Thanks to the culinary chutzpah of chef-owner Geoffrey Zakarian (44, Patroon) and soaring David Rockwell-designed interiors, the new-in-2001 Town already has scored three coveted stars from the New York Times. Despite such formidable dishes as escargot risotto with black truffle broth, celebs and gourmands alike have made it the hottest reservation in, well, town. At Chambers, 15 W. 56th St.; 212-582-4445.
No more compelling evidence of New Yorkers’ commitment to high living in the postboom days exists than this new restaurant, devoted to the cuisine of Gascony — which means all the foie gras, duck and armagnac you can consume in a sitting. The food is outstanding, and the old-world interiors and folk-costumed servers offer a refreshing change from the new hip standard. 152 E. 46th St.; 212-687-0300 or www.dartagnan.com.
This New York Times three-star winner caters to a sophisticated business-and-pleasure crowd that appreciates Veritas’ intimate setting and understated service as well as Scott Bryan’s surprisingly light contemporary American cooking, which bursts with clean, fresh flavors. The most enthralling wine list in town is available online for preview. 43 E. 20th St.; 212-353-3700 or www.veritas-nyc.com.
This stellar Rockefeller Center seafooder is a prime spot to seal the deal. The room is art deco handsome, the wine list excellent, the tables well spaced for private conversation. And now that wunderkind George Mendes — who studied under such luminaries as David Bouley and Alain Ducasse — wears the top toque, the innovative fresh-catch menu shines, too. A winner on every score. 1251 Sixth Ave.; 212-354-1717.
The brainchild of Eric Goode (Bowery Bar, Fez) and Sean MacPherson (L.A.’s Bar Marmont, Swingers), this former taxi garage is the hottest of the new breed of chic restaurant/club crosses. The scene comes first, but the fare — roasted halibut, fettucine with prosciutto and peas, grilled New York steak — is straightforward and satisfying. 118 Tenth Ave.; 212-352-3313.
This red-hot restaurant-cum-nightclub dressed in Buddha-goes-modern style from French record producer Thierry Klemeniuk and a fleet of celeb investors (including Sean Penn, Johnny Depp and John Malkovich) is the new Moomba — without the winning kitchen. The flash-in-the-pan Franco-Asian fare may fall flat, but so what? There’s no denying the sizzling crowd and topnotch networking. 147 W. 15th St.; 212-929-5000.
Top toque Daniel Boulud continues to expand his culinary empire with the arrival of this hip New World bistro. Expect an energizing vibe and a casual, but eternally classy, spin on Boulud’s four-star country French fare. The DB burger — with foie gras and black truffles, accompanied by a silver cone of pommes frites — is the new gold standard. 55 W. 44th St.; 212-391-2400. www.danielnyc.com.
A former Mafia social club straddling the cutting edge of Chinatown has been reinvented as a snug, candlelit restaurant that retains a touch of the clandestine. Chris Santos’ innovative, excellent globetrotting cuisine hits Asian notes most often; standouts include tamarind-glazed scallops with foie gras. Valhrona chocolate fondue for two — with homemade marshmallows among the dipping treats — seals Wyanoka’s fate as a great date place. 173½ Mott St.; 212-941-8757.
Substance even surpasses winning style at this sexy restaurant/lounge hybrid thanks to chef Michael Navarro’s innovative small-plates menu and terrific sushi bar. Low-slung interiors, inspired cocktails, and a savvy DJ add to the lounge-style allure. Don’t miss the sweet coconut sushi, a delightful finish. Recent fetes in the subterranean lounge have included Natasha Richardson’s birthday bash and the Essence Awards after-party. At the Marcel, 323 Third Ave.; 212-683-8880.