Alain Ducasse's "J'Aime New York" launched last year as a 10-pound coffee table book, chock full of expert picks on where to dine in our city. For those who don't feel like lugging around a kettle bell-weight tome in their purse for culinary inspiration, come October it'll be available as a handy e-book. We asked the French chef — whose 26 restaurants span eight countries — to tell us the best places to eat for just about every occasion worthy of a restaurant meal:
Have a first date
Four & Twenty Blackbirds: Tucked away in Gowanus, this spot is homey and inviting, making it ideal for sharing a quiet cup of coffee and a sweet snack. The old-fashioned pies are cooked to perfection and come in a variety of seasonal flavors throughout the year.
Have an anniversary dinner
Porter House New York: There’s no better way to experience New York than through a steakhouse like Michael Lomonaco’s Porter House. With an outstanding view of Central Park, this is a truly romantic scene.
Propose to someone
Le Bernardin: Not only is this one of the most dynamic restaurants in the U.S., but here chef Eric Ripert is able to inspire his guests through the artistry of his food. The restaurant is set so that everything is exquisitely in its place – an atmosphere worthy of an occasion such as an engagement.
Have brunch with friends
Prune: There is no better place to witness the ritual of brunch than this intimate spot in the East Village. Though weekend mornings guarantee a crowd, chef-owner Gabrielle Hamilton’s hearty plates are well worth the frenzy.
Have dinner with your in-laws
Peasant: Warm and welcoming, this NoLiTa spot is the perfect place to dine with family. Wood-burning ovens churn out seasonally inspired Tuscan fare, and the smell of the food cooking over an open fire melts away any nerves.
Have a business lunch that will woo a client
Marea: This luxurious seafood-focused Italian hot spot overlooks Central Park, and here Michael White serves some of the best pasta in town. Manhattan’s most important business moguls, fashion designers and notables spend their afternoons here, as it is always guaranteed to impress.
Catch up with an old friend
Ace Hotel's John Dory Oyster Bar: April Bloomfield’s casual bar is a cozy corner in the Ace Hotel, where raw bar and prepared items are top-notch. The spacious restaurant is ideal for meeting a close friend, order a number of seafood plates to share and enjoy the expansive wine list.
Make new friends
Kitchen Arts & Letters: For someone who cares about food, a trip here is a must. Dedicated to the literature of food, I can spend hours browsing their collection of cookbooks and culinary references that serve anyone from the master chef to the home cook, making it the best place to spark discussions with strangers who can turn into friends.
Take your out-of-town friends who want to see something famous in NYC:
Katz's Delicatessen: The best Jewish-style deli also happens to be the oldest. The staff piles slices of caraway-seeded rye with old-fashioned cured pastrami and corned beef.