Ask the Critics: The Perennial Parent Trap

To inaugurate our new Ask-the-Critics feature, we're turning to the question both Robert and I get asked the most: My parents are coming into town, where should I take them?

Obviously, circumstances differ, but for our purposes let's assume that your parents are paying and have deeper pockets than you. It's something of a special occasion dinner. So you're looking for a place that will show off New York's vast mid-to-higher-end restaurant scene, but the most important criteria are the deliciousness of the food and the comfort of your parents. Some older folks may relish balancing on a bar stool at Momofuku Noodle Bar, but many do not.

Robert Sietsema recommends Landmarc for its "bucolic location in Tribeca and pleasant brick-clad interior; its menu that combines steaks and chops with more forward-looking dishes and relatively low markups on wine." He also picks Trestle on Tenth for excellent Swiss cuisine, Five Points for unpretentious Mediterranean-American, and En Japanese Brasserie, where he enjoys the homemade tofu.

I'd say Savoy, for the archetypal downtown setting, cozy fireplace, and delicious, locally sourced food that ranges from marinated beets to house-made charcuterie to grilled quail to roasted Spanish mackerel. Something to please everyone. For a newer restaurant with good people-watching, I'd go for Maialino, for hearty, simple Roman dishes. If you live in Brooklyn (or your parents don't mind a trip), Tanoreen would be a great choice. It's been renovated recently--fancied up, with a full bar. The Palestinian food is still outstanding.

Take adventurous parents to Flushing's Golden Shopping Mall. I recently took Midwestern relatives there, and they were crazy about the place, especially Xi'an Famous Foods' Mount Qi vegetable noodles and cumin lamb noodles. It's something they definitely can't get in Kansas City.

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