Joe N. Asks: I want to take my parents out for lunch somewhere that’s nice in Lower Manhattan. Can you recommend somewhere that isn’t too expensive but that they’ll enjoy?
Dear Joe: Lower Manhattan used to be a culinary wasteland, but in recent years it’s become a dining destination. OK, maybe not quite a destination. But there are definitely some decent spots.
If Tribeca is included in your geographic parameters, then I’d definitely recommend Locanda Verde. I simply adore their pastas and the whipped ricotta always woos me, even though it’s a remarkably simple dish. I also think the Odeon would be fun, because your parents will be able to recall the days when the Odeon was the place to be and you can all have a good laugh about how the area has changed since then. Plus the Frenchy bistro fare is pretty good, if slightly boring. And I also really like Blaue Gans. The Austrian cuisine can be on the hearty side, but who doesn’t love a good sausage lunch (with a side of the herbed spätzle, of course)? Plus if your parents are from out of town, it’s probably unlikely that they’re dining at Austrian restaurants that frequently, so it might be a fun change of pace.
If we’re only talking the Wall Street/FiDi area, though, then I’d probably suggest Nelson Blue, a restaurant specializing in New Zealand cuisine. My father works nearby and we’ve enjoyed several family meals there together. We’ll also lunch at Harry’s on Hanover Square, a clubby steakhouse that’s quite good. If you want something a little more upscale, then Delmonico’s would be a good choice. My co-worker Robert reviewed the spot recently and quite enjoyed the boneless rib eye and the lobster Newburg. And if you end up whiling away the hours at lunch in the area, grab a drink afterward at Bin 220, my favorite wine bar in those parts, but which doesn’t open until 4 p.m.