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Restaurant Near Columbia

Does anyone know of any good, perhaps fancy, restaurants up around Columbia. We've eaten enough at Le Monde over the past four years and are looking for something nice for the family when my son graduates in May. there must be some place great up there that dates to the good old days of the forties and fifties. Thanks.

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  1. The only fancy restaurant to speak of in the Columbia area is Terrace in the Sky, on the top floor of a building on 119th St. between Amsterdam and Morningside Dr. 30 years in this location. Great views of the city, an extensive wine list, and well-chosen preparations of foie gras, scallops, fish and game. It's a nice special occasion place.

    1. that place mentioned above sounds interesting (have never heard of it)...

      otherwise, i'd recommend taking a cab to a neighborhood w/ better food...Morningside Hghts is one of the worst food areas in the city -- when i've been up there i've had the salade nicoise at LeMonde as a sort of default choice, but it's sad that that's at the better end of the available options...it might be too formal depending on the vibe/price you want for the meal, but Picholine is wonderful...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Simon

        I've heard of Terrace in the Sky but don't know anyone who has tried it. Since I work at Columbia, I don't know if that's a good sign. Check out Alouette (bdwy - 97 & 98)on menupages. There doesn't seem to be many "fancy" restuarants up there. Henry's and Carne are both decent (Bdwy near W105). Symposium is a great Greek restaurant on W113 off of Bdwy but I wouldn't call it fancy. Look into Gennaro's (Amsterdam, 92 & 93), Meridiana (Bdwy and 105th) and there's an adorable, Italian restaurant on La Salle but I can't find it on menupages. The name escapes me.

      2. I had Terrace in the Sky about seven years ago with my then very imperious and hard-to-impress German girlfriend. It was a disaster, from the moment we set foot in the place. Old fashioned, badly cooked food, served frisbee style, by grumpy staff. Ugh. And a beautiful girl with ice-water in her veins making me feel like a complete cad for inflicting such horrors on dignity (and that was only the cab ride!).

        I've never been back. It reminds me too much of a low point in my bachelor life!

        - Sean

        8 Replies
        1. re: Sean Dell

          funny story...you should have just taken her to the Koronet for a jumbo slice w/ anchovies...you might have gotten the same reaction from her but it would have been more economical, probably tastier, and definitely a lot more amusing...

          1. re: Simon

            Is Koronet really any good? I've only been there once, I had a slice and it had little bit more taste than cardboard. Did I drop in on a bad day?

            1. re: pagal

              it isn't great pizza in my opinion but the slices are so unusually big and there is far worse pizza. so i wouldn't flock there but i wouldn 't turn it down. new pizza town (w78 and bdwy) is one of my favs takeout pizza on the UWS. also, try a place between 103 and 104, west side of brdwy. it is not sal and carmine's. i think this place is called brdwy pizza. they are open 'til 2am and the pizza is very good.

              1. re: nativeNYer

                I think it's a great slice of cheap, foldable pizza -and more importantly, it's a meal or two for less than $3.

                It'll never reach the level of a good thin-crust wood-oven pizza in terms of quality, but it's in the student-food top 5.

                And I know this kills some of the convenience, but it's radically better if you crisp it up in the oven.

                1. re: piccola

                  well said, piccola. gotta try crisping it up at home. never tried that but it sounds like a great idea especially b/c i am the person who typically orders her pizza extra crispy.

              2. re: pagal

                naw, not amazingly good or anything, but it's a decent slice that's especially large and if you like anchovies, it's very yummy very cheap very fishy lil meal, especially if you've been drinking red wine all night...

                1. re: pagal

                  Koronet is perfect when you're drunk and broke. Or just broke. Haha. Koronet got me through many a rough patch when I was a poor student.

                  1. re: ballulah

                    well put...i actually remember my first-ever slice there: i was a a high school senior, visiting Columbia on a weekend away from boarding school and staying w/ a buddy who'd graduated the year before and was a Columbia freshman...and a post-drinking trip to Koronet was a part of his tour of Columbia college life...and, the fact that it filled my 17-year-old grumbling belly so happily and cheaply left a lasting impression...

            2. There's a place on the South West corner of 110 and Amsterdam- the name is escaping me now. I've had great meals there, feels fancy, but at the same time casual. Great place. Terrace on the sky is gross. I will never, EVER EVER go there again. Stay away, stay far away.

              7 Replies
                1. re: haleyjen

                  Been on many a date there. Nothing special, though I guess it's not bad for the area.

                  Not quite the Columbia neighborhood, but a short train ride away - Nice Matin.

                  1. re: piccola

                    How is 1018 not in the Columbia area? The main gates at Columbia is are on 116th St, and Bistro 1018 is on 110th St?

                    Does anyone remember: didn't it used to be called Cafe St. John?

                    1. re: ballulah

                      No, I meant Nice Matin isn't in the Columbia area. 1018 definitely is.

                  2. re: haleyjen

                    eew, went there. terrible lobster (was not fresh- went during seafood week too!), subpar service

                  3. re: Tal

                    I think you are talking about V&T. My husband loved the place and has been reminiscing about it all the time. However, I think it's fair at best.

                  4. There you go! Great place. I've enjoyed it every time I've been. And, nice cozy fireplace.

                    1. I was at Terrace in the Sky last September for a private party. The decor of the restaurant feels a bit tired, but the food was good, although not inventive. Service was fine. The view is really nice and I don't think it's the kind of place you make a special trip to go to, but if you are in the neighborhood I think it is a good option.

                      1. I've tried most of the restaurants around Columbia and have to agree with above. Terrace in the Sky has great views and atmosphere, feels fancy and almost qualifies for special... except that food is only average. Max SoHa on 123rd and Amsterdam is fun, with occasionally excellent food, but not particularly fancy. Ana's on B'way and 103rd is a small, quiet, classy Spanish restaurant with sometimes great food and nice atmosphere. Regional on Bway and 100th is good Italian and fun, but not overly fancy. Many other good restaurants, but nothing great. There is no slam-dunk classy restaurant above 96th street (in my experience). Have not tried Bistro Ten 18 but it is not well liked on menupages.com. Think you have to venture further south.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jefferstone

                          Max Soha's great, bring cash though as i remember the id not accept credit cards whe i went

                        2. No one has mentioned Metisse yet! Wow, that's a little gem of a warm and intimate French bistro that I still go back to even though I graduated from Barnard more than 10 years ago. It's on 105th St just a few doors off of Broadway (heading east towards Amsterdam). If you all haven't been yet, you must go. It's easy to overlook, and it's been there for ages...maybe not since the 40's and 50's, but since Morningside Heights was kind of down and out in the those days maybe that's not a bad thing!

                          If you're interested in more of a boisterous celebratory atmosphere, but not necessarily great food, try Mama Mexico.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ballulah

                            I second the recommedation for Max SoHa. I've never tried it myself but it looks adorable and I've heard consistently great things. Also, this is the place I mentioned on La Salle. Very cute, very good. Maybe not fancy.

                            125 La Salle St | Btwn Broadway & Claremont Ave

                          2. Look, the OP was about a restaurant for the family following a graduation ceremony. Max SoHa is a nice, inexpensive restaurant with good food, but I would never recommend it for a post-graduation family meal. It's cramped, and there's pulsing house music. I *have* been to Pisticci for a post-Columbia graduation dinner, and it was pleasant -- we had a semi-private room in the back (a large group of 10 or so). The food at Terrace in the Sky is not great -- it's not a destination restaurant -- but the atmosphere is what I imagine a family might like after a graduation ceremony. Many of the other places touted here, such as Metisse, Alouette, and Ana's, are nice places, but I don't think of them as post-graduation destinations.

                            30 blocks south, I would consider Ouest or Onera, which I think are the two best restaurants on the Upper West Side north of 79th St.

                            1. I'll just add that I agree totally on Max Soha, unless it was for a group of four at the most. It's tight in there!

                              Unfortunately, our other big UWS fave (Celeste) is also like that, though not to such an extreme degree.

                              1. the great difficulty in finding *anything* agreeable to even a couple people, let alone a consensus, should speak volumes about the awful nature of the neighborhood, foodwise...

                                we live in a city which is blessed w/ a dense concentration of delights, all accessable by a mere 5 to 10 dollar cab ride...it's special occassion: treat the city as your oyster and widen the scope of your search...if i was graduating from college, i'd want to go to Balthazar -- down on Spring St, maybe a 15 buck cab ride...but while your group is enjoying yummy oysters, steak frites, and tarte tatin, the rest of the Columbia class of '07 will be eating the cardboard that passes for food in Morningside Hghts, and you will be having the last laugh...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Simon

                                  good point. i got caught up with food (no surprise) and lost the nature of the post. yup, pisticci would be most appropriate.
                                  .... and, yes, it's rough finding a nice place. funny thing ... you'd think there'd be finer dining choices near a major university. if i were graduating, i'd go all the way downtown to four points. really lovely place with great food. ooops...again.... i'm off topic.

                                2. Thank you, everyone, for giving me too much to consider! Now, in addition to worrying about what my son will be doing the day after he graduates, I really have to think hard about dinner (and maybe it's really better to think of this as a late lunch, the graduation takes place in the morning). Maybe you are right and I should just move it all downtown. To give you a hint of what I'm thinking of I'll just say that I've been to Gennaros on Amsterdam and that place is my idea of the perfect restaurant. I had great food and great service. It was not overly fancy. Intimate but not tiny. Remember: we've got two adventurous but nonetheless 82 year old grandmas here! On the other end of the spectrum we've got my 12 year old nephew who goes nowhere without his skateboard. (but he knows restaurants as his parents own one!)

                                  Years ago a Columbia friend recommended Terrace, and that was definitely under consideration. i was disappointed to hear that the food is only so-so. I have to think about the trade off: taste vs. view. Has anyone been to the Columbia Faculty Club? I'm not sure if they have a special seating that day or not.

                                  any further thoughts on appropriate west side Italian/French/nouvelle places, good service, good food, not overly pricey, would be great.

                                  thanks again.


                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: Debra M. Schwartz

                                    Yes, I've been to the Faculty Club several times. Just there last week . They typically cater our holiday parties as well as nearly all of our meetings. I head down there for luncheon mtgs every once in a while. Hmmm...it's a really nice environment but the food is nothing special. I dunno...I'd go to Gennaro's or trek somewhere downtown. Oh... speaking of uptown... check out plum pomidoro one of these days. it's on
                                    bdwy and W168th. brand new place and the food is absolutely fabulous. it's not nice enough for graduation, though.

                                    1. re: nativeNYer

                                      thank you for this advice, Could you tell me more about Plum Pomidoro. It sounds like a fun adventure uptown. d

                                      1. re: Debra M. Schwartz

                                        in response to debra's question about plum pomidor (typo in my previous post):

                                        i can't find better pasta. hard to believe, right? this place opened in may 2006. aesthetically, it's done really well. we go there all the time for lunch. i'm addicted. really great salmon... and the pasta dishes are the best in manhattan. i wish i could find a great pasta place downtown. anyone know of any? i've tried so many italian restaurants but i can never find one where i fall in love with a pasta dish. they make fresh pasta and then grill it with a sauce of your choice. i'm exhausted right now otherwise , i'd go on and on. check out the posts on menupages.com for this place and take a look at the menu. i am italian and fell in love with the pappadelle with chicken and cream . not sure what their secret is but the taste is quite good. this is a family-run restaurant with experience in the four seasons hotel, balthazar, pastis, max and bistro du nord. all that is unimportant to me. it's not a grad place but definitely worth a trip uptown. they have jazz on some nights. large portions, nice place, not too expensive. service is mostly good. some servers are far better than others. let me know what you think if you try it.

                                        1. re: nativeNYer

                                          thanks for your response. this sounds like it might be the right kind of place. d

                                          1. re: nativeNYer

                                            Wow, I had no idea this place existed. I live all the way uptown in the hinterlands and good food is hard to come by...and I'm in their delivery catchment! I'll have to try it this weekend for sure.

                                            1. re: ballulah

                                              i'd like to know what the both of you think about plum pomidor if you try it. i was a huge fan of their pasta grill (kuhinya) which recently closed b/c these owners wanted to create a mexican restaurant at that site. luckily, some of the menu items from kuhinya finally wound up merging with plum pomidor after i begged one of the owners. i think they are still struggling to find an identity (menu is a bit all over the place) but the pasta dishes, olive oil and bread are all outstanding. i also begged the owner to bring back the trenne pasta which they were purchasing from a distributor but they have decided to make their own pasta now. this place has some very good characteristics that are not seen elsewhere, especially not in that nabe. they also have a cafe (jou jou) on w168 (bet. fort wash and bdwy) serving desserts, wraps, lattes.

                                              1. re: nativeNYer

                                                A group of us are heading to Plum Pomidor on Sunday based on your recommendation.

                                                1. re: amyleechen

                                                  i hope you all find it as enjoyable as i do. it has been wonderful to have such a place up here. remember, ask for plenty of bread and olive oil, and i highly recommend any pasta with the grilled chicken and cream. i've heard the other pasta sauces are good as well as the fish entrees. enjoy and let me know.

                                                  1. re: nativeNYer

                                                    How is it for delivery? Do the dishes make it without too much sog factor?

                                                    1. re: ballulah

                                                      good question. i've never ordered it via delivery but i have picked it up and brought it to my desk a couple of times. kuhinya always placed the food in these weird, white, paper, folding thingies. they were similar to the typical chinese takeout containers (but flatter and wider) which were always ok for chinese food but not for this food. ugggghh! i just can't. : ) it's so much better at the restaurant. not sure if plum pomidor uses the same white paper containers but i think they do.

                                                      1. re: nativeNYer

                                                        I'm in a household stricken with colds this weekend, so I may just brave the delivery and see what happens. It's funny, there were a stack of Kuhinya menus in my lobby not so long ago. I looked it over and thought it was too good to be true for this neck of the woods. Do you have any idea what the origin of "Kuhinya" the word is? It's similar to the Polish word for kitchen, and I couldn't figure out the nationality. I'm guessing Italian since they are apparently the masters of pasta.

                                                        Oh! And I will do you a good turn and make a recommendation for you, if you haven't tried it already. If you're a sushi person and need an uptown sushi fix, I recently discovered that Next Door on 187th St has an amazing sushi menu. The "health food" on the menu is unequivocal crap, but the special sushi rolls are truly heavenly. Everytime I eat there I keep thinking that my good experiences have been a fluke, and I'm bound to get a bad round, but so far they haven't disappointed.


                                                        1. re: ballulah

                                                          hope you guys are feeling better. if you can't be there in person, you'll need to have a visual image of what the food would look like as you are chowing down from home. : ) so... here you go...hit this link before you order:


                                                          hopefully, the presentation via delivery will not turn you against ever trying it in person.

                                                          ... and,yes, we thought it was too good to be true as well. when they first opened , it was touch and go especially in kuhinya with their 5 tables, 4 barstools and poor service. we tried it and then stopped going. i think we gave them 6-8 months and then tried it again. the food just began getting better and better, and they hired a very sweet japanese lady (erico) who transformed the place. she ran the counter and also served the food very graciously and tirelessly. they now moved her into plum pomidor. she and one of the owners (jelena) know me as the girl who wanted them to bring back the trenne pasta. i drove them crazy.

                                                          anyway, believe it or not, they are not italian. i actually forgot where they are from along with the meaning of kuhinya. all this was posted on the web at some point but i can't seem to find it. if i see jelena, i will ask her. it's not uncommon to see the owners in the restuarant.

                                                          oh and here's another review:

                                                          thanks so much for the reco for next door. one of my colleagues will be delighted. whenever we want sushi, we go to empire schezuan. i just checked the reviews on the link you posted. looks like a rare find up there.

                                                          enjoy and keep me posted!

                                    2. PS As someone else mentioned, it mystifies me why there aren't more good restaurants beyond the gates of one of the world's great universities. Believe me, those faculty members are tired of taking everyone who visits to Le Monde!


                                      1. Henry's. Henry's. Henry's.
                                        I've mentioned it before on other boards -- this is a restaurant (104th and b'way?) that does what I think is incredibly hard to do -- it is consistently good. I know Gennaros -- it's in my neighborhood. It's warm, and, except for the all cash policy, it's usually quite fine.

                                        Henry's is close to Columbia and is also a warm space -- a Frank Lloyd Wright/Crafstman-esque interior -- with good food that you can count on. Not stuffy or over fancy food. It is a generously sized space (you don't have to sit on your neighbor's lap) yet it doesn't forgo an intimate feel.

                                        While the Columbia neighborhood isn't teaming with endless restaurant choices, there are gems to be found. Henry's is one of them. You might also look into Cafe du Soleil -- a bit further south of Henry's. A brasserie/bistro vibe but the acoustics can be deafening if it's a crowded time.

                                        If Gennaro's is your ideal -- it isn't out of the question for your chosen location, is it? Not SO far from Columbia given your openness to taking the whole shebang further downtown.

                                        Good luck in your search for just the right celebration location! I say check out Henry's.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: amyleechen

                                          Henry's is on the northwest corner of 105th and Broadway. I haven't been there lately but I'm glad to read so much praise of the place, because Henry was my classmate in high school. :-)

                                        2. Yes, I recommended Henry's b/c the food is very good and the atmosphere is nice. But the service is very mediocre. I'm not trying to be judgemental. I've had some good servers there but, at times, we've gotten servers who are either inexperienced, overworked or just not into it.. or maybe a combo. Not sure what makes them off but they are off. It's disappointing in such a nice place.

                                          1. how bout Pair of Eights, i think it's on the Upper West Side possibly near Columbia.

                                            Miss Mammie's spoonbread too. is another option.

                                            or the gumbo cafe.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kevin

                                              Sadly, Gumbo closed not too long ago.

                                              And Miss Mamie is, IMO, only so-so. Of course, I may be biased since a few of my friends were pickpocketed there...

                                            2. Les Routiers on 87 and Amsterdam is not fancy and not in Morningside Heights but does feel like it's been there for a long time and has Gallic charm - cozy and food is decent.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: lsquared

                                                LR is long gone....Pair of 8's now there

                                              2. Big second to Gennaro's, although it's a teensy bit south of the actual campus.

                                                Their antipasti platter is fabulous, and they do wonders with roast chicken.

                                                - Sean

                                                1. Ouest is outstanding. We ate there for Thanksgiving and were blown away. I know the Morningside Heights area inside and out; I feel that a short cab ride to Ouest would be worth it. Most importantly, the food is incredible, the prices are not unreasonable (as long as you don't go crazy with speciality martinis) and the surroundings are beautiful.


                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: josheva

                                                    i second the reco for ouest. i never ate there myself but i never heard a bad thing, including from my foodie friends who frequently eat there. my friend's sister, who is a chef, brings her family there for every special occasion. I think this is the best reco for an upscale, excellent meal in the Columbia nabe, or sort of in that nabe.

                                                    1. re: nativeNYer

                                                      OK, hear a bad thing: When I had dinner there with my parents, admittedly a few years ago, they were distinctly unimpressed and thought they had been somewhat ripped off. I remember in particular that my mother felt the confit was over-the-top fatty (yes, even for confit). Some of you might like that. I found my meal fine, even good, but certainly didn't feel the place was a destination; rather, a place to consider going to if you're in the neighborhood.

                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                        this is what i like about this board: the opportunity to get input from everyone who knows food. i think they own cesca as well. unlike ouest, i haven't heard great things about that place.

                                                  2. My reply may not add anything to the excellent suggestions already supplied, but I'd like to log another positive vote for Bistro 1018. My family and I had a big dinner there after my Columbia SIPA graduation ceremony, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The food is not especially adventurous, but was appropriate for a group of varying tastes and ages. Their bartender is also skilled, and the service was solicitous and thorough.

                                                    On an unrelated note, the sushi at Next Door on 187th really is excellent, and the pasta is quite good as well. Fortunately, the place is a half block from my apartment, and it's great to have a reliable dinner option so close by in the otherwise deserted culinary landscape of "upstate Manhattan."

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: DirtyMartini

                                                      thank you for this reply. I'm happy to hear from someone who graduated from Columbia and had to plan a similar event. Debra

                                                      1. re: Debra M. Schwartz

                                                        i can't believe i've never heard of bistro 1018. i gotta try that and next door. wow!! thanks, guys!!

                                                    2. Bistro 1018 is serviceably good. As DirtyMartini says, appropriate for a group of varying tastes and ages, and appropriate for a celebration. Terrace in the Sky is not as bad as people here seem to think. The terrace itself is nice on a summer day, nice views of the city. The food is not spectacular but is good. The downside, for a graduation celebration, is that it is the place of choice for faculty dinners. IMHO, the last thing a new graduate wants to see while celebrating his/her release is a bunch of professors!

                                                      For the same reason, I would suggest you go a little south of the campus. Perhaps Aix or Ouest.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: gumnaam

                                                        honestly, my son is enough of an academic that he would be thrilled to see one of his fabulous Columbia professors over lunch. (Well, maybe not that Calculus prof. he had a while back. :-) ) But I can't really imagine that the professors will use someone else's commencement as an opportunity to go to Terrace. They are all too broke to spend money that way.(I know this because my husband is a prof. here in St. Louis.) i called Terrace. they are not accepting reservations yet for commencement, but they did say that they have special prix fixe lunches (last year $55/person) and dinners ($65/person) for the day. I'll have to think about this. It's a lot of money for a large group, and if the food is only mediocre .... But I'm happy to hear you say you don't think its' that bad.

                                                        1. re: Debra M. Schwartz

                                                          try Carmine's if you don't mind a 20 block walk. I'm taking my family there when i graduate in May :) it's on Broadway and 80s though so it'd be a trek. Large portions, lovely service, and really large dessert sundaes (it's the Titanic).

                                                          1. re: fishnchips

                                                            Carmine's is between 90th and 91st on B'way.