A few years ago, we were in Paris between Christmas and New Years. This is a dead time in the city, when very few restaurants are open and most of the locals are holed up in their apartments, probably rolling all their cigarettes for the coming year or something. But it's also a cool time to be there, because it forces you into the tiny corners of the neighborhoods to find good food.
It also might make you find some other interesting things, which was true for us when we found, on a random late December night, completely by accident, a man named Pierre Jancou, manning a completely empty wine bar. We sat down expecting to have a glass or two and somehow ended up having one of the greatest nights ever, drinking wine, listening to music, and discussing food with Pierre while he spontaneously cooked us pasta on a hot plate with ingredients he happened to have on hand. What we hadn't known when we walked in is that Pierre is something of a Parisian restaurant legend (who also happened to own the wine bar and adjacent restaurant, Vivant). He's also very good at pouring wine. I missed my Eurostar the next morning.
What made Pierre a legend, aside from the fact that he sort of looks like what Jude Law might look like if Jude Law wasn't such a pussy, is a restaurant he opened in 2008 called Racines. Racines is and was a tiny little place in the 2nd, built on Pierre's passion for all natural wines (no sulfur) and simple, local ingredients from small producers. Jancou sold Racines a few years later, and along with it, the rights to use the name and open a location in New York.
The reason I spent all of that time telling you that story, is because I think it will help you appreciate this new Racines in Tribeca more. Pierre the Parisian wine legend hasn't been involved with the place for some time, but both restaurants still carry some of his philosophy, i.e. natural wines and simple food. You'll want to drink at this new Racines, and you'll probably want to drink a lot, because the wine list is excellent and surprisingly affordable. You'll also want to eat, and the food at Racines New York is impressive. It would be a mistake to assume that this is just another wine bar in a neighborhood that definitely doesn't need another wine bar. This is one of the better places to eat in Tribeca.
Aside from the food and the wine list, I think what impressed us the most about Racines is how much the staff here care and also knows their sh*t, but not in a stuffy way. It's just as good of a spot for a date as it is for a laid back (albeit pricey) weeknight meal, especially if you elect to sit at the chef's counter - which you should. The menu changes frequently and is fairly upscale, but this is also a place you can roll into for a good glass of wine and a hangar steak. Or, you can do what we did in Paris on that random night, and try to drink every natural/organic bottle on the list in one sitting. Just make sure you don't have a train to catch the next day.
A nicely prepared squash blossom stuffed with some smoked ricotta. Light and easy, though not the most memorable of the starters. Eat it if you're really into eating flowers.
An excellent, strange dish consisting of a soft egg and a whole bunch of parmesan foam. Typically, a bowl full of foam would turn us off. But the flavors in this thing are incredible. Order it.
Steak tartare, but with veal and served with some pine nuts and mayonnaise. Vegans, avert your gaze. Carnivores, proceed.
A nice plate of firm white fish with some pureed chick peas and vegetables. Simple but well put together. Order this if you're looking to go easy.
Pork belly and gnocchi. Do you like those things? Then don't be surprised that you like this. We were happy to find that the pork wasn't unnecessarily fatty.
A delicious piece of steak with served with some shishito peppers and eggplant. Eat, drink wine, repeat.