The latest of these, Eighty One, opens Monday across from the Museum of Natural History.
A big, bright restaurant, Eighty One is well at home on the UWS without screaming "UWS." The upscale menu is carefully crafted by chef/owner Ed Brown (Sea Grill) around ingredients sourced from local and organic purveyors. And sure, the local/organic/greenmarket thing is a bit played out, but we don't really care when the food sounds this good. Dishes like the New Bedford Sea Scallops and Fois Gras Ravioli or the Fennel and Parsley Soup with Florida Frog Legs just start to hint at the flavors you'll find here.
It's the kind of place you could go with friends to shake things up, but more likely you'll go after visiting the museum with your wealthy aunt, especially since the lounge area looks like her living room (modern tweedy couches and a large alpaca rug.) The rest of the space is colored with red velvet, bright orange and more walnut. And before you go, call ahead to reserve the coveted chef's table, the only table in the space with a direct view into the open kitchen.
As usual, it's all about the view on the UWS.