others are models of simplicity, like young garlic soup with frogs’ legs. Exceedingly personalized service and a well-selected wine list contribute to an unforgettable meal. French, $$$$

Le Bernardin
Owner Maguy LeCoze presides over the plush, teak-panel dining room at this trend-setting French seafood restaurant, and chef-partner Eric Ripert works magic with anything that swims. Deceptively simple dishes such as poached lobster in rich coconut-ginger soup or crispy spiced black bass in a Peking duck bouillon are typical of his style. There’s no beating Le Bernardin for thrilling French cuisine. Reservations essential. French, $$$$

Le Perigord
Owner Georges Briguet has presided over his beautiful kingdom of high-end French cuisine for more than three decades, and he’s the very definition of bonhomie; chef Joel Benjamin has pedigree and considerable flair. Start with succulent smoked salmon with a corn muffin, sour cream, and salmon roe. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes, turbot with a comté cheese crust in champagne sauce, is alone worth a visit. French, $$$$

Per Se
Thomas Keller, who gave the world butter-poached lobster and the Napa Valley’s The French Laundry restaurant, has given New York Per Se, which serves his witty, magical creations to fifteen lucky tables. Come with an open mind and open wallet, and discover his inventive combinations of flavors reduced to their essences. Waiters can (and may) recite the provenance of the tiniest turnip. For reservations, call exactly two months in advance; hit redial, repeat. Contemporary, $$$$

After a massive restoration to the edifice of the historic Alwyn Court Building, Petrossian now closely resembles a haute Parisian restaurant. In addition to the luxurious caviars and silky smoked salmon, Chef Michael Lipp will pan roast a wild sturgeon that gave you her eggs, or roast sea scallops and plate them with seared foie gras. For dessert, lighten up with candied ginger panna cotta. Continental, $$-$$$$

The chef’s been called a mad genius. Vongerichten alum Wylie Dufresne mixes colors, flavors, and textures with a master hand. His staff encourages people to feel at ease trying things like corned duck on a salty rye crisp finished with purple mustard and horseradish cream, or foie gras with a grapefruit, basil, and a leaf of caramelized nori. Contemporary, $$-$$$

Photo Credits: (1) Courtesy of Craft; (2) Courtesy of BLT Steak; (3) Courtesy of wd-50; (4) Courtesy of Gotham Bar & Grill

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