The Leopard at des Artistes

Lunch is our secret to eating well in the city without a ridiculous tab and we tried two new spots. Billie and I always loved the Old New York vibe at Cafe des Artistes, so we traipsed through Central Park to try the new version. While the name is sort of a turnoff (The Leopard at des Artistes), we were cheered to find a spare and elegant space and the restored Howard Chandler Christy Murals taking center stage. The $28 three-course prix fixe lunch is a steal and it’s easy to order lightly off the Italian menu: composed organic salad and grilled chicken with spring onions and baby artichokes, which left room for an exquisite Mascarpone pannacotta with strawberries macerated in aged balsamic. Plenty to sustain us through our Museum slog.
If you’re not staying at NoMad (and you should) at minimum, eat there. It’s easier to get a table for lunch than dinner, there’s no attitude here, and you’ll swoon over the  glass-roofed dining room; bright, yet cozy on a stormy day. The geniuses from 11 Madison Park man the kitchen, and the food is downright gorgeous. Carrots as an entree is a laughable dish anywhere but NY, so skip it and order the halibut swimming in a delicate buttery broth, festooned with spring peas (pictured). My advice? Don’t pass on the dessert cart.