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Boston Hound: Needs Help Narrowing Union Square Options

Passing through NYC, staying near Union Square, and unfortunately only have enough time for a dinner, a breakfast and a lunch. Usually we have more time and stay further uptown, though since the days of Po we have always eaten a meal at a Batali restaurant when in the city, so lunch will be a return to Casa Mano, which we loved. As for dinner... I have spent much time searching past posts, and have narrowed it down to Union Square Café, Steak Frites, Fleur de Sel, Blue Water Grill, Gotham, or Gramercy Tavern. Looking for something NYC-unique and memorable, both atmosphere and chow-wise, price not a determinative factor. Any help in narrowing it further is appreciated.

As for breakfast - looking for good bagel/lox in the area, if anyone has a suggestion.

Thanks.

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  1. Rebublic
    Irving Inn

    2 Replies
    1. re: netmover

      Republic for a nice dinner? From the list of restaurants Stevie listed, I don't think noisy cafeteria style, is what he's looking for. But if he were, I'd agree with you. I think it's the best no nonsense SE Asian restaurant in the area.

      There's one down the street called "Vietnamese Food". My wife went last night and was literally forced to finish her meal within 30 minutes because "the cashier is closing and you need to pay now." (Verbatim.) She got there 20 minutes before the kitchen closed... that's kinda late, but not to the point where they have to shove you off your table. Ugh.

      Has anyone tried Japonais? It seems interesting but I haven't had the funds to try it out.

      1. re: bluishgnome

        agreed.. republic may make many hounds poor restaurant list...

    2. My vote would be either Union Square Cafe or Gramercy Tavern. I'd say NO to Steak Frites -- nothing special about it and it's really noisy. Gotham is fine, but the service is stiff. I haven't ben to Fleur de Sel. Breakfast? Try Mayrose Diner -- Broadway @ 21st Street on the SE corner of the street. If they have buckwheat pancakes on the menu -- go for them. They're terrific! I miss being in the area and dropping in there. They never rush to get you out the door and the huge windows give you a great view to the "street theatre." ( --from a former Newton-native)

      1. Union Square Cafe is my recommendation. The service at Danny Meyer restaurants is a cornerstone of the NY hospitality industry. And Michael Romano is a great chef (long live foie gras!) The price isn't over the top and it's quite an enjoyable atmosphere. My definite Union Square recommendation.

        I would not recommend Fleur de Sel. I thought the food & service weren't worth the price. The tasting menu with wine pairing that I had was near mediocre. The decor is nice and comfortable though...

        1. For bagels and lox in the area you're best going with Murray's Bagels on 6th ave between 12th and 13th.

          For lunch why don't you try Boqueria - 19th street between 5th an 6th. So tasty and a fun scene. And lunch is WAY less crowded then evenings. You can also try Bar Stuzzichini which just opened and is on Broadway and 21t street. it's similar to Otto - less extensive of a menu - but way less crowded, Great looking space and lots of room at the bar to eat little noshes and have some wine.

          5 Replies
          1. re: BaconBits

            Absolutely re Murray's for bagels and lox. On the other end of the price spectrum, I once had a great lunch at Fleur de Sel but the atmosphere is very french (i.e., stuffy, old school). I have not been able to scrape my pennies together yet to get to splurge at the new (new chef) Gramercy Tavern, but it's wayyy at the top of the list when I do...check out Frank Bruni's "it's back!!" review from last week's NYT for the full rave:

            http://events.nytimes.com/2007/06/06/...

            1. re: BaconBits

              I think that Casa Mono is better than Boqueria. I like the idea of Murray's for breakfast. For dinner, I also disagree with Republic. It's a place to grab a quick lunch if you're in the area. From your choices, I would pick Gotham or Gramercy. Personally, if I was in New York and was looking for something unique in the area, I would choose Momofuku Ssam. There is nothing like it in Boston.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                I agree about Casa Mono vs. Boqueria, though CM is certainly more expensive. But I've loved every dish I've had there - and we've tried almost all of them. And the Spanish wine list is arguably the best in the U.S.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  casa mono's portions are bigger than ordinary taps. along with degustation (east village) imho best tapas in nyc....

                  1. re: jsmitty

                    Why follow the masses . . .Degustation is really special and unique.

            2. gramery tavern, fleur de sel, devi, 15 east.

              1. StevieC - NYC-unique IMHO means either Union Sq Cafe or Grammercy Tavern (which Bruni just 3 starred) of those on your list - either will be a great treat and a great meal.

                1. Steak frites? Did you mean Strip house? I vote for murrays (breakfast) or whole foods if you need to be closer. Gramercy tavern for dinner

                  1. Steak Frites, while fine for a brunch or quick lunch after shopping the greenmarket, is not in the same league with any of the other places you listed.

                    However, don't overlook the option of Tocqueville for dinner 1 East 15th Street (5th Ave). The room is gorgeous, and the food, in my experience, is always top notch.

                    1. i say veritas is a must. its in the flatiron district, not too far from u sq. fresh, precise, yet accessible food. unsurpassed wine list... my favorite , if i had to pick, in nyc....

                      1. even though not batai anymore, po is still special..... has never lost a stride in my view....

                        1. For dinner, I will pick Gramercy Tavern over other choices you listed. Their spring menu is currently featuring a lot of the spring vegetables and ingredients, and I think the menu will change pretty soon as these seasonal ingredients became unavailable. It is a great way to enjoy the last taste of spring under the hand of an excellent chef.

                          While I like Fleur de Sel, I think their dinner is great but not as "exciting" as GT's. I don't think it will be a loss if you miss it this time and come back next time to enjoy Fleur de Sel. I think their lunch is probably one of the best values you can find in NYC. Union Square Cafe was once really good but I found their food to be quite boring and I personally am not planning to go back anytime soon unless they revamp the menu.

                          As others suggested, Degustation is indeed a great place to enjoy tapas. I love it more than Casa Mono, but since they only serve dinner, you may need to save it for your next trip.

                          Hope you enjoy your meals during your short trip!