NY visit - reality check
We'll be in Manhattan for 3.5 days over the July 4 holiday. It's been hard to come up with a list of places to eat but the boards have had great suggestions. Since we live in SF and have some great restaurants here, we wanted to hit some special NY places.
How does this sound?
Ivo and Lulu (been before, loved it)
Esca (thought the New Yorker peice on Pasternak was great)
Public (recommended by friend of the NZ owners)
Casimir (been before, loved it)
Spotted Pig (husband list)
I used to love Ivo and Lulu but it's gotten a lot of criticism / not many defenders these days. I haven't been in quite some time, but just 'be warned' it might not be as good as you remember.
I personally find Prune to be way overrated but it has many fans on this board.
Public is very good.
Some others to consider:
-Blaue Gans (Austrian bistro, same owner as Wallse)
-Blue Ribbon Bakery SHOP (drop in for sandwiches to go....fois gras, pate, smoked duck...amazing stuff, very friendly people)
Prune - I would skip this one. Extremely cramped, mediocre food, and probably similar to something you could get in SF, but better.
Ivo and Lulu (been before, loved it) - hard to argue with Ivo and Lulu!
Esca (thought the New Yorker peice on Pasternak was great) - A lot of people I know are not big fans, but for seafood in that price range it is certainly passable.
Public (recommended by friend of the NZ owners) - great wines, but I found the food very poor. Beautiful inside, though-- I really wanted to like it.
Casimir - certainly good and probably underrated.
Spotted Pig (husband list) - this place is so sceney I really really wanted to not like it... but it's pretty fantastic. As others will tell you, go for lunch or at an off hour if you can unless you enjoy waiting and celebrity spotting. Also, try to sit upstairs where they have better chairs. They have an Argentine white wine that's divine.
I would second the above recommendation of 'inoteca and probably Casa Mono, but both again are very sceney/difficult on the weekends. Some believe 'inoteca is on a bit of a downward slide as well. There is also their original place, 'ino, which is more intimate and has the same menu.
I also find Prune to be overrated and especially very heavy on the butter & lard. Prune plus Spotted Pig would be a little much in any case and suggest choosing one of the two. I would also consider Babbo or Lupa (despite what I just said about fat!) and a classic bistro of some sort as that is something I always miss in California. Perhaps Park Bistro or Lunchonette or Chelsea Bistro or Le Gigot? Sooner than Casa Mono I would think of Tia Pol, especially if you like Piperade, for example. Strongly suggest you consider Craft, and possibly Veritas. It doesn't sound as if you are looking for a Morimoto experience but the tasting menu is spectacular if you are up for something like that.
Esca is a good call. Recommend the tasting menu with wine pairing. Try to avoid the theater crowd if possible (7:30 p.m. seating or later should do the trick).
Coming from SF, you should definitely do a Batali place, Lupa, Babbo, or Otto. Esca is my least favorite of them all. But the bellinis there and the simple fish prep are indeed pretty good. Also consider Milos for the same concept but more expensive.
If you can, Sushi Yasuda at the bar in front of Yasuda for nigiri. Pricey, but I'm still scouring SF for anything that comes close.
'Inoteca is also an excellent recommendation.