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Aug 22, 2006 07:09 PM

Midtown eats?

I'm a Bay Area Chowhound, and will be at the Waldorf over the weekend and part of next week (work-related). What's good in that area? I expect to have time for short lunches and a couple of late dinners. I will also have a bit of free time over the weekend, but am already planning to (at some point) hit Katz's for a pastrami sandwich, Les Halles, Pommes Frites, and il laboratorio del Gelato. As you might guess, my tastes run to the simple. Suggestions?

Also, I could use some recommendations for bagels and knishes. I tried Ess a Bagel last time I was in town, and was less than impressed. As for knishes, there have been some dissenting comments about Yonah Schimmel's. Are there better alternatives? TIA!

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  1. In the vicinity of the Waldorf:

    Pampano - modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood

    Montparnasse - French bistro

    Sip Sak - Turkish

    Re: Les Halles. You don't say why you've decided to go there, but when it comes to French brasseries, you can do much, much better. (If it's the Tony Bourdain thing, be advised he has had nothing to do with the place for quite some time.) Not only is the food just o.k. but worse, the cramped seating would give a sardine claustrophobia, and the noise level will have you wishing for earplugs.

    As an alternative, I recommend Marseille. Delicious food, good service, very attractive decor, and pleasant ambiance. One caveat: Since it's in the Theater District, go after 8.

    Since you're planning to do Katz's and Il Laboratorio, you might want to consider doing my (in)famous Lower East Side Food Excursion. In addition to those and other spots (great bialys, but no bagels), it includes a stop at Yonah Schimmel's. I must admit the last time I checked it out, the knish was a bit of a disappointment, but I've had good ones there as well. If you decide to do this food crawl, best to do it on Sunday because some places are closed on Saturday for religious observance. Here's a link to a thread which includes the crawl:

    Enjoy your stay in NYC and Bon Appetit!

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I was considering doing the LESFE (and will follow your advice for ordering at Katz), but alas, most of my free time falls on Friday night and Saturday day. It seems I'm still OK for Katz, Russ & Daughters, and (presumably) Laboratorio, but I appear to be out of luck for knishes and bialys. Not sure about the other places mentioned.

      Yes, I had originally heard of Les Halles through the Bourdain book, and the menu looks great, but I have no particular interest in an overly loud, cramped place. I appreciate the warning--your alternate suggestions look excellent!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Steve Green

        Hey, Steve, Yes, Kossar's is closed on Saturday, so no bialys. :-( Btw, I was wrong in saying there are no bagels there. They have them but I've never tried them. And they don't get much mention. When it comes to Kossar's, it's all about the bialys. :-) Gus' Pickles is also closed on Saturday. However, all the other stops, including Schimmel's -- kosher but not observant -- are open on Saturday. So, go ahead and take the tour (including the Tenement tour if you can spare the time).

        One last thing. Since you say you're planning on checking out Pommes Frites (I don't love them, but many do), you might want to try an egg cream at a place right nearby: Gem Spa, on the corner of 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl. You can then compare that egg cream with the one at the Avenue A hole-in-the-wall. Egg creams! I love egg creams! lol

        If there's any other food that you're particularly interested in trying while you're in NYC, post and I'll try to provide a suggestion.

        1. re: RGR

          RGR: Since you're offering.....How about Indian, on the level of Chola, open late? And maybe a place for great goulash? Probably also late-night. TIA. BTW, both Sip Sak and Marseille look great!

          1. re: Steve Green

            Steve, I've not been to Chola but, in my estimation, some of the most superb Indian cuisine around is being served at the upscale Devi. We were there again just a few weeks ago and had an absolutely sensational tasting dinner. The decor is unusual, very attractive, and elegant. But you can still dress casually. Located on 18th St., b/t 5th & B'way, it's a cab ride away from the Waldorf. Not sure how late they serve. Definitely worth calling to find out.


            Re: Goulash. Not something I've eaten recently. With the closing of Mocca not long ago, Hungarian restaurants in Manhattan are gone. However, here's a thought. Sarge's Deli, on 3rd Av., b/t 36th & 37th Sts., is pretty good, and they're *open 24/7*. Checking the menu on their website, I see "Hungarian Beef Goulash with Broad Noodles Casserole." You might want to give it a try.


            Serious' Barney Greengrass suggestion (below) reminds me that Russ & Daughters has very good bagels.

            The chef/owner of Sip Sak, Orhan Yegen, is quite a character. I call him the "hit and run" guy. Over the past 15 years, he has opened and left a *long* string of Turkish restaurants in NYC, sometimes after only a couple of months, because of disagreements with his partners or because he wants a new challenge. His very first place, Turkish Kitchen, is going stronger than ever and is our favorite Turkish restaurant. I've not been to Sip Sak, but I feel confident you will like Yegen's food.

          2. re: RGR

            Howabout a burger from Paul's (which is on the block between Gem Spa and Pommes Frites) to go w/ the frittes and the egg cream...?

        2. An alternative to Sip Sak is Taksim on Second, 54-55. Bagels: Try Tal on First @ 54 but the ultimate experience is Barney Greengrass on Columbus 86-87. (Tal doesn't toast.)

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. I wholeheartedly agree with Chola, Pampano & Taksim. For Bagels, try Tal Bagel on 1st ave & 54th st. Like any real bagel place they do not have a toaster, so ask what is warm/fresh. The Nova salmon is excellent. For fries, try Zip Burger on 52nd & 2nd.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tbear

                I am with you on the Taksim rec rather than Sip Sak. Orhan is rude and I was so glad when he left Taksim to open yet another restaurant.

                Tal has one of the better Chopped Livers in the city as well.

                While in the nabe you may as well get a pizza at Angelo's.

                Hmmm..maybe the food in my neighborhood isn't so bad after all?!?!?!