Where should I eat alone my last night?
I'll be visiting New York alone for 4 nights, and I've got a question about restaurants with "bar seating" (this is a new concept for me)...I do NOT want to eat at a bar where there are crowds of people standing in back of me having their drinks. So how can I tell when I read about a restaurant that has "bar seating" whether it will be like that, or whether it is exclusively a food bar?
Let me tell you my tentative plans so far and ask for help...
I'm arriving and just will grab a slice of pizza the first night.
The next day I'm planning on UES museums - the Frick, the Met, and I'll be going to The Boathouse in Central Park for lunch.
I need dinner in the theatre district/close to my hotel (46th b/w 7th and 8th). I don't want a huge meal that night because I'll have had a pretty big lunch - I was thinking of Akdeniz near my hotel, since I love middle eastern food, but have only had the "fast food" variety - hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, etc...thought this would be a step up from that? Play tickets at 8.
Next day I have a matinee, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the morning, either go downtown or over to Grand Central to look around, will just grab a quick meal either of those places. Matinee at 2.
That night is my splurge, and I want to go to L'Atelier if I can get a res (I probably can) - here I DO want to sit at the bar.
My last night is where I need your help. I'm going to the Yankess game at 1 pm, will eat hot dogs and junk there.
I DO want another really, really nice meal...and I don't mind sitting at a "bar" again, but again I want it to be for food only, not crowds of people standing behind me. I was thinking either Picholine (I do fit their older demographic :) or EMP. They both have "bar" menus (I believe, I've looked at so many restaurants and menus my head is spinning).
Do you think I'd be disappointed in either of them after going to Atelier the night before? The reason I don't want to go to Atelier my last night is twofold - I plan on going all out there, having the huge tasting menu and wine, and it is my last night and I want to be able to get up in time for my very early flight home without a food and drink hangover. Also, I think it's easier to get a 6pm (first) reservation there, which I can easily do after my matinee, but just in case the Yankess game goes really long (and they're playing the Red Sox for the very last time in old Yankee Stadium) I want to be able to stay to the very end no matter how many innings, how long the game goes, and not worry about rushing back for an early dinner reservation.
Is this all TMI?
So, where can I go for my very last night, that will be great food in a great atmosphere? I don't want Italian or Asian, I can get that at home, I want the creativity of a great chef. Preferably a New York one (I know JR is not). I can't get a lot of luxury ingredients where I live (foie gras, etc.) so I really want to indulge in that way.
Akdeniz is a great, inexpensive choice, Eujeanie, and I don't think you will feel uncomfortable eating there alone. My favorites on that menu are the Turkish grilled "meatball" entree (they're really more like flattened meat patties) and the hunkar begendi. Zucchini pancakes are also pretty good, if greasy. The only really weak point: Wine selections by the glass are not very good.
For your last night, consider Bar Boulud, right across from Lincoln Center. There's a communal table, if you are interested in that, as well as bar seating. All of the charcuterie are excellent (the pates, especially). You could create your own tasting menu and order several of them. There are a lot of good wines by the glass, as well. All in all, it's a great setup for solo dining.
I guess the hottest dining experience at a bar right now is Momofuku Ko if you can score a reservation (kind of like winning the lottery).
My personal choice would be Degustation - which is all bar seating tapas inspired cuisine. Excellent food and great PQR.
Otherwise I would suggest a really good sushi bar splurge, though you specified no Asian. Are you sure you can get sushi equivalent to Yasuda et.al. at home?