La Pecora Bianca in Soho

La Pecora Bianca is what I call a “pretty person” restaurant. Like its customers, the restaurant itself is physically attractive, styled to resemble some sort of beautiful sea-green Italian bistro. Its heated outdoor booths are some of the most well-built ones I’ve ever come across. If outdoor restaurant dining becomes a permanent thing in New York, this is the kind you would want in your neighborhood. Sometimes when I’m walking my dog in the cold I’ll pass by La Pecora Bianca and I’ll be impressed by the warmth that emanates from the heat lamps. The crowd is typical of who you would expect from the Soho shopping set – attractive, wearing expensive clothes and day drinking. I didn’t have high expectations for the food here since pretty people restaurants tend to be more style than substance, but I actually had a pretty great brunch at La Pecora Bianca.

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Sushi Ikumi in Soho

It’s been awhile since stumbling upon a neighborhood gem has been a mode of restaurant discovery. But now that the city is reopening, physically walking through neighborhood blocks and finding something interesting that is newly opened is more relevant. Case in point is my recent dinner at Sushi Ikumi, a small sushi restaurant that could not be more nondescript. I walked past the simple dark blue awning multiple times, not knowing a restaurant was there, and the absence of visible letter signage didn’t help, until that one day I happened to pay closer attention and saw diners through the window. I made dinner reservations soon after, and had an excellent chef’s tasting omakase. I went to Nakazawa a month earlier, which was also excellent, but Sushi Ikumi’s omakase surpassed that experience.

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Outdoor Dining at Carbone in Soho

Carbone, despite its proximity to my apartment, is the antithesis of a neighborhood restaurant. It’s expensive, exclusive and reservations are hard to come by. But now with the pandemic, it’s become a lot more accessible. Reservations are easier to get now that they’ve expanded their outdoor dining areas to include the sidewalk near Sadelle’s. It used to be the case that you’d open Resy and hope that you’d get off the waitlist for a certain day you wanted, but now when I look at the app, I can usually see availability on any day I’m interested in. And obviously, since it is winter, they’re wide open. Now’s the time to make this the neighborhood spot, if I didn’t care about my wallet or my waistline.

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Outdoor Dining at The Tyger in Soho

Someone (famous) said that NYC is a ghost town, but have they been downtown? There are no ghosts there, but lots and lots of people. People are eating outside in droves, masks and puffy jackets and all. In fact, there’s a bit of a scene again, with people being turned away by a host holding an iPad. The sceniest new entrant is the Southeast Asian restaurant The Tyger in Soho. As the name suggests, The Tyger is a stylish and bold restaurant, where the colors are bright and the flavors pack a lot of ferocious heat. It’s no kitty cat that purrs, The Tyger is a beast that roars.

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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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