The Croiffle invades midtown Manhattan via the Godiva Café

Plus, the Upper East Side becomes caviar central, and one of the Obamas’ favourite chefs is making Venice a food destination


The dining spots and news we’re most excited about right now in New York, plus an eye toward Italy.

Godiva Café (Midtown; opened April 17)

What’s the most popular new restaurant in New York? If a line is your criteria, then the award goes to the Nutella Café in the Village. Rain or shine, the throng of people (tourists) stretches around the block for a place whose menu revolves around hazelnut spread.

Now, the ubiquitous Belgian chocolatier Godiva is getting into the dessert-as-meal-service game as well, with a café on the corner of Lexington and 50th Street; it’s the company’s first permanent one in the Americas. Its signature dish is the Croiffle — which doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way as, say, the Cronut — a fun hybrid of a buttery croissant that’s crisped to order in a waffle press. The pastry is then tucked into a paper triangular envelope that makes it easy to devour steaming hot as you head out the door. (There’s only a few tables in the café.) The savoury ones are the best, especially the three-cheese mix of havarti, Swiss and Gruyere that melts out. But there’s also ham and cheese, sausage, and, of course, dark or milk chocolate Croiffles.

The best Croiffles are stuffed with cheese that melts out when the concoction is pressed in a waffle maker

Also worth ordering are the waffles themselves. The yeasted dough, perfected by Godiva executive chef Thierry Muret, is studded with pearl sugar that caramelises while cooked, creating little pockets of sweetness.

The display has assorted salads, which most people aren’t grabbing. But here’s something they should pick up: An iced mocha. Midtown East is essentially a coffee desert (shout out to Little Collins and Ninth Street Espresso as the exceptions). Godiva Café takes its mocha seriously; it’s made from a café-specific blend of Latin American beans with a sensible amount of whipped cream and darkly flavoured chocolate and cocoa.

Soon, there will be as many Godiva Cafés as the company’s chocolate shops — 10 more are opening in undisclosed locations in New York state by the end of the year. The plan for global domination includes 2,000 worldwide, with 400 of those in the Americas. But for now, you have to go to Lexington Avenue or the Penn Station pop-up to get your Croiffle. Hours: Daily 6am-9pm; location: 560 Lexington Ave at 50th Street; 212-980-9810

Huso (Upper East Side; opened April 22)

Huso’s ‘hot dog’ filled with alaskan king crab and golden ossetra

This “farm-to-spoon” caviar café is fronted by chef Buddha Lo, an Eleven Madison Park alum, and is located in a new gourmet retail shop, Marky’s on Madison. This is the first brick-and-mortar location for the Florida-based caviar supplier Marky’s Group, and the shop will serve caviar within days of harvest from the company’s Florida aquafarm.

Named for the beluga sturgeon species, Huso will feature domestically raised, purebred Russian and Siberian ossetra, sterlet and sevruga. The a la carte menu includes the Huso dog, an Alaskan king crab “hot dog” with golden ossetra, as well as wagyu tartare with Russian Royal Osetra.

At night, the seven-course, US$200 (RM828) tasting menu might include a fried “chicken oyster” served with crème fraiche and domestic caviar, and the Russian-inspired “Olivier Potato” with a dill cream sauce, served on a bed of, you guessed it, caviar. Even desserts nod to the specialty: The tiramisu is topped with chocolate caviar pearls.

The 800-sq-ft (74.32sq m) space designed by Architectura and Seven Hills Corp is decorated in pearl blue with brass accents and marble tabletops. Soft velvet curtains cloak the 12-seat dining room behind the front-of-house retail. Hours: Daily 10am–8pm; chef’s tasting menu (Tuesday–Saturday) 7pm–10pm. Location: 1067 Madison Ave; 212-288-0850; @markysonmadison.

Steak ’N Lobster (NoMad; opened April 17)

A skillet full of lobster mac and cheese

As the name suggests, restaurateur Don Fellner and chef Masato Okamoto are highlighting both Black Angus beef steaks and Maine lobsters at their new NoMad restaurant. Okamoto, a sushi chef from Japan, is offering a very random assortment of snacks from lobster cream puffs with a house plum sauce to bacon cheeseburger pierogis.

There are 2 specialties at Steak ‘N Lobster

On the surf side are whole lobsters steamed or grilled, with options such as red hot sauce; a New England lobster roll with apples and Japanese mayo; and lobster mac with four cheeses. Turf offerings include a classic New York strip, an Asian-inspired Kogi steak marinated with miso, and a hickory-smoked Cajun steak with bourbon barbecue sauce.

There’s a rotating cocktail list. “Freakshakes” (crazily elaborate milkshakes) with house-made vegan ice cream are on the menu as well, in flavours such as matcha chocolate and green tea cake.

Notable in the design is the floor-to-ceiling Asian-inspired lobster mural in one of the bathrooms. Hours: Daily, noon to midnight; location: 29 W 29th Street; 212-564-2929.

In the News

Chef Trabocchi, whose regulars in Washington include the Obamas, is bringing good food to Venice

Venice: The Italian city of bridges has a lot of tourists and not enough non-tourist-trap restaurants. To the rescue: Michelin-starred Washington restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi, who has just opened Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia. In the 1920s-styled room in the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Trabocchi will serve an Italian version of the food that has made Fiola DC a favourite of the Obamas with a daily-changing crudo tuna, finished tableside, local soft shell crabs and white asparagus with caviar.

Pie: Milk Bar’s famed Crack Pie will now avoid any reference to crack cocaine and be called Milk Bar Pie, following recent criticism of the drug reference. Founder and pastry chef Christina Tosi announced the change in a message posted to Milk Bar’s public blog on April 15, saying “the old name was getting in the way of letting the gooey, buttery slice bring happiness — my only goal in creating the thing in the first place”.

An Evening Celebrating Lincoln Centre’s Social Impact: This dinner in support of Lincoln Centre’s education and outreach programme, with gala honoree co-president and co-COO of KKR & Co Joseph Y Bae featuring performances by the Grammy-winning Fantasia on April 23 at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan. — Bloomberg