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Where to eat in NYC 2010


Pan
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Hi, everyone. I figure that my query is likely to be useful beyond the particular occasion that's generating it, and it's no longer 2009, so I've taken the title of a 2009 thread and changed the year on it. So here's the situation:

I want to take my girlfriend out for a great meal for her birthday. She loves delicious food, with or without some wine (and 1 to 1 1/2 glasses are usually sufficient for her). Last year, I took her to Degustation for a 10-course tasting menu with some wine (no pairings), which she considered probably the best meal she had ever had. It cost me some $240 including tax and tip, as I recall. I'd prefer not to pay more than that again this time but would be happy to top that in quality, if possible. My absolute maximum, including 2 glasses of wine apiece, tax, and tip, is $300 total for two.

To give you more ideas, my girlfriend has really enjoyed the wide variety of cuisines represented in the restaurants I've taken her to. She's enjoyed Burmese food (Rangoon Restaurant in Philadelphia), various regional Chinese cuisines, North and South Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian (though all the coconut in our meal was hard on her stomach), Greek, Turkish, Italian (loved Lupa), Ethiopian, Yemeni, Moroccan, etc., etc., and also lunch at Jean Georges, dinner at the bar at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and a delicious dinner at Apiary (it was on a Friday, so no prix fixe, and it cost $150 for the two of us and was worth it - I thought our meal was outstanding in every way).

One place I've been to without her that impressed me recently was the Bar Room at the Modern ($60 for a Restaurant Week dinner, including the second-best sweetbread preparation I've had in New York [Degustation's was the best]). I also liked the appetizers I had at a Restaurant Week lunch last summer at Gramercy Tavern quite a bit.

What I'm basically looking for is a varied meal, bursting with imaginative flavors; excellent, fresh ingredients cooked expertly; a good wine program (I'd consider beer pairings, too) including well-priced wines by the glass ($14 or less) or/and quartino/demi carafe, etc.; preferably, not such a huge amount of food and not so terribly rich that it will be a real problem for a sometimes delicate stomach; and all possible within $300 for 2 people.

What do you suggest? Thank you very much in advance. By the way, her birthday is actually on Wednesday, February 24, but because I've been focused on practicing up a challenging work for a concert on the 23rd, I think it will end up being a post-birthday meal, just like last year.

Finally, I looked up Momofuku Ko. Their dinner menu is $125 and their weekend lunch is $175. If their wine prices aren't outrageous, it might not bust my budget too much. Do you suggest I go that route, or would you suggest some other possibility?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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completely agree with LPShanet about ko. it's just a matter of winning the 10am online reservation battle and waiting a week. how about EMP's 3-course dinner for $88? great wine program as well. kyo ya is fantastic, but i haven't tried their traditional kaiseki yet. i don't consider their wine list extensive. however, they have a great sake selection. it's a serene yet casual atmosphere. i've sent several friends there for special occasions and received excellent feedback. other recos are aldea (request upstairs or chef's counter), allegretti, blue hill and corton. all of the above places are doable for $300 as long as you keep the booze tab in check.

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WD-50 is too risky, in my opinion, at its price point, given the value of money to me. We could love it or we could hate it. As for 11 Madison Park, I had a disappointing experience there a couple of years ago and don't plan on going again on my dime.

Sake is fine, and I will try to get reservations at Kyo Ya this time. If they are booked, I will consider other places, and if I can get reservations, I'll certainly keep other recommended places in mind for another time. In any case, I will report back and thank you for your suggestions.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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WD-50 is too risky, in my opinion, at its price point, given the value of money to me. We could love it or we could hate it. As for 11 Madison Park, I had a disappointing experience there a couple of years ago and don't plan on going again on my dime.

Sake is fine, and I will try to get reservations at Kyo Ya this time. If they are booked, I will consider other places, and if I can get reservations, I'll certainly keep other recommended places in mind for another time. In any case, I will report back and thank you for your suggestions.

Kyo Ya is REALLY good, but it's definitely a more austere experience in terms of flavor profiles than either Degustation or Ko, due to its traditional Japanese orientation. It's all about ingredient quality rather than rich flavor deveopment. Just so you're prepared.

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I appreciate that pointer. I still don't know if I can even get reservations, though. They're not on OpenTable, and they open for dinner at 5:30 (in 35 minutes). So I'll see.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

i have guests coming in to town for the weekend and they want to go out on saturday night for dinner. we will be going to ssam bar on friday night. we are not picky eaters and enjoy everything. we like both beer and wine.(we are not doing grand sichuan this time)

this is adapted from an email they sent me.

Looking for a place to eat on saturday night for two and wanted to make a reservation if necessary. We are thinking about bar/pub/casual places owned or operated by some of our favorite celeb chefs. Thinking craftbar type places, maybe mario's pizza place. also heard of the spotted pig and that looks interesting (http://thespottedpig.com/). they dont need to be owned by a famous person, just thinking that type of grub.

any suggestions?

Edited by Steamtrain (log)
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otto is a crowd pleaser but the food is average. good wine list though. the spotted pig is solid and so is chef bloomfield's latest spot, the breslin but be prepared to wait at either locations.

had an incredible dinner at rye if your group is up for BK. the dishes appear simple on the menu, but boring they are not. we were blown away by the scallop & pork belly app special, meatloaf sandwich and the LI duck breast. all quality ingredients cooked and seasoned to perfection; can't beat that. i'm a huge fan of the restored space as well.

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  • 1 month later...

Any recs for lunch this Saturday? I can't really make a reservation because I'm not sure how long I'll be busy. I'm hoping for no later than 12:30. Looking for something nice and close to midtown. Considering Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, and Masa.

I'm also considering EMP, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Bouley, which are further away.

I'd love Le Bernardin, but EMP and JG seem like the best deals.

I'm open to all suggestions and opinions on places I have listed. Also, I may not have done my research as well as I should have, so please let me know if one of those is not open for lunch. Thanks in advance

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Le Bernardin, Masa, and EMP are not open for Saturday lunch. (Bar Masa is open for Saturday lunch.)

Jean Georges is definitely open for Saturday lunch (but not Sunday lunch BTW) as is Bouley and Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Jean Georges is open 12 - 2:30pm. Bouley is open from 11:30am - 2:30pm. Momofuku Noodle Bar is open from 12pm to 4pm.

I'd do JG but you risk trying to walk in and finding the formal dining room full. They may offer to seat you in the more casual Nougatine Room where you order from a different menu. In that case, why not go to Ma Peche (Momofuku Midtown) instead?

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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  • 5 months later...

Last minute trip to NYC this weekend (arrive evening on Friday, leave late afternoon on Monday). I've always turned to eGullet for some solid recommendations, so any help would be appreciated. Staying near Times Square, so public transportation is a must:

Friday evening: Luke's Lobster (based on a recommendation from a friend) -- thoughts? I don't see it mentioned at all on here...basically, looking for something easy, casual, not too taxing.

Saturday: Morning, probably taking a visit to the Donut Plant early morning, then looking for recommendations on Farmer's Market type places to visit? Maybe visit Chinatown for soup dumplings. Dinner is undecided -- maybe Japanese? It seems uber pricey, though, in NYC...

Sunday: Mainly looking for recommendations for pre-theatre dining (show is at 6:30) Any/all recommendations welcome!

Monday: looking for breakfasty recommendations...

Thanks!!

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Luke's is on 7th & 1st Ave, conveniently close to many of the best cocktails in NYC (Mayahuel, D&Co, PDT).

Donut Plant's on the lower east side, so I'd stop at Essex Street Market or walk up to Union Square Greenmarket. Down on LES I'd also hit Katz's and Russ & Daughters (my absolute favorite). For soup dumplings I like Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown.

On Sunday I would avoid crappy theater district food and eat a late lunch in the Bar Room at the Modern - they serve continuously on the weekends.

Can't help you on Japanese, but if you decide to forgo that, some of my favorite spots lately include Sorella, Aldea, Osteria Morini and Lani Kai (cocktails and food).

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Luke's is on 7th & 1st Ave, conveniently close to many of the best cocktails in NYC (Mayahuel, D&Co, PDT).

Donut Plant's on the lower east side, so I'd stop at Essex Street Market or walk up to Union Square Greenmarket. Down on LES I'd also hit Katz's and Russ & Daughters (my absolute favorite). For soup dumplings I like Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown.

On Sunday I would avoid crappy theater district food and eat a late lunch in the Bar Room at the Modern - they serve continuously on the weekends.

Can't help you on Japanese, but if you decide to forgo that, some of my favorite spots lately include Sorella, Aldea, Osteria Morini and Lani Kai (cocktails and food).

theres also a lukes on the upper east side and a doughnut plant in chelsea. but double check the doughnut plant to see if its open yet.

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Last minute trip to NYC this weekend (arrive evening on Friday, leave late afternoon on Monday). I've always turned to eGullet for some solid recommendations, so any help would be appreciated. Staying near Times Square, so public transportation is a must:

Friday evening: Luke's Lobster (based on a recommendation from a friend) -- thoughts? I don't see it mentioned at all on here...basically, looking for something easy, casual, not too taxing.

Saturday: Morning, probably taking a visit to the Donut Plant early morning, then looking for recommendations on Farmer's Market type places to visit? Maybe visit Chinatown for soup dumplings. Dinner is undecided -- maybe Japanese? It seems uber pricey, though, in NYC...

Sunday: Mainly looking for recommendations for pre-theatre dining (show is at 6:30) Any/all recommendations welcome!

Monday: looking for breakfasty recommendations...

Thanks!!

Luke's Lobster is great. Limited menu, though, and very casual (not taxing at all). Basically, just lobster rolls (probably the best in Manhattan) and other seafood rolls, as well as a few go-withs, in what amounts to a neighborhood sandwich shop with a few stools. The rolls are very addictive, though, so if you haven't had one, definitely go. Thank your friend later.

In terms of farmer's markets, the one in Union Square is still one of the best. Not sure the days/hours, but many top chefs get stuff there. It is a bit cold for that, but what the heck.

In terms of soup dumplings, make sure you get them from an actual Shanghainese place, as that's their provenance. The standard Chinese places serve them, but they may or may not be the real deal. Also, if you want standard dim sum, you can always go to Ping's Seafood, Golden Unicorn or any other standard. Not stellar, but fun and satisfying. Can give more recommendations in and around Chinatown if you're interested, such as good banh mi sandwiches, hand pulled noodles, Malaysian and Thai.

There is great Japanese food in NYC, and if you live anywhere that doesn't have top end Japanese (read: pretty much only LA), you may want to splurge. You can do great sushi (Yasuda, Ushi Wakamaru), vegetarian kaiseki (Kajitsu), amazing seasonal (Kyo Ya), full on kaiseki (Sugiyama, Rosanjin), great ramen (Ippudo, among others), home cooking (Tsukushi) and many other forms. They vary quite a bit in price, so you may well find something you like without breaking the bank. However, good Japanese food shouldn't be skimped on. There's no such thing as "bargain sushi".

The theater district is pretty weak in terms of restaurants. Totally endorse the recommendation above of going to the Modern's Bar Room instead. Also, Ma Peche and the above mentioned Sugiyama aren't that far from there. If you have to stay right near the theater district, then Sushi of Gari, Aureole, Esca and Print are your best bets.

Good luck and report back.

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The Luke's Lobster on the UES (81st near 2nd, I think) is larger than the East Village one, but is still only one booth, one large table, and counter stools. That said: SO GOOD, with lobster bisque and lobster rolls both to die for. I think either Luke's location will be about a half-hour's travel from Times Square, so if your energy flags and you can't make it, I'd recommend Shake Shack since the Theater District location will be walkable.

Can't think of another farmer's market I'd recommend nearly as highly as Union Square Greenmarket. Wear gloves, buy cider, have a nice stroll through the booths. The holiday market is there this time of year too, so there may be some foodie finds in the booths there.

Agree that Bar Room at the Modern is a good Sunday option, and they happen to have free corkage on Sunday in case you want to pick up a nice bottle of wine in your wanderings and bring it with you for the meal.

Maybe Maialino for Monday breakfast?

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Friday: Luke's is good but it's a minimal lobster roll and on the small side (but also consequently cheaper than most). Barely seasoned, little to no mayo, buttered roll, served room temp (often a little cooler than room temp). Great for a quick bite.

Sat: Good call on Doughnut Plant early (LES branch, Chelsea branch isn't open yet). Weekends can get swamped. Be aware that the yeast raised donuts have a texture somewhat akin to a chewy Krispy Kreme. Don't miss the Tres Leches cake doughnut.

Russ & Daughters is takeout only BTW but there are benches outside. Get a bagel sandwich to go.

Shanghai Cafe for soup dumplings. I would do this before the farmer's market since it is geographically closer to the Doughnut Plant/LES.

Union Square Greenmarket is the best greenmarket in Manhattan pretty much. Mon, Weds, Fri, Sat from 10am to 6pm (note that a lot of vendors will cut out early if they're out of wares or weather is bad or crowds are sparse).

Check out also the Union Square Holiday market for Momofuku Milk Bar (I think they are only selling stollen, crack pie, and cookies though), Wafels & Dinges, Stuffed Artisan Cannolis, and Sigmund Pretzel Shop. For Sigmund make sure they warm up your pretzel adequately. I think the plain is quite tasty. Daily, 11am to 8pm.

Sunday: In the Theatre District: Ma Peche, Bar Room at the Modern, Esca, maybe Keens if you're willing to go that far south (dependent upon theatre location). For more casual, there's always Szechuan Gourmet or Shake Shack.

Monday: Have breakfast at either Clinton St Baking Co (pancakes, breakfast sandwich with bacon and tomato jam) or Locanda Verde (ricotta with burnt orange toast and truffled honey, great egg dishes, good pastries, decent enough pancakes/french toast). I haven't hit up Maialino...yet.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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For the soup dumplings, there are a few recommendations here:

As an alternative, over here in a topic about cheap eats is a loud wonton soup recommendation: http://egullet.org/p1735882

I like Great NY Noodletown a lot (flowering chives with beef! roast baby pig!) but their wonton noodle soup was only OK in comparison to Noodle Village.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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