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My visit from San Francisco

I've got four days. Here's the plan:

Day 1:
Lunch -- Lupa
Dinner -- Devi

Day 2
Lunch -- Cafe Boloud
Dinner Beppe

Day 3
Lunch -- Bouley Market
Dinner -- L'Impero

Day 4
Lunch -- ???
Dinner -- Blue Hill

Looking good? Feedback from you locals is appreciated.

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  1. with that lineup you can't be married or have kids, since you could never afford it! you should throw in a steak place for Day 4 lunch, Sparks/Palm/Wolfgangs. Sounds like fun.

    1. I though I was practicing some restaint. Other than Blue Hill, none of the others is over the top expensive, as far as I can tell.

      1. I would jettison Beppe and substitute for Day 2 dinner a brand new restaurant, Amalia (pronounced "am-uh-lee'-uh"). Delicious Mediterranean cuisine. Friendly, efficient service. Big space with very attractive, hip contemporary ambiance. Their website is still under construction, but you can see the menu on Menupages.


        I would move L'Impero to lunch on the Day 4 (the menu is essentially the same as at dinner) and replace dinner on Day 3 with Urena. Alex Urena, who was, at one time, the chef at Blue Hill, is serving superb cuisine at his eponymous restaurant. Some Spanish influence, particularly on the tapas portion of the menu. His wife oversees the front of the house, and she and the staff provide pleasant, capable service. Now that the initial problems with the lighting have been addressed, the space is very attractive and comfortable. The website has not been updated, but the menu there will give you a good idea of what you can expect.


        Should I presume that since you live in San Francisco, you've had the opportunity to dine on Chef Daniel Humm's exquisite cuisine? If not, I'd chuck either Lupa or Bouley Market and have lunch at Eleven Madison Park. Perfect service and a the space is gorgeous!


        Looks as though you are in for a boatload of great eating. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

        2 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          lupa is one of my goto lunch spots. love the salumi, love the wine. an inexpensive tocai (scarbolo, maybe?) gilds the lily. add the bucatini all' amatriciana if still hungry. nothing fancy here. simple food, well prepared and priced accordingly.

          re: humm. i'm a fan. campton place in sf was/is a pleasant oasis in a bustling city. my goto hotel. humm did a great job there. still, emp is better for dinner. lupa, imo, is a really cool and low-key lunch spot. not to be missed.

          1. re: steve h.

            I don't agree that EMP is necessarily better for dinner.

            We've had lunch there, and the cuisine is every bit as sensational. True, there are things on the menu at dinner that are not served at lunch (e.g., the duck for two); however, many of the dishes are exactly the same. Also, they've now revised the lunch menu, eliminating the 3-course prix-fixe and substituting a 5-course Gourmand tasting menu.

            The ambiance is different during the afternoon, even more relaxed, and the (sun)light coming in through the huge windows gives the space a truly magical quality.

            So, in my view, if someone wants to try EMP but can't quite fit it into their dinner schedule, lunch is an excellent option.

        2. Hey~We came from SF and did go to Cafe B. after a morning at the Met. It was perfect! They have a prix fixe lunch at ~$30. Service is very good. Afterwards you can walk the 72nd St Traverse from 5th to CPW across the park. Do stop at Bethesda Fountain.

          (BTW~folks were pretty dressed for lunch!)

          I think Kerry Heffernan of SF is cooking at 11 Madison Park now.

          Enjoy! NYC makes SF look like "The Provinces"!

          9 Replies
          1. re: roxie

            A correction. It's Daniel Humm who was previously at Campton Place, in S.F., before taking over Eleven Madison Park's kitchen early in '06. Kerry Heffernan was EMP's first chef.

            1. re: roxie

              Makes SF look like the provinces? We've got some pretty good grub out here and a constant supply of local, seasonal produce that can't be beat. A topic for another board, I suppose.

              1. re: Tobias

                Even as a New Yorker I have to agree with this. I'm jealous of anyone who gets to visit the Ferry Building on a regular basis. We don't have anything that comes close in NY.

                1. re: CornflakeGirl

                  I've made a few adjustments based on feedback but have now heard a few mixed things about Eleven Madison Park. Lunch on day 4 remains open, as I bet we'll be ready for liposuction. Thoughts for a light lunch/salad spot for day 4?

                  Day 1:
                  Lunch -- Lupa
                  Dinner -- Devi

                  Day 2
                  Lunch -- Cafe Boloud
                  Dinner Eleven Madison Park

                  Day 3
                  Lunch -- Bouley Market
                  Dinner -- L'Impero

                  Day 4
                  Lunch -- ???
                  Dinner -- Blue Hill

                  1. re: Tobias

                    maybe grab a burger at blue smoke, shake shack or molly's. blue smoke and shake shack are danny meyer's places. molly's is, well, molly's. save the salad for another day.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      of course you could always sneak your way over to shaffer city (5 w, 21st st.), sit at the bar and slurp down a dozen oysters or so. sf has no counterpart.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Much better at SF - Hog Island Oyster and Swan Oyster Depot.

                    2. re: CornflakeGirl

                      I'm with Tobias and CornflakeGirl. You can see this perfectly in a place like Blue Hill, which stands out in NYC for its emphasis on local produce. By Bay Area standards, this approach is decades old.

                      Tobias, are you a fan of molecular gastronomy? If so, WD-50 might be someplace to add. I'm also a big fan of Craft and Babbo, though you can probably skip the latter if you're going to Lupa.

                2. My New York trip finally happened, and I want to thank all Hounds who gave advice. Here's my report:

                  Lunch at Lupa -- I was entirely underwhelmed. The pasta I had (with a cauliflower ragu, rosemary, etc.) was mediocre and undercooked. (No need for lessons about al dente, please.) We had a nice bottle of wine, enjoyed the antipasti platters (the house cured meats and the veg. assortment), but I left knowing I've had many better meals at Delfina in San Francisco.

                  Dinner at Devi -- Expensive, but really terrific. We don't have an equivalent in SF, and it was nice to have some creative and high end Indian food. Stuffed breads were particularly good but also absurdly priced. Lamb chops were delicious.

                  Lunch at Cafe Boulud -- Probably the best of all the meals, though not exactly what I expected. The name suggests something more casual, but the place is quite formal. Should have looked into this a bit more before going, but we were dressed OK. Guinea hen terrine was fabulous, as was beef carpacio. A superb restaurant in all ways.

                  Dinner at Brick Curry Lane -- I've probably botched the name a bit, but I'm talking about the place on 6th or so off 2nd Ave. Very good food. A notch above what we get in SF proper. Hopping when we arrived at 9:30. Nice to be in such a lively spot at that hour. This too is difficult to find in SF.

                  Dinner at L'Impero -- the food was a notch better at Cafe Boulud, but this was my favorite restaurant. It's a beautiful space, and the service was great. Food was spectacular, including the best bread we encountered (reminiscent of SF's Tartine loaf) and a wonderful steak for two. The prix fixe is something of a bargain.

                  Dinner at Gigot -- Cute and very competent restaurant. Desserts were mundane and seemed an afterthought -- warm chocolate cake was certainly microwaved -- but the crab cake was among the best I've had.

                  All in all, we enjoyed the indulgent dining. L'Impero, Cafe Boulud, and Devi were favorites (in that order) but we liked most places we ate at. Many of you will suggest we give Lupa another try, and I'm ready to do so.

                  One more thing -- Murray's Bagels is a zillion times better than anything we get out west. They make a hell of a muffin too.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Tobias

                    I'm going to suggest you pass on Lupa and give Babbo a try. Lupa is more casual and the antipasti and affordable wine selection are what's fun about the place. If you go on days where gnocchi alla romana is available it may be worth it since I can't find a version here in SF.

                    But if it's pasta you're looking for, Babbo has no peer.

                    1. re: Tobias

                      Thanks for the report, Tobias. Although I'm sorry you eliminated Eleven Madison from your list (maybe next time?), I'm really pleased you loved Cafe Boulud, L'Impero and Devi, all of which are favorites of mine.

                      Re: Cafe Boulud. When Daniel Boulud first opened it (it's in the space where Daniel, his 4-star temple of haute French cuisine, used to be located), he announced that he was calling it a "cafe" because he wanted people to dress very casually, including wearing jeans and sweaters. The thing is, it's located in a very tony area with lots of upper-crusty people who, not only don't dine out in jeans and sweaters, but are used to dressing up a bit even for lunch. Thus, many of the gentlemen wearing jackets and the ladies, perhaps, wearing pearls when your were there.

                      Service is always very polished, yet quite cordial. As for the cuisine, as you have now learned for yourself, it is totally superb! And, as I always say, it's worth going there just for that basket of seriously delicious madeleines! lol

                      I'm glad you had a great visit to NYC. Come back soon!

                      1. re: Tobias

                        That's so disappointing that Lupa's pasta with cauliflower wasn't good! It is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Admittedly, the last time I had it was probably 6 years ago. I've been back to Lupa several times since, but it hasn't been on the menu. Well, I'm glad it's back on the menu - I'm heading to NYC next weekend - will try it again to see if it measures up to my memory of it.

                        1. re: daveena

                          the missing rez?
                          a voce
                          my new faves!
                          they are slam dunks with much written about them on chowhound

                          1. re: jsmitty

                            Veritas is one of my faves as well. But just to note that Tobias's missing reservation was for lunch, and Veritas serves dinner only.

                          2. re: daveena

                            6 years is a long time! My last trip to Lupa was pretty disappointing.

                            1. re: Pan

                              Yeah, the memory of the pasta with cauliflower is so clear to me (I've been trying to recreate it at home for years) that I was kind of shocked when I counted back to figure out how long ago I had that particular dish. I will admit that my second to last meal at Lupa was disappointing, and I usually give up on restaurants after one bad meal, but I've had so many great meals there I gave it another shot last time I was in New York, and it redeemed itself (contorni have slipped a bit, but the gnocchi was still excellent). I will be very, very sad if the pasta with cauliflower isn't good this time around... but I'm so obsessed with that dish that I can't come to NYC and not have it.

                        2. Remember me? I return tomorrow for another visit to New York, this time with my seven year old in tow. He's a Hound in training so eats most cuisines -- likes good food (from Afghan to Thai, Indian to Italian) but doesn't have the patience for lengthy meals.

                          So, I'm looking for advice on where to go with him as we check out the sights. I've done some searches but am overwhelmed by the volume of posts on this board, so a little bit of help would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance. Happy to return the favor should you visit San Francisco.

                          Staying at 14th St. off 5th Ave.

                          Day 1: Dinner after going to the top of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center. Could be in that vicinity or near our lodging.

                          Day 2: Morning visit to Natural History Museum
                          Afternoon visit to Central Park Zoo
                          Dinner in Village some place

                          Day 3:
                          Early ferry (8:00 a.m.) to Statue of Liberty. Likely will have a bagel at Murray's before hand.
                          Lunch before 2:00 Lion King performance
                          Dinner near our lodging?

                          Day 4: No plans!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Tobias

                            i live nearby so here are some options:

                            day 1: near rock centre is margon, a well known and well loved cuban joint on 46th street between 6th and 7th ave. small and bustling but great food and quite cheap. weds they have pernil...roast pork...their cubano sandwich is also top notch.

                            day 2: i dont really do the upper west side too often but barney greengrass is a legendary appetizing restaurant (sturgeon, lox, bagels, etc...). for dinner in the village, check out zabb city for thai on 13th street, and get some slices of artichoke pizza on 14th and 1st ave while yr there. (only get the squares).

                            day 3: dinner again in the village...try da andrea on hudson...my favorite inexpensive and delicious italian spot. get the warm octopus salad and paparadelle with sweet sausage.

                            1. re: Tobias

                              A trip to NYC with a 7-year old requires at least one meal at a diner. Very near to where you are staying is Good Stuff Diner.
                              109 W 14th St - Btwn 6th & 7th Ave (northside of 14th, closer to Sixth)