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Help: My lovely wife sprang a last minute 25th anniversary trip to NYC


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OK, I know I am supposed to search the boards, but my wonderful wife just sprang a last minute 25th anniversary weekend trip to NYC on me. And we arrive next Friday. We're pretty serious eaters, and normally I take lots of time to plan our trips around food. I've spent the last couple of hours trying to get into the places I know and love in NYC (EMP, Per Se, Ko) as well as the ones highly recommended in recent threads, and the bottom line is they are all way booked up. I lucked into a Saturday lunch at Jean Georges (they must have had a cancellation) and we're planning on Momofuku Ssam one meal (so no reserv possible). But after that, I've got nothing after a couple of hours in front of this computer.

So where can we still book in for amazing, thought provoking, innovative food (lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch) with 7 days to go? So where are the great spots you love to eat that simply haven't hit the hype machine to the extent they are booked up weeks (OK, or a week) in advance? Manhattan preferred.

Edited by WillinTO (log)
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Some very random thoughts, apologies for the lack of synthesis here, but you can easily look these all up for more info. They are not Per Se and EMP but they're great .... (and Ssam Bar should stay on your list - hit Booker & Dax next door for a cocktail)

Recent faves:

NoMad - open a few months - same chef/owners at EMP - I think the food is very bit as good as EMP, just more relaxed and accessible; excellent cocktails too. Has to be best new resto in nyc this year. I think about that chicken every day.

Acme - also new, Nordic cuisine - there's a thread on it somewhere. Very interesting flavors and combinations, different from anything else I've had in this city.

Red Farm (no reservations)

ABC Kitchen - truly, I am in love with their food. Excellent brunch too.

Kajitsu - shojin cuisine, vegetarian - one of the most unique, thoughtful meals I've ever had

haven't been but you should certainly consider:

Roberta's (in Bklyn)

Atera

wd-50 - I've personally never been a huge fan but certainly am in the minority. They just completely overhauled their food and cocktail menus. Would fit your "innovative" request for sure.

I always LOVE Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Marea, The Dutch, Maialino (they do a great breakfast/brunch too)

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Chris - Doesn;t need to be high end. Just needs to be great, interesting food.

daisy17 - Thanks for those ideas. Snagged a reservation for NoMad on Saturday evening, and ACME for lunch on Sunday (Maialino booked up).A friend had said Touqeville was quite good and I've got a reservation there on Friday night. Any thoughts on it? Your list is pretty much booked up on Friday night.

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Actually have never been to Tocqueville. People who love it are loyal, but it's just never drawn me in.

So so far you have Fri night Tocqueville; Sat J-G and NoMad, and Acme on Sunday? when is Ssam Bar?

If you go on the early side, you can fairly easily snag bar seats at Marea and Maialino. Not sure if you're into that, but I love dining at the bar. Gramercy is trickier at the bar, and the bar room (which they don't take reservations for) fills up quickly. I believe that Maialino also saves room for walk-ins at the tables in the bar area. I'm sure they keep a waitlist too.

For Italian, I also love Osteria Morini (more rustic & meaty) and Sorella (less traditional, small plates, beautiful dining room). Those look to have availability on Open Table. I don't know that Sorella is as much of a destination as the others we've been discussing, but I have only had lovely and delicious meals there, and everyone I've ever brought there has loved it as well. I've eaten well at Lincoln also.

I only had brunch there so far but I really liked North End Grill (Floyd Cardoz/Danny Meyer) and will definitely go back for dinner.

I think NoMad and Acme are fantastic, I really do. I have no idea what Acme is like other than for dinner but that should not stop you. Add to that J-G and Ssam Bar and you've done quite well for yourself (it would be a great mix even if you had 3 months to plan). The chicken at NoMad is one of the best things I've ever eaten in my entire life.

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daisy 17 has some fine suggestions. I'm not a big Morini fan either (I guess if I was, I'd go there more than I have), but Sorella - let me count the ways.

It's nice that you're doing all this fancy-dancy dining...but do you have any kind of down and dirty stuff in your plans? Say a pizza - in which case I'd suggest Motorino (lunch is a great bargain) or Keste or Co or even, for true NY style coal-oven, Arturo's. Last week I had a couple of superb slices at Joe's on Carmine (followed by a nice gelato at Grom down the block).

I think the Ssam Bar daily duck lunch is great - but I also crave the roast duck (or roasted any other protein) over rice, and any of the wonton noodle soups, at Great NY Noodletown.

And my first two meals at the brand new Mission Chinese Food have been delicious. The polar opposite of any of the places you mention in your OP.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Thanks for the input everyone. Saturday and Sunday are locked down now, with lunch on Sat at GJ, dinner at NoMad and lunch on Sunday at Acme.

Mitch's push on doing something down and dirty, as well as Daisy's question about where Ssan fits in are Friday issues. Touqeville does not seem to be getting strong endorsement, so it becomes expendable. One option is Ssam for a late Friday lunch (not sure when we will get into town just yet), and perhaps an evening meal at Sorella. Sorella is at 95 Allen, right? Looks like we can get a reserv there on Friday night fairly easily. (Mitch, your Barcelona recos last year were fantastic, so for now, I'm prepared to believe any place you like, we like).

Alternatively we try to squeeze into Ssam on Friday night, and grab a pizza for lunch. Is it completely crazy trying to get into Ssam in the evening? For that matter, will we have to wait long at lunch on a Friday at Ssam?

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Thanks for the input everyone. Saturday and Sunday are locked down now, with lunch on Sat at GJ, dinner at NoMad and lunch on Sunday at Acme.

Mitch's push on doing something down and dirty, as well as Daisy's question about where Ssan fits in are Friday issues. Touqeville does not seem to be getting strong endorsement, so it becomes expendable. One option is Ssam for a late Friday lunch (not sure when we will get into town just yet), and perhaps an evening meal at Sorella. Sorella is at 95 Allen, right? Looks like we can get a reserv there on Friday night fairly easily. (Mitch, your Barcelona recos last year were fantastic, so for now, I'm prepared to believe any place you like, we like).

Alternatively we try to squeeze into Ssam on Friday night, and grab a pizza for lunch. Is it completely crazy trying to get into Ssam in the evening? For that matter, will we have to wait long at lunch on a Friday at Ssam?

Thanks!

Friday lunch at Ssam Bar should not require a long wait. Evenings will probably result in a different story, especially Friday night.

Sorella is indeed at 95 Allen. It's about as different an experience as Ssam Bar is at night as there can be. I find Ssam Bar during the day much more relaxing; of course, you should like duck if you go :wink: . Sorella's back room, where they seat reservations, is very nice, as is the food that goes along.

Are any cocktail places on you list? I've been enjoying the newly opened Experimental Cocktail Club, but you sure can't go wrong at Pegu Club, Death & Co., PDT...etc.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm pretty sure that Ssam is only doing the duck and some small plates at lunch now, right Mitch? So if you want a full menu, dinner is it. For two people for dinner I wouldn't worry too much about the wait. The earlier you go, the better off you'll be, but I've never waited more than 20-30 mins tops for 2 people. I think that Ssam beats out Sorella in terms of uniqueness/interesting cooking - while Sorella is Italian, it's not traditional Italian, but still Ssam Bar continues to be my top rec to people from out of town.

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Oh Sh%#t ! I just discovered that there are two Nomads in NYC. One being the one you have encouraged me to seek out, and the other a Mediteranean spot down on the lower east side. And regretably, that was the one I had secured a reservation at. I just called the proper one, and unless we want a very early Friday dinner - or someone cancels (ya, as if!) we're going to be sol. Thank goodness most of Mitch's recomendations for Cocktail bars were down in the same area, because I was mapping out cocktail bar proximity to that Nomad when I discovered my mistake. Well, at least I caught the mistake before the first appetizer arrived and I started to wonder about Daisy's judgement :-)

So my work is not yet done. NoMad sounds like it may be good enough to be worth an early Friday dinner (6:00pm though! Just not sure if I can do that). That rules out a late-ish lunch at ssam on Friday, so perhaps now we try Ssam on Saturday night. Certainly a nice contrast to GJ earlier in the day. Daisy is somewhat encouraging on the ability to get in to Ssam even at night. If we showed up at 7:30, how long would we likely wait? What if we showed up at 8:30? I'll miss the Duck extravaganza, but that lovely wife who spring this all on me a week ago will likely prefer the full menu anyways.

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Several of my friends have done that; I should have specified. NoMad is well worth an early Friday dinner. Ease in with some of Leo's fantastic cocktails and the fruits de mer (unlike anything I've ever had), you'll be very happy. Why don't you pull up some of the reviews and see if it's what you want? I think of it as EMP-lite, which frankly to me is more enjoyable than a 4 hour gigantic meal (which is lovely sometimes, but not all the time). You had initially mentioned EMP, hence the NoMad rec. I've been there twice and it only opened a few months ago, and I have two reservations coming up in the next month with friends who have been with me already. We are all dying to go back for the chicken, which haunts us, and so we are. The food is phenomenal, and many of the dishes (including the chicken) are EMP faves.

For Ssam Bar, my experience is that between 7-9 it's the most busy. However, if you're only 2 people, I don't envision you having to wait more than 30-45 minutes. Their cocktails are fantastic too (and Booker & Dax is in the adjacent space on 13th street, you might be able to snag seats there). Summer weekends here are weird and a little unpredictable, but in my experience it's considerably easier to go out on weekends than during the rest of the year. The two are hard to compare, and kind of worlds apart: Ssam Bar is East Village/almost all stools/backless chairs/shared table space/loud music, and it skews young, and your food comes when it comes, so perhaps that's a consideration for you. I've never had a bad meal there, but it's definitely it's own kind of thing (and has garnered some criticism as a result). NoMad is a beautiful space in a new hotel; it has a great energy and a cool vibe, but it's more of a comfortable, paced, service-oriented, traditional kind of meal.

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Thanks Daisy. An early dinner on Friday it is!

I know Ssam reasonably well already, having eaten there a couple of times on past trips - and having made many of Chang's recipes. It is a must visit for me. Last trip, last year, we went to Ma Peche, which didn't blow me away - something about the space more than the food I think. I certainly know what to expect at Ssam, and i know it will be great.

EMP - lite is an very appealing concept as well. I did look at the Chicken on the menu. It looks WAY more interesting than the Chicken Pastilla at the other Nomad. Alas, perhaps the only two things my partner does not really enjoy are truffles and foie. I know, that is just plain incomprehensible in an otherwise sophisticated palate, but that is the cross I bear, especially when the dish is prepared for 2. C'est la vie. There are no shortage of other appealing items on the menu. Have you done their tasting menu - or does the chicken keep getting in the way.

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Haven't done the tasting menu. The chicken is really a problem for me. I'll probably never order anything else there again. But it's your anniversary, so let's not make your wife feel badly .... really everything I've had there has kicked ass, except perhaps the halibut. Love the marrow, trout, tagliatelle, snow peas. and the scallops. oh and the egg. Highly enjoyable all around. Where is that NYT review already?

I've really talked it up - hope it impresses.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went to NoMad for dinner last Saturday. They did not have tables available few days in advance but checking OpenTable around 4:30 pm on the same day allowed me to book 6:45 dinner. Of course I had to have chicken for two after reading wonderful reviews. Here it is in all its glory. Wish I lived in NYC and could have taken the carcass (and presumably a lot of meat) home with me... Supremely delicious, ruined all future birds for me.

nomad chicken.JPG

nomad chicken1.JPG

nomad chicken2.JPG

Also had marrow bones but that was disappointing. Mostly bread crumbs mixed with small chuncks of bone marrow and placed back to the bone. I would much rather prefer the bone marrow intact.

marrow bone nomad.JPG

Sommelier was great and recommended a beautiful Rose to go with it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went to NoMad for dinner last Saturday. They did not have tables available few days in advance but checking OpenTable around 4:30 pm on the same day allowed me to book 6:45 dinner. Of course I had to have chicken for two after reading wonderful reviews. Here it is in all its glory. Wish I lived in NYC and could have taken the carcass (and presumably a lot of meat) home with me... Supremely delicious, ruined all future birds for me.

nomad chicken.JPG

nomad chicken1.JPG

nomad chicken2.JPG

Also had marrow bones but that was disappointing. Mostly bread crumbs mixed with small chuncks of bone marrow and placed back to the bone. I would much rather prefer the bone marrow intact.

marrow bone nomad.JPG

Sommelier was great and recommended a beautiful Rose to go with it.

Awesome photographs.

I'll go this weekend and try them out.

Hope they are not full booked.

Food photos that make you hungry - Hungry Food Photography

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