American Fare

From burgers to caviar, these restaurants serve American cuisine at its finest

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The great thing about American cuisine is that it has it all, from burgers and beers to lobster, caviar, and cocktails, often incorporating flavors of other global cuisines as well. In New York, these four restaurants serve up some of the finest fair with unmistakably American style.

Some may say that American fare doesn’t carry the same gravitas as other world cuisines, but Gotham Bar & Grill can easily prove that wrong. With a Michelin Star and numerous applauses from the city’s top food critics, Gotham is known for the diversity and inventiveness of its menu, put forth by the James Beard–awarded chef Alfred Portale. Its yellowfin tuna tartare is reputed as one of the city’s best appetizers, prepared with Japanese cucumber, shiso leaf, and miso-ginger vinaigrette; Jamaican- spiced Niman Ranch pork chops come with braised escarole and roasted pineapple chutney. Five Spice Duck verges happily on cliché with Chinese broccoli, forbidden rice, and plum-ginger emulsion; Maine lobster comes with leek fondue and clam chowder. Indeed, the menu has a fair share of those token dishes American cuisine has pulled from around the world and made its own— call it praise of the great melting pot. (12th St. nr. Fifth Ave.)

Back in the frigid gusts of January, the all-American fashion king Ralph Lauren opened a restaurant that immediately became the refuge of choice for the city’s stylish set. Adjacent to the Fifth Avenue Polo Ralph Lauren flagship, the Polo Bar Restaurant is Lauren’s third restaurant in the world—following on the heels of RL in Chicago and Ralph’s in Paris—and the fare is most at home here. The subterranean, mahogany-filled restaurant feels like you’re in the library of a Rockefeller with its leather banquettes and tableware emblazoned with the restaurant’s name in blocky typeface. But for all its pomp, the food is comfortingly casual and generously portioned—kale Caesar salad, pigs in a blanket, hearty chili, crab cakes, a $55 rib eye, and the intimidatingly juicy and tower- like Polo Bar Burger. Craft beers, classic cocktails, and a wine list round out the menu that has already been enjoyed by everyone from Woody Allen to Vogue editors Instagramming their meals. And save room for dessert; the pecan pie and Polo Bar Brownie are not to be missed. (55th St. nr. Fifth Ave.)

Steakhouses certainly have roots far- reaching—France, Japan, Korea—but the legacy of New York steakhouses has established them firmly on American soil unlike anywhere else. Nowhere in the world do steakhouses come with as much glittery grandeur as New York City. The most glamorous newcomer is Hunt & Fish in Times Square, where diners get dressed to the nines for long, boozy meals of prime meats. The restaurant’s two floors are outfitted with an enormous chrome centerpiece chandelier, some 55,000 pounds of marble, and art from Roy Nachum—an ambiance made to match the even grander fare. It’s a classic steakhouse menu embellished with delicacies such as an impressive selection of caviar, a raw bar of fine seafood, wild boar, and imported Mediterranean branzino. (44th St. nr. Seventh Ave.)

It’s only fitting that arguably America’s finest theater would be accompanied by a fine American restaurant, those being Lincoln Center and Lincoln Center Kitchen, respectively. Set in Avery Fisher Music Hall, the restaurant opened last fall with seasonal fine-dining that’s American through and through, from the American caviar served with the deviled eggs appetizer to the main courses listed under “American Classics” to the American craft brews on tap. Many ingredients come locally from New York as well: the Brooklyn-grown kale served under spicy yogurt, pine nuts, and parmesan; the New York cheddar on the deluxe short-rib burger, the gravlax cured in-house. A frittata, turkey club salad, and spaghetti may sound too homey for fine fare, but the picture-perfect presentations and soundtrack of New York Philharmonic make the whole experience worthy of an ovation. (Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Plaza)