Twenty years after he opened Aureole, his first restaurant, culinary impresario Charlie Palmer decided it needed a makeover. No mere facelift for the revered Aureole: It has a completely new look–and address. What was once an intimate jewel box on the Upper East Side is now a glass-encased modern atrium off Times Square. Yet, thanks to the design work of Adam Tihany, the ample, high-ceilinged space has captured the comfort of the original, and you feel instantly at home whether you’re having the more formal prix-fixe menu in the dining room, a casual pre-theater supper, or post-show snack in the bar room.
As Palmer explains, “It’s not about changing the space to attract a different clientele. It’s about providing options for same clientele to eat differently each time they visit.” No matter how or what you choose to eat, you will taste some of the country’s most innovative cooking. For the first time, Palmer has completely entrusted another chef with his kitchen. He sought out James Beard Rising Star award winner Christopher Lee because, “we really look at food the same way,” says Palmer. “We have very strong classical French foundations and respect that, but we’re very interested in new technology and a bit of whimsy. At the end of the day, we want to create dishes that people just love and have to come back for.” You’ll have to come back for the chilled corn soup sweetened with Vidalia onions; the rack of lamb with an earthy, North African combination of Medjool dates and almonds; the caramel panna cotta with its out-of-the-oven warm banana-bread croutons, and, Palmer’s favorite, a small plate of simply broiled, filleted, fresh Portuguese sardines with caramelized onions on a crispy galette. (212.319.1660, www.charliepalmer.com)