I’ve been on the hunt for that rarest of New York restaurants—the one that I’d recommend without qualification. In this city, there’s something for every occasion: the brunch place good for breaking up with someone in the park afterward; the by-the-slice place with a killer eggplant and fresh ricotta; the pasta place, when all you want is an old-school joint started by a former longshoreman, because you were wandering the Navy Yard pretending you were in “On the Waterfront.” (You know, hypothetically.) The flip side is that those restaurants are definitively not perfect for other occasions. But Olmsted, if you can get a reservation (and that is a big if—last I checked, it was booked solid through mid-February), is suitable for just about any night. The price at the new Prospect Heights restaurant is right (everything is under twenty-five dollars). The garden is enchanted (a friend I took there was convinced I was about to propose). It’s not too noisy; not too precious; not too far; not too healthy; not too gluttonous. I still dream of the frozen yogurt topped with warm, whipped lavender honey, and I want to go back to try their hot chocolate out in the back yard, wrapped in Pendleton blankets. I know it sounds impossibly twee, but in their hands I trust that it works.
Tables for Two: Our Favorite Restaurants of 2016
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