I almost died on a flight from London to New York the other day. Well, not really. But I was pretty sure that I was going to die, thanks to a combination of prolonged moderate turbulence over the Atlantic and an ill-timed Ambien. (It turns out that if you take one of those things and don't actually fall asleep, you become some sort of hyper-emotional zombie capable of seeing the future.)
As my short future left on this earth flashed before me, I thought about the things that I would miss about life on the ground in New York City. Obviously eating food was near the top of that list, right after my family and friends, House of Cards, and sneezing. That then led me to spend some time appreciating the fact that I've lived in New York City for over a decade and have had the good fortune of eating damn near everything that this city has to offer. There's nothing like 10 days in Europe and a near-death experience to remind you that NYC is the best food city on the planet.
Take, for example, Little Park. Andrew Carmellini opened this restaurant in the Smyth Hotel last year. It's an excellent little spot with a farm-focused menu, inventive dishes that you won't find anywhere else, and the magical ability to make vegetables taste amazing. The prices are even surprisingly reasonable. And yet it's probably Carmellini's third best restaurant in town. It's not even his best restaurant in this neighborhood.
Put Little Park anywhere else - London, Paris, LA, you name it - and it would be at or near the top of that city's dining scene. But here, it's just another great restaurant amongst a sea of other great restaurants - a great place for dinner with the girls or the next downtown Date Night you're planning. Does it belong on your bucket list? That probably depends on how badly you want to eat beetroot tartare before it's all said and done. At the very least, get it on your Hit List. And probably stay off the Ambien.
Just because this cauliflower has been fried does not mean it belongs on the menu at your local Hooters. This is delicate and still very fresh, and not the slightest bit oily or greasy.
We'd typically be the first ones to tell you that a meatless meat tartare has no business being on your table, but beets are really interesting and satisfying here, and the smoked trout roe adds a salty pop of flavor. Order this.
MORE BEETS. This risotto is incredibly good and very rich. A must order.
Not exactly what you expected to see show up at your table, right? This chicken is served with a sweet mustard and freekeh, a Middle Eastern grain. No potatoes or bacon here - but still tons of flavor.
If you're into duck, you're going to be into this plate of food. The skin is crisped perfectly, and the meat is nicely roasted and full of ducky flavor. Get it on your table.
You want some fish? You got some fish. We wouldn't order this one again, only because we like so many other things on the menu more. But you won't be disappointed if you do decide to go this route.
All photos by Noah Devereaux for The Infatuation