Postcard From Tom: New York
So many (new) restaurants, so little time. No matter how frequently you get to New York, it's tough to keep up with matters of taste. Here's some help:
BAR BLANC (142 W. 10th St., 212-255-2330)
True to its title, the West Village newcomer is intimate and white, with a short but eclectic menu that hits all the right foodie notes. Roast rabbit and sweetbreads find their way into a fetching salad; a cake of braised lamb and round pasta makes for a lusty lasagna; and chicken is rethought to include drumstick sausages and a dreamy whip of potatoes and brie. Behind the cooking and the hipster vibe: three veterans of the pedigreed Bouley restaurant in Tribeca. Entrees $20-$36.
INSIEME ( 777 Seventh Ave., 212-582-1310)
Its location near the shows on Broadway -- and a three-course market menu for $38 -- make this restaurant inside the Michelangelo Hotel an ideal place to refuel before or after a performance. The Italian accents are split between traditional and contemporary dishes. So purists can indulge in a sumptuous bollito misto -- beef cheeks, veal tongue and house-made pork sausage in a vegetable-brightened broth -- while fashionistas can opt for an eye-catching mosaic of sliced octopus tricked out with shaved fennel and beads of sweet potato "confit." What the austere dining room lacks in warmth is made up for by an enthusiastic staff. Entrees $26-$36.
PARK AVENUE WINTER (100 E. 63rd St., 212-644-1900)
Plenty of restaurants change their menus to announce a new season. This place goes to the trouble of redesigning its dining room every quarter as well. Right now, you'll find a snow-white interior and such cold-weather crowd-pleasers as coq au vin, braised short ribs and warm gingerbread. Coming up next: Park Avenue Spring, of course. Entrees $33-$48.