Outdoor Dining at Daniel (The Terrace)

There are certain chefs in New York who are so acclaimed that they need only go by their first names. Daniel of Daniel Boulud is one of those lucky few. His two Michelin star restaurant Daniel on the Upper East Side is a famous fine-dining destination that’s typically reserved for special occasions. Or perhaps if you’re a fabulous wealthy UES local, it’s just your local neighborhood spot. The pandemic has been especially rough on the fine dining segment. Coordinating multiple plates of a meticulous tasting just doesn’t work when you’re outdoors. So Daniel has momentarily put the tasting on hold and has pivoted to a more casual bistro format–The Terrace at Daniel–although the prices remain sky high. Now Daniel has resumed indoor dining, something I am not quite ready for, but The Terrace remains open.

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NYC Outdoor Dining: Naked Dog in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Naked Dog is a misleading restaurant. It looks like a pretty low-key, unassuming neighborhood restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the type you go to when you get turned down by Oxomoco or Paulie Gee’s. And it also doesn’t help that the name is a little strange–is this some sort of British pub you’re walking into? But when you get settled here, all those initial doubts you had about Naked Dog quickly disappear, because the caliber of its homestyle Italian cooking will impress you. The aspirations and skill level are way beyond humble hole-in-the-wall. By the end of the meal, you’ll wish you lived in Greenpoint so that you can take advantage of the better street parking and eat at Naked Dog every night.

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NYC Outdoor Dining: King in Soho

There’s something very elegant and thoughtful about the way the restaurant King in Soho does things. For some reason, I can picture a woman, perhaps an English major, carefully crafting the menu and making sure that each word really counts. This is why she would use the word onglet as opposed to hanger steak, giving this usually masculine sounding dish a daintier feel. And this is why the drinks on the cocktail menu never veer towards the overly dark and smoky. They are citrus-y and herbal, the antithesis of the Don Draper whisky. In fact, the attention to detail is paid even to the operational stuff, like payment processing. King is the only NYC restaurant with outdoor dining I’ve been to that has implemented a truly contactless checkout system.

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NYC Outdoor Dining: Di An Di in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Reinventing the banh mi sandwich is nothing new. Even in Cape Cod now you can get a new fangled banh mi made with cod meat. While all these reintrepretations of the banh mi are pretty good, the banh mi sandwiches at Di An Di in Greenpoint, Brooklyn are in a class of their own. They are offered during the restaurant’s lunch service and are tailor-made for these days of casual, take-out dining.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – Kimika in Nolita

The restaurant space at The Nolitan hotel in Nolita seems to be a death-knell. The prior two occupants–the Usual from Eggslut chef Alvin Cailan and before that, a forgettable Italian restaurant–did not survive. But with the arrival of Kimika, the new Japanese-Italian restaurant from the Wayla team, the veil of bad feng shui seems to have been lifted. Kimika is undeniably a hit. The comfort food fusion dishes combining the best of carbs and creamy, meaty sauces from two cultures are quite impressive. It’s also fantastic that Kimika is a female-led restaurant with great cocktails and an interesting, nerdy wine list. Outdoor dining at Kimika is a fantastic experience, and I’m looking forward to the days when it’s safe enough to eat these meals in the beautiful space inside.

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