New York's Best Sushi and Steak Is Getting More Expensive in 2024
Cote, Ichimura, Noz, and Pastis have all hiked their prices for 2024. Plus: Ask critic Ryan Sutton where to eat, and columns by Robert Sietsema, Vittles, and Helen Rosner
Welcome to the debut 2024 edition of Free Food! This is a column that tracks some of the biggest stories in food and restaurants — with a focus on features and reviews.
But first, something different….
Are you eager to get out after last night’s wind and rain storm? (I still went out, lol, for a review dinner downtown, then for margaritas at Tacuba). Well, if you’re a paid subscriber looking for a recommendation, let me know what you’re in the mood for. Or ask me about a specific restaurant! And I’ll try to sort you out!
You can access the chat right here at noon or thereabouts. Yes, that’s right now! I should be checking and responding to any queries for much of the early afternoon!
Also: Please give a warm welcome to In Review, a great new food media column by In Digestion’s James Hansen! The author was a fellow Eater colleague back in the day.
How much will restaurant prices go up this year?
Before I dive into the rising cost of dinner at Cote, Ichimura, and elsewhere, let’s keep something in mind: Restaurant price inflation should be tamer in 2024 than in the past year or two.
That means your favorite tasting menu probably won’t go up in price by, like, $100.
Yes, the dishes we love are already super expensive. And the cost of dining out will continue to go up. It’s just that price increases should be less severe this year.
There are a few reasons for this. Gasoline prices are still down (geopolitics could change that). Food prices are more stable. And supply chain pressures have eased. Indeed, the USDA predicts that restaurant prices will rise at a fairly modest 4.9 percent in 2024.
But things might be different in certain major cities — including New York.
The local minimum wage has risen to $10.65 for tipped food service workers and to $16 for everyone else. I fully support that development, but rising labor costs almost always translate to higher prices. The debut of congestion pricing this summer (which could be delayed by the courts) will almost certainly make deliveries to Manhattan restaurants more expensive. And while food prices are moderating, beef prices are not — due to continued droughts out west, a tough break for a steakhouse town like this one.
And as Eater’s Melissa McCart reports — in an excellent piece that goes over congestion pricing and minimum wages — restaurants are coping with high credit card fees by levying surcharges on customers who don’t pay with cash. So we’ll see how things shake out on the pricing front.
In the meantime, please enjoy some price hikes we’re seeing so far!
Cote and Pastis
Cote in Flatiron, a chic mashup of a Korean BBQ spot and a New York steakhouse, has hiked the flagship menu by $6 to $74 (earlier in 2022, it was $64). The prix-fixe still includes four cuts of beef, a whole bunch of banchan, egg souffle, spicy kimchi stew, doenjang stew, and vanilla soft serve. So is it still a good deal? Absolutely. But keep in mind that after cocktails, add-ons, tax, and tip, you’re now looking at over $150 per person. And remember, Cote relegates most parties of 2 or 3 to ultra-late night; the next available booking for smaller parties is 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Then again, Simon Kim’s Cote is a special occasion restaurant. It’s a place you visit once or twice a year.
Pastis by Stephen Starr and Keith McNally is more of a hip, everyday brasserie — easily one of my favorite spots in New York. And that reality is what makes the new price of the filet au poivre quite steep. The cut ran $49 upon opening in 2019, and slowly crept up to $56 by last year. Well, now the au poivre frites is a hefty $63, or $81 after tax and tip. It’s a fantastic steak, but at that price, I’m more inclined to opt for the smaller, stickier, more powerfully flavored version at Lord’s.
p.s. The Cote crew is opening up its fancy fried chicken restaurant, Coqadaq, this week. A la carte is available but the signature service is a set-menu feast that includes roasted chicken consommé, assorted banchan, cold noodles with perilla, and froyo. Cost: $38 per person. Reservations, like at Cote, are primarily for four or more people, but walk-ins are taken at the bar and high tops. Check out the full menu here. Bookings are released two weeks out.
The Big Deal Sushi Price Hikes
Eiji Ichimura made his big return to the New York omakase scene this summer, asking an eyeball popping $425 per person for uni-stuffed mochi cakes and carefully aged nigiri. Well, now a meal is even more expensive. Each of the 10 patrons at his blonde wood bar will now pay $450, or or $580 after tax and gratuity. Beverages are extra, as is an optional takehome rolled sushi for $105.
Noz and Noz 17
I haven’t dined at all of New York’s top-tier omakase spots — Yoshino and 69 Leonard are two of the biggest holes on my resume — but I like to think I’ve eaten around pretty well. And so I take pride in saying the experimental Noz 17, which alternates bites of nigiri with sashimi and small plates, is my favorite of the bunch. Alas, the seven-seat counter is a lot more expensive than during my Eater review, when the meal cost $400.
Brothers David and Joshua Foulquier, who run Noz 17 with chef Junichi Matsuzaki, pushed up the price to $435 last year, and then to $465 in 2024. Sister spot Noz rose by a more modest $5 to $500. Service is included at both venues.
The acclaimed Tribeca restaurant — where I had a nice meal in the lower-priced bar area — has jumped from $400 to $495, but that change accompanies a switch to (mostly) service-included dining. So assuming you would’ve tipped 20 percent, the price has really only gone up by $15 or so. Keep in mind that you still need to tip on beverages purchased while dining at the sushi bar.
Sushi on Me
The famed “all-you-can drink” omakase spot has finally raised its f&cking prices. If you’ve ever dined at this raucous pep rally of a restaurant, on the Jackson Heights-Elmhurst border, you’ll know why I threw around an expletive right there. The 60-minute tasting menu, which includes as much sake as you can ingest in that time — and believe me they keep your glass filled — is now $10 pricier at $99. Cash only.
Also of note in the maritime department: Le Bernardin has pushed up the price of its chef’s tasting by $5 to $315.
A Price Cut at Bōm
Back to the subject of steak — and Korean tabletop grilling! The chic Bom, a tasting menu spot in the same space as Oiji Mi, has cut its menu price from $325 to $275. The beef-focused 11-course meal, let by chef Brian Kim, will run $359 after tax and service charges, but before wine, so it’s still definitely a splurge! Bōm received a Michelin star in its first year of operation.
Alright! Onto our regular slate of reviews. Finally. For a proper list of affordable-ish beef and lamb dishes, you can check out The Steak List on The LO Times, but shout out to Eater’s Robert Sietsema for another option in this department: F. Ottomanelli’s butcher shop in Woodside. Patrons can drop by, pick out a steak from the meat case, and have the cut cooked in-house. Sietsema chose a 1.5 pound dry-aged ribeye for $51, which is about $20 less than what you’d pay for a comparable steakhouse cut.
So how was the lunch? Here’s Sietsema in his own words:
The entire experience took 45 minutes. If you’re prone to linger over your steak, this may feel rushed. But the steak was perfectly cooked and juicy, we tore through it, and promised ourselves to return soon to try some of the cheaper steaks like the flat iron, which was $1.69 an ounce.
One of my favorite parts of all the year-end missives is how the critics try pin down their city (or country’s) culinary and cultural zeitgeist. Pete Wells wrote about New York’s big, brash, theatrical, “big-night-out” restaurants in own column, while I argued (as did NY Mag’s Matthew Schneier) that New York restaurants experienced a stupendously creative boom in 2023.
But what about our good neighbors across the pond? Enter Jonathan Nunn of Vittles fame, who has a lot to say about the state of London dining in his year-end retrospective. I enjoyed the author’s musings on the outer boroughs, including this line: “the halal scene has become one of the most creative culinary blocs in the city, with restaurants increasingly looking to a pan-Muslim audience rather than a specific diaspora.” But more broadly:
…2023 felt like the first full year of true growth in the London restaurant scene since the start of the pandemic. The spontaneous creativity of those uncertain pandemic-era businesses – perfecting sandwiches, boreks, biryanis – has started to synthesise with a resurgent central London scene and a noticeably mature set of new openings.
Also, here’s the first part of the Vittles year-end review, where Nunn chats with my former Eater colleague Adam Coghlan!
Like I said earlier, In Review is James Hansen’s new food media column! His focus is on London restaurant criticism, but he hints that he’ll dabble in the writings of other cities and countries, as warranted. If the debut edition is any indication of things to come, you can expect a deep textual analysis of reviews, an approach that’s simultaneously fun and erudite.
“A rave is well suited to Jimi Famurewa’s propulsive style, stacked with adjectives and adverbs that pile up on each other,” Hansen writes of the Evening Standard critic. And then he takes a closer look at the author’s musings on modern Filipino fare — and meditates on what Famurewa’s words (unwittingly) betray. Check it out!
“As my job of writing The Year I Ate New York came to its natural conclusion, I asked my friends the same question: Where would you go if you were leaving New York?,” E. Alex Jung writes in his final (regular) food newsletter. Jung isn’t leaving the city, but the question feels appropriate for our era. Even as the job market booms and as wages rise, affordability remains tough in New York. This is a city where the danger of having to pack up and leave always seems to lurk around the corner, even for folks who grew up here!
Among the places Jung lists for a final meal: Barney Greengrass (for bialys), Cecchi’s, The Grill, Joe Allen (yes!!!), and Wu’s Wonton King. Oh, and he’d also go back to Cho Dang Gol, where the food elicits the following lovely thoughts:
Everything arrives at volcanic temperatures; the stew sputtering right off the stove entered my body like molten lava. It was a cold day, but soon I was thawing from the inside out, my pores radiating heat. By the end, I’d taken off my sweater and felt as though I had experienced some small resurrection — parts of me fortified and ready to go back into the world.
“Diners, as a rule, are time machines…The only era a diner should never reference is now,” Helen Rosner writes for The New Yorker. I could go on about her lovely observations on Old John’s, but really, best to read this critical paean in full. And I’ll tease you, as I have in the past, with a few lines from Rosner’s kicker, which sums up a lot:
…fine is exactly what a diner’s burger ought to be. Old John’s is one of the best diners I’ve been to, but it remains very much a diner, which is to say that it’s a flawless restaurant if you’re already there: if you live in the neighborhood and can’t bear the thought of doing dishes, if you’ve just had an ultrasound at Mount Sinai West and need a moment to compose yourself, if you’ve got barely an hour before curtain at the Met and you can’t risk the ebbs and flows of being a walk-in at Café Luxembourg.
Okay, that’s it for today! I normally like to highlight more reviews and features from around the country — please also see this Julia Moskin writeup on the closing of Barbara Lynch’s restaurants — but the price hike stuff ran long. So be it!
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