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New York's Minetta Tavern.

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The Question: We're heading to New York this fall and want to experience some hot restaurants. Where should we book?

Michelin stars in New York don't resonate like they used to, says Adam Platt, restaurant critic for New York magazine ( nymag.com). Not when the hot spots are focusing on locally sourced grub and laid-back environs over vast wine cellars and tuxedo-staffed dining rooms. "It's really a two-star world."

In this shifting culinary environment, Platt offers up his picks du jour, which he cautions are subjective. But with an almost-nightly habit of eating out and with 10 years as the magazine's critic under his belt, I think we can trust him.

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Tertulia ( tertulianyc.com): "It's a very good Spanish gastro-pub. Very popular. Very small. Big smoky roaring oven and very good food." Located in the West Village, Tertulia opened about six weeks ago and is the first solo venture of New York chef Seamus Mullen, who grew up on a farm in Vermont and has worked everywhere from San Francisco to Barcelona. (And he's got plenty of farm-to-table cred: The website features him skinning a freshly killed lamb.) "Not a lot of the dishes are classic Catalonian tapas dishes," Platt says. "But the elements are classic and he twists them in an interesting way." Try anchovies with slow-roasted tomato and sheep's milk cheese.

Minetta Tavern ( minettatavernny.com): This speakeasy-style offering is located in a historic tavern in the West Village, a bar that once attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Dylan Thomas. Renovated by successful restaurateur Keith McNally, Minetta Tavern reopened a couple years ago but is still very popular, Platt says. "All the food is good. The grilled stuff is really exceptional." Try the Black Label burger made of prime dry-aged beef cuts (or skip the $26 much-hyped item and opt for the regular burger at $17).

Boulud Sud ( danielnyc.com): The latest restaurant from chef-czar Daniel Boulud, Boulud Sud is located across from the Lincoln Center and offers that classic, uptown New York dining experience. In this venture, Mediterranean-style cooking mingles with Moroccan and Middle Eastern influences. "There are delicious desserts that have the little hints of Turkish delight sweetness in them, but also the grandeur of great classical French cooking," Platt says. Try grapefruit sorbet paired with halva.

Canadian content bonus: Head to Brooklyn for a lunch date at the "hipster deli" Mile End ( mileendbrooklyn.com), with its Montreal bagels and house-smoked meats.



E-mail your travel questions to concierge@globeandmail.com.



Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith. Special to The Globe and Mail

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