Somewhere between comebacks for Detroit, denim, and Barack Obama, it became clear that America is cool again. Openings in prime downtown locations back the notion, with U.S. heritage on proud display. Newcomer Harding’s is the most explicit about its patriotism. A gigantic Old Glory holds pride of place, set off against the ancient bricks and columns of a landmarked printer’s building. A front lounge gives way to a black walnut bar, brought in from Bucks County, and a two-tiered dining room. The alcohol options are exclusively domestic, which makes a nice match for an all-American kitchen. Chef Ariel Fox, recently chef de cuisine at ACME, updates the classics on her seasonal menu. Oysters Rockefeller pick up pickled cabbage and a fennel sabayon, while wild striped bass is augmented by buttered leeks and smoked bacon. For dessert? Apple pie. Of course.
Just a few blocks away stands a new shrine to America’s greatest use of corn. Bourbon bottles bask in backlit glory when you step through the door at Maysville, which takes its name from a Kentucky town steeped in bourbon history. A long marble bar leads to a crisply modern dining room. (If the design reminds you of Brooklyn’s Char No. 4, that’s because it comes from the same folks.) The menu is designed to complement the spirits, focusing on all things smoked and charred. Frog legs, duck with foie gras, and hay-roasted oysters all go down well with a few sips of the brownest of the brown liquors.
Soho’s latest lounge and restaurant adds some Nouveau to its mix, but its origins are manifestly America. The Dalloway is the inspiration of reality stars Amanda Leigh Dunn and Kim Stolz, from The Real L Word and ANTM respectively. The scene they’re creating is lesbian-leaning, but straight-friendly, inside a plum duplex on Broome. The date-ready upstairs is accented by chandeliers, candles, and femme-friendly snaps. A downstairs lounge bumps the atmosphere with Edison bulbs and a fireplace. Although the cocktail program looks across the pond to Virginia Woolf-inspired names, executive chef Vanessa Miller’s kitchen turns out plenty of New World flavors. Short ribs come with a cornbread purée and a cherry-chipotle glaze, joining a rotating selection of tacos and sliders. Service starts Tuesday, with an aim of balancing friendly and sexy.