Our number one culinary crush, Top Chef's Sam Talbot, has gotten us feeling fishy in this exquisite new sustainable Soho eatery. Located within the Mondrian Hotel (which makes the urban trellis entrance even more magical), Imperial No. 9 is officially our new seafood standby. With decor that mixes Baccarat classicism with a secret garden, we could easily linger for hours, nibbling on the small plates and sipping the almost too-drinkable libations.
With two main eating areas—a cozy and plush interior on one side and a spacious, brightly lit A-frame garden—the restaurant is perfect for every lunch with the parents or a romantic dinner. The menu, based around the small portion craze, is loaded with eclectic choices like seared scallops with pickled melon or raw Hiramasa yellowtail with frozen coconut will certainly leave diners feeling refreshed, not full. While it certainly privileges the sea, don't skip out on the incredible vegetarian entrees, like the rich squash, cous cous and egg or a palette cleansing portion of cucumber kim chee.
With a sophisticated menu, egg white-frothed drinks, and ornate crystal chandeliers abound, it's easy to forget you are right off of the bustle of Canal Street. The Henry VIII-style furniture is certainly playful, and not pretentious, and to keep with the airy milieu of the evening, try an outfit that blends elegance and whimsy. Go classical, but punch it up with one piece of poppy, bright color. Add a statement accessory and a geometric shoe, and you're set for a dreamy evening. Oh, don't forget to try the No. 6 gin and lavender cocktail--we can already tell, it's our new summer drink.
Imperial No. 9, 9 Crosby Street (Between Howard and Grand Streets). (646) 218-6455.
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Once the booze-soaked brunch Bagatelle (don't worry, your Croque Madames with truffled béchamel are still in tact), Beaumarchais has reopened solely under the direction of Nicolas Cantrel. Though the menu isn't strictly Parisian (club salad, anyone?), it certainly has a Gallic flavor, and the white tablecloths, red seating and lush florals help give the spot a je ne sais quoi. Luxury, excess, indulgence: at this Meat Packing brasserie, these aren't sins, but celebrated necessities.
Dining at Beaumarchais certainly shouldn't be a weekly event: the buttery food and rich meats would surely wreak havoc on our health, but a French smorgasbord does the soul good. Start off with the rich tartare de boeuf, served on the most perfect truffled toast and alongside a quail egg. The traditional avocado and shrimp cocktail brings us back to the days of sitting at the grown-up's table, but in the best way, served with housemade French cocktail sauce. And speaking of cocktails, Beaumarchais does not mess around. Besides an expertly curated wine list—all Tuscan and French, of course—the bar boasts a delicious selection of sangrias and the Beaumarchais lemonade may be the most refreshing drink we can think of, with cucumber, vodka and mint. For dinner, ignore calories and carbs, and enjoy all the delicious beurre blank served atop the Filet Mignon Béarnaise, a classic, cognac-based steak au poivre and the truly decadent scallops served in a leak fondue and topped with caviar.
All of this cheeky extravagance and French flair deserve a really top notch outfit, so we suggest turning to designers like agnes b. or some vintage Cardin to turn on the Parisian charm. Along with practicing your most coy "Oui ouis", try a swingy bag and a pair of sassy heels, complemented by bright eyes, bold lips and a fresh face. Don't great Breton-inspired undergarments…you know, for dessert.
Brasserie Beaumarchais, 409 W 13th Street (Between Greenwich and Washington Streets). (212) 675-2400.
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With oyster bars, mussel factories and small plates being the center of the culinary world the last few years, chefs have nearly forgotten the cuisine that has made diners so willing to go raw in the first place. Sushi is now an American go-to, providing a delicious, refreshing alternative—and a place for gals to get together and gossip over a handroll. While Niko isn't exactly a homey space for comfort food, Chef Hiro Sawatari (formerly of Sushi Yasuda) certainly reminds us why sushi is one of our favorite foods.
The gorgeous, trendsetter-friendly interior feels perfectly Soho; famed designer Rafael De Cárdenas has created a chic, wooden interior while Opening Ceremony favorite Jim Drain has two geometric mobiles extended from the ceiling. For those who don't mind a chef's selection, starting with the raw plates--which range from oysters to yellowtail, is a great way to kick off your meal. Experimenting is key, and while the buttery sashimi is certainly worth it, some of the stranger cooked items, like miso-cured salmon with black sesame miso or the fiery, mouth-tingling slow roast chicken (with a spicy consummé) may steal the show from the raw plates. For veggies, the appetizers offer a non-fish respite, especially the tempura salad handroll, which features a light ginger yuzu dressing and a sweet potato tempura that'll even excite carnivores.
With such super chic surroundings, plus an adventurous, forward-thinking menu, any gal hoping to dine at Niko will have to up her high-fashion game. We immediately think of that duke of downtown design, Alexander Wang, for edgy femininity, but any sky-high heel with a modernist twist will do. Dramatic prints paired with sleek silhouettes will definitely accompany the sharply rendered interior; and remember, whenever you head for haute, keep your beauty routine like you want your sushi: clean, fresh and simple.
Niko, 170 Mercer Street (Between Houston and Prince Streets). (212) 991-5650.
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