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Village eats help

  • j
  • Jim Regan Sep 3, 1997 01:45 PM
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Anyone care to suggest a few fun, not too expensive, interesting places to eat...it's been so long since I've been to Greenwich Village (especially the west side ) that I really need some help. Thanks alot.

Jim

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  1. j
    Josh Mittleman

    I haven't been eating in the Village nearly as much as I used to do, so I can't offer many suggestions. Here are a few.

    Andalusia (or whatever it happens to be called now), the Moroccan place on the south side of the middle of Cornelia St., roughly across from the Cornelia Street Cafe.

    For that matter, the Cornelia Street Cafe.

    An old favorite is the Gran Ticino, on Sullivan near 3rd St. The pasta dishes are wonderful and quite reasonably priced if you have them as main dishes.

    A _wonderful_ Italian place is Cent'Anni at 50 Carmine. I don't know if $20-$30 per person is in your range, but if so, try it out.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Josh Mittleman
      d
      Dave Feldman

      I happen to love Cent'anni, too (it's one of the closest restaurants in NYC to a real trattoria), but I'm afraid even $20-30 is too optimistic. A full meal is likely to cost a little more -- $40-50 is more like it for an appetizer, entree, dessert, and a glass of wine and coffee.

      DF

      1. re: Dave Feldman
        m
        maya rutherford

        my favorite restaurants in the west village are:
        Bar Pitti on 6th Ave. near Bleeker--great trattoria,
        delicious pasta, sauteed spinach, and other trattoria
        staples--plus their panna cotta is amazing for
        dessert--very good people watching, too

        try drover's on Jones St., opened by the couple who own
        home. it's more spacious than Home, and has a great
        bar where they serve local beers on tap and their own
        mixed drinks, which are very good and not cloyingly
        sweet. the fried chicken and macaroni in a skillet are
        great; as is the dandelion green salad with beets and
        maytag blue cheese.

        john's pizza on bleecker is always good and cheap.
        they use real mushrooms on their pizza. try extra
        garlic on the pizza. it's subtle and delicious.

        the Bistro Burger at The Corner Bistro at W. 4th and
        Jane has the best hamburger in NYC. and cheap good beer
        (Killian's)

        1. re: maya rutherford

          Don't drink Killian's! It's one of the earliest of
          those fake microbrews and it's made by COORS! Uhhg!

          1. re: Sage
            m
            maya rutherford

            but if you're broke and dying for a beer, you can't
            beat that pint of Killian's at the Corner Bistro!

        2. re: Dave Feldman
          d
          Deirdre Cullen

          For a downright bargain and good wholesome food
          try the Sazerac HOuse on Hudson & Charles St
          This place is the equal to Tartine in quality,
          less expensive and definitely more comfortable.

        3. re: Josh Mittleman
          s
          Steve Schwartz

          I remember a great Moroccan meal at The Magic Carpet in
          the Village, can't remember the street. I don't
          remember what the dish was called, maybe "stuffed
          chicken". It was sliced chicken breast over flavored
          rice with raisins and pine nuts and cubed chicken all
          turned out in a mound on the plate so the sliced
          chicken was on the outside and the rest of the mixture
          inside, so to speak.They even had a belly dancer.
          Anyone know the address?
          Steve

        4. I like Grange Hall a lot. It's on the nicest block in
          the village, in a little cul de sac. It's elegant but
          not oppressively so, it has the smartest/funniest
          waiters and bartenders of any place I know, and the
          food's real good (midwestern farm food).

          Robert Sietsema, who's FROM the Midwest, insists that
          it's not authentic. But whatever...I like it. don't
          miss the salads and the potato pancakes.

          Expect to spend $20-30 if careful ordering, or else
          $30-35.

          ciao

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jim Leff

            My husband and I ate at Grange Hall for the
            first time last night, and, in all honesty,
            found it to be a mixed bag. The atmosphere
            was lovely, the minty pork chops delicious,
            and the dill-infused Farmer Martini with
            green tomato "olives" a real stand-out treat
            (I was skeptical at first...), but the bread
            was Wonder-bland and less than fresh (even
            difficult to cut) and the special salad (while
            certainly fresh and even satisfyingly seasonal)
            was basically unexciting. Our server was nervous
            and clueless (when I asked what a tomato olive
            was she replied, with thinly-veiled panic,
            "It's an...um...pickled olive"). Some of the
            food was underseasoned to my taste, but the
            biggest disappointment had to be the potato
            pancakes (which, at the risk of offending the
            Alfa-Hound, I'll admit we ordered at Jim L.'s
            recommendation). With all due deference as a
            ChowHound-in-training and newcomer to the
            boards, I submit that we found the fritter-
            shaped "pancakes" fairly flavorless, and worse
            still, their soft interiors had an unpleasantly
            gluey texture, as if the potatoes had been
            pureed in a food processor. I'm curious why Jim
            talks them up.

            But we did enjoy ourselves enough to give it
            another try (it's in the neighborhood, the price
            is right, and the ambiance so appealing). Perhaps
            for brunch next time. Or we might just stop into
            the bar to get a Farmer Martini fix....

            1. re: chimera

              Well, I'm glad it wasn't a total disaster!

              Pardon me while I riff at length here...I promise this
              isn't a harangue; it's just that this is an interesting
              point to discuss. Am interested in what others have to
              say.

              Your posting struck a chord with me as a jazz
              trombonist (my other career), strangely enough!

              Whenever I play, each listener comes away with a
              totally different "take" on how "good" I am. It's one
              of the central confusing dilemmas of art: audience
              members who are passionate about something tend to have
              specific expectations regarding what they're looking
              for from that thing. There are myriad such sets of
              expectations, and they constitute a rocky reef on which
              many an artist's efforts has caught and sunk.

              Some people gauge jazz musicians by their firey
              emotion, others judge by the beauty of a player's
              sound. Some listen only to one musician at a time,
              others focus on group interplay. Some like to be
              impressed with virtuosic technique, others spurn all
              but those with charmingly rough-hewn technique. Some
              concentrate on the line a musician is playing and need
              to be able to predict where he/she is going with that
              line...and prefer players who are predictable but not
              TOO predictable. Some are utterly disgusted and
              distracted by a missed notes or occasional bad
              intonation, others mistrust polished performance. Above
              all, most have severe stylistic likes/dislikes and
              write off any player who cross the line into a style
              they hate.

              Now, all these preferences are quite proper...you pay
              your money, you want to hear something that pleases
              you. As a listener, you'd get more enjoyment from a
              greater range of music if you could be more open, more
              intuitive, and less bound by preconceptions, but,
              again, it's your dime. It's confusing for the musician
              to be lionized by some and despised by others--in both
              cases often for factors they themselves don't give a
              darn about (which is why many have a deep-seated
              mistrust of applause!), but that's show biz. The awful
              thing is that such artificial, narrow distinctions
              drive most music critics, as well.

              It's devilishly difficult for musicians; we get all
              sorts of contradictory feedback in all sorts of ways.
              Almost no one tries to listen deeply to what we're
              TRYING to do and just come along for the ride with an
              open mind. You try to get free, to open up and just
              PLAY, letting the moment move you, but the audience
              (and critics!) are frozen into these static patterns.
              Reviews tend to read like a judgement as to whether
              you've met a given set of narrow personal criteria, few
              of which have anything to do with your actual musical
              intent.

              You use terms like "blandness", "unexciting", and
              "under-seasoned", but Grange Hall isn't TRYING for
              spicy, exciting, and well-seasoned. They serve comfort
              food, but comfort food artfully well-prepared. The
              bread is white bread, yes, but good white bread. If
              you've been eating lots of provocative breads from
              Amy's and Ecce Panis (both of which I love), simple
              white breads can seem bland and boring by comparison
              unless you're careful to recalibrate your perceptions.
              Same for the salad...yes, nothing hits you over the
              head, there's no dizzying catharsis of flavor, no
              interesting or provocative elements. But for salad of
              this type, it's admirably well-prepared. I don't
              concentrate on what's NOT being done, because in any
              given pursuit there must always be a plethora of roads
              NOT taken. Deliciousness is deliciousness, and there
              are many different forms it can take.

              I'm not demanding you follow my lead; I'm a critic, and
              I need to be fair, so I don't indulge my preferences. I
              don't eat a well-made gentile potato pancake and harp
              over its differences with the Eastern European Jewish
              kind. You, on the other hand, CAN eat that way (I envy
              you!), and I'm not trying to upbraid you, but to show
              you why your evaluation differed from mine. A critic
              has to try to faithfully judge and describe a place
              based on the place's own intent.

              But I do work hard to write evocatively enough so that
              readers who seek creative spicy vibrant food won't be
              attracted to, say, a Grange Hall. It sounds like you
              have my book; I suspect you paid more attention to my
              numerical ratings (which don't really say much...I was
              very unhappy about having to assign them, in fact) than
              to my prose. I think I painted an accurate picture of
              the restaurant, and your disappointment could, I think,
              have been anticipated from the review alone.

              As for the potato pancakes (thanks, but NO deference is
              due me, by the way...ich bin eine chowhound!), you're
              probably looking for a coarse grind, the way I myself
              prefer my latkes. But these are more shreddy fritter-
              style German potato pancakes. For what they are,
              they're delicious. I have a lot of trouble judging
              things for what they're not. They're only "gluey" if
              you're expecting coarse-grained. And only "bland" if
              you're expecting spicy. I don't expect, I just eat,
              trying to "reset" myself in each new place. Which is
              something you--eating for fun, not as a job--needn't
              worry about. Anyway, this has been a super long-winded
              attempt to explain that this simply isn't your
              restaurant!

              I understand your mind-frame, I could easily eat at
              Grange Hall with your perspective and see things
              exactly your way. Nothing you wrote was "wrong"; it's
              just a simple failure of the kitchen to meet your
              personal expectations. Others have different
              expectations (which is why it's a much-loved
              restaurant). A very few eaters suspend their
              expectations and eat on the restaurant's terms. Change
              their internal makeup and allow themselves to be
              inspired in different ways by different things, to
              relish rather than to reject alternative routes to
              deliciousness (and to know when there's no
              deliciousness to be gleaned from any perspective, in
              spite of clever attempts by a kitchen to fool you into
              thinking otherwise!).

              As for the waiter, sheesh, give 'em a break! One server
              stumbling over one question on one night says nothing
              about the restaurant...or about the waiter, either, for
              that matter!

              Anyway, sorry to pontificate at you...welcome to
              chowhound.com, and I hope you'll post more (and maybe
              eat just a bit more open-mindedly!)

              1. re: Jim Leff
                d
                Dave Feldman

                Can I add one more point to the mix.

                Have all Chowhounds read the NY Times article about
                taste a few weeks back (I think it was in the science
                section rather than in the food section, but it oculd
                have been in either). Essentially, the article
                indicated that scientists are convinced that there are
                very real differences in the level of sensitivities of
                tasters among normal folk (i.e., those without any
                physical problem).

                Roughly 1/4 of the population are called "super-
                tasters." They experience taste more intensely.
                Approximately another quarter of the population has
                relatively dull taste buds. And half are "average."

                There is more than a slight chance that what is
                unbearably bland to one taster is perceived as
                overpowering to another. What scientists don't seem
                to know yet, though, is whether there is a difference
                in PREFERENCE for seasoning or just a difference in
                SENSATION. If it's the latter, then the person who is
                pleased with one shake of the hot sauce bottle might
                like his or her food as much as the one who pours a
                tablespoon full.

                I'm convinced I'm one of those in the middle-range.
                For someone seriously interested in food, I'm more
                likely to complain that something is "tasteless"
                rather than "overpowering," and more likely to
                complain that something is "boring" rather than
                "subtle."

                And this might explain folks who don't seem to be at
                all interested in food as aesthtic properties. If all
                food tastes the same, how could you get excited about
                it?

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Dave--I'll reply by starting a new thread called "Perceiving Food" in the "general topics" board...either go to that index or use the link
                  below to go directly to my message:

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  "It's devilishly difficult for musicians;
                  we get all sorts of contradictory feedback
                  in all sorts of ways. Almost no one tries
                  to listen deeply to what we're TRYING to do
                  and just come along for the ride with an
                  open mind.... I'm not demanding you follow
                  my lead; I'm a critic, and I need to be fair,
                  so I don't indulge my preferences.... You,
                  on the other hand, CAN eat that way (I envy
                  you!), and I'm not trying to upbraid you, but
                  to show you why your evaluation differed from
                  mine. A critic has to try to faithfully judge
                  and describe a place based on the place's own
                  intent.... It sounds like you have my book; I
                  suspect you paid more attention to my
                  numerical ratings (which don't really say
                  much...I was very unhappy about having to
                  assign them, in fact) than to my prose.... I
                  understand your mind-frame, I could easily eat
                  at Grange Hall with your perspective and see
                  things exactly your way.... A very few eaters
                  suspend their expectations and eat on the
                  restaurant's terms. Change their internal
                  makeup and allow themselves to be inspired in
                  different ways by different things, to relish
                  rather than to reject alternative routes to
                  deliciousness...."

                  Wow. There's something kinda heady about
                  enduring so presumptuous and unrelenting an
                  onslaught of condescension. Some endorphin
                  thing perhaps? Or maybe I'm just reeling from
                  the intensity of having my "mind-frame"
                  understood so completely.

                  I mean, if you consider the distinctions
                  between "stale" and "fresh" (and "gluey" and
                  "soft") to be "artificial," "narrow," and
                  "personal," then I'm chastened. And I'm
                  certain I may fairly be accused of "indulging
                  my preference" for the former in each case.
                  But as sorry as I am for the devilish
                  difficulties of your music career, and the
                  narrow-mindedness of jazz critics, I'm afraid
                  that unless the kitchen at Grange Hall INTENDED
                  stale and gluey, I don't think my problems with
                  my meal can be chalked up to a lack of
                  sensitivity to the artists' intentions, or a
                  poverty of "intuition."

                  I'm perfectly willing to accept the notion that
                  individual idiosycracies of taste and preference
                  play a role in anyone's enjoyment of any food,
                  and that I brought mine with me to Grange Hall,
                  but I submit that when I entered the restaurant
                  I was not at all expecting "spicy" or "creative"
                  (if, by the latter, you mean some foodie/fusion
                  standard of legitimacy). Flavorful, yes, fresh,
                  definitely. I was, in fact, expecting exactly
                  what you describe as "comfort food artfully
                  well-prepared." In some cases, that is most
                  assuredly and happily what I got, in others, not.

                  I never complained of the bread's whiteness (some
                  of my best friends are white bread), nor that it
                  was "simple," but, rather, that it was neither
                  very "good" nor very fresh. And by "good" (to use
                  your own term), I'm afraid I do mean flavorful,
                  and, I hasten to add, NOT rosemary-chipotle-
                  caraway flavorful, nor even salty, but flavorful
                  as white bread. How else do we determine any
                  bread's goodness if not by flavor and texture? I
                  can safely say that I've never entered a
                  restaurant in the hopes of being "hit over the
                  head," and I'm certain I don't harbor a
                  prejudicing desire to be provoked or made dizzy
                  by my bread. I do, however, take exception to the
                  suggestion that "simple" fare cannot be
                  interesting or even "exciting." In truth, what
                  excites me about food is precisely that it
                  succeeds on its own terms, which in most cases
                  my meal at Grange Hall did, and for that reason
                  (along with the fact of it's very charming
                  location) I can understand why Grange Hall is a
                  "much loved restaurant." A salad comprising
                  nothing but a single, simply dressed green can,
                  perhaps (if the greens themselves are fresh and
                  flavorful, and the dressing well-balanced) even
                  be fairly described as "cathartic." Mucilaginous
                  potatoes, however, cannot--no matter how
                  "careful[ly]" I "recalibrate my perceptions." I
                  appreciate your efforts to "show [me] why [your]
                  evaluation differed from [mine]," but I am quite
                  certain that I'm not confusing gluey with gentile
                  (though it's an amusing proposition). If it is
                  because I'm not a critic like yourself that I may
                  recklessly entertain my distaste for glue without
                  endangering my journalistic integrity, then I can
                  well understand your "envy." And, I'm sorry, but
                  it certainly does say something about a server if
                  they do not realize that there's nothing unusual
                  about an olive's being pickled, particularly when
                  it's a tomato. I'm no stranger to the strains of
                  waiting table (having done it myself), but if you
                  don't know what something is, you say so, and then
                  you find out. Incidentally, when I said I'd ordered
                  the pancakes on your recommendation, I was
                  referring only to your message posted on the
                  ChowHound boards; I'm afraid I don't have your
                  book and have been influenced neither by the
                  numerical ratings nor the prose contained therein.
                  Perhaps it was an off-night for bread and potatoes
                  in the Grange Hall kitchen, but I've eaten
                  deep-fried potatoes many ways in my life
                  (coarsely chopped, shredded, mashed, pureed) and
                  by many names (latkes, pancakes, fritters,
                  croquettes) and found them delicious in their
                  many incarnations (on their myriad "routes to
                  deliciousness"). These, I simply did not.

                  I thank you for welcoming me to chowhound.com,
                  even if it did come with the admonition to "maybe
                  eat just a bit more open-mindedly!" I think the
                  site is fantastic, and an invaluable resource, and
                  I'll try therein always to give as good as I get.

                  1. re: chimera

                    Argh. Chimera, my point was that every one of your criticisms MIGHT be explained by a patterned way of viewing food. "Heavy and bland" can describe even good white bread (when described by someone who likes more interesting breads than old-fashioned white). "Unexciting" can describe even a good simple salad (when described by someone who dislikes simple salads). "Gluey" is a bit overboard, but can refer to a good non-coarse-ground potato pancake (when described by someone who likes 'em coarse). From my past experience at Grange Hall, I could see every one of your complaints (as stated in that first message...not your more strongly-worded complaints in this one!) applying to the food I know and love there.

                    It may be that you did encounter stale bread, cheap salad, and icky potato pancakes. Grange Hall might have become the worst restaurant in the world, and you might be the most open-minded of eaters. But there was a pattern to your comments; I'm surprised that you can't see that pattern and why it inspired me to go off on a digression about similar patterns in others, a digression that I tried to explain wasn't directed straight at you. Even if what I wrote totally doesn't apply to you or your eating habits, it's still a halfway interesting point, no? Remember, others are reading along...

                    I'm very sorry you took it as a personal dressing-down. I was just taking an opportunity to talk about some issues I find interesting; I can understand why the intensity of my writing (and, in some cases, my phrasing, I now see) may have made you interpret it as a personal attack. Again, I was just riffing. If we were speaking in person, and you interrupted to say "Nah, I LIKE simple food, I don't need everything to be cooked socko", I'd have shrugged and said "Oh, ok!", and we could have discussed those other issues without referring to you personally (and, less stung, you might have found the discussion more stimulating). I was just using webmaster perogative to talk to the bleachers on a guess.

                    Maybe I should have written it as an article elsewhere on the site. But I haven't posted to the boards in a while, and figured this might be an interesting discussion-starter. Oh, well!

                    In any case, I AM glad you got over your "deferential" phase!

            2. s
              Steve Plotnicki

              Depending on what your point of view is on reasonably priced, Cornelia Street is the place to be.
              There's Home(American Food), Le Gigot(French) and Po(Italian). All exceptionally good non-pretentious places to eat. I've found that they are less expensive compared to some of the old Village stalwarts like Da Silvano or Cent 'Anni which was mentioned in the previous post.