Where to dine well this spring in NYC
Raf's, Mischa, Ma-dé, Principe, Golden Swan, outdoor dining, Summer Fridays, more
RESTAURANTS • Recon
Spring Restaurant Rush: Raf’s is an unequivocal yes
FOUND subscribers weigh in on some highlights (and lowlights) of the latest crop of Manhattan restaurant openings:
→ Raf’s (Noho, opened 3/15, above):
“Still there is no gas at Raf's and the electrical connection is temporary (note the rough ConEd setup out front), but I am nonetheless an Unequivocal Yes on this place. Raf's is all the things — softly swanky, diminutive, very delicious, on Elizabeth Street north of Houston (a perfect restaurant block, perhaps?), and in a space with history. When you go, you'll leave thinking about how to return as soon as possible. Plus, on offer is the well-known path to this eater’s heart: a perfect roast chicken.”
“A dip into Paris, fab vibe, and the chicken might be one of the best since Barbuto.”
→ Mischa (Midtown, opened 4/17):
“Some restaurants are interesting, others are delicious and few are both interesting and delicious — this is in the interesting category. There’s a horseradish cocktail I liked and the desserts were good. That’s about it.”
“The big news here is the prime rib ($120), a masterful and generously proportioned slab of prime dry-aged beef that instantly ranks up there with my favorites (Smith & Wollensky, Gallaghers, Keens, The Grill) and is way funkier than any of them.”
→ Ma-dé (Nolita, opened 4/26): “Tough to get in; not many seats worthy of your time. But delicious, complex dishes, tapas style.”
→ Principe (Soho, opened 3/9): “The space, an old art gallery on upper West Broadway, appealed to me. But you should know before you go whether you’re a Saint Theo’s/American Bar person, because that’s the DNA here. Aside from the raw bar starters, the food was a no for me.”
→ BONUS: Golden Swan (West Village, opened 5/24):
“Quite early, but for sure file under promising. Nice to have that corner back as a restaurant. Already a who's who of West Village machers: a Lauren here, a Blumenthal there.”
“Swanky clubby vibe, food is not why you go.”
Got any intel on the above or other new spots on our Spring Restaurant Rush Nines (like Seoul Salon, Virginia's, Greywind, Superiority Burger, and Press Club Grill)? Hit reply or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
→ Reports a FOUND correspondent, “I think one should be quietly optimistic about Cecchi’s in the old Cafe Loup space in the Village. OG frontman there and gold-leaf lettering has appeared on the windows (above).”
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Friends and Family at new restaurants is now very online, for better and for worse • The Sunday routine of head Balthazar maitre’d Zouheir Louhaichy • Some more love for Daniel Boulud’s new breakfast at Tiffany’s • This mezcal Negroni has a secret • Is the future of restaurant interior design the Gen-Z chaotic aesthetic?
RESTAURANTS • The Nines
Al fresco, patios & sidewalks
Bar Pitti (Village), classic celeb-y sidewalk scene
Pastis (Meatpacking, above), cinematic Meatpacking standby
Jack’s Wife Freda (Soho), pitch-perfect Paris sidewalk café vibe
Lodi (Rock Center), Mattos food and Today Show cameos
Bryant Park Grill (Midtown), great European-style terrace
The Fulton (Seaport), Seaport views, Seaport space, Seaport-sized
Celestine (Dumbo), front row patio for East River action
Cafe Spaghetti (Carroll Gardens), big backyard, great for groups
Olmstead (Prospect Heights), nu-standard for backyard tables
WORK • Members Report
Do you Summer Friday?
In the days of peak office — roughly the period from the first dotcom boom through the onset of Covid, when new tech introduced a perk-forward approach to making people conflate life and work — there was no better bonus than the Summer Friday.
The pandemic took the bloom off the rose. Everyone was already home, and there was nothing fun to do outside anyway. But now, as employers are struggling to find that magic return-to-office balance, even contemplating a full-on 4-day workweek (75% of workers would prefer it!), are Summer Fridays the answer?
We put the question to a dozen FOUND charter members: Will your company be observing summer Fridays this year?
“Lol. No. That would be antithetical to our RTO by any means necessary culture.” –Venture-backed services company
“No. Nobody is really in the office on Fridays though. We used to do dress down on Fridays in summer but that’s no longer relevant because dress expectations have also become way relaxed when people do come in.” –Medium-sized law firm
“No summer Fridays for us. We recently instituted a policy where we need to get permission to have the junior team members work on the weekend, so we’re probably working harder on Fridays of late.” –Private equity firm
“Haha. No.” –Two-person media startup
“We do observe them — no meetings on Friday afternoons. It has been an evergreen policy since COVID, so I'm not sure it’s completely summer Fridays at this point, but they are observed and that's where they originated.” –Public fashion/retail
“We do. Essentially full-time employees can log off from work on Fridays at 2 pm without using vacation or personal time. They start Memorial Day weekend and go through September 1.” –Public publishing
“Yes, we ‘close’ the office (though we work from home on Fridays) at 2pm on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Employees do need to keep tabs on their inbox in case anything distressingly pressing comes through that requires immediate attention, which thankfully happens almost never.” –PR firm
“We will do (full day) Summer Fridays July 4th to Labor Day.” –Venture-backed tech
The Somewhere in Betweens
“Nothing really like that but overall there’s a big push to eliminate unnecessary emails and meetings — to make less clutter. Based on that, yeah, avoid Fridays.” –Big law firm
“We don’t have an official policy! This is my first summer, but I have a feeling it will be flexible and we will work remote. Given we’re retail and ecomm, we don’t have a 5-day week anyway.” –Private fashion/retail
“Since we're pretty much remote most of the week anyway, the only ‘Summer Friday’ tweak is that everyone is entitled to one Friday off each month of the summer (June, July, Aug, so three days total)...But, with remote work from home on Fridays, I have no doubt that people always scramble to get work done early so there's a little summer Friday every week.” –PE-backed software
“We don't have anything official. My team is very unofficially signing off at 1pm.” –Public media
At FOUND, we enjoy a Friday afternoon on the patio or maybe a stroll through the park. But we also know that we cannot bring back that late-aughts feeling of walking out of the office at 1pm and heading down the Bowery, the sunshine on our necks, the weight off our shoulders.
NYC WORK LINKS: For first time, NYC edges out SF for early-stage startups • Jehovah’s Witnesses HQ in Dumbo to be renovated into film studio • NYC takes a crack at regulating AI in hiring • Terminal Warehouse ‘groundscaper’ set to open next year on west side • The best time to shower is the middle of the workday.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Object
Toward a better commute
We just moved our Food52 headquarters to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and I needed an efficient way to get there. I’ve walked. I’ve taken the Navy Yard shuttle. I’ve also tried Citi Bike, thinking that if I liked it, I’d get an e-bike. But the Citi Bike e-bike was heavy and clunky and felt like something I’d grow to dread dealing with. An e-scooter is the happy medium. The Ninebot E45 Kick is a reasonable heft (36 pounds) and folds up easily so I can bring it into my building at night. –Amanda Hesser
→ Shop: Ninebot E45 Kick Scooter, Segway, $599.99
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: New womenswear line from NYC’s Bode will make you want to party • A Super Tuscan for the ages • Tiffany Flagship tops off with three-story little blue box • SF report: Luxury shopping oasis emerging downtown • The new Select Card promises luxury perks. Is it worth it?
WORK • Tuesday Routine
Running a veritable Smorgasburg
It’s Tuesday morning, how do you get going?
I’m up at about 7:30 and have a cup of Harney’s Earl Grey while I get through my morning emails and news. Then I’ll knock out some pushups and go for a run or a walk around Fort Greene Park. I jump in the car around 11:15, just in time to avoid an alternate side parking ticket, and head to the Smorgasburg HQ in Red Hook.
What’s the Tuesday scene at your workplace?
On Tuesdays, we typically have one or two tastings in the middle of the day, Shark Tank-style try-outs by food vendors who are applying to get into Smorgasburg (above). My partner Eric [Demby] makes most of the decisions about who gets invited in for a tasting so I usually get to be surprised by the food that’s put in front of me.
What else is on the agenda for today?
After lunch, we’ve got our weekly marketing and sponsorships call with our teams in Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto. Mid-afternoon, I’ll swing past the walk-in cooler downstairs and snag a sixer of our new Smorgasbeer collab with Threes Brewing to bring home with me. Back in my home office, I might check in with the contractor who’s fixing up the little bungalow we recently bought in West Palm Beach (Lake Worth, to be more specific).
Any plans tonight?
Perhaps an outing around the corner to long-time fave Locanda Vini e Olii?
First, a quick reminder on how this works: You send us the pressing questions of the day (on dining, services, living in NYC and surrounds). We all put our heads together (us, FOUND, + you, FOUND subscribers, who are also FOUND) in a search for truth and beauty. Please do not be shy — hit reply or or email email@example.com.
PROMPTS, two new, one for which we continue to seek more intel:
Now that the weather is warm, I’d like to take an afternoon cocktail outside. Any suggestions?
Where are the good restaurants with quiet acoustics — someplace with a relaxed vibe where we can hear each other?
What the are the best day spas for sauna / steam / hot / cold pools, but not necessarily massages? Like Aire baths, but other options.