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Trip Report

d
David Russinoff Oct 29, 1998 12:13 PM

I happened to discover this web site last week while
preparing for my annual weekend pilgrimmage to New
York, a tradition established twenty years ago when I
left the city for parts unknown. My original concept
was that the ideal vacation would be a grand tour of
all the restaurants that I had only been able to read
about as a starving N.Y.U. student, with Zagat's "Top
50 Food Ratings" as my road map. Only gradually over
the years did I come to understand some of the basic
principles of New York dining that are so well known to
the chowhound community, in particular, that there is
no meaningful correlation between price and quality,
and that the intensity of a dining experience tends to
increase with its distance from E. 52nd St.

The two best meals of the weekend were at restaurants
that I read about on these pages: Gus' Place and
Tindo. My wife and I had a leisurely late lunch of
Gus' mezes: dolmades, chickpea fritters, tzatziki, tiny
fried fish with skordalia, and saganaki, with a nice
Greek red wine. All were good, although the skordalia
was a bit tame for my taste. That night at Tindo,
following Jim's recommendation, we ordered the salt and
pepper squid and were not disappointed, but two other
dishes were even better: a dungeness crab fried with
egg, chiles and bean curd, and some sauteed snow pea
greens.

We also had a couple of fancier dinners, both pretty
good, at Aqua Grill and I Trulli. I had a terrific
assortment of oysters at A. G. (especially the Belons,
I thought) -- probably the only ones I've ever had that
tasted best with nothing added. This was followed,
though, by a very ordinary bouillabaisse, with a
rouille (which I consider to be the critical component
of that dish) that was sadly lacking in garlic and
spice. The best at I. T. were the primi, especially a
duck ravioli with artichokes and a rice dish with
potatoes and mussels (although the rice was cooked a
bit less than al dente).

The rest of the weekend was filled in with the usual
hot dogs (Nathan's and Sabrett), falafel (Mamoun's on
MacDougal), and delis (Carnegie, 2nd Ave., Katz's).
Finally, before heading to the airport after a Katz's
pastrami on rye, I emptied my pockets on Russ and
Daughters' counter for a memorable taste of Alaskan
belly lox.

Thanks to chowhound.com for helping to make a great
weekend.

P.S. I've seen some discussion of Rao's on these
bulletin boards, especially their inscrutable
reservation policy. By some fluke, we managed to get
in a couple of years ago and I posted a report, which
may be of interest to some, at
www.onr.com/user/russ/ny96.html.