Help please on this itinerary
Hi ‘Hounds! Visiting from Boston, and I was hoping you could please critique my itinerary.
We’ll be coming in August for 4 days and there will be 6 of us, though not for all meals, and I'm trying to fit in everyone's requests, mostly high-end. Sparks and Tao are my husband’s choices. I suggested someplace new since we've been to Tao, so I chose Buddakan. One of our party suggested Le Cirque or 21 Club. From what I’ve researched, both of these are in the category of “not worth the $$”. So I’ve picked Bouley for his French request, and suggested a cocktail at 21 Club before. Other cocktail stops - Brandy Library, though I’d like to fit in at least one other (Double Happiness, Pegu Club, Campbell Apartment, Stone Rose or MoBar, Monkey Bar, PDT?). If it helps, some of the places we’ve enjoyed in the past – EMP, Otto, Lupa, Babbo, DB Bistro, Ducasse, JG, and Daniel, and Bemelmans, King Cole, the Round Bar, and Angel's Share.
Tuesday and our first stop for cocktails - Rise after reading the “rooftop bar” thread. 9:30 dinner is at Sparks. After dinner?
Wednesday are my picks. Late lunch at Casa Mono (have yet to hit any of NY's tapas places), or another suggestion that serves a full menu all day? MSG that night, so drinks and snacks at Keen’s (suggestions?) before, and Momofuku Ssam Bar after.
Thursday casual lunch - hit some carts, or maybe Shake Shack, pizza, etc. For dinner, a drink at 21 Club, 9:30 dinner at Bouley, after-dinner drinks at Brandy Library.
Final day – prix-fixe lunch at JG. Dinner at Buddakan. After dinner?
And Saturday afternoon, some place casual with great food to watch the game in the afternoon (preferably close to the Union Square Market)?
Thanks in advance. I’ll repay the favor if you’re ever in Boston!.
Rubee - it sounds like you've got quite a trip planned! I definitely recommend Casa Mono - one of our favorite Saturday lunch places and, from what I gather, less hectic at lunch than at dinner. I'll try to dig up an old post of mine with some of our favorite dishes, though you definitely have to have the croquettas with the orange aioli. Haven't been to a lot of the places you're going to - other than JG, which is wonderful. I'd try to hit Shake Shack off hours to avoid the line. Drinks at 21 might be fun - though perhaps a bit stuffy - though I've not been for years. Also, consider going back to the King Cole Bar - they've just reopened after cleaning the mural, and have a special cocktail list to celebrate.
For your cocktails, I would recommend Campbell Apartment (located in Grand Central, like stepping into a totally different world), Pegu Club or Stone Rose (for the view of Central Park). I haven't been to Monkey Bar or MoBar so I can't comment on that. I personally like Double Happiness but think that it's not a destination place for an out-of-towner.
I like your pick for Casa Mono. Tia Pol is another great choice for tapas on the West side. But I don't think Tia Pol serves a full menu for lunch. Momofuku Ssam Bar is also another great pick. Please do try the pork buns as they're very unique. About drinks near MSG ... Keen's is a good choice. I also like Cellar Bar at the Bryant Park Hotel. You may also want to try one of the bars in Koreatown (32nd Street). I don't remember the specifics but one of them serves sweet potato fries with their drinks.
Shake Shack is OK for lunch. Long lines, but decent (not great) burgers. The fries are nothing to write home about, though. Be sure to get the frozen custards for dessert. I like the Trini-Pak cart at 43rd Street adn 6th Ave for the most flavorful chicken. You can take that and eat it in Bryant Park one block away. Or Bryant Park also hosts Wichcraft (Tom Colicchio's casual sandwich/soup/salad) joint which I think is a much better place than Shake Shack.
If you're not having dessert at Buddakan, you may want to head over to the East side for either Chikalicious or Room for Dessert where they serve flights of desserts.
Wow, break out the elastic pants!
Your plans seem very methodical so I'm loath to suggest any major alterations. For what it's worth I'll laud a few choices and critique one. I think Bouley is a fantastic choice. Others on this board will cry to the heavens against it, but it's romantic, exquisite, and fantastic in every dimension. The Degustation menu is a wonderful option, if you're feeling up for 10+ courses.
In terms of cocktails, I think Pegu Club is an excellent suggestion. I'd also throw in Little Branch, the kid sister to Milk and Honey (no private number or reservation needed as with the mothership). The cocktails are simply amazing. You could certainly go there after your dinner at Buddakan, which is my lone critique. While it's too loud, too big, too over the top, I'd gladly suffer through it all for great food. Alas, I found Buddakan lacking. It semed to me the kitchen was trying too hard. Dishes were too elaborate, overly seasoned, etc. It does, however, fit the theme of the restaurant: excess!
Finally, I'd suggest one other stop on your culinary whirlwind tour: Cones. You've got to have some great gelato in August; it'll be scortching. Cones on Bleeker is my personal favorite. Fit it in after dinner at Buddakan or during your Shake Shack/cart lunch on Thursday, or just go both days! I assure you it's well worth it.
Enjoy your waist-popping saunter!
Welcome to NYC, Rubee!
I'm not such a Cones fan. I find their stuff too sweet, and much prefer Il Laboratorio, which captures flavors perfectly.
Though I'm a Shake Shack fan, it can be hit or miss, which can be disappointing, given the line/wait. Some alternatives are:
Spotted Pig: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/400467 which is bright, warm and cozy and has fantastic beer.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, and going to Grimaldi's (no longer great, alas, but still passable) followed by Jacques Torres for chocolate.
For even more casual/cheaper, Saigon Banh Mi has incredible banh mi.
Nobody has yet answered your Saturday afternoon question, so I'll make a suggestion. Blue Smoke, on 27th St., b/t Lex & Park Av. S., is a short walk from the Union Sq. Market. It shouldn't be too jammed on a Saturday afternon. They have t.v. in the bar area -- maybe it's two t.v.'s, one on each side of the bar? I've never had the burger there, but I've heard it's excellent. The 'cue is, in my view, decent though not great.
As regards Keens, which happens to be a favorite of ours, I've never thought of it as a snack kind of place. We always eaten in the main dining room, but I suppose you could eat in the cozy Pub Room. Different menu and, I think, smaller portions.
I noticed you've been to Daniel and dbBistro but did not mention Cafe Boulud. If you've never been, why not complete the trifecta? We love CB! The food's delicious, the service is polished, the room is pleasant, and they don't require jackets. During the summer, they usually have a special prix-fixe lunch for around $30. Since you've previously been to Jean Georges (jackets required), you might want to consider substituting Cafe Boulud.
Looks as though you'll be packing in some very good eating and drinking during your visit. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
Great plans already. May I suggest you have a drink in the bar at The House
before or after Casa Mono. It's right on the same street and has a beautiful space.
As for a relaxed place to watch the game Blue Smoke as suggested is a great choice. But if you want something closer maybe Duke's would work or Old Town Bar for an old NYC feel. They have good bugers.
Or if you are a Red Sox fan- the Hairy Monk on 3rd avenue is a big Red Sox bar. The food is simply average but they have lots of tv's.