In just a few weeks, spring arrives — and all the deliciousness that a spring menu brings. Find out where to save in cities around North America.
Sure, big showpiece restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs are glamorous and exciting. Their atmosphere makes for great theater, plus they turn out some seriously delicious food. But if you’ve had enough showboating and are seeking less swagger, then check out our picks for the coziest tiny restaurants around the country, where the food is micro-prepped, the atmosphere is intimate, and the experience often includes a ringside seat to the chef’s open kitchen.
MKT, Seattle, Washington
With only 28 seats (six tables and ten seats at the chef’s counter), MKT makes it feel like you’re sitting around the kitchen island of a very good cook rather than in a renowned outpost of chef Ethan Stowell’s mini-empire. And that’s why diners love it. “When people are seated at tables or in booths, they’re in their own little world,” says chef Alvin Go, who interacts with guests as he preps, and watches complete strangers connect while asking questions about each other’s meals. “At MKT, everyone interacts with each other.” To complement all this coziness, MKT is offering plenty of items cooked on its wood fire grill, including seared duck breast with pickled huckleberry. There’s also porcini ricotta ravioli, and several dishes integrate local apples, and quince (which comes from neighbors’ fruit trees.).Make a reservation at MKT.
Loosie’s Kitchen, Brooklyn, New York
Steps away from the Williamsburg Bridge, hidden behind Loosie’s Rouge, a bar with killer cocktails and Cajun-inspired small plates…there’s Loosie’s Kitchen, which has just 30 seats in the off-season (the number doubles in summertime thanks to an outdoor area). Come for the family-style dishes of fried chicken with house pickles and hot sauce, the duck confit with a shepherd’s pie, the macaroni with bacon, and the Nutella beignets — but stay for the impromptu games of Twister, the Hangover Brunch (dress code: pajamas), or maybe even a yoga class (No kidding. The staff puts these events on at random, which adds to the tight-knit community vibe). If you go, also prepare to be dazzled by high design, both in the décor and on the plate. There’s lots of white (painted bricks, oversized plates) paired with splashes of color and warm, natural wood. And given all that Loosie’s has going on, count on leaving full and with a slew of new BFFs. Make a reservation at Loosie’s Kitchen
Joe and Misses Doe, New York, New York
The best way to describe this place: a quirky mom-and-pop establishment smack dab in the middle of the big city with ambitious and totally successful food. Ya feelin’ the vibe yet? With only 26 seats and a 100-square-foot kitchen, Joe and Misses Doe will dazzle you with its four-course chef’s menu (choice of appetizer and entrée, set dessert, and a bread courses) that changes every two weeks. “Our space is unassuming,” explains Jill Dobias, who owns the restaurant with her husband, chef Joe Dobias, “but prepare to be wowed by what Joe creates.” Because it’s small, the restaurant gets to work with highly-focused purveyors who turn out top quality products in small batches. The result: a devoted clientele who sometimes cram in several visits during a two-week period to enjoy a menu a few times before it’s switched out. Make a reservation at Joe and Misses Doe.
No, it’s not a figment of your imagination. Figs are growing in popularity with diners — the fleshy, somewhat homely fruit is showing up on entrée and dessert menus, and even in cocktails. Sure, figs have gotten a bad rap all these years, reduced to a newton (or a fig on a plate). But the fig has gotten a well-deserved do-over. Here are some of our fave fig drinks + dishes to add to your dining agenda.
The Notorious F.I.G., The Stanton Social, New York, New York
The Notorious F.I.G. cocktail is a much-anticipated holiday sip at this trendy Lower East Side neighborhood spot. The cocktail is made with Bulleit Bourbon, figs, pear-cinnamon syrup, and fresh lemon. And, good news for diehard fig lovers, you can celebrate any occasion with this cocktail — it’s served year-round. Make a reservation at The Stanton Social.
Baked Goat Cheese Dip, Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant, Boston, Massachusetts
This South Boston gathering spot features a shareable Baked Goat Cheese Dip. But this dip also has a sidekick — executive chef Nick Dixon’ housemade fig jam. The popular dish is topped with toasted almonds and served with sourdough bread for delicious dipping. Make a reservation at Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant.
Little Figlet, Il Mulino New York, South Beach, Florida
The handcrafted fig cocktail at this Art Deco-meets-New-York outpost in South Beach is named the Little Figlet. The creation features fig-infused Plymouth gin, muddled figs, and a house lime cordial (lime juice, sugar, and water), and is shaken and served over ice with a sliced fig garnish. Make a reservation at Il Mulino New York.
Go Fig-ure Cocktail, Chalk Point Kitchen, New York, New York
Fig, meet the Big Apple — Soho to be exact. The Go Fig-ure Cocktail served at this “market to table” restaurant is made with Tin Cup American Whiskey, muddled pear and fig, cinnamon syrup, and lemon juice — and garnished with pear slices and a dash of cinnamon. Make a reservation at Chalk Point Kitchen.
Earthy, healthy nuts are a satisfying treat in festive desserts. Pecans, of course, play a pivotal pie role on holiday menus—but other nuts are also celebrated during the holidays including walnuts, pistachios, chestnuts and hazelnuts. Here are seven nut desserts that you’ll go nuts for this festive season.
Bourbon & Pecan Tart, Coppin’s-Hotel Covington, Covington, Kentucky
The Bourbon & Pecan Tart from pastry chef Madelyn Bernard’s stars one of Kentucky’s greatest exports along with pie stud — the pecan. A rift on the classic pecan pie, chef Bernard elevates the dessert with a buttery tart shell. The pecans are coated in British pure cane syrup before baking and, just before the tart makes its oven debut, bourbon is drizzled to crystallize the warm sugar. Make a reservation at Coppin’s-Hotel Covington.
Karidopita, Avra Madison, New York, New York
Pastry chef Paola Marocchi has created a traditional Karidopita for the holidays. The classic walnut cake is made with walnuts, (of course!), Cognac, cloves, breadcrumbs, sugar, and cinnamon, and it is bathed in a sweet syrup (cinnamon, sugar, and water). Powdered sugar is sprinkled liberally on top, and the nutty cake is served with vanilla gelato. Opa! Make a reservation at Avra Madison.
German Chocolate Cake, Deadhorse Hill, Worcester, Massachusetts
Chef and co-owner Jared Forman’s decadent German chocolate cake with walnuts, coconut, and homemade black walnut liqueur gelato is in the spotlight this time of year. The festive cake is a light but rich layer cake that features deeply toasted shredded coconut and walnuts that are made into a thick glaze adding caramel notes and moisture. Make a reservation at Dead Horse Hill.
Panna Cotta, Green Fig, New York, New York
During the holidays, it’s all about Chef Gabriel Israel’s Pistachio-Goat Cheese Panna Cotta at this Modern Israeli restaurant with influences from North Africa’s Maghreb region. A pistachio meringue stars inside the goat cheese panna cotta and the dessert is then finished with chopped pistachios, more pistachio meringue and a drizzle of honey. Make a reservation at Green Fig.