Cuisine: If restaurants were people, this would be the hearty partyer who hunkers down with Wittgenstein in his spare time: playful but with a serious side. That side—evident in the fine stemware, thoughtfully composed salads, and detailed riffs on American comfort food—transforms what otherwise might be a convivial night of fun into a minor gastronomic outing.
Mood: The dining room—all exposed beams, dangling light bulbs, hot-pink pillows, and sculpted plastic chairs—is a masterpiece of retro chic. It’s framed by a bar with a drop-down projection-screen TV and an open kitchen, and it crackles with an energy rare in fine dining.
Best for: Dining out without getting dolled up—or having to leave the kids at home.
Best dishes: Butter lettuce with anchovy dressing and aged sheep’s-milk cheese; Prince Edward Island mussels in a Madras curry broth with lime jelly and cilantro; pan-seared swordfish with shrimp butter; pimiento-topped “Elvis” burger; Hudson Valley duck leg with duck sausage; a roast of braised pork, house-made sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and hominy stew.
Insider tips: Frank Morales, who previously manned the stove at Rustico, has recently come aboard to run the show. The streamlined menu is a little less zippy, and Morales is given at times to overproducing his dishes, but the Elvis burger is better (and bigger) than ever and the cheese grits are otherworldly.
Open Monday through Saturday for dinner (cafe menu on Monday), Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate to expensive.