Actress Paten Hughes has a thing for tomatoes. “Get ready for some tomato’spiration,” she said as we discussed her upcoming takeover of the Edible Manhattan’s Instagram story feed. She’ll be giving us a peek at all things, tomatoes, along with spring gardening tips and behind the scene shots from the hit web series Heirloom of which she created and starred in.
Based, largely on Hughes’s own experiences, the creative, wayward foodie, somewhat Portlandia-ish, series follows Emily (Hughes,) an actress who finds herself back on her family’s farm, and you guessed it, growing tomatoes. Hughes and the rest of the Heirloom crew are currently in the middle of meetings for the show’s second season.
“When you’re both an actress and a farmer, two things are important to you in your dining choices: atmosphere and quality food,” Hughes said. Check out six of her essential Manhattan Restaurants and catch her on our Instagram story feed, on Wednesday, March 22.
Felidia: “caught in a good romance”
I’ve not found a more utterly romantic restaurant in New York. I swoon for the amazing homemade pastas. The the staple cacio e pere (pecorino and pear) ravioli will melt in your mouth and if it’s truffle season, you’re in for a real treat when opting to have them shaved over a fresh risotto. But the true find is the branzino, baked in the oven and expertly deboned tableside with fresh lemon wedges and olive oil. You’ll forget you’re not dining in Capri.
Annisa: “female focused and startlingly inventive”
When I started to think about my favorite restaurants in New York, Anita Lo’s gorgeous West Village gem was the first thing to pop into my head. Sadly, it’s also closing in May. SO! Get thee to Anissa before you finish reading this sentence.
Wine aficionados know this restaurant because they boast a carte du vin focusing on female vintners or proprietors. It’s an approachable fancy restaurant, creating the kind of atmosphere where you simultaneously feel at home and like you’re the Queen of some small European nation. I recently took my parents and my man here for my birthday dinner and got to share several dishes, including the labne with dukkah and a delicious miso sable fish marinated in bonito broth.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor: “an afternoon delight”
If you find yourself with a free couple of hours on a weekday afternoon, grab a girlfriend and instead of meeting for coffee, meet at the Canal Street subway and get your lattes to-go. Meandering around the streets of old-school Chinatown is a treat for your eyes and an adventure for your soul. I’m constantly discovering streets I’ve never even heard of after I grab my fruits and veggies for the week. And hidden away on a weaving street that likely used to follow the old cow paths, you’ll find Nom Way Tea Parlor. I promise you won’t regret popping in for a table filled with dumplings, Chinese noodles, traditional egg rolls, and perfectly prepared Chinese Greens.
Uncle Boon’s: “a flavor flare like nothing before”
This flavor-forward hole in the wall will dominate your polite conversations for weeks to come.
Best Dishes: The Mee-Krob Salad (substitute the cauliflower for the sweetbreads), the Yum-Mamoung green mango salad, the Black Cod in a turmeric broth and the Northern-style Golden Curry with homemade egg noodles (I order it vege, but go for the chicken leg if you’re feeling it!).
Balthazar: “classic fabulousness”
Craving steak-frites? You won’t find a better one. Balthazar’s is a quintessential French bistro that elevates simplicity to extravagant-yet-comfortable perfection. It’s my sentimental Cheers haunt, perfect for special occasions and weekly dining alike. Although I don’t eat a lot of meat, I have a hard time not giving into their delicious steak au poivre with a fresh greens salad. The onion soup, the goat cheese agnolotti and the chicken paillaird are all also favorites.
Gramercy Tavern: “come rain boots or Louboutain’s”
I try not to let a winter go by without visiting this Manhattan treasure. While more of a special occasion restaurant, there are few places in the city more worthy of a dining splurge. The warm and cozy atmosphere make it especially welcoming on cold weather days. It’s hard to be a homebody here, with the menu constantly in flux and offering new and exciting new dishes. I don’t think I’ve ordered the same thing twice here!