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Smith Street Restaurants--Best? And no faan of Faan...

  • m
  • Miriam G. Jan 30, 2002 08:37 PM

Friends recently back in NYC want to dine on Smith Street next Tuesday night...I've been to Smith Street Kitchen and Saul, and frankly can't remember which one was better. I think I had a mediocre, overpriced meal at Smith St. Kitchen, and a much better meal at Saul--but who nows? Any Chow recommendations--those 2 or others of that ilk? BTW--terrible, terrible meal at Faan last week. Not worth details...Stay away.

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  1. c
    cate corcoran

    I like Banania, Savoia, and 3 Bow Thais. Banania is a a very pretty French bistro with reliable food. Savoia is new (bring your own bottle) and has Roman-style (not American) pizza baked in a wood oven. 3 Bow Thais is, obviously, Thai, but also has a smattering of Euro dishes, such as carrot-ginger soup and warm goat cheese salad.

    If it's gourmet excitement you're after, try The Grocery, but it's very expensive.

    On nearby Court St., Osaka has good sushi in a pretty setting. Nothing like the unspeakably bad Faan.

    13 Replies
    1. re: cate corcoran

      osaka: ugh. overpriced 'hip-looking' but while i was sitting at the cool tables last fall, i was trying to chew through not-sushi grade tuna with grizzly fat through it. unpleasant.

      bean

      1. re: bean
        c
        cate corcoran

        Yuck, that sounds terrible. We have been twice in the last two months, and both times the sushi was excellent -- on par with the best I've had anywhere. We went again last week, and the tuna was a little as you describe, and the octopus was suspiciously soft, as in possibly starting to decompose. The white tuna and yellowtail were tasty, as was the baby octopus appetizer. I figured our latest experience was an anomoly, but maybe I was wrong.

        1. re: cate corcoran

          If you are already bored with Smith st. fashion, just go three blocks down to the west and try Nino's. Italian cantina on Henry St. and Union st (maybe one block over). Huge portions. Incredibly cheap and casual, both the restaurant on Union and the little cantina on Henry. Try the veal parmeggiana and the meat lasagna, the pizza and a kind of potato cake... English and Sicilian spoken.

          1. re: cate corcoran

            (On court, not Smith Street, exactly.) On a good night, Osaka is up there with the best sushi I've had on either coast. Very fresh fish, some interesting harder-to-find items like white salmon, live scallop, bluefin toro, and a some inventive rolls and salads—last time there sat at the bar and the chef gave us a delicious ceviche-type dish to try. I've had a mediocre meal there once. I think the key is getting the right guy behind the sushi counter. Dees anyone know his name—the guy who seems REALLY into the fish, smiles a lot, talks to you at the bar (heavy accent). Wish I could do better on the description, but every time that guy has been there, it's been great. And I'm glad that annoying blond girl doesn't seem to be working as hostess anymore.

            1. re: Adam B.
              m
              Marion Morgenthal

              I think the sushi chef you are talking about is Ken. He spends most of his time at Yamato(?)--the same owners' new place on 7th Avenue near 1st Street. I think he's usually at Osaka on Tuesdays, although we found him there on a Saturday recently.

              1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                Thank you! Yes, I think last time I saw him there was a Tuesday. Have you been to Yamato?

                1. re: Adam B.
                  m
                  Marion Morgenthal

                  We were at Yamato once--it's somewhat pricier than Osaka, but the food was very good. I've heard from some regulars that they prefer the cooked food at Yamato to Osaka, but since we primarily sushi, and live walking distance from Osaka, we haven't found it compelling to go to the Slope.

              2. re: Adam B.
                m
                Marion Morgenthal

                We were at Osaka this evening (Tuesday), and Ken was there--smiling and capable as always. Tuesdays seem to be the best bet.

                1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                  Ken was at the counter last night (Tuesday) and did some wonderful things for us — buttery bluefin tuna and toro sushi, surf clam sashimi, the yamato roll, a special roll with spicy squid wrapped in two kinds of tuna with caviar and gold leaf on top! I love Ken! I'm thinking about checking him out at Yamato.

            2. re: bean

              Well, I'm a regular at Osaka, and have never been disappointed; my Japanese friend loves it. Perhaps your experience was an isolated incident, because I really eat there (or order out) at least a couple of times a month, and have been doing that for the past year and a half.

            3. re: cate corcoran

              Banania is Boring. Patois is expensive for what you get, and many many people on these boards totally loathe it. Uncle Pho is another restaurant most people around here love to hate (try a search), but I like it for their spring rolls and their duck. The Grocery seems to be one of the best places to eat on Smith, as is Saul, but I find the Grocery a little on the expensive side for what it is (good but not great). Savoia I haven't tried yet, but on the inexpensive side, Panino'teca has fantastic home-cured tuna salad and interesting, scrumptious panini. I keep coming back to Zaytoons - fantastic Middle-Eastern food, great shish kabob, excellent fresh pita & salads...

              1. re: Katerina

                First, what's wrong with "boring"? I think Banania has very good food and remains a good value. Although others have complained about the service, I've never had a problem there. They are particularly good at handling kids.

                1. re: Abrocadabro

                  Well, I'm one of those people who have had service problems at Banania, but also I don't find the food or decor one bit interesting, and I don't have kids (and frankly, usually avoid restaurants where I see a lot of kids...) But maybe I just don't like it because it's always packed, and maybe it's packed because it's good, but there are so many other options in the neighborhood and downtown that I just can't be bothered to go back.

            4. if you haven't been to Patois.. it's a must. it's not the newest, sexiest thing on smith anymore, but it's just plain lovely and delicious.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Ashley

                Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, and I must disagree about Patois. It is full of attitude and not nearly as good as when it first opened. In my opinion, it didn't take very long for it to start sliding downhill.

                I realize that your experiences there have obviously been better than mine. Maybe I should give them another chance one of these times.

                1. re: Zephyr

                  I have to second the veto on Patois. I loathe it. Overpriced, sloppy second rate. They can't even get their creme brulee right. I wish I had contested the charge on my credit card the one and only time I went.

                  1. re: annab
                    b
                    Brooklyn Boy

                    I agree. The service at Patois sucks. If there is a ruder staff in NYC I have yet to find them.

                    1. re: Brooklyn Boy

                      I disagree. I haven't been since the summer but everytime I go I have a fine time. I love their escargot and usually just get that and a glass of wine (I sop up all the good garlicky oil with their bread which makes it a somewhat complete yet lighter meal) and they have never hasseled me about ordering more food.

                      On the other hand, I have gone to Banania a couple of times (not in the past yeat) and don't understand the good reviews. Every meal I have had has been unappetizing. I am all for weird food combinations but only if the end products works and IMO they don't at Banania.

                  2. re: Zephyr

                    you are right on target. Food is very overrated. Smith street has turned into a mall of mediocre food.

                2. I love Cafe Luluc on Smith, but it's very casual, perhaps not what you're looking for. I've been there twice for their great salads, onion soup and ooey gooey yummy cheese sandwich. House wine is not especially good, but a glass of that, onion soup and a salad has been a great winter meal!

                  1. If you're looking for asian, Tuk Tuk across the street from Faan is excellent. Be sure to try the papaya salad.