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Mar 28, 2007 09:05 PM

Four Canadian Designer Girls Take Manhattan - Recommendations?


I am visiting New York in May with three girlfriends to attend the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. We graduated last year, and as such are on not a shoestring, but on a budget nonetheless. The show is at Jacob K. Javits Centre (Chelsea-ish?) and staying at the Paramount (Times Square-ish). I'm looking for recommendations for cool-looking (we're designers, ok!?) affordable-yet-fabulous restaurants, wherever really. Something out-of-the-ordinary would be good. And, yes, I know, try Balthazar. :) Anything else? We'll be there for three days, so anything outstanding for dinner, lunch, or brunch would be great.


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  1. Public, in Nolita, designed by the folks at AvroKo, is also a great-looking glam room with good modern Aussie food.

    Centovini in Soho is mod, with an all black and white decor and curvy sexy furniture (all from Moss, a great little furniture shop around the corner). Also, Morimoto, in the meatpacking district, is one of the most stunning restaurants I've ever seen. Even if you don't eat there, go for a drink and gawk at the beautiful ceiling -- it's a dramatic exposed curved wood slat design that makes it look like you're inside a whale.

    The food is just ok at both these places, although Centovini is redeemed by a really broad and well-thought-out wine list.

    4 Replies
    1. re: oolah

      Thanks - they all look gorgeous! Centovino is run by people who run Moss - the best of both worlds! Sigh...! Morimoto looks gorgeous, and who doesn't love sushi? I'll put them all on my watch list, but right now I'm leaning towards Centovino. Wine List AND furniture? I'll die of happiness. Thanks for the recommendations.

      1. re: sundaycruddysunday

        A Torontonian here! Check out Kitchen 22 on 22nd. Charlie Palmer's place - it gets pretty good later on but the have a 3 course price fix menu for like $30 (or used to) - pretty good deal (at the range your in NYC is tough) - especially tip!
        Good Luck :)

      2. re: oolah

        Public is a great suggestion; i think their food is pretty tasty, and the atmosphere is tres cool. They also have a wine bar called The Monday Room, which serves food as well, and might be a more budget-concious way of experiencing the place.

        202 in chelsea market is worth a stop in for brunch. it's in the nicole farhi store in chelsear market, at 75 ninth ave.

      3. Since "affordable" is a relative term, it will help us to make better suggestions if you provide more specific price rangea and may be cuisine preference.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          you are absolutely right... well in ottawa I consider $40 per person for three courses with wine, tax and tip a great deal. Is that even possible in New York?

          1. re: sundaycruddysunday

            That would mean a great deal would be about $22-25 for a three-course meal (about $8 for tax + tip, and assuming a glass of wine is $8-10)... unless my math is completely off. But is this in Canadian dollars? I don't know what the exchange rate is exactly, but you might be a little hard(er) pressed to find such a deal in NYC. Even worse if you throw in good decor as a requirement. Cheap eats with plentiful booze is my specialty, but I usually don't care for decor. That said:

            Non-shabby places off the top of my head in which you might make your budget:

            - Via Emilia (41 E. 21st bet. Park and Bway)
            - Bar Carrera (on my list of places to try, in the East Village)
            - Artepasta (if you get there before 7pm I believe, it's three courses for $15 plus ridiculous happy hour specials - $5 fishbowl martinis, anyone? The food def. won't blow your mind, but it's FUN)
            - Cornelia Street Cafe (West Village)

            And then there are tons of cheap but good places in the East Village that lean more from cute and cozy to funky and kitschy.

            1. re: janethepain

              Fish bowl martinis -- now you're speaking my language. :) And we'll disregard the exchange rate for now, as its pretty low, and hey, you're in Manhattan, what do you expect? Thanks for the list, I think Artepasta is at the top of it!

              1. re: sundaycruddysunday

                Haha, just remember, the food isn't anything great (but it's fine, especially considering the low prices), but that'll fade into a distant memory on your second or third martini. And if you were really interested in decor, this place would not be it - the last time I was there, our party was commenting on how ludicrously bad the paintings on the wall were.

        2. -- Tides Seafood...a tiny place Norfolk St in the Lower East Side...amazing design...superb a search for it here and you'll find many raves...moderately priced for NYC

          -- East Village bistro...very crowded at night...not a modern design or anything, but trendy in a grungy downtown way...bouillabaise, escargot, endive salad, and chocolate cake all excellent...also fun in the late afternoon for wine...

          -- Angel's Share bar for drinks...a semi-hidden inside a second floor Japanese restaurant on 9th St/3rd Ave...a cozy dark place for great cocktails (they have appetizers but they are only so-so)...

          -- Cafe Mogador...very reasonably priced Moroccan place on St.Mark's between FirstAve/AveA...fits your budget nicely...good for dinner or brunch...

          -- Otto...downtown Mario Batali joint for pizza and pasta and antipasti...Fifth Ave at 8th St...

          -- n33 (Spanish accent over the "n" pronounced "en-yay") at 33 Crosby...tiny Spanish wine and tapas bar...very cozy and cool-looking inside...trendy and fun...the fancy loft building directly across the street has at various times housed Lenny Kravitz, Courtney Love, Britney Spears, Nicole Kidman, etc...very close to Balthazar (which i also love) so n33 is a good place to grab a drink before or after...

          1. Kyotofu on 9th Avenue between 48 and 49 is a Japanese bakery/patisserie/sake bar in a cool modernist design space. Limited selection of savoury foods but all in all a reasonably affordable place.


            Scrolling down, I would endorse the recommendation for The Monday Room which I sampled last week. Delicious pan-Asian tapas and good accompanying wine selections. The space is not as interesting designwise as the main restaurant but maybe grab a drink at the restaurant bar first. Only thing is that it may exceed your price point by a short distance.


            2 Replies
            1. re: oonth

              2nd Kyotofu for both the food and the design (by Hiro Tsuruta, who also did Chikalicious). Be aware, though, that what you're getting is not your typical dessert bar.

              1. re: kathryn

                kyotofu looks gorgeous, the drinks looks great, AND they used the same font as i did in my first portfolio - another contender!!

            2. Sleek, modern with arguably the best new chef with the best new restaurant turning out some of the most interesting food in NYC - all at affordable prices? Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village - 2nd Ave at 13th. Check out this web site for a video and a load of great critical reviews.

              2 Replies
              1. re: livetotravel

                good call on the ssam bar. its very popular these days and unique food...their banh mi is pricey at $9 but the best ive ever had.

                i recommend brunch at freemans (i guess theyre also open for lunch these days). its cheap, delicious, very nyc, and a cool place to try.

                1. re: sam1

                  Perry Street has a very strong design element, and the $24 lunch is a bargain.
                  I'd also suggest the Bar Room at the Museum of Modern Art.
                  Craft may be above your price level, but you could always stop in for a drink just to see it.