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Sep 10, 2007 11:47 AM

Lend me your taste buds

Snagged my father's apartment in Manhattan for my birthday over Columbus Day weekend and can't wait to give the handful of restaurants that sustain me Upstate a rest for awhile.

Have three meals in the city. One will be with my dad, and since he is a generous man indeed, I can go all out, although I don't feel the need to go over the top. He works midtown and the apartment is at 55th and 6th. There is no need to stay in that neighborhood, but I've been intrigued by Milos on 55th and my wife and I are big seafood fans. Anyone been to Milos of late? Other suggestions for my birthday meal? (Nothing too pretentious, just great food, stylish setting.)

For the other two meals, I'll want to keep the bill a bit lower and the atmosphere a bit livelier, and I'd be more apt to head downtown. Alta sounds like a good choice from perusing the forums. Any other suggestions?

To give you a little idea of our tastes, the last time my wife and I were in the city we hit The Modern as our expensive meal and loved it. Very fresh, flavorful food and gorgeous setting without being stiff. For our more "fun/cheap" meals we hit Spice Market and Rosa Mexicano. We thought both were fine, and perhaps all we could expect, but certainly nothing special and a bit too commercial.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

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  1. For your expensive meal, I think you'd like Insieme (51st and b'way) or Cafe Gray in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle (also very close to your dad's place).

    For your slightly less expensive meals, try Kefi (Greek; UWS; reasonably priced; LOVE this place; no reservations, tho, so don't do it on your bday), Telepan (I don't like it, but everyone else seems to... really, everyone; UWS; upper mid-range), maybe August, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Ostia, or Tasca (all in W. Village).

    I have been to Milos in the last... oh, I think two months or so. The plates were all well prepared (except that desserts were gut wrenchingly massive, which I'm not a fan of). Haven't been to Alta.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      Thanks cimui. Great suggestions. I really like the look of the menus of both Insieme and Cafe Gray, and both August and Blue Ribbon Bakery look like great choices in the village.

      Any other thoughts out there?

      If not, and you had to choose one meal between Cafe Gray, Insieme and Milos, which would it be?

      And if you had to choose two meals among August, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Alta (and what the hell, I'll through Stanton Social in there too), which two would you pick?


      1. re: gmunno

        Ugh, I hate choices like that. I'd do Insieme just because it's fresher (to me). It's a nicer space than Cafe Gray ... on the other hand Cafe Gray has better cocktails...

        Milos is good, but it's not in the same league as the other two, I don't think.

        For the second set of choices, I would actually only pick one of the options: BRB. The selection is much better and I'm a sucker for their sweetbreads -- and real breads, for that matter. And the wide array of appetizers. And the comfy digs. I really think that if you like Greek at all, you should go for Kefi on the UWS. Sorry, a bit of a copout answer, I know.

        1. re: cimui

          If you do end up at Cafe Gray, ask to sit by the windows/prep station. There's a big ceiling mirror so you can watch the chefs in action, and the windows give you a little peek at Central Park.

          As for Blue Ribbon Bakery -- the bread there is indeed great, and so is the bone marrow. Yum.

    2. For the less expensive meals, I'd suggest Tia Pol, a tapas bar in Chelsea, and Momofuku, serving interesting Asian in the East Village. Neither accept reservations, so either go early (say before 7 pm) or expect a wait. Bar Veloce is just down 2nd Ave from Momofuku with great wine selections, so you could wait there.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ciciNYC

        One clarification. The Momufuku I'm recommending is the Momofuku Ssam Bar, 207 2nd Ave (there's also a noodle bar). If you go, do try the sparkling shiraz. It's a perfect complement to the intense flavors of some of the foods. I love the pork belly dumplings and the brussel sprouts with mint especially.

        1. re: ciciNYC

          The brussel sprouts had been off the menu for awhile since they were out of season. What is the pork belly dumpling? Are you referring to the pork belly buns?

          1. re: kobetobiko

            Yes, I did mean the pork belly buns, and it's almost brussel sprout season again, right?!

            1. re: ciciNYC

              Don't worry, you can order the cauliflower, which is prepared in the same way as the brussels sprouts.

      2. If you like the Modern, I think you will like Maze at the London Hotel which is similar to the Bar Room at the Modern. I actually think that the food and service there were better than The Modern. Eleven Madison Park will be another great choice for the more upscale meal.

        As for the less expensive choice, I think Momofuku Ssam Bar is definitely worth going. If you prefer Spanish tapas, then I will suggest Degustation, Tia Pol, then Alta, in that order. Alta is the cheapest of all 3.

        5 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          Momofuko Ssam is definately something I've wanted to try and we're up for something Asian to throw into the mix. How long would one expect to wait for a table during prime time (like 8:30 or so) on a Friday or Saturday? Forever? (Btw, love Bar Veloce. Have had many a lovely glass of wine there.)

          1. re: gmunno

            My best educated guess on the wait: an hour and a half.

            1. re: ciciNYC

              if you want to sit at the bar, which i think is better anyway, the wait won't be more than half an hour for 2 people. I got seated right away at 8 on a saturday night a couple of weeks ago, though beach season now over

              1. re: chundi

                I agree -- it will only be about 30 minutes. You can while away the time at the island in back, noshing on some small plates, with a glass of wine. And most of the time, they overestimate your wait time (at least they do for me).

                1. re: kathryn

                  sounds great. I'll definately give it a try.