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Sep 18, 2007 07:14 PM

3 days without the kids - please help!

I have been researching for two weeks, and would greatly appreciate some advice for a 3-day visit to NYC at the end of September. We didn’t have a lot of time to plan, so some of our first choices were booked. First weekend in about 3 years without kids, so interested in classy adult or fun late night settings. Used to go to NY quite a bit, but only been once in the past 5 years.

For what it’s worth, we’re from DC area and some of my favorite restaurants there are Komi, 2941, and Palena. Often like upscale places with influences from around the world and tasting menus. I also really like anything pork/bacon related (in case you can’t tell from the name) and small plates.

Staying at Bryant Park Hotel, so interested in suggestions near there as well, especially for breakfast, bagels or just a little treat like a cupcake.

Day 1 – Friday
We have theatre tix (Spelling Bee) at 8pm, so are working around that.
During the day, we were thinking of just grazing at some tourist attractions – oysters at Grand Central, a couple small plates at the Bar at the Modern, and maybe some sushi at our hotel (Koi).
Is the Bar at the Modern the kind of place you can walk in mid-day, grab a few drinks and small plates, and leave? Is Koi lame?
Saving our ‘big meal’ for afterwards since play is over at 9:45 – thinking Momofuku Ssam (because of pork stuff) or Blue Ribbon if we stay up really late

Day 2 – Saturday
Planning some sightseeing downtown and LES, so again will probably graze throughout the day.
The only ‘must’ on our list for the day is Katz’s because for some reason we have never been there. Dumpling House and Il Laboratorio del Gelato are other options.
Anniversary dinner at Annisa – my first choice was Veritas but was booked. We don’t see much about this place, but a friend suggested it. Looking for a small, kind of intimate place, and would prefer a location where it is easy to find live music afterwards.

Day 3 – Sunday
We are not really that big on brunch, especially if it involves waiting in long lines. So, we decided to try Lupa for early lunch (have reservation). Been wanting to try it for years but afraid it won’t be worth the hype.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Pork + small plates + small intimate place = Degustation (East Village). Spanish with some avant-garde touches. Delicious, delicious food (example - poached egg on rice cracker crusted asparagus over chorizo gelee, topped with smoked cheese foam; rib-eye cooked sous-vide topped with bone marrow foam ). Intimate (16 seats), bar seating around an open kitchen. Although, for your anniversary dinner, you may want to actually be facing each other, away from other people, in which case this wouldn't be a good choice.

    Yes on Momofuku Ssam.

    And yes on Lupa. Order salumi and pastas (for a pork lover, the orechiette with sausage and rabe, the bucatini all'amatriciana, the ricotta gnocchi with sausage and fennel). No secondi. If there is a roasted cruciferous vegetable listed in the contorni, get that too.

    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

    Momofuku Ssam Bar
    207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

    4 Replies
    1. re: daveena

      You totally get me! I SO want to go to Degustation (my husband and I have been married 15 years so we don't need to face each other anymore - ha ha). I'll check into a reservation, and if it's too late, I'll just have to come back for another dinner in a few months. Wish I didn't have to go to the darn play! If no reservation, should I just stick with Annisa? Also, any suggestions near Bryant Park?

      1. re: baconjen

        Heh heh. I had a feeling I might be able to give useful suggestions, once I saw you had "bacon" in your handle.

        I haven't been to Annisa, but the menu definitely looks intriguing.

        Unfortunately, I don't know the area around Bryant Park at all. The closest restaurant I've been to that area was probably in Koreatown, 10 blocks south. I played around with Citysearch to see what's in the area, and the only thing I even recognized was the 'witchcraft stand in Bryant Park. Hope someone else has more useful suggestions. Luckily, you'll have excellent subway access from your hotel. I think I'd probably take the 1 to Columbus Circle (two stops) and get breakfast from Bouchon Bakery in the Time-Warner building.

      2. re: daveena

        Hi there. Just wanted to give a follow up report and big THANK YOU for all the suggestions. We absolutely loved our meals. Here's the quick rundown if you are interested:

        -Annisa: Wonderful, romantic little place, which was just perfect for our anniversary. We got the tasting menu with wine pairings. The food was terrific - selection of three rare tunas for appetizer (one with cardamon was fantastic). Next course was the famous soup dumplings - really original and delicious although a bit difficult to eat. Next course was skate - a fried preparation with a hint of kimchee. Next course was sliced veal tenderloin and sweetbreats - very nice but not a standout compared to the others. Dessert was a delicious lemon bread pudding. I completely loved this dessert and usually am not one to rave about desserts (I have more of a bacon tooth than a sweet tooth). Also a chocolate torte 'extra' with a sparkler candle for our anniversary. Service was attentive and non-pretentious - our waiter seemed to really enjoy working there and talking about the food. I should add that the wine pairings were fairly ordinary in my opinion, except for one red blend with the veal course.

        -Momofuku: All I can say is that this place is just a pork lovers paradise! We had the pork belly buns (then a second order because we needed more), the grilled sweetbreads (to compare to the fried ones the night before), the fried cauliflower, the three terrine sandwich, and the apple salad. Yes, a little scary how much food we had. I really can't say enough for a place that puts such delicious smoky bacon in an apple salad in order to prevent it from being too healthy. And I was shocked at how good the cauliflower was - just amazing really - a truly excellent example of how frying and delicious lime-fish sauce dressing can save the most hideous of vegetables. Had a Sparkling Shiraz (Black Chook) that paired perfectly with this food.

        Lupa - So glad I went! Wonderful service and nice simple pasta courses. My bucatini al'amatriciana did not disappoint. Now I need to find pork jowels at home! Good, bold concentrated sauce with the right amount of spice. My husband also really enjoyed a special taglietelle with duck ragu. Of course, we also had some of the cured meats, the copa cotta being the standout. Also a rather simple squash/pecorino antipasta so we could pretend we ate something healthy on the trip. A nice bonus - our waiter overheard us talking about limoncello, and brought us a special limoncello/lemon gelato 'shake' that was not on the menu.

        DiPalo-So fun, and such helpful staff. Brought back some incredible soppressato, sheep's milk pecorino, and the best parmigiano regiano I have ever tasted. So glad you turned us on to this place.

        All in all, a fabulous eating weekend, especially for a pork lover. Didn't get into Degustation but that's on the top of the list for next visit! Thanks again!

        1. re: baconjen

          Fantastic review! The other day, I actually caught myself wondering how "the bacon girl" ended up doing - thank you so much for reporting back!

      3. Palena was one of our favorites when we lived in DC. I think you'll really enjoy Annisa. Do have the soup dumplings with foie gras as an appetizer. I really enjoyed my brook trout with trout roe on a visit two weeks ago, and my husband raved about the chicken stuffed with truffles and pigs feet. The miso marinated sable is one of Anita Lo's signature dishes. The restaurant is small and elegant in a minimalist way, but not cold or sterile. I've always enjoyed my meals at Lupa, but there are a lot of detractors on this board as well. We had a wonderful lunch at the Bread Bar at Tabla - Indian. Here's a link to the dishes we enjoyed last Saturday:

        Another Sunday non-brunch option would be Casa Mono, for Spanish small plates.

        8 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          Thanks! I really appreciate both of you giving me advice on what to order. That is incredibly helpful.

          1. re: baconjen

            I second the bucatini all'amatriciana rec at Lupa - one of the best I've ever had.

            1. re: MMRuth

              That is my favorite pasta dish of all time (in fact, probably the best pasta I make) so I will definitely try!

              Hope I'm not annoying you but I have one more quick question: Since you just went to Annisa, what is the dress like? Is it more nice casual/hip, or a place my husband should wear a suit?

              1. re: baconjen

                Annisa - casual hip - my husband did not wear a jacket, his brother and stepbrother did - either seems just find. SIL and MIL all gussied up, but I was not.

                And - I love that pasta dish too, and think I make a pretty mean one (based on the London River Cafe recipe - but this was really good!).

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Thanks for the ridiculously speedy replies! I'm really looking forward to this.

                  I bet yours (and Lupa's) is made with pancetta - my cheapo version is made with bacon (of course).

                  1. re: baconjen

                    Not to worry - I've used bacon in a pinch too. Though, while you are here, you could stop by Di Palo's in Little Italy - one of my absolutely favorite stores in NY - and pick up some pancetta to take home and freeze. My mother in law was here recently from the Dominican Republic and picked up an absurd amount of food from there to take home with her!

                    That might work with your Day 2 LES tour - they open at about 9:30 - good to be there at that time - but even if you show up later, it's wonderful to browse the shelves and see what other people are buying while waiting for your turn.

                    1. re: baconjen

                      I think Lupa uses guanciale... I could be wrong, though.

                      1. re: daveena

                        they do indeed use amazing. pork jowls. yummm. have fun!