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NY in 30 hours


philadining
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Some friends and I made an all-too-brief, random, fairly illogical dining tour of NY over the weekend, and despite its quirks, we were pretty happy with the results. So we thought we should share our tips for a successful rapid tour of NY food and drink.

First: get invited to a wedding at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. OK, I realize that this might be tricky, but work on it, its worth the trouble. Drop hints to friends, insinuate yourself into social groups that might schedule an event up there, I'd even suggest lurking outside the entrance to the restaurant in formal attire, in case there happens to be a wedding, and someone's date cancels at the last minute.

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Delicious hors d'oeuvres were passed: mini beet burgers, asparagus wrapped in pancetta, liver sandwiched in chocolate, bits of chicken wing crowned with fresh vegetables... and several more that were hoovered by the otherwise elegant crowd too quickly to be captured with contemporary photographic technology. I recall an excellent salami, simple baby vegetables with just a hint of sea salt, a glass of fresh yogurt spiked with herb purée. These were accompanied by several different wines, or Blue Hill's own sorrel margarita, or apple-celery juice.

The formal dinner consisted of:

This Morning's Soft/Fried Farm Egg

local mushrooms asparagus, lettuce broth

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Handmade Ravioli

Ramps, mustard greens, pine nuts, pancetta, homemade ricotta

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Stone Barns Berkshire Pork

loin, belly, boudin blanc, rapini, mokum carrot

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and a dessert of Peanut Butter and Farono Beets and Meyer Lemon and Arugula.

Sadly, I think I was hypnotized by dessert, and dove immediately in, so there are no photos...

All of the food was wonderful, displaying both the attention to freshness and quality that is their hallmark, and the skill and care of the kitchen. Service was spectacular - simultaneously elegant and comfortable.

I guess you could just make a reservation and go have dinner there, but I highly recommend getting invited to a wedding. Look into it.

After getting back to Manhattan, we opted for a nightcap at Tailor.

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Clockwise from the top, that's a Waylon (Bourbon and Smoked Coke), a Mushroom Margarita (Huitlacoche Mezcal, Triple Sec, lime juice, Lava Salt), a Blood and Sand (Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, cherry ale, orange head), a Sazerac, and an Agua Verde (Tequilla, tomatillo, cliantro, habanero).

We couldn't possibly resist the "Solids" which consisted of Cuba Libre, Ramos Gin Fizz and White Russian, in altered states.

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The Cuba Libre was basically an elegant rum and coke jello shot, which got a little overwhelmed by the dehydrated lime chip underneath. The marshmallow did incredible things in the mouth, transitioning from sweet to citrusy to creamy. Loved it. And why didn't we think of pouring a White Russian on our Rice Krispies earlier?

Great place, cool vibe, and the drinks were pleasingly odd. I'm eager to return, and look forward to making it while the kitchen is still open.

Oh yeah. props on the ice cubes... awesome.

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Sadly, after Tailor closed up, some of our party seemed convinced that sleeping was in order, so we agreed to meet at noon sunday and get back to work.

Sunday: 1pm

Ippudo Ramen.

Pickles

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Karaage (Deep-fried Chicken chunks)

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Akamaru Modern Ramen (with extra pork and egg)

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Shiomaru Ramen (with extra pork and egg, of course...)

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The ramen was crazy good, either broth would make me very happy on any given day, but I preferred the Akamaru modern. The big surprise was that the karaage was delicious too! Pickles were great as well, but rather pricey ($7) for, you know, pickles.

2pm - We decide to stay on the Japanese snacking path for a moment, and go around the corner to Otafuku (236 E 9th S) for a quick dose of Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki.

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Pretty decent snacks: the takoyaki is mostly fried dough and air, only a small piece of octopus hidden within, but one of our party testified that that was the case with ones she got just recently in Osaka too. This okonomiyaki tasted a bit more like an omelet than a pancake, and not quite as packed full of stuff as some, but still was pretty good. Then again, what doesn't taste good dosed with that sweet okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie Mayo and fish flakes? I could imagine craving an order of either of these after some serious drinking, but although both were well-made, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to head back to Otafuku.

2:30 pm - we head back south and west a few blocks for some dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie.

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I don't recall the name of the first cocktail, but it had yuzu, ginger, something else... The middle one was a Chinatown Old Fashioned with kumquat and brandied cherry. The last was a rhubarb bellini. Drinks were decent, but we were here for dim sum.

Barbecued Duck Spring Rolls

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Steamed Roast Pork Buns

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Watercress Dumplings with Shrimp & Pork

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Crabmeat & Pork Soup Dumplings.

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Lamb Potstickers with Spicy Vegetables

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The spring rolls and steamed pork buns were serviceable, but the other three dumplings were spectacular. The wrappers on the watercress dumplings were so delicate as to be barely detectable. The soup dumplings also featured a refined wrapper, just barely structurally sound enough to contain a flavorful broth and nugget of pork. The lamb potstickers featured a more hardy dough that had crisped up nicely, and was an ideal container for the assertive lamb.

This made us want additional dumplings, but we had more stops to make, so we showed restraint.

4:00pm - Momofuku Noodle Bar

We weren't going to sully the memory of our Ippudo visit with any other noodles, so we went directly to what we were truly craving after previous visits: the pork belly buns.

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But while we were staring at the menus, we found it impossible to resist the grilled beef tongue:

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Both things were fantastic. There's little else in the universe that will make our crew happier than those pork buns, but the tongue came close to overshadowing them.

We saw plenty more we wanted, but we were on a mission.

5:00pm - Una Pizza Napoletana.

Marinara

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Margherita

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coffee (it's very nice, you know...)

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6:00pm - Bar Carrera.

We kind of figured we'd just get a couple of glasses of wine, but then, tapas really started sounding good, so who could resist a plate or two. Or three. or...

Chorizo

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Mini Chorizo

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Patatas Bravas

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Jamon Iberico

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Pork Belly

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Anchovies

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oh yeah, and some wine. I can't recall which... I think that's a good sign.

7:30pm - Employees Only

We needed a little break from all that eating, but that should never keep us from drinking. So we headed over to the west village.

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I just can't recall the name of the drink on the left, it involved chartreuse... That's a Ruby Tuesday on the right. There's a Pimm's Cup hiding in the back, and I think that was an Amelia in the back... We later ordered a Sazerac that we're convinced featured the innovative twist of a rinse of artisinal jet fuel. It was really delicious, but I wouldn't want to hold it near an open flame!

Great place, again a lovely vibe, very pleasant service, excellent drinks. We didn't eat, we had another stop to make.

9:00pm - R.U.B.

We should have known. In retrospect, it's totally obvious that this wouldn't work out, but we strolled in obsessed with burnt ends. Of course they had run out by this time of night on a sunday. After a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth, we consoled ourselves with some brisket, sausages, pulled pork, bacon, greens, beans and potato salad.

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Or at least we tried to console ourselves. The brisket was pretty disappointing - dry, and not all that flavorful. However the pulled pork was superb: moist, vividly flavorful, just fatty enough. The sausages were pretty good, with a pleasing coarse texture and a solid spice. The "house cured, triple smoked, Berkshire black pork belly bacon" was insane. Sweet, chewy, fatty, salty, smoky: even on a day when we'd consumed a lot of pork fat in general, and pork belly in particular, this was a stand-out. Sides were all strong. So all in all, it was an OK visit, but we're still jonesing for the burnt ends of brisket...

10:30pm - Yakitori Totto.

Ok, it's getting late, we're stuffed, we need to drive back to Philly, we should go. But our minds have been poisoned with the idea of the frozen banana dessert at Yakitori Totto. Hey, at this point, a quick dessert would be a nice end to the evening.

But - we discover that even a few minutes before closing, the staff is holding firm to the $20 per person minimum. I completely understand that rule for most of the evening, but shortly before closing? I suppose the reasonable thing to do would have been to leave, but where's the fun in that? So we decide to stay, and order some Yakitori to bulk up the bill. The waitress was quite a good sport, and helped us just barely crack the minimum.

They had predictably sold out of the exotic items that make this place famous, but we found plenty of tasty grilled things to eat.

Enoki and Bacon

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Bacon and Asparagus

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Chicken and Asparagus

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Shishitou Tsukune (Chicken Meatballs in Peppers)

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Kuro Buta (Pork)

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Kuro Buta Negi Pon

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Kawa (Chicken Skin)

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Momo (thigh)

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jeeze, why does this stuff have to be so affordable?!? OK, almost to $20 each...

Tuna and Avocado

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Ocha Zuke (rice with hot broth)

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and finally... what we came for in the first place!

Ice Banana (frozen banana chunks, coconut milk, tapioca, mint - peanut powder and molasses on the side)

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Everything was quite good, I'd really like to go back sometime when I'm hungry! And I suppose it's testament to how awesome that banana dessert is that we all thought it was worth soldiering through the yakitori, and we all finished our desserts, despite imminent risk of exploding.

-

We decided that was enough for one day, and agreed to skip the visit to Katz's on the way out of town. Somehow we managed to resist stopping for snacks on the Turnpike.

We are completely mystified about how this happened, but every place we went, we showed up, and immediately sat down and ate (or drank.) We waited a few minutes for Una Pizza Napoletana to open, but otherwise we somehow managed to walk right into every place without waiting. So I'm not sure how easy it is to duplicate our itinerary to the minute, but it's worth a try! Many of the early places are within a few blocks of one another on the Lower East Side, so it makes for an easy stroll, even after several cocktails.

We enjoyed everything we ate and drank, some items more than others, but nothing was overtly bad. The ramen at Ippudo and the pizza really stood out for me, but I have a few other new favorite things that I'm certainly going to want to get again next time we're in town.

And there were several places on our lists that we just didn't make it to, mostly because of time or geography, so we'll be back. Next time we're shooting for more places in one day. Gotta get up before noon, I guess!

(edited to add some details.)

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Sick.  I like it.  Perhaps you missed PDT or D&Co. but those require a bit more planning.  Great eating day.

Those were both on the list, but we figured either might slow us down... We hit PDT on our last trip up and totally loved it, so I'm sure it'll be in a future sweep.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Really well done.. Amazing photos as always.

This was your one days schedule..

1:00 pm - eat

2:00 pm - eat

2:30 pm - eat

4:00 pm - eat

5:00 pm - eat

6:00 pm - eat

7:30 pm - eat

9:00 pm - eat

10:30pm - eat

Haha.. Pretty damn impressive.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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First: get invited to a wedding at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.   OK, I realize that this might be tricky, but work on it, its worth the trouble. Drop hints to friends, insinuate yourself into social groups that might schedule an event up there, I'd even suggest lurking outside the entrance to the restaurant in formal attire, in case there happens to be a wedding, and someone's date cancels at the last minute.

You know, I have been trying to do this for years and have utterly failed. I suspect I may have to actually get married to pull it off (to someone with lots of dispensible income and a penchant for locally grown food). Seriously, that food looks amazing and features some of my favorite items from Blue Hill NYC. Isn't the farm beautiful??

Great report- sounds like a fantastic weekend. Very impressive consumption tenacity!

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I have to applaud your eating, drinking, and photography skills. You have definitely altered my Autumn NYC plans.

Taco Truck or Per Se - No matter as long as passion drives the food

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There were four of us, which I've come to believe is a really good number for excursions such as these, it's easier to order a variety of things at each place without falling into a food coma too quickly. Smaller groups are more flexible, but everyone gets filled-up faster... larger numbers would be too cumbersome to coordinate and seat.

The tricky part, no matter how many people are with you, is to exercise some self-restraint at each place. It was very hard to resist ordering more ramen, or more dumplings, or another pizza, or half the menu at Momofuku...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Unbelievable! I think I would be dead right now had I been there with you! That would have been quite a way to go though! :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The formal dinner consisted of: 

This Morning's Soft/Fried Farm Egg

local mushrooms asparagus, lettuce broth

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How did they prepare that wonderful-looking egg?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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How did they prepare that wonderful-looking egg?

The egg itself was soft-cooked, probably slowly at low-temp in a waterbath, it had that custardy consistency I associate with that technique, but I suppose it could have been simply poached. That soft egg was then coated in panko and deep-fried to give it that crunchy exterior. The contrast was great, as were the interactions with the other flavors and textures in the rest of the dish. I heard several people say it was their favorite course of the night.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Thanks for the vicarious experience! My favorite picture is the one with the hand poised over the pork belly :biggrin:.

I'm having a small brunch party this weekend- may want to test run a few panko-crusted eggs for fun. Though I'm still going to do my best to secure a wedding invitation :wink: .

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How did they prepare that wonderful-looking egg?

The egg itself was soft-cooked, probably slowly at low-temp in a waterbath, it had that custardy consistency I associate with that technique, but I suppose it could have been simply poached. That soft egg was then coated in panko and deep-fried to give it that crunchy exterior. The contrast was great, as were the interactions with the other flavors and textures in the rest of the dish. I heard several people say it was their favorite course of the night.

That is a great dish and a Barber signature (or should be if it isn't generally considered one).

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Holy cats! You win Manhattan.

I was just thinking about going to get a snack, but then I read your post and now I think I'm having sympathy fullness.

FWD

Elizabeth Licata

Will eat for food

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  • 3 months later...

Well, our intent was to make another jam-packed assault on New York's dining establishments, but the capricious logistics gods were not on our side. First, we lost half our crew to scheduling problems or ill health. Second, we got a late start from Philly, then ran into terrible traffic on the turnpike and at the tunnel. Third, we found a few places closed for vacation.

Still, even with just two of us, arriving late, we did our best.

4pm:

Hakata Ippudo

Pork Buns

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Wow, the first thing we sink our teeth into, and it might just be the the favorite of the whole day! These are structurally pretty similar to the Momofuku pork buns, which we love, but these are even better. That caramelized edge gives a great smoky-sweet flavor, and adding mayo is genius. The only thing we were not so thrilled with is the lettuce, which wilts down to nothingness. Momofuku's use of cucumbers is much better.

Kara Age (and pickles)

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Yeah, yeah, we know this is a ramen shop... we're getting there! The chicken is really delicious: juicy with a light, crisp coating.

Akamaru Modern Ramen

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I honestly think I could eat this every day... That broth is just great, and while I may have had more exciting noodles, these are very good.

Draft Kirin and Sapporo are served in large, frosty mugs. The day is off to a good start.

Then a dash across town for some more porky explorations.

5pm:

Fatty Crab

Steamed Buns with Pork

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These are actually much more tasty than they look, especially when drizzled with some of the sweet-and-hot sauce. The meat is obviously a bit heftier than at Ippudo (or Momo) but it's tender and tasty. But sampling them back to back, there's really no contest, Ippudo wins.

Pickled Watermelon Salad with Crispy Pork Belly

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We can totally see why this is such a popular dish. The combination of flavors and textures, the fatty, crispy pork, the fresh sweet watermelon, the sour pickled rind, made for an exciting and surprisingly refreshing sensation.

This food seemed to cry out for beer.

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Sadly, we just weren't hungry enough for deeper exploration of the menu this time, but there's lots more I'm eager to try. Soon.

What we really needed was something light and cold and invigorating. We became fixated on granita. Cell-phone google searches were futile, but we were hoping GROM would have some.

6pm

GROM (Bleeker)

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Indeed they did. Lemon was the flavor that day, and although it was not quite as intensely citrusy as we expected, nor as grainy and chunky in texture, it was still pretty good, and served the purpose.

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I couldn't resist gelato, especially when the special selection was salted caramel. Unfortunately, that flavor was rather muted. The espresso gelato packed more of a punch, and both had a pleasing creaminess, but they just seemed a little too restrained. Of course I may have simply become acclimated to Capogiro's sledgehammer flavors, but I do prefer them... In any case, both the granita and gelato were good, and hit the spot on a warm day, and there was no line, so no complaints (except that GROM makes Capogiro look like a bargain...)

We then did some entertaining wandering around the Village. We'd intended to grab some Pollo a la Brasa at a Peruvian place, on 7th, but it had changed names, and while still Peruvian, had no chicken...

Right about then, for some reason we became obsessed with a lobster roll. So we hiked over to Pearl Oyster bar, but found it closed for vacation. No worries, we headed over to Mary's Fish Camp. Closed... We then decided to make some calls, and found that Ed's Lobster Bar, BLT Fish (downstairs) and The Mermaid were all open, so we figured we'd try to hit one or more of those. Ed's was closing first, so we headed there.

8pm

Ed's Lobster Bar

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Lobster Roll

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I know we're not in New England, so the prices are going to be higher, but in terms of actual execution, this sandwich doesn't seem like it should be all that hard. The Legal Seafoods in my local mall makes a pretty darn good one... While this wasn't bad, it wasn't really large enough for the $27 price (didn't I just read in the Times about Lobsters being cheap right now?) The lobster itself was a bit on the chewy side. More importantly, it just didn't taste like much. I'm all for a minimal approach to this sandwich: good lobster, a little bit of mayo or butter, toasted roll, done. I'm actually not expecting it to live up to the ones I've gotten in Maine, but it shouldn't be too hard to be as good as what I can get at The Mermaid, or jeeze, Legals at the mall or in Logan Airport! But this was just a bit blah. Not terrible, just not scratching the itch.

We also got Fried Clams

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These were technically perfect: very fresh, tender clams, just barely cooked in a light batter. But they almost seemed too polite, too delicate. We wanted a bit more of a crunch, a little more heft to the breading. So I can't say they were bad, just not what we were hoping for.

With a glass each of a very tasty Muscadet and a Bourgogne Blanc, our bill came to about $85 before tip. That's for the appetizer of fried clams, a single lobster roll and two glasses of wine. Not the best value of the day...

Sadly, by the time we were done, we realized that we weren't going to make it to either of the other places for a comparison tasting, so we'll have to wait for another day. I'd had the lobster roll at The Mermaid a few years ago, and while it was on an entirely inappropriate roll, I remember it as being quite delicious. We might have to try that again, or just give up and go to Maine.

Although it as getting late, we weren't giving up yet, and headed uptown to Hill Country Barbecue. Despite being rather confused about how exactly we were supposed to get our food, we somehow managed to score a small sample. It's a little perplexing, especially if you decide to sit outside: you can order drinks from a waitress, who will bring them, but if you want food, you'll need to leave your beers out on the table and go inside yourself and get your own food, and then - wait - are we supposed to pay for it now? or can we go back outside and eat first? And have passers-by been drinking our beers?

10pm

Hill Country Barbecue

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We got a little "moist brisket" a couple of ribs, and a sausage.

You're not going to find that cut of brisket in most places in Texas, but you know, they really ought to start serving it, it's pretty awesome... It was very moist indeed, and tender and tasty. The ribs too had good solid smoke flavor, and a pleasing chewy density. The sausage was a little odd, I think I'm just not used to that style. It was a little more crumbly and dry than I'd expected, but I did like the taste of it. The only thing that bothered me was that, although I know Texas barbecue is not really a sauce-based style, I felt like the ribs especially could have used a little something, and I just didn't care for the one sauce they provide, which tasted a bit like thinned-out molasses. Even so, a little slick of that, a drizzle of hot sauce, it was pretty tasty barbecue. I'd like to try it again, and maybe if one sits inside, it doesn't feel so weird to do self-service and deal with "meal tickets."

At that point, we decided we'd hit the wall in terms of food, but felt like hanging out a little longer, perhaps grabbing a couple of drinks before heading home. As we had wandered around the city, it felt pretty quiet. It wasn't quite as abandoned as I thought it might be on sunday of labor day weekend, but we hadn't even seen lines or crowds anywhere (except for a significant line-up at John's Pizza in the Village at about 6pm, and a predictably long line at the Shake Shack at after 10pm.) So we thought there might be some chance that the cool bars wouldn't be too crowded.

Wrong. I guess it makes sense, although it was a sunday night, with Labor Day, it was more like a saturday, so if you're in town, you're probably out drinking. We dropped by Death and Company a little after 10, and while the guy at the door was very nice about taking our name and number just in case, he was honest about there being little chance that we'd make it in before they closed up. He suggested we try over on the next block, apparently The Bourgeois Pig had just recently opened at 111 east 7th. That too was jammed, but we happened to stroll up at exactly the right time, and scored a couple of seats immediately.

It's a funny place, it feels a little like it should be on a back street in New Orleans, with its antique chairs, velvet couches, funky chandelier and dark lighting, except for the red cast blaring from the neon sign at the back. It felt like the sound system should be programmed to only play Nick Cave tunes. I actually have a sneakily-snapped photo, but there are some recognizable faces, and I don't like posting photos of people in bars without their permission. I thought that the long exposure necessary in the dark space would have blurred all the faces, but apparently some of the patrons are very good at staying very very still for long periods of time. Who knew?

The bar serves just beer and wine, and cocktails concocted from beer and wine. Oh, and fondue. A surprising number of people were getting fondue, and I must say that it looked pretty great, the array of accompanying dipping things was pretty impressive.

We stuck to drinks, I don't recall exactly what my friend got, except that it was a champagne-cocktail variant, with star anise and (probably) Peychaud's bitters (and was quite good.) I ordered the Scarlet Swindler: Carpano Sweet Vermouth, Carpano Put e Mes, Paolo Cortero Sherry, and orange bitters. On first taste, it seemed like it might have been some sort of Victorian medicine: harsh, bitter, but sure to cure the gout, or protect you from the plague or something... But it really grew on me, after a few sips I warmed to it, and would probably have ordered another one, but we were feeling like moving.

We headed over to Angel's Share, and although it was busy, there was a little bit of room there. We got a couple of classic cocktails, a Sazerac and a very fine Manhattan. I love the vibe of that place, even though it gives me the disorienting feeling of being in Tokyo, surrounded by people who are pretending to be in NY. Or maybe that's what I like about it.

After one drink there we figured we should probably head back to Philly while we had a little stamina. So we didn't accomplish quite as much as we'd hoped, but we certainly had a fun day, and managed to get a few good things to eat and drink.

We'll be back...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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  • 9 months later...

It was time for another assault on Manhattan, to visit some favorites, and to check out a few places we'd been hearing about here on eGullet, and elsewhere on the web. We only had about 12 hours this time, and it was such a nice day, we couldn't resist slowing down and just strolling around or sitting outside with cocktails, so I'm not sure we kept up to our previous pace. But we found some good food, some great food, and a few disappointments.

As has become our habit, we started the day at Ippudo:

Pickles

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Pork Buns

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Akamaru Modern Ramen

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Special "Chinese Style Spicy Noodles"

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Everything was delicious, as always. The special noodles were pretty assertively peppery, both chili pepper and black pepper, but it was good, especially with a hit of lime. (But nothing beats the Akamaru Modern for me.)

Ippudo

65 4th Ave

http://www.ippudo.com/ny/

Then a few blocks southeast to Porchetta:

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That is an awesome sandwich. The pork is juicy, tender, crispy, herby, just perfect, really. It's simply chunked and served on a ciabatta-like roll, which also seems to be exactly perfect for this purpose. I thought it would need something - but I wouldn't add a thing, it was in balance.

The potatoes were only OK. They looked great - but didn't have all that much flavor. But the little crusty burnt ends of pork were delicious.

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I think this place is getting added to the regular rotation. (Jeeze, I hope these reports don't get too boring: "June 2011, we went to all the same places as last time..." )

Porchetta

110 East 7th St

http://www.porchettanyc.com/

A few doors away and across the street was Caracas, and we were unable to resist the lure of Arepas.

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We tried one with Pernil (because it had been too long since we had any roast pork...) And one with Chicken and Chorizo. They were both really good, the fillings were great, but the best part was the pillowy, yet crunchy texture of the arepas themselves. I really want to get one like the woman sitting next to me had ordered: black beans, chorizo and plantains!

Caracas

93 1/2 East 7th Street

http://www.caracasarepabar.com

On the way back to the car, one of our party that avoids dairy was intrigued by a vegan ice cream place called Stogo. We sampled a few soy-based ones that weren't all that great, but he ended up getting a chocolate and coconut milk-based one that he thought was pretty good.

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Stogo

159 2nd Ave (at 10th Street)

http://stogonyc.com/

We then headed across town to Keste to try the pizza that's been creating some serious buzz. It turns out that the waiters take a break from 4-5 in the afternoon on saturdays, at which point you can only get take-out, but they were nice enough to let us sit, because I think we got in at 3:59:59 or something...

Marinara

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Margherita

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Lardo

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The Marinara and Margherita were pretty good. The sauce had a simple, bright flavor, the cheese on the margherita was creamy, the crust was nicely charred. But still, they didn't completely knock us out. As has been discussed recently over in the Keste thread, the center of the pizza is pretty damp. I suppose one can argue about whether that's authentic to Neopolitan pizza, but I thought it was kind of unpleasant. In addition to the collected moisture, the crust seemed under-cooked in the very middle, so we ended up with wet, mushy, pale dough in that region. The very center of the pizzas at, say, Una Pizza Napoletana get a little soggy, but not this wet.

But the bigger problem was that the crust was just not that flavorful. Although outside of the very center, it was well-cooked and nicely bubbled and charred, it just didn't have much character. I don't want to go too far, it wasn't bad, but I found myself not eating all the crust, something I've never done at UPN.

The lardo pizza, well, it wasn't very good at all. It was completely overwhelmed by Pecorino Romano. There were a few dessicated shreds of what I guess used to be lardo hiding underneath, providing only a fatty texture and some crunch. As you can see, the basil leaves got pretty burnt too. Add to that the haphazard distribution of ingredients - there's a quarter of the pizza that doesn't really have anything at all on it - and the general blandness of the crust, and there wasn't much to enjoy, unless you're really into toasty pecorino romano.

There were some other intriguing toppings, and I might be tempted to try another one someday, just to see if this was a fluke. The main guy was not making our pizzas, although he was in the house at the time...

Keste

271 Bleeker St.

http://www.kestepizzeria.com/home.html

We needed a walk to work off the dough, and eventually found ourselves at Bar and Books, where we had some very good cocktails.

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That's a very credible Mint Julep, an Elderflower Manhattan, and a Ginger somethingorother...

We really liked the drinks and the service and the place overall, but we're surprised how annoyed we get by smoke these days, and they do allow smoking here. So we stopped at one. Plus, we were getting hungry.

Bar and Books - Hudson

636 Hudson

http://www.barandbooks.cz/hudson/

Next was Pearl Oyster Bar for some Lobster Rolls.

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They were very good, although a little over-mayo-ed and some folks in our party who had enjoyed them previously though they were missing something. Still, they featured very good tender lobster, and lots of it, on a buttery roll, so we can't really complain. And those fries are pretty rocking, at least when they're hot.

One of us decided he needed steamers for dessert, and said they were delicious.

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Another of our party had left room for a more conventional dessert. Today they had blueberry pie. I stole a bite of that and can testify that it was quite good.

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Pearl Oyster Bar

18 Cornelia St.

http://www.pearloysterbar.com/

Then over to the Brandy Library

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Jack Rose

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Mandarin Carré (I'm pretty sure... )

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Armagnac tasting

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and there were, ahem, plenty more, but at some point I lost the will to photograph... The drinks were consistently interesting and well-made, and it's amazing to be able to avail oneself of such a deep selection of spirits. The service was impeccable, even as we moved around a bit, finally ending up out front, enjoying the evening air.

At some point it seemed like a good idea to get snacks.

Gougeres

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Lamb in a Blanket

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Both were crazy-good, and especially nice accompaniments to the cocktails.

Brandy Library

25 North Moore St

http://www.brandylibrary.com/

And then we ended the night with some more ramen at some obscure spot that I think I'm supposed to keep quiet about, although I'm not sure why because it was only OK... I think we need to do some more research and see if this spot has some other specialties, and then I'll post about it!

By the time we finished our noodles, it was approaching midnight, and we had detoxed enough to drive back to Philly, so we decided to call it a day. And a very fine day at that! Can't wait to get back up there and try a few more things on our list...

(edited typos)

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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