Coming to New York - questions, questions
Greeting Fellow Chowhounds,
I'm currently living in Atlanta, an up-and-coming Chowhound City, but I'm coming to New York around New Year's for about a week. I'm wondering where to go for one truly incredible meal in Manhattan. I'm reading about Bouley Bakery - any current opinions on what's going on there and how it is? How about Picholine?
I'm also wondering about An American Place. The reviews seem mixed, though I'm looking for a restaurant that serves authentic American in a fine dining environment (this does not necessarily need to be in connection with the ONE GREAT MEAL question). William Grime's fairly recent review mentionned the desserts were disappointing - any thoughts on that?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Glad to hear you're interested in Picholine. Don't know why but it seems to never get the respect I think it deserves. Seriously consistent food, solid and unfussy service, and of course, Max, the Fromagier. Try the wild mushroom risotto, anything gnocchi, and the sweetbreads are also delicious. One of the few places where I'm as interested by the entrees as by the apps.
But for your ONE big meal, I'd have to go with Babbo. And suggest you give in to the tasting menu with wine.
Picholine is absolutely (in my opinion) one of NYCs best, and it rarely mentioned as such. I know of no other restaurant in the US that has such a great cheese selection - worth the trip by itself. And you are right on about the risotto w/ mushroom and duck - wonderful. (Although Babbo is fantastic as well, and I would be hard pressed to choose between the two).
"Don't know why but it seems to never get the respect I think it deserves"
A lot of people don't understand why I included Picholine in a book of offbeat, non-hypey evocative good eats. It's for exactly that reason: this is a really expensive chowhound restaurant, not just another smarmy scene...and is rarely recognized as such (I also included it because I came up with a strategy there that few people know about: if they're not super-crowded, it's TOTALLY ok to just come in and just eat cheese. I also included a very chowhoundy suggestion of coming to the bar for cheese. Lots of serious cheese people do this, but not many people know about the option.
first thing - don't be discouraged if you don't receive a whole lot of replies to your post. this question has come up several times over the last couple years so chowhound regulars who have been here for a while tend no longer to answer them. i think you're particular question has come up twice in the last 6 months with very long responses. the first ended up with jean georges i believe and i didn't bother reading the second but that was only like a month ago. do a quick search of the boards and you should be able to find them.
now, about your questions:
i went to bouley bakery a couple times before the renovation and before the times' review, and thought it was very good, though not a four star place. but the fact that grimes, who in his brief tenure so far has been downright hard on most places, gave bb four stars, to me really says something. it's definitely worth a shot.
about american place: went there before it moved to its new location and wasn't that impressed. also went to forgione's the coach house this summer and again was not a big fan (i posted about it if you want to search). forgione's restaurants just don't do it for me, but i think if you want upscale authentic american, you're pretty limited (gramercy i think qualifies as new american). other than forgione's spots, the only authentic american i can think of is wild blue down in the trade center. haven't been there and haven't heard anything either.
picholine was very good as well, though i don't know if you want to make that your ONE great meal. well, good luck, and if you've got more questions, feel free to ask (one tip, though, change the subject to something more interesting than "coming to new york" - chowhounds tend to roll their eyes at this ("not another one") and just skip over it, which i myself am usually guilty of doing). take care.
Here are some different suggestions. You seem to be interested in new, upscale places, so I've recommended some of those -- but don't forget the non-fancy chowhoundy places either. All are in Manhattan.
-- Babbo. New, inventive Italian. Truly wondrous combinations of ingredients and unusual meats. Reserve NOW.
-- Sugiyama. Kaiseki. If you are two or fewer, sit at the bar for personalized service from the chef. Again, reserve NOW.
-- Tindo. Cantonese. Order from the specials menu. Closed on Wednesdays.
-- Katz's. Jewish pastrami. The best in the world. See recent thread on these boards. (Do a search on Katz.)
-- Peter Luger. Steak. The best in the world -- religion. Not cheap, but not upscale either. Reserve NOW. (This is in Brooklyn but a short cab ride across the Williamsburg Bridge.)
If you're willing to travel to the boroughs, a wealth of other chowhoundy options opens up. Buy Jim's book. It's superb. (No, I don't get a chunk.)
Good luck! And phone ahead everywhere -- schedules are likely to get crazy around the New Year.