I love NYC and have had some knock out meals there. Most recent visit was Easter 2008. Here's what I found:
Sip Sak - wonderful hospitality, went at noon, the owner/chef was right there opening the door and overseeing everything. I had an app of leeks cooked in olive oil and lemon & dill which together with the feathery crusty house bread left me swooning - the owner impressed me by actually being interested in my opinions - no question the food so far was amazing. He told me these vegetarian dishes are typically eaten in Turkey at the end of dinner to aid digestion. I didn't care - it was heavenly! Next the lamb on smokey eggplant was a revelation. Ended with the rice pudding - more like a creme brulee, delish! I will def. go there again every chance I have.
Pampano - lovely dining room, great service at dinner (Elanor) & great food. The seviche might be too acidic for some and for me I think there should be more than a teaspoon of fish for $12/$14. I lament the use of small flour tortillas instead of fresh homemade corn ones, but it's because I crave authentic Mexican food. I had great chiken mole with amazing mashed plantain - with mango - wonderful - and the chard and bacon was simple but very satisfying. I would go back for sure, especially in summer to dine on their outdoor decks.
Mint. Lunch was a mistake - it's more of a dinner place - quite dim. Was not informed of the $17 lunch special and so spent much more than I needed to and got much less. My place setting was set up so I was facing the wall.... I had to rearrange it myself so I could face outwards. Tea was a tea bag on the side of a warm (!) cup of water... that was $4. I felt bullied to order up. (The place was empty) Ordered an interesting sounding shrimp main dish that cost $21 but was served a $26 dish instead (saffron shrimp) which was so incredibly boring - it was 5 gigantic prawns - not all de-veined properly - sitting in a pond of butter/heavy cream/tumeric with a thimble of steamed rice in the middle of the plate. This dish had absolutely NO flavour - not even salt!!
So hate me, I left only $5 tip.
Le Colonial - o.k. a tourist trap, but I was following the Time Out Food Guide and I love French style Vietnamese food. Thank God I didn't splurge on the dining room. In the lounge the service was great, but the food (spring rolls and shrimp paste on sugar cane)was unworthy of a food court, and served with herbs so limp and worn out I had to wonder who is checking the pulse of this place. Probably not the snooty French M'Aitre D at the front door.
Dawat for dinner - good food, service a bit "bossy" as I find in NYC Indian restaurants. Do not like trying to be upsold. Their "Lemon Rice" has no connection to any lemon rice I've had in southern Indian places. It is plain Basmati, with a few fried curry leaves. The connection they claim to Madur Jaffrey is overplayed. A diner found a suspicious hair like substance in her food - it took ages for the "manager" to come out and address her concerns. Let's just say it rattled everyone else awaiting their food! - but great theatre!
So on my next trip I'm planning to hit the Caracas Arepa Bar, and definitely another meal at Sip Sak. All other ethnic suggestions welcome!