Near Carnegie Hall/City Center???
I always used to go to the Broadway Diner for
perfectly acceptable food in glitzy but tacky
surroundings--the floor is restroom tile, everything
is a little rushed. This fall I got a Carnegie
subscription and decided to upgrade my preconcert
dining. I heard good things about the $19.95 prix
fixe at L'Ermitage--it's closed. Topaz Thai (raves in
the Zagat) was pleasant but the food was like
neighborhood Chinese. Brooklyn Diner was pleasant but
the food was heavy and dull and overpriced by five or
seven dollars. Mangia was not for real--at least not
in the evening. I went to Cafe Europa for dessert
after a concert and wouldn't go back--I didn't like my
stale creampuff or what I saw on other plates. At a
ritzier level, I've been to the Redeye Grill twice.
The atmosphere is wonderful but the food??? Not
poison, not good. Should I just go back to the
Broadway Diner? I live downtown, and I'm prepared to
pay $5-$10 more than I'd have to in Chelsea or the
East 20's for simple food, but to pay a premium and
eat badly isn't my idea of fun. (One night I ate
downtown--the price and food were right but getting up
to the concert turned out to be a nightmare.)
Here's what I want--between 5th and 8th Avenue,
between 55th and 58th Street. Either a tasty plate of
food and a drink in decent, simple surroundings for
under $16 (plus tax and tip), or a meal in a nicer
place (it doesn't have to have three courses) for $20
plus drink, tax and tip. Any ethnic cuisine is OK.
(There are a lot of places on W. 56th.) I know that if
I move up the price scale I can do better but I hate
the idea of spending $45 just to eat before a
I'm asking this as a public service--I don't go back
to Carnegie until March.
Incidentally, Redeye Grill and Broadway Diner are
under the same ownership, as is nearby Trattoria
Dell'Arte (and two other restaurants in different
neighborhoods: Fiorello's and Hosteria Fiorella). I
think Trattoria Dell'Arte is the best of the Carnegie
Hall-area restaurants, and it's possible to get out of
there without breaking the bank if you engage in
careful study of the menu. I think the thing with
Redeye Grill is that you have to be selective. The
smoked salmon and the clay-pot fish are very good, in
my experience. The Cobb salad--something I never
order--came highly recommended so I tried it and it
was pretty damn good (mixed tableside, if you're into
that sort of thing). Molyvos is good but damn
expensive for Greek taverna food. Don't forget about
the Carnegie Deli. You say Eighth Avenue is within
your striking range, in which case Tapika (sort of in
the Arizona 206/Mesa Grill mold) is an option. If you
extend that to Ninth Avenue, well, you're in a whole
universe of good, cheap eats (more bang for your buck,
I would argue, than down where you live). I turn you
over to the serious chowhounds for Ninth Ave.
Have you ever tried Molyvos on Seventh Ave. (east side of the street) near 55th? It is a lovely place, warm and inviting with a charming, efficient waitstaff. The food is marvelous, even the more prosaic moussaka was very, very good. The grilled octopus salad appetizer is delightful, unctuous and not over-browned--and the chef knew how to handle sweetbreads. I give points for that.
The price may be slightly higher than on your wish list, but I think you can pull it off with a little creative ordering. I do think you'd like it.
re: Dave Feldman
re: Charles Troob
I wrote off Molyvos prematurely after one so-so meal.
I had a terrrific meal there two weeks ago. The
special fish dishes were superb.
But I wouldn't want to rush the meal. The servers are
very accommodating but it is crowded and popular. If
you want a light meal, you could do worse than the
antipasti at Trattoria delle Arte. You can even eat
it at the bar. Along with their excellent bread, you
can make a meal of it if you aren't too hungry (or two
of you could split a pizza). But this is also a
popular restaurant and not cheap and VERY noisy.
I'd go to Angelo's and eat at Molyvos when there was
P.S. There is also a quiet and decent (not great)
Spanish restaurant on 58th St. between 6th and 7th on
the south side of the street. Very moderate prices.
re: Charles Troob
On 56th and 9th Ave there is a lovely, intimate Italian
restaurant that serves superb food. It's called Bello.
If you just order a main course (veal saltimboca for
about $15) you can get out for 20 bucks.
Also, believe it or not I got a really decent broiled
red snapper dinner at DJ Reynold's on 57th and 9th.
Their dinner specials are always priced reasonably.
Definitly in your price range.
Tapika is pricer but delicious.
Chinese in the area seems pretty mediocre.
Arriba, Arriba on around 52nd and 8th is good Mexican.