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Sep 11, 2007 10:33 PM

Am I on the right path?

My wife and I are heading to Manhattan for a three day weekend and am part way through planning the dining itinerary. Here's what I have so far along with all our dining constraints (and there are a few):

Friday night - Stantion Social Club. Arrive at JFK at 9 pm. So probably can't make anything earlier than an 11:30 pm reservation. Will be meeting up with friends that have already had dinner so they will be joining us for drinks. Prefer to do downtown with a bit of a bar/lounge scene - small plates probably work best. Is Bar 89 an alternative?

Saturday night - Nello's. OK this may bear some explaining. Our friends are with a client for dinner this night and the client insists on eating here. Plus we have an 8 pm reservation. Options are suck it up and dine with the group or make an excuse, eat elsewhere and meet up for dessert. Not scared by the likely tab - but there are only a few nights for dining and don't want to waste a meal on a bad choice.

Sunday night - attending a 7 pm play. Should finish by 9:30 pm. Planning on 10 pm reservation. Is also our anniversary dinner. Looking for fantastic food and price is not a major concern - value of dining experience and ambience is paramount. Plus somewhere that the kitchen isn't closing as we arrive so that we feel rushed to get out. Some thoughts - Red Cat, Veritas, Craft, Annisa, Del Posto - not sure about hours for any of those.

Monday night - Have reservations at Amalia (friend works for the group that owns this location). 6 pm reservation - my wife must leave for the airport by 8:30 pm. Will need to get back to our times square hotel to pick up bags - so west side midtown is probably best. Unlikely to change this one.

In terms of cuisine - I'm pretty sick of traditional italian fare and we get a ton of sushi and Asian fusion where I live. Spanish tapas, contemporary american/french and just plain inventive or extraordinary work well.

Please set me on the right path. Thanks so much.

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  1. I checked Annisa for you for Sunday night, but they close at 9:30 unfortunately - I had a wonderful meal there last Friday night. I checked on Open Table for reservations for 2 at 10pm this Sunday (16th) - and it looks like Del Posto, Gramercy Tavern, Gotham Bar & Grill, Cafe Boulud, Hearth, Il Cantinori, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, among others, have tables available. Of those, I've only been to Cafe Boulud - which I like very much but might be a bit staid on a Sunday night - and Gramercy Tavern, but only in the Tavern Room and not since the chef change.

    I really like Casa Mono for Spanish food, but it's a bit cramped and probably not an idea anniversary ambiance.

    In terms of Nello - despite my earlier post - sometimes one just has to go along with such things and, at least according to the NYMag review (which I do sometimes question), the food is good, if overpriced.

    Good luck and have a wonderful time.

    1 Reply
    1. I think you will love Stanton Social if you are looking for small plates, inventive and hip.

      It's really too bad you can't get to Annissa because I had an incredible meal there last year. In particular a dish consisting of soup dumplings and foie gras stands out in my mind as one of the more delicious and simplely elegant dishes I've had all year. Maybe if you can get a reservation there the night your friend is with clients and then meet up for dessert you should think about that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Elyssa

        Those soup dumplings are amazing - I've still not written up my review of dinner there last week - the brook trout was also wonderful - crisp skin, tender fish, trout roe on top and a little potato pancake!

      2. We had dinner at Amalia shortly after it opened earlier this year. The Mediterranean cuisine was delicious, the staff couldn't have been nicer, and the space has very jazzy, hip decor. I think you'll enjoy it.

        Red Cat's food's is fine though I didn't think it was anything special, so I wouldn't choose it for an anniversary celebration.

        I'm surprised to see that you are going to a play on Sunday at 7 p.m., because plays usually only perform matinees on Sunday. Special occasion restaurants that are open on Sunday do tend to stop serving earlier that day than the rest of the week. So, you might want to check the performance time for the play because if you will be getting out earlier than 9:30, that would give you more restaurant options.

        One more thing. I wouldn't rely completely on OpenTable. Sometimes, even when it shows no openings, if you call the restaurant directly, you can get a reservation because restaurants often hold tables back from OT. For example, I'm a huge fan of Eleven Madison Park. A wonderful place to celebrate a special occasion. They serve until 10 p.m. on Sunday, and they never rush you out. OT shows no reservations on the 16th; however, since EMP is very large -- and, I might add, gorgeous! -- it seems odd to me that there would be no tables available. It's certainly worth giving them a call

        5 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          thanks for the tips - I'm going to look into Annissa. Play time is correct - Sun 7 pm start, 2 hrs, 20 mins (I did a double take on this too). I hear you about open table - I understand that some restaurants only make a certain portion of their capacity available on Open Table and we have been phoning direct when we find something we really want to try.

          RGR - on Eleven Madison Park - I had the best meal of my life there last year on a similar trip with the same friends. Expensive, but so worth it. The Nello's experience will be directly compared to that and I'm quite concerned that it will fall significantly short - that is my Sat night dilemma!! Maybe we'll go back.

          1. re: Cooooooooper

            Glad to hear you had a stellar experience at EMP. Sorry to say but you might as well forget about comparing Nello to it because, from what I've heard about Nello, it's not even close to being in the same league as EMP.

            You don't mention when you were at EMP, but if it was before the duck for two was put on the menu, it's worth going back just to have it. (Actually, we've had it twice.)

            1. re: RGR

              It was in Sept '06. I don't recall having the duck - foie gras brulee was a big hit. The comparison will be made and sounds like will end badly. Hmmm friendship vs. good food - sounds like the beginnings of a new thread ....

              1. re: Cooooooooper

                Yes - I do think the comparison will end badly - but, trust me, I've had do the same w/ visiting in-laws (ref. - Mr. Chow's!).

            2. re: Cooooooooper

              The opposite is also true for Open Table, Cooooooooper. Restaurants are required by contract to keep some spaces reserved for OT, so sometimes when you call and can't get a table, you can through OT. I got a reservation at the Modern for a large group this way.

          2. Looks like your only true "dining" night is Saturday, and Nello's sounds like a mediocre choice at best (personally haven't been, and probably won't). If it were all about the food, I would plan to meet your friends for drinks after dinner, and plan on a great meal at EMP (love the pork belly) or Atelier de Joel Robuchon (incredible presentations). Make that an early anniversary dinner, as your options will be more limited for Sunday evening. All depends on how much time you want to spend with your friends vs. having a great meal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rcinsf

              Close to final verdict (I think):
              Friday - Stanton Social
              Saturday - reservation at Telepan at 9 pm (leaves going to Nellos for drinks beforehand an option) - should I consider Del Posto instead?
              Sunday - Suba (for small plates post theatre) - should I try Tia Pol instead?
              Monday - Amalia

              And maybe fit in lunch at Perry Street on Monday

              1. re: Cooooooooper

                I'd sub in Pylos for Monday instead of Amalia...