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May 22, 2008 12:30 AM

Calling all Manhattan-ers in the know!

Hi all,

I absolutely love this website. I read it all the time and am always interested in the lively banter and different opinions on food and restaurants. If anyone ever needs advice on the best places to eat in Vancouver, Canada - give me a shout...I have lots of input!!

I'm writing this post to request your input on a few things. I am taking my boyfriend on a surprise trip to NYC on June 5th-June 8th. We are both foodies and absolutely love dining out. I have a pretty good idea of most of the places I'm going to take him....

Babbo's/Lupa for sure - he loves Italian and idolizes Mario Batali...I've read enough on CH to know which dishes to order and am really looking forward to the experience!

Ali Baba - My boyfriends' favorite place in the world to travel is Turkey, so this was a no-brainer.

For lunch I would definitely like to check out the Burger Joint and le Parker Meridien...and maybe Otto's.

I'm stumped on my third dinner....I would love to try Per Se (good luck getting a reservation!) but I think he would prefer something a little less...well...."fancy". I've checked out Chanterelle's website and Aerole's based on some feedback I've read here...but neither of them seem to fit what I'm looking for....

To give you an idea of what I'm thinking...his last trip to NYC included a trip to the Gramercy Tavern...and there he ate a meal so wonderful that he still, to this very day, raves about the quality of food and service. He claims it was by far the best meal and experience he has ever had - and that's saying a lot coming from him!

I've thought about taking him back there...but figured maybe I should try something new. We like all kinds of food. I'd really like to be blown away by the whole experience, without it being too stuffy. I'm looking for great food, excellent service, and a very cool vibe (but not too loud or nightclubby). Does that make sense?? I'm hoping to ask you the following:

1. What do you think of my choices so far?
2. What other restaurant would you recommend for our third night there? (We'll be there for Thurs/Fri/Sat evenings...and I haven't given much thought to which restaurants on which night....
3. Any other great lunch suggestions?
4. Where should we have a fabulous brunch on Sunday? (I can't believe I just wrote "fabulous"...)

Finally...although I may be in trouble for asking this....I'm trying to decide on a hotel...and have looked at The Mercer, 60 Thomspon, Gainsevoort, The Bowery, The London, SoHo Grand and the Gramercy Park...I know they are all different and all in different parts of town...we walk EVERYWHERE so I'm not overly concerned with location....though I do really like SoHo and the MeatPacking district....any hotel input would be SO appreciated! (I'm struggling more with this choice!) Sorry for asking that question on CH....but I know you guys are experts in your city!

Thanks so much in advance...I so LOVE your city and cannot wait to make another trip there!

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  1. ...hi again...forgot to add that it's his 40th birthday (for whatever that's worth)...and no, I'm not expecting balloons or free food...just thought I'd give you a little more info about our trip! :o)

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartini

      I would try emp for you dinner. I like emp more than grammercy.

      Maybe something like Momofuku Ko for your other restaurant -- if you can get a res...

      Gotta have a pastrami sandwich at katz's for lunch. Going further than that I would look up RGR's LES tour. If you love to walk and eat (a lot), this is the way to go.

    2. For lunch, I do highly recommend Jean Georges (the main dining room, NOT Nougatine). Great service and exceptional food for a fraction of the cost of dinner. It's $28 for two courses, $12 for an additional course and $8 for dessert. I absolutely love it!

      If you want something less fancy, I do like the Little Owl very much. I went there for lunch only since I have a relatively difficult time getting there for dinner but I do like their food very much.

      Bar Boulud is a good choice for lunch also. It's considered the most casual of all of his restaurants with good charcuterie and I remember their sandwiches look very tempting but I didn't get to try it.

      And I do second the Eleven Madison Park suggestion - the crown jewel of Danny Meyer's restaurant empire. Or you can eat at Mia Dona for very good, casual, intensely flavored, Greek-infused food.


      4 Replies
      1. re: chocokitty

        I totally second JG's lunch at the Trump hotel. It is the best lunch deal you can get in Manhattan. (Note: Avoid the Nougatine room which is right next door) Just note that it is only available M-F so you should plan according.

        If you are indeed hitting JG, then you can skip Perry St which is a less stellar branch of JG.

        For brunch (assuming you do hit JG for lunch), you can try Perilla and Little Owl then, as Tina suggested. Eleven Madison Park's gourmand menu will be perfect for your third night's dinner.

        1. re: kobetobiko

          You should make reservations and take note of the dress code if you plan to visit J-G for lunch, BTW.

          I love GT (no shame in going back, did he find there when Michael Anthony was chef? If you like seasonal produce, he is great at it and the spring and summer vegetables will get lots of play on the menu) but also love EMP. They are very different animals. Note that the EMP Gourmand menu is a marathon of eating! They had to practically wheel me out afterwards.

          1. re: kobetobiko

            IMO the brunch at Perry St. is superior to those at Perilla and Little Owl. I love Perilla for dinner but found their brunch disappointing. No harm in going to Perry St. even if you have lunch at JG. Though they are under the same ownership, the menus are different.

            1. re: rrems

              I think the menu at Perry St. is similar rto JG (it literally is a towned down version, which is ok, but inconsistent execution is the problem) but inferior. That's why I said if OP is going to JG, there is no need to go to Perry St and should try something diferent. I personally think that it is redundant to do JG twice with the worse one coming after the best one. If OP can't go to JG, then by all means go to Perry St.

        2. For Sunday brunch, go to Perry St. Superb food and the best lunch bargain in Manhattan. For one of your dinners I recommend Degustation. It is a unique experience. Perilla is another casual spot with great food, and Bar Blanc is upscale but casual and trendy. I'd skip Otto, but do try to get into Babbo or Lupa. If you haven't reserved them you can try doing a walk-in. For the other places, you can probably still reserve, but don't wait much longer.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rrems

            Second Degustation - it's amazing. One of my faves in the city and INCREDIBLY cheap for the quality of the food. Also a very cool vibe and a unique setup. JG is wonderful for lunch and a great bargain. Babbo is a must.

            For Sunday brunch, I recommend Norma's (for over-the-top, ridiculously sweet and enormous waffles, french toast, etc). Aquavit is also supposed to have an AMAZING spread on Sundays - it's a buffet for $48 pp. I've not been, but I had a great dinner there a couple of weeks ago and can highly recommend the restaurant in general.

          2. China Grille for lunch is great.

            1. If you get into Babbo, I'd skip Otto and do something completely different.

              Another 'hounds trip itinerary (incl. Babbo walk-in strategizing) that includes Babbo, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Degustation, etc.:

              Best breakfasts/brunches in Manhattan:

              Here's a recent thread about quick take out / snack places:

              Make sure you check out RGR's LES Noshing Tour too: