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Jan 12, 2008 08:04 AM

New York City Trip Report

My bride, 17 year old niece, and I spent Christmas in NYC. We didn't break any new ground for any of you, but we did take all of your reviews to heart. The Chowhounders have never let us down.

Day One
Our red-eye flight from Sacramento dropped us into NYC at 8:30am. While the wife and niece slept, I explored SOHO, stocked up on provisions and brought back samples for their breakfasts. I stopped at Local, an artisan coffee shop at Sullivan and Macdougal, asked for a Macchiato, but he made the starbuck's version, essentially a cappuccino. It is unfortunate the the artisan coffee shops now have to choose between a real macchiato and a starbuck's macchiato. I walked over and had a baguette from Grandaisy bakery. I then picked up provisions at Ruben's Empanadas, the salt cod, the tuna, and the argentinean beef. All wonderful, affordable flaky pockets. For dinner, the three off us tried Blue Ribbon Sushi. It was pricy but ultimately forgettable. We have had sushi only a half dozen times in NYC but have never been wowed. We were still hungry so we walked to Gray's Papaya!

Day Two
We met our friends Paul and Jason, with whom we were to spend our christmas dinner, to pick up provisions. Grabbed some Mud coffee, and stood in line at Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market to pick up the Kurabota Pork Shoulder, skin on, the centerpiece of the Christmas meal. Moved right on over to Murray's Cheese shop to pick up the cheeses, the salume, olives and butter.

We were meeting some other friends, Greg and Linda, from home for late dinner on the upper east side, so my wife and I stopped off at Blue Ribbon Brasserie for Oysters and wine to tie us over, but the bar was full. We ended up at a table and changed the strategy, sharing Steak Tartar, Sweetbreads, and the Fried chicken before catching a cab to the UES. I read on these boards that the fried chicken at Blue Ribbon Brasserie was good, and my wife agreed whole-heartedly.

The friends we were meeting own a pizza by the slice in Midtown Sacramento, Luigi's Slice, so naturally, we had pizza for christmas eve dinner. There were very few places open, so we wound up at Al Forno. Pizza margerita and Pepperoni Pizza. For 9pm on Christmas Eve, it hit the spot. The crust was thin, crisp and foldable. After dinner, we walked off both meals by walking through midtown.

Day Three
LES food tour - or as my family now calls it, the LES Food tour / Death March. This was christmas day and we followed RGR's tour almost verbatim, and had a wonderful time. Katz' Deli was fantastic as always, but the chocolate egg cream was the standout on the tour. I would recommend this tour to anyone. The Donut Plant was closed on Christmas Day, but every other place was open. We started at 11:00am and finished at Kossar's Bialys by 2:30. We had to cut our day short because we had Christmas dinner in Brooklyn at 4:30, and we had to get moving.

Day Four
Stayed in, ate left overs all morning and relaxed.

Day Five - 27th
This was museum day for us, the the day ended rather bittersweet. We met our friends Paul and Jason at Momofuku Ssam Bar at 5:30pm. We ate Empress Jonah Crab claws, Steamed buns, pork sausage with rice cake, braised pork spare ribs, grilled pork belly with razor clam kim chee. The only disappointing dish was the grilled pork belly. It seemed unfinished, with simple grill marks on what seemed steamed pork belly. It could have used some braising. The steamed buns were fantastic. Our niece brought home two orders of steamed buns for late dinner. She absolutely loved them.

After this meal, we rested a bit, and got ready for our 9:15pm reservation at Le Bernardin, which has three michelin stars and we we wanted to give it a try. Let me say that the food was exceptional. Every course was tasty and memorable. What stood out were the broths - the calamari consomme, the nuoc mam broth, the Jerez vinaigrette. The fish quality was great, and the textures were interesting. There are a few negatives, but they have to do with service and not the food. We wanted a drink before we sat at the table, and we usually start our meals with Lillet Blonde, but Le Bernardin ran out. The next problem is that I ordered an Etude 2004 Deer Camp pinot noir, and the sommelier brought me the wrong vintage. I pointed this out to him and he challenged me. The next problem is that the waiter tried to make it especially clear that the salmon will be coming medium rare, and then went further to assume we wanted it well done. Perhaps we were there on a bad night, but we didn't expect these things from a 3 star.

Day Six
Went back to Local for coffee, black this time, no macchiato.
We toured Chelsea Market, had fantastic lobster rolls from The Lobster Place before catching our flight home.

Thanks to all on this board who guided us via their experiences. We appreciate all that difficult eating you went through...

Katz's Delicatessen
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Murray's Cheese
254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

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

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

Grandaisy Bakery
73 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

Blue Ribbon Brasserie
97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

Blue Ribbon Sushi
119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

The Lobster Place
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Al Forno
1484 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

Ruben's Empanadas
64 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038

Ottomanelli and Sons
285 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

Gray's Papaya
539 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018

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  1. We too spent a wonderful couple of days over Christmas with a the sparkly lights and the town so awake with happy faces. We too did the rounds of restaurants in between movies, operas and shows.
    Thanks for your food report.
    It was a fun read.

    1. Yes - a great read. Sounds like you sure did you fair share of eating! I'm going to have to try RGR's LES tour some day....

      1. Hey, Mr. C.,

        You actually ate Christmas dinner at 4:30 after finishing my tour at 2:30?!! I'm in awe! I guess since the Donut Plant was closed, you weren't quite full enough. lol

        In any event, thanks for the detailed account of all your eating experiences. I'm glad the three of you had a great time during your visit.

        P.S. Since you loved the egg cream, next time you are here, check out the one at Gem Spa, on 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl. Excellent!

        1. OMG....I thought I was gonna die when you shared what you ate at Ssam Bar and then "rested up for your 9:15 rezo at Bernadin". First I spit up my diet coke, then I couldn't stop laughing. THAT, my foodie friend, is the kind of excess I can respect.
          Now, that said, I have been known to wash down Katz's pastrami with a maple bacon donut. :)

          1. Thanks for a fun read, both your original post and the responses. I haven't been to Le Bernardin in years, but I keep reading so many good things on this board I may have to put it on my list (so many great restaurants that I can't afford to dine in every one of them).