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thom
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Ok, a simple, yet annoyingly vague question. I'm visiting New York (from Manchester, UK) with my girlfriend for five nights at the end of this month, and want to dine in varied and outstanding restaurants each night (Wed-Sun). Where would YOU recommend?

A little guidance? Well, we love good food, and have adventurous pallettes with no 'pet' cuisines. That said, I like to try local strengths, so American (possibly regional) and Italian could figure. We're staying in Soho, and would prefer to keep to Manhattan.

Previously we have eaten at Nobu, Canal House, Mercer Kitchen, Gramercy Tavern, Union Square, Babbo and Balthazar. Possibles for this time inlcude Vong, Il Mulino, Bluewater, Gotham and Gramercy (yes again, it was that good).

Obviously the quality of the food - ingedients, preparation and presentation - are important, but we are restaurant snobs rather than pure food snobs. I'm looking for style, striking design or locations, atmosphere, buzz, people and that whole NY experience.

Let me know.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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On the basis of two exceptional lunches, I'd go to db moderne, Daniel Boulud's more casual restaurant on 44th Street, b/w 5th and 6th. And since you're downtown, a visit to Chanterelle if you want terrific service in a classic downtown venue.

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Intriguing Tommy, a 'favourite' of yours but I should give it a miss? How so?

On the subject of negatives, everyone tells me Asia de Cuba is well worth a visit, but I found the one in LA very poor. Does the NY version buck the trend or is it all just hype?

Answers on a postcard please...

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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to put it in perspective, i wouldn't travel 6000 miles to go to vong.  :biggrin:

judging by the restaurants that you've listed, vong wouldn't necessarily impress from a purely culinary standpoint.  however, it is a "fun" place.  might be a good place to go for lunch if you just want to check it out.  or maybe for some apps in the bar area early evening?

blue water has always come across as a purely twenty-somethings place.  very loud.  very scene-y.  i would say that there are better seafood options in NYC.  however, if you are looking for a fun loud evening, it's a fine choice.

I Trulli, on 27th and park, is very good italian.  if you don't make it to il mulino you may want to consider it.

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I like the NY Asia de Cuba for large parties; I don't think it is very good for two.   Being that GT is my favorite rest. in NY I don't blame you for wanting to return. That said I would also suggest Ilo, Craft, March, Bid, San Domenico, Tabla and  Wallse.

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Wise words Tommy, and I appreciate the Vong caveat.

In terms of Bluewater, I admit to being 28 and a little bit sceney myself, so we may chance it anyway.

Thanks also for the other Italian recommendation. Good Italian food is thin on the ground in the UK, particularly my home town of Manchester (suprising considering its big Italian population).

The menu at Il Mulino looked wonderful. Anyone know whether it really does eat as well as it reads?

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Here are a few suggestions, based solely on food:

American:  GT, March, Savoy. Etats Unis

Italian:  Il Buco, Esca, Lupa

French: Le Absenthe, Le Bernardin, Cello, Lespinasse

Japanese: Sushi Yasuda

Steak: Peter Luger

NY is not as good as London for exploring other cuisines, so I would concentrate on the majors above.  For the complete NY experience (style, buzz, people, design and all that), I would choose the following:

American: The Four Seasons

French: Le Cirque 2000, Jean-Georges, Raoul's

Italian: Il Mulino

Japanese: Sushi Yasuda

Steak: Smith & Wollensky

Brunch:  The Brasserie

I would stay away from Asia de Cuba, just plain bad and Blue Water Grill (nothing special, by any measure).

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I would easily recommend any of Daniel Boulud's three restaurants although I have the most experience with Daniel and the least with db. Let me note that my history with Daniel Boulud has developed on a business (I designed his web site) and personal level, but all of this came about because my wife and I became enamored of his food. Shortly after he opened his first restaurant we agreed for the first time on the choice of best restaurant. Daniel can be a truly magnificent experience. For us it's offered the most consistent quality. Naturally, I can't vouch for what it has been to someone who's not known there. I can only remind you that I was pleased when I was not known. I'd probably recommend them in order of Daniel, Cafe Boulud and db. Daniel is formal. Cafe Boulud less so, although many of the clientele are the sort of people who wear a jacket and tie to go to the grocery store. db is in a business district by day and theater district by night, but informal. web site

Another personal favorite of mine is Blue Hill in Greenwich Village just west of Washington Square Park and a block south of Babbo. This is the restaurant that stayed in my head when eating in one, two and three star restaurants in France last month. The crowd used to be young, but now it seems to cut across age lines and the dress is often a bit more formal and less chic, if you know what I mean. Full disclosure would have me note that I've met the chef here and know the manager from Daniel. web site

I like Balthazar for brunch--Blood sausages and eggs. Likewise I recommend Dim Sum GoGo for dim sum brunch.

By the way, I live downtown and there's a leaning towards places easily accessible by foot from SoHo, but Daniel is worth the trip uptown.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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If you are really interested in design, the Four Seasons (in the Seagram Building) is a must, but a drink at the bar will do.  The restaurant has been designated as an interior landmark, one of very few such designations in New York.  It was designed by Philip Johnson in 1958-9. The Seagram Building itself (a designated landmark) is the only Mies van der Rohe building in NYC.

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Thom,

I wholeheartedly second the vote for Blue Hill.  It's a lovely space and a nice place to go with your partner.  The food is creative and delicious, good people watching, good service.  And, the chef just won the annual food and wine magazine award for best new chefs.  After the issue comes out in June, it will be very hard to get a reservation there.  Go while you can.

I'll also add to the list Brasserie.  The space is ultra cool, cameras that video tape you walking into the restaurant that get projected above the bar, wine bottles that look like they are suspended in mid air behind the bar, a glass staircase to enter the dining area, lucite glass, dark wood...  And the food is very good brasserie style food.  it's on 100 E 53rd between Park and Lexington.

Don't go to Asia De Cuba, the one in London is a better scene and food.

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One small suggestion.  If you go to Il Muilino, your experience will be dramatically enhanced by going at lunch.  At dinner, you inevitably wait well past your reservation time in the very crowded bar area.  In addition, given the fact that you are likely to be stuffed beyond belief after you eat there (I took a three hour nap after my last lunch there), having it during the day may be more enjoyable than going to sleep on such a meal.

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Ilo is quite good.  everyone is beautiful at ilo.  and bryant park, across the street, is beautiful as well.  although you can't see it very well from the dining area, you can see it from the bar through the floor to ceiling windows.  if you find yourself in the area, i would stop by for a glass of wine at the very least.

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For interesting food,not already mentioned,I'd recommend Annisa for good Asian French food in a lovely,intimate room.The food at Prune can be really good-go early before it gets crowded.For a New York scene,go to Florent late at night-you will get an eyeful,and the food is ok.

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Thought on Vong: If you don't mind that the food doesn't compare with the other restaurants you mention, it has a really striking atmosphere. Sort of like what I'd imagine an Asian palace to look like.

You might also consider the Tasting Room. Cramped seating, tiny room, but EXCELLENT food, and very friendly, personalized service from Rene, the chef's wife. It would make an interesting contrast to other places you've mentioned and the food is probably on par with any of them.

The food can be served in regular-size or "tasting" portions, which allows you to sample many dishes. As for the local element, the menu changes frequently, as the chef (Colin Alevras) is said to take advantage of fresh, local ingredients available at the time.

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i was going to mention the tasting room, especially after reading wingding's prune suggestion (on the same block).  personally i would go to the tasting room.  i don't know if i'd travel 6 thousand miles for it, but if i found myself in the area, you can bet that i'd go.  all american wine list.  very interesting.  food is very good.  cramped quarters.  great relaxed service.  my kind of place overall.

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Excellent and thought provoking replies...

Switching Il Mulino to lunch sounds sensible, and is an opinion that has been voiced elsewhere. In fact, I had a look on the city review things mentioned by tommy (I can't remember the web address), and the reviews were distinctly polarised - exquisite or excruciating, but seldom inbetween. Anyone want to make the casting vote?

Also, the 'Daniel, Cafe Boulud and db' recommendation has been noted, and is one I hadn't previously come across. Could anyone point me to menu's or give me a guide to signature dishes etc.

Much obliged.

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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I thought about mentioning Prune too as it is one of my favorite restaurants here.  But prune is definitely so much more about the food than it is about the scene.  People who love their food go there, it's quite artsy but not trendy or sceney at all.

Although you may see some models or broadway people who love their food... last time I was there Bette Midler was there with Jackie Collins (or Joan, I get the two mixed up) and her husband.  And the time before that Shalom Harlow was there.

But if you are looking for regional fare, Prune is what I call American Farmhouse with French touches.  It offers some of the best in American produce.

Best,

Akiko

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Boy, I wish someone could clue me in about the food at Prune. I found home cooking with lots of short cuts and no finesse. Shortly after eating there I read a piece by the chef in Food & Wine that seemed reason enough not to return, or read another issue of the magazine. The article was one of the most anti-elitist views I have seen in any of the glossies afraid of loosing the non foodie audience--canned beans are as good as any made from scratch and bottled commercial mayonnaise is as good anything a top chef can whip up is what I recall.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Sandra says that the Four Seasons might be worth a visit from a design standpoint, and goes on to write "but a drink at the bar will do", and that puts my point rather nicely. We were invited there a couple of years ago, and I don't often use the verb to suck, but the food well and truly sucked. Looked as though it had been sitting on the plates all day. And over $40 for the main courses. The servers were unwelcoming and supercilious. A restaurant with ideas well above its station.

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I second Bux on Prune and couldn't have put it better.

If you want American produce, I'd recommend Savoy, as chef/owner Peter Hoffman is a regular supporter of the farmer's market. (Though I don't think that's what Thom is looking for).

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