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Please help with my (long) random list of places to try

Here is a long list of places on my TO DO list. Is there memorable food at any of them?

Forget intralist comparisons, cost, ambiance, location, service, etc. Just good food.

Birdies-1st Ave
Mole-Allen Street
Carbone-W. 38th Street
Nomad-2nd Avenue
El Bocadito-Orchard Street
Estancia 460-Greenwich Street
Grayz-W. 54th Street
Resto-E. 29th Street
Insieme-7th Avenue
Anthos-W. 52nd Street
Perea-E. 20th Street
Chanto-7th Ave S.
Dona-E 52nd Street
Country-Madison Ave
Crema-W 17th Street
BLT Market-CPS

(BTW, some places might have closed, etc. It's a rough list)

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  1. well, i havent been to many on yr list but intent closed down nearly a year ago, so thats a start.

    1 Reply
    1. Resto has a good burger but the scene is very frat party. And Mole is quite good- the owner is lovely and the guac is worth the $$.

      1 Reply
      1. re: outerborolover

        Don't love the resto burger. Served on a generic supermarket bun that is often stale. Also, they won't cook it any way but medium well. I do like the hangover pasta for brunch though.

      2. I don't love the Resto burger either (I'd much rather go to Burger Joint), but the boyfriend loves it. I found the bun insidious and the meat just eh. The medium well they insist on cooking it to just makes it too try for my taste. Brunch at Resto is another matter though, and ESNY was right to point this out. We go there for brunch now primarily to mix and match breakfast dishes with holdovers from the dinner menu. Oh, and to drink delicious beer (they have a great beer list).

        I found the meal we had at Insieme late last fall pleasant enough. There was nothing at all wrong with it, but have you ever been somewhere, liked the meal, and yet still felt you didn't need to go back anytime soon? It was kind of like that, and lacked a sort of pop or spark to make it special enough to justify the prices.

        I will not be returning to BLT Market anytime soon. As I've written elsewhere on this site, I had a very disappointing (and very expensive) lunch there at the end of December. The food was completely unmemorable, especially the lamb sandwich. It could be that I ordered poorly, since the meals of my lunch companions looked better than mine, but I'm not really sure. Maybe dinner is a better bet at BLT Market.

        1 Reply
        1. re: slcorlis

          I would also say to go to Resto for brunch over dinner. It's much better.

        2. I would drop Country from your list. It's expensive and ordinary. So many better choices in the price range.

          1. I've been to Chanto (when it first opened) and it was great! Our friends that were with us said that they enjoyed it better than Nobu. The service was excellent and the chef even came out to meet us. I recommend.

            1 Reply
            1. re: brooke262

              What did you have there? Menu looks great.

            2. The only one on your list we've been to is Country, and that was the Cafe, not the formal restaurant. We had two dinners there. The first was excellent in all respect, the second, not so much, so we've not been inclined to rush back.

              The original Parea closed, so I presume the one on your list is its replacement, Kellari's Parea? I had thought about trying it, but after reading mixed reports about the owner's midtown spot, Kellari's Taverna, I've removed Parea from my "go to" list.

              2 Replies
              1. re: RGR

                Parea on East 20th. Has this closed?

                1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                  If you mean Parea, with Michael Symon (the new Iron Chef) as executive chef, yes, it closed during '06. Lasted about a year. The owners of Kellari's Taverna took over the space and re-opened as Kellari's Parea.


              2. Birdies - didn't get as far as actually trying the food, but whatever I saw on the tables next to us was scary enough to prompt us to get up and leave. The place smelled like a grease fire, which indicates they're letting the oil sit much longer then they should. Wasn't cheap either.

                1. Dona on E52 is also gone. Look for Dona Mia on E58 v. v. soon though.

                  haven't been to any of your others.

                  1. Grayz (if you ignore the price) has some very nice small plates, esp the foie gras millefeuille, wurst, and fried okra offerings.

                    Insieme (again if you ignore the price) is also pretty tasty, I think. I'm trying to figure out for myself whether I just dislike the lunch menu or whether it's really gone downhill since I last had dinner, there. There's a gorgeous appetizer on the dinner menu right now called beef in brodo. And there's a really nice side of cauliflower (possibly only served at lunch).

                    Anthos is a little hit or miss. The fish tartare starters are all good (i.e. yellowtail with crispy beets), but I don't find the entrees as interesting.

                    I'm hesitant to review BLT Market. I've been once, but was so distracted over lunch that it's hard to give an objective assessment of the food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cimui

                      Grayz rocked my face off, to be blunt. I went there for work, and thankfully didn't have to see the bill. We sat at the chef's table, which was in a little room by the kitchen. The chef came out to talk to us 4 or 5 times. Anyway, every course was completely amazing, and there were many. I wouldn't even know where to start explaining. It was all seasonal food with a lot of local meat, which I am all about. For a splurge- 4 stars.

                      1. re: Nancy816

                        I'm very envious! I didn't even know they had a chef's table. I'll have to put that on my gastronomical wish list (along with a full set of Le Creuset pots ... are you listening, Mom? :).

                        BTW, I really love the flat bread they serve as a bar nibble. Do you know what it is by any chance? Pappadum? It's similar in taste, but it's not quite the same...

                    2. Been to Crema twice - it rocked my world once and was great (but didn't rock my world) the other time. The staff is wonderful, and the food delicious. It's a nice alternative to, and equidistant from, either Rocking Horse (Chelsea) or Rosa Mexicano (Union Square).

                      1. Anthos is good, besides that, I would skip pretty much everything else, except a few that are cheap and I do not know of.
                        Grazy, food fine, very good but if you are going to pay that, there is better.
                        Same for BLT, though the food is nothing special but not terrible.
                        If you only care about food quality, there is better, assuming you do not care about the cost. There is better AND cheaper, actually and quite a bit.
                        Try Grayz(has small, VERY small plates) to sample if you have no care of value, go to Anthos. No BLT, no Resto, no Country.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gambit50

                          At one point, soon after it first opened, I felt the same way about Anthos as you. I haven't been to dinner in a while, but the lunch offerings have gotten progressively worse, to the point that I cringe when a friend or coworker asks to go. Service is also slow, unhappy, and indifferent. This is a great shame because I have loved (and do love) every other Psilakis restaurant I've tried.

                          Perhaps I am not looking in the right places on the menu, though. Are there any dishes you would suggest, in particular?

                          1. re: cimui

                            anthos reply Cimui chowhound
                            I will not refute your claim. I cannot be at every place within the very recent past. Not even on my short list of the only acceptable places to bother going to.
                            I will agree with you on the service for sure, especially at lunchtime.
                            I assume you have had the lamb burger? It has not disappointed, so far, except when they change the accompanying dressing(it was great at first, why change it?) And honestly, and this will sound like a reach but I promise you it is true, my lunch mate had one of the best pieces of fish I have had in Manhattan(maybe the best,yeah, it was that good). That was in the summer and it was a typically plain Greek roasting. If the fish were that good at the other Greek fish places, they might be worth attending.

                            This was probably some freak of nature in the quality of the fish. Of course, it was cooked properly, as well. I would not expect that again.
                            I recall sheep's milk ricotta dumplings, not good. Of course, that was an item people raved about in their haze.

                            Had various apps, all fine, though no mezze type. I forget if those are another "hit" over there but I don't consider them such at any restaurant.

                            So, I have not had everything on the menu but if a place can produce a meal that I find good or above, I put it on the list. The list is unfortunately short. Also, even better if I have been more than once. Consistency is nice, though it seems that attribute may or may not be the case here.

                            Note, I have not been to any other Psilakis joint. He is almost at the point of being able to serve any rubbish and it will be lapped up. Have to love people who go somewhere to associate with a name rather than to eat. I am not saying he is doing so but he can almost afford to.

                            For some reason, I have never been to Kefi. Supposedly, at least decent and it looks like good bang/buck for Manhttan. I think the waiting and worse, waiting with that crowd and in that 'hood will not be to my liking. If there are tons of unruly children, even worse.