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La Boîte en Bois

A country French UWS boîte, “the box in the woods”,  literally. A tiny space downstairs. Not great if you’ve got clausty issues. Close. Cozy. Snug. Yet the staff and atmosphere are friendly and it has endured in the neighborhood for many years. Food is standard bistro fare, bland and average quality. Nice Sancerre. Also on the plus side. Stairs make it difficult so no strollers or leashes at brunch.

Sushi Kaito

12-seat bar way West on 72nd. The freshest bites with meticulous presentation by an Omakase master. Sea salts, citrus garnishes. Sea Bream. Black Cod. Scallop. Tuna. Yellow tail. Oyster. Char. Everything tastes as if it was caught a minute ago in this 16-piece Christmas gift from mAdBen. A true treat.

Union Square Café

Same sign. Different address. First went there in 1994 when Danny Meyer was an up-and-coming restaurateur. American fare with attention to service and fresh ingredients. The original was a little bit downstairs. This later iteration has the same vibe but with an above-the-ground and upstairs feel. Yet. Both intimate and inviting. Uniquely New York. Reminiscent of its dining heyday. In the neighborhood to see Peter Dinklage as Cyrano. Way cool.

The Mark

A Jean-Georges restaurant in the tony Upper East Side hotel. The place to see and be seen. Glitterati abounds. Bustling bar into the back room. A festive atmosphere to meet friends during the holidays. Don’t go for great food. Go for the scene and Sancerre.

Asset

Columbus Avenue gets another much-needed booster shot. A vibrant young crowd in a cool space with good food and a DJ to enhance the lively mood. It’s not for everyone. But, it’s fun. Baby clams, carpaccio and tuna tartare excellent. Wine list extensive and reasonable. More of a cocktail-centric crowd. It’s from the owners of Tessa (backwards = Asset) on Amsterdam. But a much different experience.

Da Capo Columbus

The  best  UWS spot morning,  noon  or  nite.  Friendly  and  fun.  Chic  ambience.  Back  room  perfect  for a special  occasion gathering.  From coffee  to  cocktails.  A neighborhood  gem.

Lure Fishbar SoHo

A traditional celebratory favorite over the years. This year, our son’s 30th birthday with family was no exception. Still fun and lively. Attentive service. Great raw clams. Succulent and perfectly cooked fish. It is the only place in Manhattan I’ll actually go downstairs to dine for its ship-like atmosphere. We’ll never forget a few years back when Mike Bloomberg and Chuck Schumer stopped by to say hi. And stayed for a long chat. Always a people-watching scene. And. One of those consistently good spots for return rendez-vous.