A historic change has happened in the kitchen of this elegant restaurant, located in the building that once housed the India House private merchant's club. Eberhard Muller, a darling of uptown dining (he once manned the stoves at Le Bernardin), suddenly left his post at Lutece to migrate south. Miller's cooking is as sophisticated as the nautical-theme decor and much more contemporary. Some of the produce comes from his Long Island farm, and it finds itself incorporated into succulent dishes such as crisp snapper with a ragout of artichoke, carrot, and celery; tender quail on a bed of Savoy cabbage; and rack of lamb with a mustard-honey glaze. The restaurant remains a private club at lunch. At dinner the energy of the room ranges from sedate to somnambulant. If you can't get a reservation for a fine meal anywhere on a Saturday night, remember you can probably get in here.
Address: 1 Hanover Sq., between Pearl and Stone Sts.
Phone: 212/514-9454. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Closed Sun. No lunch.
When he opened this celebrity-friendly spot, restaurant impresario Keith McNally, of Odeon and Fastis fame, went to extraordinary lengths to re-create the look and feel of a Parisian brasserie. Balthazar is still going strong and it may be difficult to get a reservation at a normal dinnertime, but they will seat you until 1:30 AM. Nightly specials are based on classic French dishes; Tuesday it's choucroute garni (veal and garlic sausages, smoked meats, sauerkraut, and juniper simmered in white Alsatian wine). The roast chicken for two is hard to beat. Wonderful bread is baked in the restaurant's own bakery; you can buy some at the tiny shop next door. Prices are not exorbitant by today's standards, the wine list is fair, and average (read: not famous) diners are treated quite well.
Address: 80 Spring St., between Broadway and Crosby St.
Phone: 212/965-1414. Reservations essential. AE, DC. MC. V.