Coming to town, but a little overwhelmed!...
Hi all, I'll be in NYC for 4 days starting Thursday Jan 27th, staying in Parkslope...basically, there are so many choices I'm having a hard time making any! I have a pretty good list of many cheap local spots, any more faves welcome, but want to hit one nicer place (but not too pricey, ie: Del Posto, Daniel, etc. are out this time...).. in Manhattan, lower is better but if it's that good I'll get there, will be myself and one other...thanks in advance!
Hey all, I'm back in Toronto and really had a great trip, definatly just the first of many to come...Thank you for all your tips and guidance.
So, upon arrival I went straight to Casa Mono for a 1pm-ish lunch, sat at the bar, small place was 2/3 full and had a nice buzz about it, they brought a delicious variety of small olives in a nicely flavoured oil with crusty bread as I checked out the menu, to start I had a the deep fried pumpkin and goat cheese balls, plentiful and incredible, as a main a skewer of duck hearts on top of radishes and lentils dressed with a vinigrette, one of the waiters said it was a combination with duck testicles that day but it all appeared to be the same meats to me, it was very good, a first for me and a dish I will look for in the future -- service was friendly and well paced, with a Spanish beer & tip came to around $34 (another cool thing...they have a leg of pruscuitto on a stand on the bar that they shave with a large knife as it's ordered, next time...)
...Dinner, my cousin took me to a place he frequents, called Gradisca, mama who usually is there wasn't, since she hand makes all items on th emenu they were out of a few things, no big deal, plenty of choices, we shared an app of Peccerino brulee -- was pretty good, I had the lobster canalloni in a seafood cream sauce, was light and delicious, since dinner was early it was enough for me, we shared a dessert, creme brulee as recommended by they waiter, nothing special but ok, I was a little brulee'd out perhaps. A note on the service, it was attentive and well rehearsed as we had 3 or so different guys tending our table over the course of the meal, they kept trying to take our app when it was 3/4 or so done which I at first I was off-put by, then when our mains arrived I realised they had been at the pass for longer than planned, they didn't want to bring out mains before previous course was cleared, since I just met up with my cousin and his gf I guess we might have been a little slow with all the talk, but i hadn't thought so...anyway, not a bad spot, the food was good, with a bottle of white I think it came in at around $180 for us 3, then over Brooklyn for a drink at my cousin's local Cafe Steinhof, which had nice selection of imported beers at resonalble prices, 6-ish a pint...
The next late morning I ventured to Blue Ribbon bakery, was more of a restaurant than I though, so I just had a great, albiet $5, double americano at the bar and planned my lower Manhattan walk, downstairs by the WC is the bakey, warm and bursting with fresh bread aromas, I kinda wanted to hang down there for a bit! Prior to the walk I went to a shop on 6th and was going to grab a slice from Ray's but came across Papaya Dog first and after swearing to having seen it heralded by Bourdain on TV (this should've been the tip off) I grabbed a special as a snack, 2 dogs all dressed, nothing special about these, and a 16oz undrinkable strawberry banana juice, pretty bad, oh well, all part of the tour, I guess if anything was gonna suck the 3 dollar snack would be the choice...early afternoon I rolled through Chinatown I paused at the packed Excellent Dumpling House, awsome crispy fried pork and chive dumplings, quick in and out, then a cannoli and another outstanding double Americano at Caffe Roma, what a great neighbourhood, I didn't make it back in the evening but will next time, great quality meats and antipasti items at some of the shops I popped in...
...around dinner I trekked up to Madison Park, for the one and only Shake Shack, heaters weren't on yet but it was fine out to scarf a cheeseburger and shake, I thought it was great, a simple homemade burger cooked to order served in a park in a bag, darn I meant to get a t-shirt! Went out in Manhattan that night, Bavarian Beer Bar, great space, dimly lit, not too packed and a variety of little rooms to haunt, had great import selection but $6 for a 1/2 pint was a bit much, but the bar snack french fries were awsome and nicely presented in a little paper cone on a wooden stand...
...the next morning, 10-ish, we went for a local cheap breakie at The Donut (??) in Park Slope, had high hopes for the Slope Burger, doesn't really deserve a mention I guess but, hey, that's what I ate...went into some great small Italian shops in the area, OMG! fresh mozza! Outstanding, small marinated knots or large balls, beautiful...went to Smiling Pizza for old school brooklyn slices, $2, was fun -- I'm even wearing the shirt right now, but was just a cheap slice, I tried to go to Peppino's which was much nicer but it was closed, it and Da Farra's are on the list for next time...we went to a shop om 5th that had like a billion beers and large jugs you can pay a deposit and then keep refilling with you favourtite of a choice of ten or so to take home, pretty cool...Brooklyn Pennant ale, and a few from Blue Point brewery were good.
Dinner that night was at the much anticipated Momofuku Ssam Bar, we 3 arrived at 9pm and were seated at the end of the long bar in about 20 min's despite being told it would be 45 for a table. The service was excellent, nice guy behind the bar/waiter and the runners knew what they were delivering. The food was great, all over the map to say the least, but all well handled and nicely presented...we had the Diver Sea Scallops with lychee, Steamed buns with pork belly, SOOOO delicious! Smoked ham, served like thin proscuitto slices with crusty bread and (my guess) a espresso aioli --last scraps were fought over, Clay pot pork short ribs, fall off the bone, large portion and the sauce was amazing, could've used some bread to eat it all up...then the chicken special, a small bird deboned and rolled, sliced and served over a cauliflower puree with a crispy leg on the side, this was perfectly executed and huge but I was surprised at how ordinary it was based on the tangents the meal had taken so far --and we didn't even get into offal or fish mains, we were stuffed after this, so sadly I couldn't get the mushroom salad, brussel sprouts, hanger steak or the snails that other diners around us had and said were great --next time...so, this and a nice bottle of gewertzaminer was a steal at $175 with 25% tip! Would certainly go back, and want to try the other location, it's smaller and more take-out-like (I think??) + not open til' 2am like this one is supposed to be...after we went to another bar with tons of beer selection, Irish something?? They had these $2 mini-burgers that looked great, was full still so I didn't go there...
...the following morning we went to Toto for brunch in Brooklyn, great space and a great menu, the caesar was awfully boozy (hey! I'm on vacation!) and overly black peppery for my taste, but the eggs with marinara sauce (I think) over chewy but crisp flat bread was great, looked as though the atmosphere in the evening there would be really nice...
...and I think that is everything, whew! So, I didn't go everywhere but thanks for all the suggestions I have a large list waiting to be exploited as soon as I can come back...
PS: Looks like there is an intersting new spot opening up in Park Slope called Beer Table, mostly antipasti like offerings for food and then a carefully selected beer list...simillair to Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver if anyone knows it...
Cheers...back to my real life!
I always head to NYC with a list of places and I never make it to half of them. It's good to have a list of places you can count on...don't get me wrong. But nothing beats walking through town and letting you eyes and nose make the decision for you.
That being said, if you plan to do a little "thrift" shopping on Canal Street try The Excellent Dumpling House (just south of Canal on Lafayette). Fantastic food at good prices (although a little greasy). But don't get too comfortable. They're always busy and they're all about turning tables.
About how much do you want to spend for "nicer"? That would help with making suggestions, as well as an idea of some of the cheaper spots you're planning to check out. Any particular cuisines that you might not find in Ontario (Toronto?)?
This was one of the places I was thinking of suggesting:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47780... (Le Gigot)
In the $150 for 2 range (noting, probally a few pints each as opposed to a bottle of wine), here is my list so far...some things are listed because it was the best listing I could find around where I will be based,just so I have options...if anything is awful that I've listed please lemme know, I will post my impressions of all the places I get to try next week...really, I just want memorable food experiences, cheap/moderate whatever, if it's good I'm all for it...
Casa Mono (lunch)
bar Jamon (drinks & late snacks)
Blue Ribbon Sushi (Brooklyn one probally)
Lobo (fried chicken & waffles brunch, just sounds so good!)
Di Fara's & Peppino's
Daisy Mae's (worth while bbq?,,something T.O. really lacks)
Jacks (fried chicken)
Trattoria Mulino (good canaloni? cheap?)
(west indian in Flatbush, any suggestions?)
Momofuko SSAM (eat-hangout-stay late)
Hotel Delmano (drinks only or food too?)
Al Dila (cheap Italian, worth while?)
High Steaks Cheese Steaks
Shake shack (burgers)
Fette Sau (bbq)
...thanks MMRuth, Le Gigot sounds like a good addition...I had Les Halles on my list but that's just because of AB, since I won't be throwing back pints and hitting the town with him after my meal, is there really any point?...though they do have an in house french butcher, good french food is pretty easy to come by...
I'd skip Les Halles, though some have posted about decent meals there - don't think you'd be missing anything. I love Casa Mono, but unless you are more restrained than we are, it isn't cheap - but we do usually have a nice bottle of wine and a glass of sherry as well - and we usually go for a late lunch and skip dinner. Worth going into for the pressed tuna with the duck eggs on potatoes. Always enjoy Shake Shack, and Stand is another good hamburger place if it is just too cold. Haven't tried any of the others - haven't heard of some of them. You might want to try posting on the Outer Boroughs board for those places, if you haven't already.
I love a lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar - about $25 and I think they have a pretty good beer selection. Also great fried oysters.
I'll put my thinking cap on for other suggestions.
Edit - Oh - and Stand has loads of micro brews on tap.
Read reviews of Les Halles here before going. I've never been, but reading the reviews here, I've been far from tempted. Lackluster food, poor service, loud/cramped setting seems the dominant experience.
For your nicer options at that price range, I'd suggest Momofuku Ssam and Yakitori Totto. For the latter, reserve in advance (and they only take reservations btwn 5:30 and 7 pm) as it's very small. For casual, absolutely, do go to Di Fara's and Shake Shack, both great (in very different ways).
Daisy May's (note spelling) is definitely worth the trek to the far, far west side. In my view, *the* best ribs of the 'cue spots I've tried.
You might also want to check out Hill Country for Texas-style bbq, especially the brisket. Fatty is best.
For cheesesteaks, my pick is Carl's.
I'm a weather weenie, so Shake Shack is not something I'd do in winter. But if you're willing to brave it, the burgers are excellent.
For an awesome burger indoors, Pamplona's chef/owner Alex Urena has created one composed of beef, suckling pig, and chorizo. In fact, all his Spanish-inspired cuisine is wonderful.
Re: Les Halles. You're right! No need to bother. Bourdain has not had anything to do with it for a long time, the food is sub-par, service sucks, the seating would make a sardine squirm, and the noise level is deafening.
You might want to consider fitting in my (in)famous Lower East Side eating "tour," which will have you walking the streets of this interesting, historic neighborhood while sampling foods that are emblematic of NYC. Here it is:
For opinions on the Brooklyn spots on your list, it's best to post on the Outer Boroughs board.
LES Food Excursion
For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup – though not mandatory, it is a tradition -- and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front, where it’s cash only. To pay by credit card, go to the counter at the rear where the salamis are sold. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.
When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.
After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.
Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.
When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).
Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.
Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. ( http://www.tenement.org
Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.
If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.
Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.
Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!
you should make sure to have a meal at Al Di La. i wouldn't say that it is cheap eats. it is a two star rated joint and is right up there with some of the best italian you will get in the city. i would also suggest that you put Franny's on the list. they are serving some of the best pizza in NYC.
you might also try Suba. it is one of the best new restaurants in the city and worth the trip.
Ooh, instead of Daisy Mae's, I'd go for Hill Country or RUB. Definitely better, imho. Both are in the 20s. And if you're out in Park Slope, Smoke Joint is close by in Fort Greene.
The pizza place in Park Slope might be Franny's. You can do a search about it in the Outer Boroughs. I liked it, but have heard complaints about the price.
For affordable Italian, Al Di La is great, as is the $25 prix fixe dinner at Tempo.
Second Momofuku Ssam, Yakitori Totto, and Crispo!
If you're a Bourdain fan, he seems to like Prune in the Lower East Side.
Good idea DE, nice lunch and a bar dinner sounds great, brilliant!...I'm coming down from Toronto, BBQ is attempted but not done well, after the rib fest I went to last summer I've seen the light, and I'm jones'n!!...thanks aswell for the Shake Shack point mahalan, if I'm near by and hungry I'll hit it but not worth a special trip I gather...