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Trip Report and Thanks to Chowhounds

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I returned last night from a week in NYC with my 21 year old son - his first trip to the city. Thanks to many chowhounds, we ate some wonderful food. Staying in Chelsea, I was delighted to find several chowhound recommendations within a couple of blocks. We tried four and I would highly recommend all to anyone visiting the city - they were not expensive or touristy, didn't require reservations, the food was high quality and at least two provided very unique cuisine. We began with the Havana restaurant on 8th Ave. at 19th for the cuban sandwiches and a side of plaintains (sweet, fried, just like a remembered from cuban restaurants I frequented on the UWS in the 1970's - YUM). We sat at the counter, and the person on the next stool had a wonderful looking stew of some sort over yellow rice. He said it was "Goat" - it smelled delicious. The next day we ate across the street at the thai restaurant - Spice. Fresh ingredients, well prepared - nothing too startling on the menu but so good that if I lived nearby, I would definitely go back. Another day, we had brunch at the Bright cafe at 8th ave. and about 21st - totally unique. We are from Texas, so we tried the trio of salsa dips and chips, and loved them. That place would do well in Austin. Final Chelsea stop was the Bagel place on 8th, (Murray's?)- on Thanksgiving morning. The bagels were still warm from the oven and the people were lovely. In Chinatown, we had lunch at a chowhound recommendation, 6 or 9 Charleston??? Square. Everyone else there was chinese. They were doing dim sum, even though it was a Tuesday. Wish we had been able to understand more of what they were offering, but what we tried was great - and it was a unique experience. Based on reading chowhound discussions, I made a reservation at Balthazar for Sunday evening - the food was good, the wine great and the scene was fun after an afternoon of Soho shopping. My son enjoyed the spinach pasta. The meringue and berry dessert was very special. The next night we ate at Rosa Mexicana in Union Square. As described, it was a beatiful space, and even though I am a margarita purist, I loved their pomegranite version. On Thanksgiving eve, we went to see the balloons being inflated, and had dinner at Fred's on Amsterdam,on chowhound advice. It was perfect - a wonderful host and warm atmosphere, delicious food(they willingly replaced the shrimp in the pasta dish my son ordered), crammed with families - we were lucky we got there early. Thanksgiving dinner was at Wallsea in the West Village. This was actually recommended by a foodie friend. It was fantastic. My son had the most beautiful, tender venison steak you have ever seen and loved the chestnut soup. I thought the salad was particularly special. Our only disappointments were the pizza at Two Boots in Grand Central (OK, but nothing special, but it was easy and convenient); the pie place at Grand Central (only selling whole pies because of Thanksgiving); and lunch at the Metropolitan Museum (fresh and decent and of course convenient, but really seemed expensive for a cafeteria!) Overall - we had a great time, and I was able to show my son some of the wonderful culinary experiences available in NYC, thanks to all the great information provided by chowhounds! Hope I can return the favor to anyone heading to Austin.

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  1. Glad you had a great time!

    1. thx for the report back. i agree BRIGHT FOOD would do well in austin, it has a fusion tex-mex-asian bent. there are even a couple other joints near it that would also do well in austin, ROCKING HORSE and SUENOS, but no need for you to have tried them - heh!

      MURRAYS are great bagels, so you had some good ones. thanksgiving at WALLSE? wow, another good call.

      TWO BOOTS is our delivery pizza, ashamed as i am to admit it, as i'd never rec it to anyone, it's not good.

      1. The next time you are at the Met skip the cafeteria and go to the Petrie Court Cafe, on the left side of the museum in the back with a view of the park. Waiter service and delicious food, reasonably priced. If you go close to their opening time for lunch or Sunday brunch, you won't need a reservation.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kenito799

          I will remember the suggestion for the Met - hope I get back soon. By the way - making guacamole tableside seems to be quite the thing in NYC. It isn't done in Austin. Is it just a rationale for charging $15 for what is basically a $5 dish? I should say that at Fred's on the UWS the guacamole was delicious, and reasonable, and not made tableside.

          1. re: nancythenice

            yes i dont get why guacamole is considered a "high-end" dish in NYC. the only place I order it is at Itzocan in the east village where it is not made tableside, it is excellent and only $5 or $6.

            1. re: nancythenice

              I've always stayed away from the whole tableside guac thing. It feels so gimmicky to me.

              1. re: CornflakeGirl

                I'm actually a big fan of the tableside guac - you know it's fresh and you can request it as spicy as you want.

          2. Thanks for reporting back. Next time, do try the Little Pie Company. It is *crazy* time for them at Thanksgiving. Actually, they don't sell slices of pie, but miniature pies (although one of them is too much for some people to eat alone -- not for me).

            4 Replies
            1. re: Dave Feldman

              No, they also sell slices of the regular-sized pie; in fact, when I have the craving for sour cream apple walnut pie, I prefer two slices (one for now, one for later) to the mini-pie - better crust/filling ratio, IMO.

              1. re: Striver

                What is the "regular-sized" pie? The largest size? I assume they only do this at Grand Central? I've never seen slices of pie at 43rd St. or 14th St.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  I've bought slices (which - I guesss - are from the large size pie) at both the Grand Central and the 43rd Street locations (haven't been to 14th Street). I only buy the apple/sour cream/walnut (my wife gets the small chocolate cake), so I'm not sure if they sell any other pies by the slice. The slices are not cut to order, but are normally pre-packaged in triangular plastic containers in the display case.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    I've bought slices of pie at both 43rd St and 14th St. And I agree with Striver--they have a better crust to filling ratio.

              2. Nancy,

                The Havana Chelsea, where you had your goat stew, is one of my favorite eateries. I have warm and pleasant memories of hitting that place while I was a student at the School of Visual Arts, getting my first taste of cuban food, octopus salads in between classes. Great days. The restaurant maintains its' home-cooked quality after many years. If you're ever in NYC in the dead of winter, hit them up for one of the better bowls of chicken soup - complete with a big leg bone sticking up out of the broth - that you'll find in the city. Their cubano is also up there with the best. It is always encouraging to see out-of-towners checking out places like this, simple but homey luncheonettes.

                If I am ever down Austin way, I will definitely hit you up for some down-home recommendations.

                Glad you enjoyed your stay.
                p.