Though the concept's only recently been implemented/over-discussed, places that serve gourmet food in a casual setting are no-brainers -- and like newsstands that offer cut-rate surgical penis embiggenment, there really can't be enough of them. The latest: The Inn LW12, opening today.
The first foray into tasty pubdom for the guy behind Lotus and consulting chef Daniel Boulud, The Inn's a two-level townhouse you've probably staggered past every time you've drunkenly fled the Meatpacking District. The downstairs is designed to look like a Canadian inn (which're apparently informal, w/ long bars), while the 40-seat, dining-centric upstairs is British parlor-styled -- relaxed, but still insistent on referring to the downstairs as "The Colonies". The chow's predominantly Brit (i.e., Guinness-braised Iron Steak, Duck Leg Soup), with the signature Canadian offering being poutine: a fries/gravy/cheese curds mix affectionately nicknamed "John's Candy". Alcoholically, there'll be Canuck tap brews from Maudite to Molsen, plus cocktails courtesy of Double Seven's mixologist (the syrup-enriched Maple Leaf is the most thematically appropriate/suitable for lumberjacks).
The only hitch in this gourmet-casual scheme is space (there's not much). Right now, the upstairs requires a day-of reservation, with reservations also recommended for downstairs table seating (bar seating's walk-in). But they take food orders 'til 3:30am -- so you can recuperate from your gory midnight surgery by enbiggening yourself on cheese curds.