Address: 115 Allen Street
To the dismay of downtown hipsters, this romantic spot at the intersection of two grungy Lower East Side streets has even middle-brow Manhattanites hopping on the F train. The three dark rooms, with low-beamed ceilings, brick walls, and walnut paneling, are decorated with carefully curated clutter: mirrors, flea market paintings, and shelves piled with tattered books and half-melted candles. Chef Neil Ferguson, who toiled for a decade under the notorious Gordon Ramsay, has both a traditional and a maverick streak. Hearty British dishes like cabbage, beef, and onion are given haute makeovers that sacrifice none of their lovely richness; elsewhere, bacon-onion compote adds a smoky note to seared sea scallops with parsnip cream, and a melting piece of cod is paired with black olives and blood orange. This being prime speakeasy territory, the cocktails are excellentespecially classics like the Manhattan and the Gibson, updated with a balsamic onion. For dessert, there's a decadent chocolate peanut butter tart with a whiskey vanilla milk shake chaser (entrées, $22$28).