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Anyone dining out in Manhattan this summer will discover delicious bargains at some of the borough’s 18,000 eating places. You must take your hat off to a restaurant offering “unlimited Champagne brunch for $9.95.” (That’s Vox, on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, by the way.) Summer 2001 finds New York restaurants battling back from a triple whammy of harsh weather, failed forecasting that kept people home, and a far less ebullient economy. To keep tables turning, many famous establishments are doing everything but press-ganging patrons. Some meal offers are irresistible. Accept them and get a taste of — and look at — America’s great power centers for the palate. Here is a list of 10 new or pretasted restaurants of note. Your ability to seize the day and the deal may depend in part on the ability to get free to enjoy them, but, hey, at these prices, invite a senior partner to join you. PALM, PALM TOO, PALM WEST Of course you’ve heard of Palm. Who hasn’t, in its 75 years as an Italian steakhouse spreading its friendly branches across America? But we have the Second Avenue original, in all its woody, meaty grandeur with amusing caricatures of customers, celebrity or not. We also have two siblings, the venerable Palm Too just across the street, and the big and popular new Palm West near Times Square. At all these merry meat marts, an outstanding summer dinner-for-two special will roll out from July 15 to Sept. 15. Make a note on your Palm (Pilot): $95 will buy a 3-pound lobster, 18-ounce New York strip steak, vegetable du jour plus a fry-up of potatoes and onions, two pieces of cheesecake, and coffee or tea. That’s for two. Palm, 837 Second Ave., between 44th and 45th Streets, (212) 687-2953; Palm Too, 840 Second Ave., (212) 697-5198; Palm West, 250 W. 50th St., between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, (212) 333-7256. THE “21″ CLUB This legendary mealtime mecca for the mighty has probably seen more business deals per table than any restaurant in America. A favored few conduct affairs of state or heart in the hideaway Wine Room where food-and-wine f�tes soar into the cost stratosphere. This summer, however, “21″ is reaching out to a new young audience, one that might be counting coins. It has a brand-new midafternoon menu, designed for a budget-conscious, casually clad clientele dropping in from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Chef Erik Blauberg cooks contemporary American cuisine with the best of them. Unjacketed late lunchers will love his “21″ Burger, soups, inspired seafood and other dishes now at popular prices. The “21″ Club, 21 W. 52nd St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, (212) 582-7200. MANHATTAN OCEAN CLUB One of America’s best seafood houses is now offering lunch with a price based on the NASDAQ average of the day. Just knock off a couple digits. Any meal prepared by Chef Jonathan Parker that sells for any number around $20 is a whale of a bargain. This particular offer, lunch at NASDAQ levels, is of even greater interest and appeal because you can take advantage of it at any member of the Smith & Wollensky restaurant group. In Manhattan, that means A-List destinations Maloney & Porcelli, Park Avenue Caf�, Cit�, Smith & Wollensky, The Post House and the brand-new ONEcps, in the Plaza Hotel. We’re talking a three-course lunch with fine service and superb settings. This is a not-to-be-missed value, and if you can make the time, visit several of these. Manhattan Ocean Club, 57 W. 58th St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, (212) 371-7777. THE NEWBIES Here are the exciting new boys/girls on the hospitality block. ARTISANAL This big and bustling newbie is all about cheese — America’s largest restaurant selection of it, more than 200 varieties. But it’s more than delicious fondues, hearty onion soup with a triple-cheese crown, and cheddar-crusted apple tarts. Artisanal is a lusty bistro, with terrific bistro grub, from cassoulet to chicken roasted under a brick and rabbit in Riesling. Owner/chef Terrance Brennan is one of the city’s most talented, and he has researched his subject right down to the cow, sheep, goat and buffalo. Wonderful for expanding one’s taste sensibilities, Artisanal offers almost as many wines by the glass as it does cheeses. Guests can order “flights” of similar or different types of cheese and do the same with wines. Artisanal, 2 Park Avenue South, entrance on East 32nd Street, (212) 725-8585. CHAZAL BISTRO Suggesting both Paris and Milan, the handsome new Mediterranean bistro Chazal bubbles with life and good times. There is something for everyone, and at user-friendly prices. Created by some of New York’s most successful restaurateurs (Ferrier, Bice), Chazal’s rich interior warms to music as evenings deepen. And it has a 100-seat terrace overlooking Madison Square Park. Talk about tastings! Chazal’s menu features 10 takes each on Prince Edward Island mussels and carpaccios. Mussels preparations from marini�re or Proven�ales to curry and Thai are $8. Make it $14 and jump to main course size with fries. Carpaccio variations range from seafood to meats, duck and vegetables. All are $9, $16 as an entr�e with fries. Chazal, 41 Madison Ave. at 26th Street, (212) 545-8555. JIMMY’S UPTOWN As popular as it is elegant yet informal, 6-month-old Jimmy’s Uptown offers original cuisine that might best be called Latin and Soul with style. Chef Linda Japngie, whose sister Patricia is Jimmy’s general manager, brings French technique into play. You may want to start dinner with a sampling of inspired seafood ceviches. Other dishes to be checked out include macaroni and cheese souffl�, tamarind salmon, brandied flan with caramelized bananas, coconut tres leches cake, and a sweet-potato pie so good-looking it struts. Jimmy’s Uptown is a duplex entertainment, with the upstairs devoted on different nights to poetry readings, live comedy, and R&B bands. Jimmy’s Uptown, 2207 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., between 130th and 131st Streets, (212) 491-4000. OLIVES NEW YORK As at Jimmy’s, there’s a high density of young professionals drinking and mingling around Olives. The Manhattan branch of the edible empire of Boston-based superchef Todd English is flanked by a ferociously busy bar scene. Pass that and discover that this member of People Magazine‘s 50 Most Beautiful People can really cook. Mr. English’s contemporary Mediterranean food often means combining many assertive tastes in a single dish. For openers, thin-crusted fig and prosciutto tart with rosemary and Gorgonzola. Exceptionally yummy pastas include braised rabbit lasagna with porcini mushrooms, caramelized onions and Fontina cheese. Olives’ desserts also rate high on the taste meter. Both vanilla ice cream and vanilla sauce are spooned into “Very Vanilla Souffl�.” Olives New York, in the W Union Square Hotel, 201 Park Ave. South at 17th Street, (212) 353-8345. PIPA If you like tapas, the Spanish “small plates” for tasting many things inexpensively, Pipa’s the hot new one for you. It’s located on the first floor of the giant, atmospheric ABC Carpet & Home, a store of great visual attraction for anyone. It is directly across a hallway from Chicama, the casual, Pan-Latin hit of Chef Doug Rodriguez, America’s pre-eminent exponent of Nuevo Latino cooking. Truly adventurous eaters may try for a perfecta, a tasty two-fer that’s logistically sound if a prodigious challenge for the stomach. Start an evening of exciting ethnic eats with Chef Rodriguez’ savory Spanish spin at the romantically underlit Pipa, then cross over to wrap things up with his garlicky roast suckling pig at Chicama. It requires the same detailed preplanning and organization as a brief or argument, but is worth doing. Pipa, in the ABC Carpet & Home building, 38 E. 19th St., between Broadway and Park Avenue South, (212) 677-2233. TAMARIND One of the best-looking and most accomplished Indian restaurants to debut in New York in years, Tamarind is far from the city’s most expensive. Young lawyers visiting the lively restaurant block of East 22nd Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South will delight in Tamarind’s skylighted blend of contemporary and classic ambiance. They will be made welcome and they will save money with a $15 lunch. A la carte lunch or dinner will cost more, but any aromatic dish cooked in the exhibition kitchen’s clay oven tandoors quickly justifies the expenditure. Tamarind’s innovative cuisine is the creation of Raji Jallepalli-Reiss, who commutes from her famed restaurant Raji’s in Memphis, Tenn. Try her signature items, such as Raji’s Prawns. It’s hard to go wrong with any dish at this charming newcomer. If in doubt, tap the friendly staffers as co-counsel. Tamarind, 41 E. 22nd St., between Broadway and Park Avenue South, (212) 674-7400. TAO ASIAN BISTRO This is where the party is, or so it seems every fun-filled night at the three-story space dominated by a 16-foot Buddha, and ruled by good spirits and an all-Asia menu. Tao Asian Bistro is a decorator’s triumph — it was a movie theater — and a culinary free-for-all. Hundreds of young people pack the place to nibble on sushi or Kobe beef, satays, steaks or spiny lobster rolls. They wash it down with colorful cocktails, with or without tiny paper parasols, and choose from an impressive roster of sakes, beers and wines. The only problems at Tao Asian Bistro are getting in and being heard. Tao Asian Bistro, 42 E. 58th St., between Madison and Park Avenues, (212) 888-2288.

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