In late 2012, a massive fire ravaged Murray Hill institution Sarge's Delicatessen. Over a year later, the restaurant is back open, with all the deli fare it has been serving for half a century.
Murray Hill, Manhattan
Like the chupacabra, the perfect goat sandwich remains elusive, but if you're looking for a taste of the stuff in midtown, now you know where to go.
While the sandwiches as Melange all generally left a bit to be desired, it's a solid spot for the area, and considering the prices, a reasonably good value, too.
The food at Kokum represents a "culinary tour through the southern coast of India," inspired, among others, by the cuisines of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and—especially rare in New York—seafood-heavy Kerala. New York's Indian cuisine still skews towards the rich (heavy in unskilled hands) cooking of the country's northern regions, which makes the purely southern Kokum one of Manhattan's most distinctive Indian restaurants. A meal there is a journey well worth taking, even if the food doesn't always succeed.
When we last saw chef Peter Beck, he was developing the menu at Benares near Times Square, where the casual restaurant hit upscale notes with a mixed seafood stew and some refined takes on chaat. He's now at Pippali, a Murray Hill Indian spot that runs in a similar vein. That includes a particularly fancy version of a Maharashtran street snack, a sandwich best shared as a starter.
The kati rolls at Desi Galli have earned the tiny Murray Hill lunch spot a loyal following, not least because of the chewy flatbreads that wrap them up. But don't stop there if you're in search of a good sandwich: these little sliders are another solid choice and better sized for snacking, boasting the same flavorful fillings inside a downy new bun.
Regional Indian specialties set this restaurant apart from the rest of Curry Hill.
At La Vie en Szechuan, they work to take care of you. And a look around the dining room says why: The young, smartly dressed, nearly all-Chinese clientele look ready for their night out in K-Town, not for slumming it on Mott Street. Like Cafe China up north a few blocks, the restaurant aims for something more upscale, and in setting, presentation, and quality it largely succeeds. Many Sichuan classics, the dishes we often look to as benchmarks for a restaurant like this, are the weakest parts of the menu. But if you order strategically around them you'll bear witness to some of the more interesting, unexpected, and yes—upscale—Chinese cooking in the city.
Mayhem & Stout has been operating at food markets and festivals for a while now, but they recently opened a small brick and mortar shop of their own in Murray Hill. Their sandwich menu allows you to mix and match their various braised meats, sauces, and add-ons, such as lamb shoulder with kale and potato chips.
Hurricane Steak and Sushi recently changed its name from the Hurricane Club, and much of the menu changed with it. While many of the large-format share plates are gone, the chef has kept on this 40 ounce porterhouse for two.
Penelope, Murray Hill's comfort food fixture, offers an approachable, all-are-welcome vibe, as well as many vegetarian-friendly dishes. But until the restaurant significantly ups its standards, the area's nearby vegetarian Indian restaurants make much worthier destinations for a meatless meal.
There are some New York restaurants that stand the test of time: places that, no matter what trends storm the city—and then, inevitably, retreat—make excellent food, and stay true to their style no matter what the times dictate. Chennai Garden, the vegetarian Indian restaurant on Manhattan's Curry Hill, is one of those spots.
The best doughnuts are the ones fresh from the fryer. At Terroir they come in the form of Apple Cider Doughnut Holes ($5). These single bite cake doughnuts are drenched with a slow oozing cider caramel.
This salty fish sandwich could lead the 'lox for lunch' campaign.
This week on Ask The Critic: the best bites in Murray Hill and figuring out how much to tip a bartender.
The C-list cast of characters, i.e. wilted lettuce and pale tomato, make a cameo on the Z'Tuna sandwich ($5.99, half) at Lamazou, but what can easily turn into another tired rendition of tuna salad is avoided here with bright Mediterranean flavors.
Reserve bills itself as the city's only Thai wine bar. More than 15 wines are served by the glass, all meant to "compliment or challenge" the Thai flavors. While some of the dishes might be familiar from your regular go-to place, overall Reserve doesn't want to be your standard Thai takeout joint.
The cafe on the second flood of Kalustyan's in Murray Hill has an impressive array of stuffed grape leaves, chickpea stews, bulgur salads and the like—all available as fillings in pita sandwiches. Which ones should you order? We tasted 18 to find out.
If a casual, a la carte restaurant serving up tacos that start at $3 and sandwiches that top the menu at $9—in a converted Salvation Army space in the middle of the banker and adult frat-boy-friendly bar scene of Murray Hill—seems like an out of place move for chef/restaurateur duo April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, that's because it is. Talking with April about the concept and the menu, even she seems a little surprised by the whole affair.
Chef Preston Clark of Resto and The Cannibal is one of the men behind the restaurants' serious steak program, which is comprised of a New York strip, a T-Bone, and a Cote de Bouef for two.