In the modern restaurant, very few things come for free. There's almost never a complimentary, appetite-ruining (but still welcome) bread basket to start the meal. We know the guac is extra. Sometimes, even the reservations cost money. That's why it was such a lovely change of pace to be offered a little something to nibble on without asking when dining at King, a new restaurant that opened in September in SoHo.

Meals begin with carta di musica, a yeast-free bread with a texture like a thinner matzo cracker that's baked to resemble a translucent piece of sheet music. The crisp bread is doused in olive oil and herbs, a quick and welcome glimpse into the savory courses ahead, and an exquisite and interesting centerpiece off the bat.

Co-chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt—along with GM Annie Shi—met working in London restaurants, before decamping to NYC to open King. Dishes are generous without being onerous; enough to share with a group if you're ordering more than one. Seasonal's the rallying cry, so don't get overly attached to one dish—though it's hard to not be charmed by pillowy malfatti, rustic dumplings currently bathed in a butter sauce topped with crispy fried sage and cheese.

Amari are a popular liqueur at the moment and make for a fitting nightcap after a meal. So does the chocolate tart, if it's on the menu. Light as a feather, a wisp of pastry and fluffy chocolate mousse, bordered on one side by a pool of rich, tangy creme fraiche, there are worse ways to indulge in a bit of sweet.

18 King Street, (917) 825-1618;