October 16, 2006 | Insatiable Critic

Café Gray

        For deliciously ostentatious swank that’s infinitely cheaper than a status handbag, you must try the $85 black-truffle pizza on the new “Brasserie” menu in the bar at Café Gray, with its suggested pairing of a Gaja Barbaresco at a straightforward $250 for the half-bottle. Good news for us bull-market riders, this couturier flat bread will be an equally cool buy when truffles arrive fresh to replace the port-and-brandy-marinated leftovers of last season that chef-owner Gray Kunz is currently layering. All this debonair let-them-eat-cake is part of the legendary Swiss patron’s plot to get us to hang out in his sexy little bar. Don’t be spooked by the shrimp croque monsieur. No treacherous ooze of cheese awaits. It’s just shrimp, both whole and deconstructed into a mousse with tingles of the exotics Kunz favors (ginger, chile oil, kaffir lime, lemongrass), sandwiched in crisped brioche at a reasonable $22. Is the Brasserie that serves tamarind-glazed chicken lollipops more than a mere brasserie, or less? Is this Kunz being whimsical? Still here are the house’s sensational bread, right out of the oven, steak tartare to share, and a couple of elegant Fisher Island oysters paired with luscious lobster seviche. Or just stop by late for a flute of champagne, and chocolate-dipped sorbet and ice-cream truffles—a perfect nightcap if you happen to be passing through the Time Warner building on your way home from … wherever.

10 Columbus Circle at 60th St. 212 823 6338