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Apr 22, 2008 11:40 AM

Manhattan for 2, would like some suggestions.

Hello from the Toronto board :)

I'm heading back to Manhattan mid may and wanted to get an update on what the local chowhounders recommend there. Basically suggestions for 2 people in their mid 20s who enjoy the culinary scene a lot.

Our itinerary already includes;

Michael London Foods
Brunch (once or twice) at Le Pain Quotidien
Burger and Cupcake
Billy's Bakery
Dinner at Ramsay's London
Dinner at Babbo
A visit to places like Magnolia, buttercup (I'm big on cupcakes, having covered the Toronto scene heavily)

We're looking for cozy bakeries and coffee shops, martini bars, restaurants, pretty much anything food related. It's hard to see gauge what's popular by reading dozens and dozens of threads. Please help!

btw, we're staying next to the London, so 6th and 54th, but we're pretty adept at using the subway.

Thanks :)


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  1. "Michael London Foods"? I think you mean Mitchel London? And I think for Burger and Cupcake you mean Burgers and Cupcakes in Chelsea.

    And I hope you have your Babbo reservation already!

    Le Pain Quotidien is a chain, I think you might want to do something more New York-y for brunch. Suggestions here:

    Cupcakes, I'd do Grey Dog Coffee, 'wichcraft, Sage (available in Dean and Deluca), Two Little Red Hens, Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I'd skip Magnolia (too sweet frosting), Cupcake Cafe/Casa Cupcake (dry cake, buttercream frosting is too rich), and Babycakes (subpar, vegan).

    There are not a whole lot of cozy bakeries and coffee shops where you can lounge around on comfy couches, due to the high rents in Manhattan, space constraints, etc. Many places have very limited seating, and what seating there is, is very crammed. But if you can provide more specifics, we can certainly recommend some good places to grab a pastry or cup of joe. See also:

    If you like speakeasy style cocktail lounges, make a reservation at PDT. Or drop into Death & Co, Pegu Club, the downstairs lounge at Tailor, the Flatiron Lounge, maybe Eletarria or Angel's Share...there are many higher end cocktail bars in NYC these days, with small plate/nibbles, some with "no standing" rules, and $12 custom, house-made drinks.

    If you are interested in high end dining, I suggest you also look into some of the restaurants under the empires of Daniel Bouloud, Danny Meyer, Jean-Gorges is a good search tool.

    Is it your first time in NY? Many "only in NY" suggestions here:

    Two Little Red Hens
    1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

    Billy's Bakery
    184 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    60 E 8th St, New York, NY 10003

    Buttercup Bake Shop
    973 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

    Sugar Sweet Sunshine
    126 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

    Grey Dog Coffee
    33 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

    Mitchel London Foods
    22 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065

    Burgers & Cupcakes
    458 9th Ave, New York, NY 10018

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn


      Suresh says they are "heading back to Manhattan," and they're "pretty adept at using the subway." So, obviously, not their first visit. Nevertheless, as always, you have provided some great suggestions.

      I highly recommend Madeleine Patisserie, on 23rd St., b/t 6th & 7th Avs. Fabulous macarons, pastries, croissants, quiches, etc. They recently moved to bigger digs and are currently working on interior renovations that will provide more seating than they have now and had in their previous location.

      1. re: RGR

        I agree - Madeleine is wonderful, and La Bergamote is great too. I'd skip Le Pain Quotidien - maybe hit Shake Shack for an early lunch, or Stand for a pretty good burger and an amazing toasted marshmallow shake.

        1. re: RGR

          Oops! I was so focused on the list/itinerary I missed that part about making their way back to Manhattan.

          As for Madeleine Patisserie, I stopped in the other day, and one sad effect of the ongoing renovations was the temperature! It was very stuffy and uncomfortable inside which makes me quite sad. The seating has also been reduced to a single communal table, and another table that seats only two. The benches are still outside, though. I recommend the specialities of macarons and madeleines, there, though I still think their macarons are too cold/moist from sitting in the refrigerated case. At $2.50 each, they should be less soggy on the inside!

          1. re: kathryn

            Totally agree with the macarons being too cold. You don't get optimum flavor and texture.

            I would take the macarons and walk (VERY LEISURELY) to Madison Square Park to enjoy them. Hopefully they would be at room temperature by then.

            1. re: kathryn

              True, there isn't much seating right now, but that should change once the renovations are completed. To be honest, the two times we've been to the new location, we took all our purchases home. Thus, by the time we ate the macarons, they were neither too cold nor soggy.

              I highly recommend the quiches. We've tried two: the smoked salmon with dill and the onion with Canadian bacon. Both were seriously delicious! And the tarts (this time it was the blueberry): Outstanding!

              1. re: kathryn

                So much information. Thanks Kathryn and everyone else.

                I only had one reason to go to Magnolia and le pain....basically because I wanted to see how the cupcakery compared to all the new ones that we have profiled here in Toronto,
                and for le pain, well one just opened in Toronto and it's pretty bad (the ones in LA were very good) I just wanted to see how the NYC ones were.

                but you guys are right, I'll skip those.

                I'll stick with the other cupcakeries you mentioned, and note down all the suggestions below.

                Thanks for all the suggestions so far :)

          2. Burger and Cupcakes in Chelsea has been closed for a while. Stay away from Magnolia, that place is no good. Cake is dry. At least for cupcakes. If you must, they have great banana pudding.

            I would not recomment Le Pain for Brunch maybe for a snack at their takeout counter. Not a particularly interesting brunch menu. Loads of bread and more bread. Kathryn's suggestions on this topic are very helpful.

            Adding to the bar/cocktail lounge suggestions, B Flat in Tribeca is in a similar vein and very low key. Little Branch in the west village also. I really like Billys in Chelsea. Also check out the red velvet at Amy's bread.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bussy26

              "Stay away from Magnolia, that place is no good. Cake is dry."

              Yes, I highly agree. Can't stand that stuff. But Kathryn brought up a great point in another thread :

              "For a true NY experience, though, you'd have to go stand in line at Magnolia Bakery, eh? Just to see what all the fuss is about. Although if you wanna act like a native, you should walk past the line, sneer, and go then get a cupcake elsewhere. :)"

            2. I very much agree with adding soemthing for brunch besdies Pain Quotidien, which my wife enjoys, but she usually only gets me to go when dragged.

              If you wanted a New York only experience, jump on the subway, take the F from jsut south of 54th and 6th, to Delancy St. and go into the Essex St. Market. In the southwest corner of the market is Shopsins, reformed from former larger quarters. IMO, Kenny Shopsin is among the world's greatest short order cooks. Others may disagree. but few people are capable of cooking the same quality of food, and of such variety, in such a tiny space. Don't be dressed up, and be ready to hear kenny spout a few expletives.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Captain

                Ah, Shopsin's. Note that the restaurant is closed on Sundays (along with the rest of Essex Street Market). The menu is very long (and it used to be even longer before they moved into the current space). No copying. No cell phones. No parties larger than four! And whatever you think of the name, the slutty cakes are very nice.

                1. re: kathryn

                  I believe they are also closed on Mondays - or at least, they were the Monday I was there.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Ah, you're right. The web site says open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9am to 3pm.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Kenny Shopsin will probably never name his dishes to make them sound appealing. "Blisters on My Sisters" sounds awful, but is a favorites for every one I know who has tried any version. While the names of the "Sneaky Pete" and "Juan Flop" do not tell you much, both taste great.

                      I did not know they were closed on Mondays, thanks for the info.

              2. I just wrote a review of an East Village restaurant called Degustation, which is perfect for 2 people and served some of the best food I've had in the city in recent memory.

                1. I would get rid of the brunch at Le Pain Q and do brunch elsewhere like Prune. And if you like cozy bakeries, you may want to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and head out to Almondine Bakery on the Brooklyn side. Jacques-Torres chocolate shop is also right across the street from there. And to get the most chow bang out of your time, you've got Grimaldi's NY pizza around the area as well (though many people on this board don't like it, I think it's decent for what it is) and Brooklyn Ice cream Factory -- though I would save my sweet tooth for Almondine and Jacques Torres.

                  And if you're near Billy's, you may want to drop by Chelsea Market (very close). There you'll find even more cupcake shops and a couple of specialty shops. Kind of reminiscent of St. Lawrence market but on a much, much, much smaller scale.