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Dream breakfast, lunch and dinner in Soho

j
Jody Baker Mar 31, 2000 03:53 PM

What would be your fantasy breakfast, lunch and dinner locations in Soho (a different restaurant for each meal)?

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  1. j
    Jim Leff Mar 31, 2000 03:58 PM

    That wouldn't be a dream, that'd be a nightmare...

    24 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
      b
      bux Apr 1, 2000 01:04 PM

      I live in SoHo and apparently have a higher tolerance for the neighborhood than does Jim Leff, but while there are a few acceptable restaurants in the peripheral area, I can't come up with any fastasies that include eating in the neighborhood. Offhand, Quilty's is one of the few restaurants I've returned to recently. It should probably be on your short list. I'd guess you might consider breakfast at Balthazar, although I'm addicted ot the crosissants at Ce-ci Ce-la further down on Spring, but I take them home. Nevertheless consider that it's only $3 to go anywhere in the city roundtrip and you could walk to Nobu or a few other downtown restaurants.

      1. re: bux
        j
        Jessica S. Apr 3, 2000 10:06 AM

        Ok, ok, I live in SoHo, too and while this once charming area with many art galleries now resembles a shopping mall, complete with aimless hipster 20-somethings, there is still some good food to be had! And Jim, are you sure you want to slam the neighbor hood that houses your much-lived Peppe Rosso To Go?

        So, here's here's my dream, or rather reality: latte and apple-oat bran muffin or apple-cranberry muffin at ONCE UPON A TART (Sullivan betw. Prince and Houston).

        Lunch would just be any of the fabulous italian sandwiches with arugala, roasted pepper, mozzarella, maybe tuna, balsamic vinegar, etc.,from MELAMPO (Sullivan betw. Prince and Spring) or something (gnocchi with pesto? grilled veggie focaccia sandwich?) from PEPPE ROSSO TO GO (Sullivan betw. Prince and Houston).

        Dinner would probably be at SAVOY (Prince & Crosby) in a fantasy world (complete with a Manhattan with the homemade cherries). In reality, it'd probably be SOHO STEAK (Thompson betw. Prince and Spring) or one of it's relations JEAN-CLAUDE BISTRO (Sullivan betw. Prince and Spring).

        So, it's not 4-star eating or amazing discoveries but I bet at least a few 'hounds would be happy with that day.

        P.S. I have heard the bfast at Balthazar is *great*--maybe the best meal there!

        1. re: Jessica S.
          j
          Judith Apr 3, 2000 10:29 AM

          Had dinner at Savoy this weekend.Service was nice and decor lovely. My cod appetizer and sliced duck entree were nothing special. My husband's combination rib roast and short rib entree was the best dish. His dessert - apple upside down cake - was good and my cheese plate was fine but overall, we were not blown away.

      2. re: Jim Leff
        d
        dzaretsky Apr 4, 2000 11:23 AM

        It baffles me how anyone could consider, for example, breakfast at Balthazar, lunch at Lombardi's, and dinner at Honmura An in any sense a nightmare.

        1. re: dzaretsky
          j
          Jessica S. Apr 4, 2000 01:55 PM

          Some thoughts on this thread...

          The problem is one might not love a neighborhood (or the changes that have occured in it) but still like some of the individual things in that neighborhood...

          Luckily in NYC you can get SOMEthing decent and even pretty good almost anywhere.

          But SoHo is not exactly a chowhounds dream destination though it may be a foodie's....

          And to nitpick... Lombardi's isn't exactly SoHo... let's say SoHo is bounded by LaFayette on the east, 6th Ave. on the west, Houston on the north and Canal (or Broome) on the south...

          1. re: Jessica S.
            e
            efdee Apr 4, 2000 05:02 PM

            Don't leave out the garden at Jardin Bistro, right on the edge of Soho.

          2. re: dzaretsky
            j
            Jessica S. Apr 4, 2000 01:55 PM

            Some thoughts on this thread...

            The problem is one might not love a neighborhood (or the changes that have occured in it) but still like some of the individual things in that neighborhood...

            Luckily in NYC you can get SOMEthing decent and even pretty good almost anywhere.

            But SoHo is not exactly a chowhounds dream destination though it may be a foodie's....

            And to nitpick... Lombardi's isn't exactly SoHo... let's say SoHo is bounded by LaFayette on the east, 6th Ave. on the west, Houston on the north and Canal (or Broome) on the south...

            1. re: dzaretsky
              g
              gary cheong Apr 4, 2000 02:50 PM

              Although the food at Balthazar is quite good, I would hardly call it a "dream". Same with Lombardi's. Honmura An is the exception.

              But generally speaking, without these 3 restaurants mentioned, it would be a nightmare.

              There's so much wonderful stuff all over, so why be confined to only SoHo?

              1. re: gary cheong
                d
                dzaretsky Apr 4, 2000 04:01 PM

                My message was reacting to how silly it is to call an eating itinerary like the one I came up with "a nightmare." We can argue about whether only one of the three places I mentioned is a dream and the other two merely "quite good," or whether there are other places nearby that are also "quite good" or better, but I don't know why anyone would take at all seriously the opinion that a day eating at those three places is a nightmare.

                1. re: dzaretsky
                  g
                  gary cheong Apr 4, 2000 04:38 PM

                  at those 3 places you said, it wouldn't be a nightmare.

              2. re: dzaretsky
                s
                Stefany B. Apr 4, 2000 05:56 PM

                Somehow I think the nightmare had more to do with the 'tude and the clientelle than with the actual available level of food quality, preparation and presentation. I must concur with the original post- another neighborhood might be a better choice.

                1. re: dzaretsky
                  a
                  AHR Apr 4, 2000 09:19 PM

                  Indeed.

                  Also, if we're willing to be ever-so-slightly geographically flexible, how 'bout lunch or dinner at the delightful Le Jardin Bistro?

                  1. re: dzaretsky
                    j
                    Jim Leff Apr 6, 2000 01:33 AM

                    Woops, just caught up with this thread, a few days late.

                    I think some respondents are getting tripped up by the eccentric threading of our board software (which we BADLY need to replace!). I agree with most of the suggestions offered; my nightmare message was a (jokey, flip, not particularly significant...we don't always have to be soooo serious here, folks!) response to the original posting, not to the replies.

                    But, darn it, this particular fantasy (anywhere you want for breakfast/lunch/dinner...in Soho) IS a nightmare! To be offered a fantasy day of eating in one of Manhattan's worst food nabes is a chowhound bad dream indeed. Good food CAN be had (though it's slim pickins), but there's nowhere near the luxury of choices you find elsewhere in the city, nor, in absolute terms, the culinary heights found elsewhere.

                    That said, the places mentioned ARE perfectly worthwhile eats, I agree. But not really my "fantasy", nor, I suspect, many of yours.

                    I agree with Gary that Honmoran is the exception...but it's just BARELY inside the border of Soho! (gg)

                    ciao

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      d
                      dzaretsky Apr 6, 2000 10:09 AM

                      I still don't see how you can say, in one breath, that the (many) places mentioned "ARE perfectly worthwhile eats" (including one that might even qualify for fantasy level) and, in the next, reaffirm your original ("jokey, flip, not particularly significant") opinion that making a day of eating at some of those places "IS a nightmare."

                      More importantly, I think there's an unpleasant strain that runs through these boards to the effect that the REALLY valuable places are the ones where there's this steam table, and you have to travel two hours on three trains to get to it, and they're only open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 unless they sell out quicker, and, if you order the right dishes (or maybe even the right dish), and you know the secret handshake, and you order the right dishes, and the taller cook with the mustache is there and not the guy who's a little shorter who also has a mustache but his smile is a little crookeder, and you make sure you order the right dishes, and you get there before The Foodies find out about it and it goes downhill man, and you order the right dishes, you can have a pretty good meal (assuming you order the right dishes). The places that are right under our noses, that everyone knows about, that (God forbid) Eric Asimov or Ed Levine have written about - places like Savoy, Honmura An, Lombardi's, Cendrillon, Omen, Acquagrill - those places, on the other hand, are not simply not your cup of tea -- they're NIGHTMARES. You may have been joking, but, if so, your joke managed to be utterly consistent with that unpleasant strain.

                      1. re: dzaretsky
                        h
                        howler Apr 6, 2000 11:38 AM

                        "I still don't see how you can say, in one breath, that the (many) places mentioned "ARE perfectly worthwhile eats" (including one that might even qualify for fantasy level) and, in the next, reaffirm your original ("jokey, flip, not particularly significant") opinion that making a day of eating at some of those places "IS a nightmare.""

                        oh come on. theres no breach of logic here, just a bit of exaggeration to make a point. feel free to disagree, but

                        "More importantly, I think there's an unpleasant strain that runs through these boards to the effect that the REALLY valuable places are the ones where ... "

                        really? if anything, this is one of the best moderated boards around; that you can take a bunch of opinionated, know-it-all types, get the best out of them, and all the while avoid flame wars every other post - that is tantamount to genius.

                        i think your criticism that

                        "The places that are right under our noses, that everyone knows about, that (God forbid) Eric Asimov or Ed Levine have written about - places like Savoy, Honmura An, Lombardi's, Cendrillon, Omen, Acquagrill -
                        those places, on the other hand, are not simply not your cup of tea"

                        is completely uncalled for. if you've noticed, there are plenty of fans of the visible, well known places around and there are plenty of threads discussing the food at those places. and its comparatively easy to get the 'drift', as it were, of the more mainstream places. whats hard to discover/penetrate are the restaurants in which the immigrants are cooking for each other - that takes some doing, plenty of nerve, a very open mind and a whole heck of a lot of experience. far, far more difficult than running off to the corner bistro and choosing from a well printed menu.

                        relax, enjoy these boards. i've learnt so much more about new york city from these boards - they've completely changed the way i look/think about the city.

                        1. re: howler
                          d
                          dzaretsky Apr 6, 2000 12:14 PM

                          I do enjoy, and am grateful for, these boards, but my point remains that there is, among their many useful strains, one unpleasant one that includes "a bit of exaggeration to make the point" that - what, exactly? That eating at mainstream corner bistros with printed menus is "a NIGHTMARE"?

                          Exactly how open is a mind that dismisses an entire neighborhood like that?

                          1. re: dzaretsky
                            j
                            Jessica Shatan Apr 6, 2000 01:41 PM

                            Ahhhhhhhh (sounder of poster screaming with a combination of delight and exasperation!).

                            DZaretzky--how could you be surprised at Jim's 1st reactions to the post on this thread? The minute I read the question "what would your dream bfast/lunch/dinner in SoHo be?" I chuckled and thought, oh, boy, Jim'll have a field day with this one. And, true to form, he did respond as I expected. I mean it wasn't a shock to me or anything.

                            Look, I know that Jim is of one mind , and I am of another (partly due to time constraints, my life is not devoted to hounding) but Jim has made this a very welcoming environment for all points of view, often encouraging us to disagree MORE. Granted his initial "nightmare" response was not the most welcoming thing to this poster who will probably never come back at this point. But hey, even Jim can lose it sometime.

                            AND I'm glad you lost it a little and challanged Jim and his kind of esoteric views... THAT'S the spirit I like about this board.

                            I don't find the "strain" unpleasent, just interesting, different and at times annoying, or predictable. But, then, everyone puts up with my long posts about places (Bel Villagio, Picasso Pizzeria) on Bleecker St., for gods sake.

                            I also still think this whole thing was slightly about the SoHo nabe, where the initial poster just seemed a bit starry-eyed, assuming that SoHo was the hippest place to eat in NYC while this nabe (where I have lived for 7 years and visited regularly since 1970) has undergone such drastic homoginazation (sp?). Arthur Schwartz called it "disheartening, where many of thestores can be found in any mall" and many of the art galleries got edged out......

                            NUFF SAID.

                            1. re: Jessica Shatan
                              s
                              Steven Stern Apr 6, 2000 02:37 PM

                              I've always thought that making fun of Soho was one of the rights--if not obligations--of every New Yorker.

                              Just my two cents. (If you're reading this -in- Soho, replace "two cents" with "eight dollars.")

                              1. re: Steven Stern
                                t
                                Tara Apr 6, 2000 11:26 PM

                                I liked it better when everyone was complaining about the service at Bouley Bakery. Now THAT was fun.

                        2. re: dzaretsky
                          j
                          Jim Leff Apr 6, 2000 12:25 PM

                          Geez Louise, dzaretsky, calm down! And please stop putting inaccurate words in my mouth!

                          What in the world do you mean by "the kinds of places" Eric Asimov and Ed Levine write about? They both write about a wide range.

                          And as for your claim that upscale "obvious" places are not my cup of tea, I've worked hard over the ten years of my writing career to make a case for eliminating snobbery, reverse snobbery, ANY sort of vertical hierarchical thinking whatsoever. I've been trying to level the playing field and make a case that deliciousness is deliciousness, no matter WHERE you find it. I've eaten in, tremendously enjoyed, and written about many expensive places, many "famous" places, and I'm pretty insulted, frankly, by your implication that I only stuff bizarre cheap greasy yum-yums in my gob. Fame, expense, and central location are not the enemy. It's EMPTY fame, expense-sans-value, and the lazy tendency to eat whatever's close/convenient that piss me off!

                          No, I DON'T like Soho very much for food IN GENERAL. I think most people...high end, low end, chowhound, and foodie, would agree that ON THE OVERALL the food there is far from the city's best, and that while there are some good places, the peaks are few and far between. Honmuran is the only truly world-class spot, and I actually love it a lot.

                          But while I very clearly agreed that Soho's best places (especially the three mentioned, and I'd add Frontiere--one of my favorite bistros, Pepe Rosso To Go, and--before the chef/owner started hiring others to cook most of the time, Blue Ribbon...oh, and Ceci-Cela) are indeed worthy, this is clearly, patently, obviously not--ON THE WHOLE--the nabe for a "food dream". I did NOT call individual restaurants nightmares, I did NOT say they weren't my cup of tea. Sheesh, did you even read what I wrote?

                          As for the rest of your message, strategizing one's meal is essential ANYWHERE one eats. It's not a class/price thing or a reverse snob thing. One non-greasy yum yum example: you can try hard to figure out which nights the Blue Ribbon guy is actually in the kitchen (which means learning the metaphorical secret handshake, etc etc), or you can just take the easy route and choose not to peak behind the curtain; not to recognize that there's a problem there at all, because it's The Famous Blue Ribbon, very highly regarded, so why doesn't Leff stop obsessing over how to have the BEST experience there and stop ruing its supposed "decline"?

                          Restaurants don't like people looking behind the curtain. The food press hardly ever looks behind the curtain. Zagat pretty much IS the curtain. Nearly every food media element is fundamentally, intrinsically directed at the curtain.

                          Chowhounds are more hip. But if you think that's a delusion, I'm wondering why you come around here.

                          As for the "unpleasant strain that runs through these boards" knocking mainstream linen tablecloth restaurants, I think you very badly need to take another scan through these boards. You won't find more thorough and savvy discussion of upscale and centralized eating anywhere else on the 'net. There's also lots of info on more far-flung and unusual places, and, yes, some steam tables manned by people with moustaches where the food runs out early. But only the really GOOD ones. You'll find in these boards info on the full spectrum of edible possibility, the best-of-types for every type. Even the most mainstream old guard close-minded food writers have grudgingly come to accept this; as a younger, hipper fellow, I'm surprised to see you posting such a conservative rant, marginalizing and denigrating the chowhound spirit with claims that have thankfully been vanquished.

                          1. re: Jim Leff
                            d
                            dzaretsky Apr 6, 2000 01:01 PM

                            Everyone keeps telling me to calm down. I'm calm, I'm calm, (I'M CALM!).

                            I come around here for both "the thorough and savvy discussion of upscale and centralized eating" and all the "info on more far-flung and unusual places." What I wish I didn't find here (mixed in with all that good stuff) is the kind of attitude that takes a neighborhood filled with the restaurants I've named, to which we can add the half dozen or so places you've named, and says a day - ONE DAY - eating at those places would be a nightmare. That's the only spirit I intend to "marginalize and denigrate." I'm all for steam tables where the food runs out early. What I'm against is looking down our noses at those whose preferences are otherwise.

                            1. re: dzaretsky
                              j
                              Jim Leff Apr 6, 2000 01:09 PM

                              "What I wish I didn't find here...is the kind of attitude that takes a neighborhood filled with the restaurants I've named, to which we can add the half dozen or so places you've named, and says a day - ONE DAY - eating at those places would be a nightmare..... looking down our noses at those whose preferences are otherwise."

                              Man, I give up. I'm just not going to be able to convince you to untwist your mistaken impression of my point of view.

                              But on with the chow...

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                d
                                dzaretsky Apr 6, 2000 01:31 PM

                                That's fine, Jim, I'd always rather eat than argue. But just so you're clear, here's how this thread got going. Someone posted "What would be your fantasy breakfast,lunch and dinner locations in Soho (a different restaurant for each meal)?" You responded: "That wouldn't be a dream, that'd be a nightmare."

                              2. re: dzaretsky
                                j
                                Jeremy Osner Apr 6, 2000 07:19 PM

                                "says a day - ONE DAY - eating at those places would be a nightmare"

                                That takes totally out of context Jim's first post on this thread; the original poster hypothesized a fantasy of eating wherever you wanted in Soho and Jim responded that it would be a nightmare -- obviously he was playing on the "fantasy" in the original poster's message, not saying "eating in Soho is a nightmare".

                    2. j
                      Jeremy Osner Apr 4, 2000 04:36 PM

                      Breakfast at Ceci Cela: coffee and almond brioche. Sit in their back room and read the Times.
                      Lunch (if it's a nice day) takeout from Melampo Imports: the sandwich with mozzarella and arugula, on wonderful ciabatta from Sullivan St. Bakery. Eat it in the park on Ave. of the Americas.
                      Lunch (if it's a lousy day) at Fanelli's: hamburger. (Need I say more?)
                      Dinner at Nyonya: Bean curd casserole in hot pot. Ideally I would be with some other people, and we could get several dishes to share; but the bean curd casserole would have to be one of them.
                      Dessert/nightcap: if it's a nice day, I'd get an ice cream cone at Ciao Bella, and walk along Prince St. eating my ice cream and gawking at the big city. Otherwise, would go to La Poeme for a crepe and tea (especially if Verbena is in season!).

                      One thing I like about this fantasy day is that it is quite feasible; indeed I have probably come close to living it out a time or two.

                      1. a
                        Alan Divack Apr 6, 2000 08:58 PM

                        Welcome, Jody, to a place where people are truly passionate about food and the places where it is eaten.
                        You may want to consider Cendrillon, which presents an innovative riff on Filipino food. I have only been there for dinner, and, although sometimes inconsistent, the food is generally wonderful. They have interesting looking lunches, and on the weekend, more traditional Filipino food for brunch. The people who run the restaurant are knowledgable and friendly. Well worth a try. It is my dream at least to try their brunch.

                        Anyone else have opinions about Cendrillon? There hasn't been much discussion of it, though I think it was mentioned somewhere in this thread. They also feature asian dinners by other chefs, with a Cambodian dinner on the 26th of April (unfortunately, still Passover, so I will skip, though I am very torn).

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