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5 days in NYC - a review

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First of all, thank you to the many chowhounders who responded to my questions on this board about where to eat in NYC. We had a great time and we will be sure to be back!

Day 1 - after arriving 1 hr late at Newark (this airport seems disorganized) we finally made it to our b&b in Tribeca. First order after showering and unpacking was to hit Wall Street and the NY Stock exchange (my husband is a financial planner) and then see Ground Zero. It took very little time to walk there. After that I wanted a snack so we went to Crumbs bakery to try some cupcakes. We bought a red velvet and a Reeses Peanut Butter. We took these back to the b&b and promptly devoured the red velvet. It was good but I've made better cupcakes at home (same opinion of the Reeses, which we ate the next day).

Dinner that night was at Sel et Poivre - it was the wedding rehearsal dinner so we didn't have a choice. I had the steak frites which were dissapointing, as was the duck pate. Dessert was a chocolate terrine which was good. I wouldn't eat here again though.

Day 2 - After our breakfast at the b&b (self catering which was ok...we were too busy to have long breakfasts) we hit the Empire State building, Grand Central station (grabbed a bagel from the food court and a slice of Juniors cheesecake) did a Circle line cruise (ate cheesecake on cruise - it was good but not WOW). Then headed over to the LES to do RGR's walking tour. First stop was Katz' for lunch. and....the pastrami sandwich, was good. but not worth the $15 they charged us! We wouldn't go back, my husband also thought the place was divey. Next was a bagel with lox from Russes and Daughters (had this the next day...was very good). Then to the knish place (enjoyed the potato knish) and then to the Egg cream place. It was the only stop we missed...when we got there there were 6 people ahead of us, a guy arguing with the woman behind the counter about his fries, and she turned to the rest of us, gave us all a dirty look and said "I have another customer before ALL OF YOU so you'll have to wait." my husband did not take kindly to this and said "I"m not waiting for an egg cream" so we left.

Then to the Donut plant for a Tres Leches and Blackout donut (both yum) and picked up some bialy's at Kossars. Then we did Guss' pickles and finished at Il Labratorio Gelato - which I have to say was dissapointing to me - perhaps I am spoiled with the gelato places in Toronto and the fact that in New York you have to queue for EVERYTHING and service is very slow was a little bit of a shock for us. It was good but not worth what they were charging.

It was a good thing we ate all this food because in the evening we were off to the wedding and I kid you not, we did not get our meal until 10:45pm (reception was at The Boathouse in Central park). There were a few appetizers floating around from 8pm to 9pm but not that many. The food was dissapointing at the Boathouse - tasteless fillet mignion and too intense goat "cheesecake" for an appetizer. dessert was lemon meringue tart which looked better than it tasted.

Day 3

We started the morning off at The Met (which was awesome) and ate at the cafeteria in the basement, which was ok (the salad bar was nice). After we could do all we could take at The Met we headed back to the B&B for a nap. Woke up and headed over to Babbo for dinner. I was glad I have tried it but not sure I would go back. First of all, they seated us 20 minutes AFTER our reservation time. Secondly, the pasta tasting menu had a few dissapointing notes. The first two courses were brilliant, but the mushroom pasta tasted just OK, and pasta pyramids filled with braised beef were not to our liking. The papparadelle was good as was the dessert (OMG polenta citrus cake with olive oil gelato - to DIE for). It's a LOT of food so come hungry...we were so stuffed we could roll back home. Great experience but I am wondering if nothing in New York goes on time....

Day 4

Had a bit of a sleep in before hitting the MOMA. Unfortunately, there was a huge parade that day and we had to detour a bit to get there. Also our plans to eat lunch at The Modern were thwarted due to the fact that we couldn't even leave the MOMA due to all the people standing outside due to the parade (we tried searching for a way to get there from the inside but we couldn't find a connection). So we had to eat at the cafe there, which wasn't horrible but not great either.

After the MOMA we stopped in to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Chinatown was a complete zoo! The ice cream was well worth the stop though...I had black sesame and my husband had pineapple which was awesome. Then we went back to the b&b to change for the theatre. We had dinner at Marsailles (very very good, thanks for the suggestions on this one) and saw Avenue Q which was really funny. After the theatre we stopped at Joe's pizza for a slice (again, thought this was a bit hyped up and the line was long).

Day 5

Packed up our stuff and headed to the Natural History Museum. Had lunch at Isabella's (another excellent Chow recommendation) and then hit the Shake Shack for a burger in the late afternoon. The line wasn't bad at all...I think from the time we stepped into line to when we were eating was a 1/2 hr total. My husband still balked (he hates lines) but I told him to be patient. And....that is a darn fine burger. I would go back if the line wasn't too long....not sure if it would be worth waiting an hour for but it was very tasty.

Went back for a final stop at Zuckers for bagel and cream cheese to eat at the airport and here's a hint...go at closing time and they will give you free bagels. The man packed us off with two dozen...of course I couldn't fit them all in my carry on bag so I took 4 and gave the rest to the b&b lady who was very happy about her bagel delivery.

All in all we had a great time in New York. Lessons learned:

1) nothing is on time in New York
2) you have to line up for everything
3) New Yorkers are patient - contrary to popular belief.
4) the Shake shack is worth the wait
5) people will try to rip you off if they think you're a tourist. So don't be obvious!
6) Newark airport sucks.

We'll be back...there were so many great restaurants we couldn't try due to the wedding stuff we had to attend. Thanks all chowhounders...we loved NY!

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  1. Thanks for the great report! Personally, I think there are better places for gelato than Il Lab. Il Lab is good, but their gelato is really too cold and hard. It helps to be patient and wait for it soften up a bit, but I have problems doing so. If you're here in NY next time, you may want to give Grom a try.

    Katz is a dive, but it's all part of the charm. And I love the Tres Leches and Blackout donut from Donut Plant -- and I'm not a donut lover. Those two are a good combo because the tres leches is very sweet. It balances the blackout very nicely.

    And I also agree with you that Joe's is hyped up, not worthy as a destination-spot, especially when there's a long line. I find Bleecker Street Pizza nearby to be much better.

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip. Look forward to reading your reports next time you're in town!

    1. Your list at the end is hilarious! Re: nothing being on time, you should see the MTA on the weekends! Also, nothing is on time in NY because everybody is always running late. :)

      I believe you can get into The Modern (restaurant) from MOMA itself, but it's a bit of a roundabout way (ask for help, the staff are very helpful).

      I was at Il Lab this weekend and it was quite good, especially the fruit flavors.

      Sorry you weren't wow'd at Babbo -- I've never had the pasta tasting menu as all of the dishes I LOVE aren't on it.

      Glad you had a great time, and learned some funny lessons on the way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        oh Babbo was very good...we are still talking about the beet ravioli (2nd course) and how awesome it was but just not sure if we'd go back on our next trip. Too many other wonderful places to try!

      2. Ha ha. Love your report. Great word pictures - I can imagine seeing you scurrying about.
        Reminds me of a Damon Runyon story. You could call it "Minty Does New York".
        Saying something like "not great" at the end of each experience is a terrific touch, as is the final words after all your hassles: "We loved NY".