May 28, 2009 | Ask Gael

Lunch Between 5th and Park

If you love sea urchin, you must hope this luscious risotto is on the menu at Anthos. Photo: Steven Richter
If you love sea urchin, you must hope this luscious risotto is on the menu at Anthos.  Photo: Steven Richter. 

Joe C. writes:

        I care about good food and service and so do my friends. I need a new lunch spot, between Fifth and Park and between 53rd and 57th.  I’m lost now that Oceana has closed to relocate.

Dear Joe,

        How long has it been since you were at La Grenouille (3 East 52nd Street, 212 752 1495)?  The flowers are exuberant as ever and the service is not stuffy anymore. I find it incredibly sexy to sit at the bar and watch the noon-hour drama, but then I’m a pinch penny and the inexpensive bar menu is perfect.   

        It’s one block west of your golden square, but the food coming out of the wood oven at Waldy Maldouf’s Beacon (25 West 56th Street, 212 332 0500) can be wonderful.

        And are you a fan of Marcus Sammuelson’s food at Aquavit (65 East 55th Street, 212 307 7311) between Madison and Park? 

Beacon does a great job with oysters coming out of the wood oven. Photo: Steven Richter

        Too bad Alain Ducasse’s Adour is not open for lunch. I could see you luxuriating in that magical space.  You’d probably enjoy the new Monkey Bar too, especially now that Larry Forgione is at the range – but so far, no lunch. 

        Anthos(36 West 52nd Street, 212 582 6900) has a prix fixe lunch – and Michael Psilakis’ sophisticated riff on Greek food as well as small plates at Anthos Upstairs.  It’s worth a try to see if this star chef’s palate fits yours.

        You might try Alto (520 Madison Avenue, 212 308 1099) at 53rd St., where Michael White keeps an eye on the kitchen while devoting most of his time to the new Marea (out of your designated turf on Central Park South). 

        I haven’t been to San Pietro (18 East 54th Street, 212 753 9015) for a while but I loved the cooking and owners fussing on my last visit and if it’s good enough for Ron Perelman, it might be good enough for you, Joe.  Nobody in your crowd talks about Fig and Olive I’ll bet (10 East 52nd Street, 212 319 2002). Try it on 52nd between 5th and Madison for a feel of Mougins.

        If watching stylish women, jetsters from Italy and expensively draped fashionistas is more important than great food, you might try the new Armani/Ristorante (717 5th Avenue at 56th St., 212 207 1902). 

        And please let me know if you find a new lunchtime haunt.
Break an egg,