Following in the food-and-drink footsteps of a Hawksmoor reconnaissance Stateside, Juliet Kinsman grills Will Beckett, head honcho of the hip London steakhouse and cocktail bar, on the hottest joints in NYC.
50 Carmine Street, West Village, NYC
(212) 929 5050
A pop-up restaurant from the ‘Fatty’ crew (Williamsburg’s Fatty Cue and West Village and Upper West Side’s Fatty Crab) – hurry for their burgers and monster sandwiches, it may be shut by the time you read this. New York’s scene is full of pop-ups, definitely try one on any visit – check out eaterynyc.com for restaurant-related gossip.
Best drink With guest bartenders every night, cocktails change regularly. Chantal Martineau of Fork in the Road created a Norman Mailer with rye, applejack, amaro, maraschino and bitters.
Best dish The double cheeseburger was a Big Mac on steroids.
Lows Food was a bit hit and miss – a problem sometime at pop-ups – here, the Cue Ham and Cheese Hot Sammy and Fried Chicken didn’t quite live up to the burger.
Crowd Greenwich hipsters in classic white trainers.
You’ll love this, if you like hip pop-ups like #Meateasy.
354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
We went to two brilliant Brooklyn BBQ joints in the same day – Fette Sau and Fatty Cue – and this had the edge. In a rickety shack on Metropolitan Avenue there was already a queue when we arrived 10 minutes before opening. The barbecued food is great, especially the beans, and design features such as butcher’s knives as bar taps stand out. Stick to meat and beer – vegetables and mixed drinks are better elsewhere.
Best drink Try one of the 10 local brews, served in the signature Billyburg jam jars. They also have a mean line-up of whiskies.
Best dish The meat is good, but the beans are the best ever. Barbecued muskrat and raccoon is not for the faint-hearted.
Lows The tacky fake fireplace video on a flatscreen TV.
Crowd Brooklyn 30-somethings and locals rocking a trendy take on trailer-trash chic.
You’ll love this, if you liked Bodeans back when there was only one and it was achingly good.
106 Kenmare Street, Lower East Side, NYC
(646) 613 1333
Walk through a tacky taco take-away frontage, take a door at the back, go down through the kitchen to the coolest tequila bar in NYC. Even more popular than pop-ups are ‘secret’ bars – hidden behind graffitied doors, phone booths, hot dog stands and neon employees-only signs, they could be anywhere. The trick is getting a reservation – and you’ll need one.
Best drink Margaritas! Frozen or fruity: blood orange, hibiscus rose or passionfruit.
Best dish The tacos – the machaca with char-grilled steak, coriander and chipotle salsa with scrambled egg is pretty tasty.
Lows Pitching up without a booking – we’ve been turned away for being an all-guy group.
Crowd SoHo fashpack and Lower East Side yuppies – anything goes.
You’ll love this, if you like Crazy Homies in Notting Hill.
(212) 757 5878
David Chang is one of the rock gods of the NY restaurant scene with his various Momofuku restaurants. We came for his Beef Seven Ways menu – a sharing menu for six that includes the biggest shank of beef you’ve ever seen. All the food is served family style with lettuce leaves and endless condiments for you to make bespoke meaty wraps.
Best drink Last Word cocktail – Beefeater gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, lime.
Best dish Oxtail in soy, sherry, apple juice.
Lows Portion size: we left enough food to feed a small army.
Crowd Office types in sensible shoes.
You’ll love this, if you like the Vietnamese restaurants on East London’s Kingsland Road.
298 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 335 0446
A brand-new spot specialising in absinthe and oysters. Sound a stomach-churning combination? You’re not alone, but we really enjoyed it. Other places do the dimly lit faded elegance look better – Hotel Delmano, say – but none carry off the food and drink offerings in such an interesting way.
Best drink Absinthes galore. The rye-and-bitters à la Louisiane is tasty.
Best dish There’s a extensive array of those juicy molluscs, all served on ice.
Lows if you don’t like oysters you’re out of luck – it’s all they sell at the moment.
Crowd The usual bearded and tattoed Williamsburgers and style-seekers.
You’ll love this, if you like Wright Brothers.
200 5th Ave, Flatiron District, NYC
(212) 229 2180
Beef, beef and more beef comes of out this skilled kitchen. The food is brilliant, but the interior is pretty weak – Manzo is stuck in the middle of a huge Italian-themed food hall, and you can’t escape it – temporary walls and an interior put together at seemingly minimal expense doesn’t quite feel right for the quality of the food.
Best drink Wine it here – a bottle of Barolo is a suitable extravagance with that beef.
Best dish The tongue was brilliant.
Lows The makeshift-feel decor.
Crowd Rat-racers and mid-towners.
You’ll love this, if you like Locanda Locatelli.
113 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village
(212) 475 3850
‘For me, the best restaurant in New York. Keith McNally surpasses even Chang in terms of the quality of his restaurants, especially the design of each – I don’t know anyone who takes the interiors more seriously. An old speakeasy and restaurant that serves brilliantly simple tavern-style food.’
Best drink Stick to beer and wine. Try the regularly changing cask ales.
Best dish The Black Label Burger is NYC’s most famous ‘gourmet’ burger.
Lows Good luck getting a reservation.
Crowd Relaxed by day, dressy in the evening.
You’ll love this if you like Hawksmoor.
377 Greenwich St, TriBeCa, NYC
(212) 925 3797
Cracking Italian restaurant in the Greenwich hotel. We went for brunch, which went far beyond the ordinary fare you get everywhere (although for a good version of the American classic, try the Standard Grill), but the main menu also looks amazing.
Best drink I always go for mimosas for New York brunches.
Best dish The Uova Modenese is awesome, cotechino hash, spinach and tomato hollandaise.
Lows Not being able to stay and eat all day!
Crowd Well-heeled tourists and TriBeCa trendies.
You’ll love this, if you like River Café.
261 Moore Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn
(718) 417 1118
We were told by those in the know this is the best restaurant in town – no mean feat for a small Brooklyn pizza restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Well worth the trip – the kind of place you only find New Yorkers in and no tourists, and those are few and far between.
Best drink Great Czech and Belgian ales on draft.
Best dish Awesome calzone.
Lows The wait. We waited for over an hour at 11pm – on a Sunday!
Crowd Cool kids and bargain-seeking foodies.
You’ll love this, if you like Story Deli.
6 W 29th St, Flatiron District, NYC
(646) 214 5788
For a taste of home but maybe even better than you’d get in Blighty, head down to the rough-luxe-look Breslin at the achingly cool Ace Hotel. Owned by English chef April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman this is one of the world’s most grown-up gastropubs.
Best drink Try Six Point’s special Breslin Ale.
Best dish Pig foot for two. Or a juicy lamb burger.
Lows At weekends the Ace hotel’s lobby becomes a crazy, heaving late-night hang-out.
Crowd Musos, media whores and ex-pats.
You’ll love this, if you like Anchor & Hope.