Meet Goldilocks. She's not too quiet and not too loud. Her food is creative, but not too experimental, or challenging. And though she's in a hotel, at least half her guests (and likely more) are New Yorkers—locals who have been vying for tables, as this restaurant is a difficult reservation to get. Why so popular? Because Simon & The Whale has the comforting ambiance of a fire in an open hearth. The dining room is moodily lit, with lots of woods, handsome tiling, and tables set a civilized distance apart—contemporary looking but with a hint of the traditional. The food, too, while of the moment, has time-honored palate pleasers like the luscious dill and dark rye bread bits that give the arctic char tartare a deli twist, or the perfectly balanced creamy lemon sauce that swaddles the casconsei (ravioli-like pasta stuffed with sunchokes). Cocktails are balanced, too, as is the wine list, and the soundtrack features peppy alternative music from all decades at a volume that makes one's subconscious happy but doesn't interrupt conversation. In short, this is a restaurant that gets it just right.
New York City
New York City› Restaurant
Simon & The Whale
23 Lexington Ave. (in the Freehand Hotel)
Our Rating Neighborhood The Flatiron District, Union Square & Gramercy Park Hours Mon–Fri 8am–11pm, Sat¬–Sun 10am–11pm Transportation Subway: 6 to 23rd St. Phone 212/475-1920 Prices Main dishes $21–$47 Cuisine Type Gourmet American Web site Simon and the Whale
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