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May 5, 2007 09:42 AM

Review of NYC (1st trip since 98) bit long !!

Thank you those who who led the path to some lovely places , however with a larger group of varying tastes it proved most difficult to please everyone.I wont list names as I will most probably forget all who helped me on here, but I think those know who I drove mad!!. Suffice to say our 1st night at Keens was lovely.

River Cafe didnt happen sadly as the birthday girl decided we must do the sex in the city tour and that collided with our brunch time booking so it had to be re thought. The day actually ended at Pastis (were her favoured actor was seated I might add!!!).

Ok so 1st night Keens :

What a wonderful place , such a great atmosphere and a really lovely way to start the trip. I loved the fresh crudites on the table (often in UK they are a very sad state by the time they reach one from the kitchen!!) We started with a treat and had the Lobster cocktail , I couldn't get enough of the fresh basil mayonnaise, it was divine! We all ordered sirloin steak and salads and what enormous steaks they were, we had to share!! The steaks were very god , well seasoned and melt in the mouth . It was perfect after a long day of travel. I think many New Yorkers seemed surprised by there being a table of young female Londoners !

The next day was just a quick nosh late lunch at Le Tisserie ,which being a counter service place the food was actually quite good.Although the sweetness of the candied walnuts in my salad got a bit much after a while. We just dont have places quite like this in London unless you go to Patisserie Valerie on Marylebone and spend a fortune. The caramel profiterole was just lush.

That same evening we had Lure fish bar booked , but we were so tired from the flight the day before (and some serious shopping) that we favoured a more casual and familiar place so Katz diner it was instead !!. Despite the quite basic chicken soup & a bit over salty (nothing like mums, but those matzo tennis balls always make me chuckle !) , it was the best place to just hang. The chop liver however was nice and moist and quite sweet & the salt beef (I cant remember what its called in USA) , was also quite like we make at home. Also I assume its quite normal if a trad chutzpah- ish to ask that tips be left on the table in th USA? We brits tend to be a little more modest about that side of things, but our waiter being a little bit of eye candy got away with it!!

The next morning we wandered around Greenwich Village and a nice chap saw us stuck for breakfast and suggested we go to Grey Dog , well what a nice little place that was. Great vibe , friendly staff and great to just people watch at the tables at the front. I loved it round there btw!

The lunch this day was spent at Zoe's in Soho and whilst it had a nice atmosphere the staff were a tad uninterested (very moody bar man) and the food was very mixed ; the starter of calamari with thai dip was amazing , crispy, fresh and very moreish, whilst my chicken salad was dry and very bland and I frankly couldn't eat it. My sisters pizza however was very tasty; moist and garlicky.

I wont even mention were we had dinner by the west side theatre as we left it too late, it was just a quick basic choose your own deli salad for like $6 , but it did the trick !!!Again we pay over the odds for salads like these and theyre normally not fresh or that tasty !

Magnolia Bakery was a must during the SATC tour and we picked up 2 boxes of cupcakes for our friends birthday that evening, I cannot believe the frenzy in there as the trays came out at the cupcake corner, the staff were really riled by the madness and stated that they only had 2 arms not 4. It was great to watch ! The women glazing behind the counter well I all I can say is if looks could kill !!! I must say though they are gorgeous cup cakes and the chocolate frosting, well. I was in heaven !!

Lunch the next day was at South Street Seaport at a very Touristy affair and Im loathe to list it here,but it was Il Porto for those thinking of going there! Tagliatelle bolognese was quite good but the shrimp cocktail was a very sad affair on ice that had melted into a watery base and a meagre handful of shrimp!!

Dinner , as it was a last minute booking and surprisingly at Pastis , was quite a nice evening spent. Being as its based on an authentic French Bistro it was quite good having been to Paris many times.Very good drinks and moules et fritz (the best chips in months anywhere I must say). Although we did have to remove the Pernod from our party's dishes as it seemed to be a prolific ingredient on the menu, I think this has been mentioned on here before may be! Not sure Id rush back, as the staff messed up our Magnolia Bakery cup cake cake and took the candles that we bought there to put on them (they replaced them with some nasty ones, but I managed to sort it with the maitre de before the birthday girl saw what was going down)) , but boy the chutzpah to think they would get away with that ,cheeky guys. Also certain famous actors had a table and had asked that the tables surrounding them not be taken , so the atmosphere went a bit odd for the last hour and some very disappointed faces were asked to leave the area!

As for sushi , we didnt get any time to do that properly and had to make do with a quick fix at the food market down stairs in Grand central station. Not the worst, not the best but is was sushi!

All in all not a to bad food experience, much missed out , but I now have a BIG reason to go back very soon with my husband who would love to do the each-course-in-different restaurant-evening that I so wanted to do !!

I soo want to be there now!!

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  1. I agree with you, so many gems in NYC. Some of my favorites are Cafe Boulud for the most AMAZING duck with wild mushrooms and pomme frites, Sushi Yasuda for upscale, authentic sushi (very expensive though, still looking for a better value), and Big Wong, for the ultimate Chinatown and good Chinese food!

    1 Reply
    1. re: xanderjoon

      ahhhhh Yasuda , I sooo wanted to get there , but we just ran out of time. Every day I was saying sushi sushi sushi !!! Is Blue ribbon sushi good value ?? Or just a more commercial branded version ?

      We were very close to booking the Waldorf for the brunch as we wanted something old fashioned and glamorous , but the concierge kept on putting me on hold for me to book , so I gave up. Did I miss much ? at $65 it was at the upper end of brunch cost.

      Also I was very upset to miss Room 4 Dessert , and would have been prefect after Katz as we werent far , but everyone was exhausted and rather full. I WILL GET THERE, I WILL !!!

    2. Hey, melsy, Thanks for reporting back.

      Since Keens is our favorite steakhouse, I'm really pleased that you liked it a lot. The crudite + dip? Very "retro," but I, too enjoy it. And the old NY ambiance truly is unmatchable!

      Re: Katz's. What you are calling "salt beef" is pastrami -- Katz's signature. It appears that instead of doing what the natives do and opting for counter service (where there's a tradition of tipping the counterman a dollar or two as he makes your sandwich), you chose table service. I've never done that; however, when it comes to tipping a server, "chutzpah" has nothing to do with it. Since it's cash only when you pay the cashier, you were asked to leave your tip on the table because that's the only way your server would be able to receive his or her gratuity.

      Glad that, overall, you had a great time in NYC. Come back soon!

      5 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Ahh yes crudites is some what "retro" isn't it !! but oh so good for low carb eaters and starving !!!

        Re tipping ; there is a slight difference in our cultural understanding of things, which also can create awkward situations were there is none! In the UK we also leave cash tips on tables, no problem with that at all ,as I know many restaurants were you pay with cards( and add service too the card), restaurants dont always separate this out and pass it on to the waiter /server. Tipping in the UK though however is not as embedded in our culture as a given (its also only 10% at most in UK), so it just seemed presumptuous, whatever our decision to leave anything or not, as we always tend to if service has been good and helpful whatever country. Sorry if that seems pompous its just to show the difference in culture.

        Re meat differences as Im getting confused and need a menu in front of me !!; salt beef in UK = corned beef in USA I think !!??
        Pastrami in UK is cooked in peppercorns and has a dark edge. Salt beef in UK is beef brisket cooked in water with seasoning and is fatty and moist.

        Anyway with that out the way sort of , I think what was lacking was a super duper out of this world amazing meal. So I definitely need to come back just for that!

        1. re: melsy

          Without a doubt, there are cultural difference in the area of tipping, not only between the US and the UK, but between us and many other parts of the world.

          I guess I immediately thought pastrami because that's what Katz's is famous for. But obviously, I was wrong. I've never had the corned beef at Katz's. When I'm there, it's all about the pastrami. In my view, the best tasting pastrami is fatty and moist. There are folks who prefer their pastrami "lean." That's what is called first-cut, and it has virtually no fat. To me, it's tantamount to eating shoe leather. lol

          I've actually had your version of pastrami at Bloom's in London. I can't say that it wowed me. I found it too dry.

          There are many places in NYC where you can get that "super duper out-of-this-world amazing meal." Definitely a reason for you to hurry back. :-)

          1. re: RGR

            To true about tipping and wordly differences. I hope I didnt sound offensive at all. I rather enjoy discussion.

            ahhh now Blooms thats an institution amongst us North Londoners , esp at 2am in the morning ! Not always the best, but good for a fix.

            Its quite confusing I find when we have different terms for the same food ! LOL I cant work out wether I had pastrami, salt beef or corned beef at Katz !! It was very bright red, flaky, soft & had lots of fatty parts . At home I cook it for hours on the stove in water with peppercorns, onion and garlic cloves.

            I should have taken a piccy !

            1. re: melsy

              Sounds like pastrami. My (English) dad calls pastrami corned beef.

              1. re: melsy

                Hmmm... melsy, originally, I thought for sure it was pastrami. Then, when you mentioned salt beef, I Googled and the info said it's corned beef. Now that you say it was bright read with lots of fat, that describes pastrami. What you make at home is corned beef. Pastrami can start out as corned beef (or be dry-cured), but then, it's coated with spices and *smoked.*


                Btw, nothing at all offensive in your posts. With regard to differences, to quote George Bernard Shaw, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." lol I think we're all familiar with flat vs apartment and lift vs elevator. However, try asking an American whether he or she likes aubergine, and you're sure to get a vacant look since we call it eggplant.