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NYC - best, not too expensive, most interesting

Hi,
I'm visiting New York for a couple of days with my non-frum grandmother. She's picky, likes good food and not too expensive. We're visiting my aunt on UWS, but we don't have to eat up there. My aunt owns restaurants in Manhattan (non-kosher) so you can imagine why we might be a picky, foodie family. Any suggestions for dinner and breakfast/lunch spots would be great. We have Wednesday night, which ideally we'd eat closer to UWS, and then Thursday we're going to do stuff. I was thinking brunch at My Most Favorite?

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  1. Or lunch at Taam Tov, unless you really don't want meat.

    1. I guess what do you consider not too expensive - I have always enjoyed my meals at Mr. Broadway - also I would consider Le Marais or Abigaels 'no too expensive' particularly when comare to Prime Grill -

      2 Replies
      1. re: weinstein5

        I would highly suggest against Mr. Broadway, especially for foodie relatives. Some might appreciate the fact that their menu consists of basically every type of American Jewish cuisine - deli, Israeli, Chinese, sushi, American - but it leaves the place with no specialty or feeling. It's also overpriced, and their deli sandwiches are not good anyway. Its ambiance is, I would say, slightly better than that of a deli.

        1. re: downtownNYCjew

          Yes, Mr. Broadway is as rancid as its name.

      2. U Cafe on the Upper East Side is great for brunch and early dinner. My foodie, non-kosher relatives really liked it and they don't like any kosher restaurants. What about Levanas Pre Fixe on the West Side?

        2 Replies
        1. re: cappucino

          Le Marais is a good value, though it's not particularly interesting.

          Darna can be very good and isn't too expensive but it's inconsistent, especially with regards to service.

          As mentioned, Taam Tov lunch is fantastic, cheap and interesting.

          1. re: cappucino

            Levanas is closed for renovation until around April time!

            If you want a good place I hear Turquoise on the UES is a good bet. The food is good even according to non-kosher standards.

          2. While Taam Tov is great food, it might not be the place for your grandmother since she is in the business. The place can get packed with sweaty, smelly people during the lunch hours. Trust me, for someone in the city, I love the place, but I would not take someone there expecting a full high class eating establishment.

            I would go with Le Marias

            1 Reply
            1. re: azcohen

              I would not touch my most favorite as a restaurant. The cakes are good if that is all you want, but everything else is expensive and not very good for what you get. Pass

            2. I would nominate Blossom Cafe or Clubhouse Cafe. Blossom is a really nice vegan restaurant. The original is in Chelsea and is pretty pricey. There is a Blossom Cafe on the UWS that is less pricey (http://www.blossomcafe.com). I have only been to the Cafe on the UWS, and it's a really nice sit down restaurant. I was with a large party and so we ordered a lot of different things to share, and everything was excellent. If your family members are foodies, they might appreciate the things some NYC restaurants do with vegan foods, and it's definitely an interesting type of cuisine. Just make sure you're okay with the hashgacha on the restaurant (see http://www.kosher-ny.com/listings/235...), as he's not one of the mainstream ones.

              Clubhouse Cafe (http://clubhousecafe.net) is not as much of a bar/lounge as it might have strived to be, but it's a really nice dining experience and a nice place, and is not like most kosher dining experiences. The feeling of the place is very chic and not Jewy. Every dish I or fellow diners have ever tried is great, and the waiters are very helpful with explaining the dishes. It's more of a bar type of menu, with options such as sliders, chili, and salmon sandwiches. Just be warned that the amount of meat in the sandwiches is not huge, but they taste great, and you should have some of the appetizers anyway - the duck empanadas are great. (FYI, Clubhouse is owned by the same people that own Le Marais.

              )

              Le Marais is also a good choice, if you all like steak. Their steak is great (my non-Jewish coworker goes there regularly because he loves it so much) and is not too expensive, as kosher steak goes. Wolf & Lamb is great as well. Their steak is good too, but you might want to try one of their excellent sandwiches instead.

              For breakfast, you might want to stop into Magnolia Bakery on the UWS. It is a well known bakery (though I think the downtown location is older and better known), mostly for its cupcakes, and the UWS location recently got hashgacha. Other NYC cupcake places that have hashgacha are Crumbs and Buttercup Bakeshop.

              1 Reply
              1. re: downtownNYCjew

                Good post, though I disagree about Wolf & Lamb, which I find to be average.

              2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Abigail's. The lunch experience there is very different from dinner. The lunch menu is more interesting and significantly less expensive (in the $15 pp range) than dinner, and it's never very crowded or loud during lunchtime.

                1. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Abigael's, on 39th and Broadway. The lunch experience there is very different from dinner. The menu is interesting and not that expensive (in the $15 pp range), and the place is never too crowded or loud during lunchtime.

                  For dinner, it's a bit more expensive and the menu is not as imaginitive, but it's still quite good and one of the better meat restaurants in Manhattan.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LI Guy

                    But the service at Abigael's is so bad.

                  2. Though not inexpensive, I would go to Mike's Bistro, especially with a foodie. The food is very good and you don't have to spend a mint, though admitedly it is not cheap. Head and shoulders above the kosher competition mentioned above. You can also check Mike's Pizzaria which is supposed to be very good though I have not been there yet.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SRG

                      Mike's Bistro is the best establishment to occupy its location so far, and I think its very good overall. The menu is more comparable to Levana than Prime Grill in the sort of things one finds. The price is certainly less than Prime Grill; PG is pretty darn good, and so is Mike's Bistro.

                      1. re: koshercyclist

                        I want to thank everyone who recommended Mike's Bistro. Based on our experience, it is a flat-out good restaurant. Service was excellent. The decor was a bit strange; I felt the lamps looked like soccer balls, and my mother didn't like the looks of the white rose on our table, which was in a combination of water and some kind of preservative jelly, and she had the staff remove it. But the service and food were the most important things.

                        For apps, my mother and godmother shared the "Handmade Gnocchi duck & chicken confit, roasted portobello mushrooms, fresh thyme, duck jus." I didn't get a taste, but they both really liked it. My father and I got individual portions of "Crispy Veal Sweetbreads english pea puree, fresh corn, marinated tomato, veal glace, mushrooms." I found them kind of salty and not as good as the amazing sweetbread dish I had at Degustation or the good sweetbread dish I had at lunch at Jean Georges, but the mushrooms really helped the dish.

                        However, mains were yet to come. Three of us ordered "Sautéed Duck Breast duck confit leg, sweet & sour red cabbage, yam fritters, cranberry port sauce." This was excellent! The yam fritters were delicious and an inspired element, the duck breast was nicely cooked, and though the leg was a bit salty, that really didn't bother me much. The sauce was very nice, and the cabbage was a wonderful, upscale homage to Central/East European Jewish (and also non-Jewish) cuisine. Just a really good dish that pleased all of us.

                        My father got "Black Angus Rib Eye Fillet." Due to dietary restrictions, he cannot eat potatoes or green beans, and they were kind enough to substitute buckwheat pilaf with golden raisins. I tried a small slice of his rib eye, and it was excellent.

                        My mother, the birthday girl, was comped a slice of very good chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce that she shared with the table.

                        My godmother and I had a very good merlot-cab blend with the meal, which went very well with the duck. I had two glasses.

                        Our experience was so much better than what we've been having at Le Marais. I expect that we will return.

                        All menu descriptions frrom Mike's Bistro's website:

                        http://www.mikesbistro.com/index.php?...

                    2. I second the suggestion of Abigael's for lunch. The ambiance is really nice and the food is very good. Lunch is decently priced. Sit downstairs.

                      1. I recently ate at Turquoise and thought the food was great. Great abmiance, nice wait staff, and food came out hot and fresh. Could have lower prices, but not much to complain about. The presentation was beautiful. Would definitely go back

                        27 Replies
                        1. re: winniep466

                          What is Turquoise's forte? It's not clear to me from their menu, which is a bit eclectic. I'm generally suspicious of places that serve Artichokes A La Nicoise, Tandoori Chicken Skewers, and Maryland Style "Crab" Cakes on the same menu (my mother and I excluded Abigael's on the basis of excessive eclecticism), but I'm interested, anyway.

                          The other places I'm interested in are:

                          Tevere (but wow, Chicken Marsala for $31! I'm not ordering that) - they are serving a genuine, traditional Jewish cuisine. The menu isn't tremendously interesting per se, but if it's really good, it might be worth a splurge, given the circumstance.

                          Mike's Bistro interests me most of all. Have you been there? Or more to the point, have any of you been to both Mike's and Turquoise, so that you could compare the deliciousness of each establishment's food?

                          For the record, I used to like Le Marais but have found it mediocre and overpriced the last few times, and I never found Levana - another kosher restaurant that was highly touted by some - more than an overpriced 1-star restaurant (and the 1 star was mostly because of some excellent desserts).

                          My mother's birthday is coming up soon, and her best friend - my beloved godmother - is a Modern Orthodox woman who won't go to any restaurant which isn't kosher and shomer Shabbos. We love spending time with her but would really prefer to do so at a restaurant that is not just kosher but also celebratory - and one which really pleases us with delicious food. I hope you can help us out.

                          1. re: Pan

                            i havent been to turquoise, but will reiterate that mike's chefs table is incredible

                            1. re: shoelace

                              Thanks. Does it have to be the chef's table? Also, are there any other restaurants (kosher or treyf) you'd compare it to, in conception or deliciousness?

                              1. re: Pan

                                Have you considered either the Prime Grill or its sister restaurant Solo - I have never had a bad experience at PG and even though I have not eaten there the reviews I have heard of Solo are also rather good

                                1. re: weinstein5

                                  My mother excluded Prime Grill and Solo; I'm not sure exactly why. I guess the obvious thing to get at Prime Grill would be steak?

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    Yes - but their other dishes are quite good as well -

                                    1. re: weinstein5

                                      What have you liked there?

                                      1. re: Pan

                                        Personally I am a steak fan - but their sushi is excellent, from fellow diners I have sampled some of the fish dishes, the lamb suasage, duck - all were excellent but I always go for the steak -

                                        1. re: weinstein5

                                          I can't see my father going for sushi at a non-Japanese restaurant, but I appreciate all the recommendations.

                                          What's your opinion of Mike's Bistro?

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            that is a shame - I believe the sushi chef they snatched from one of the top sushi restaurants in manhattan - It to is very good but PG is my favorite -

                                2. re: Pan

                                  I love Mike's- we go often but haven't had the chef's table. The regular menu, however, is incredible. They also focus on seasonal items... which isn't the case with most kosher restaurants.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    it certainly doesnt have to be chefs table, but the chefs table is incredible, so if money isnt an issue, its somethign to be experienced, ill look at the menu later and see if i can make recomendations

                                    1. re: shoelace

                                      I vote for Mike's as well. We've had the chef's table, which is a selection of the dishes that Mike is known for' mushroom soup, beet salad, duck gnocchi, short ribs...although this might have changed since we've been there. It is my favorite restaurant in NYC, tho' I love Solo and Clubhouse as well.
                                      As for Turquoise...fish is their specialty...wasn't fond of the food, atmosphere or (negligible) service...

                                      1. re: DebbyT

                                        Clubhouse looks like another place my mother would eliminate because their influences are from several discrete parts of the world, but that said, what do you particularly like there? I appreciate not only your recommendations, but also the discommendation of Turquoise. My mother doesn't like fish, so that place is definitely out.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          Clubhouse serves an amazingly yummy pulled veal sandwich. It's small...lunchsized, but if the table shares a few appetizers, it makes a great meal.
                                          The chef and owner of Clubhouse/Le Marais are giving an onsite cooking class next Thursday thru Macy's deGustibus. I cannot wait!!!

                                3. re: Pan

                                  Tevere doesn't serve a traditional Jewish menu per se unless your idea of traditional Jewish is meat Italian. I think it's very traditional for Italian Jews, not so much for the rest of us. That being said, it is delicious.

                                  1. re: craigcep

                                    Tevere serves good Italian food. Menu has a lot of veal. I find it to be a little stuffy and the service snotty. It's a small place and is INSANELY crowded on Thurs nights

                                  2. re: Pan

                                    Despite a menu that seems a bit scattered, Turquoise's forte is fish. Few of the other listed options offer as varied preparations of really fresh fish. In my experience, the quality at Tevere has gone so far downhill in recent years, I would exclude it from consideration even though I love Italian cuisine.

                                    1. re: Kosher Critic

                                      Thanks. I'll exclude Tevere on this basis.

                                    2. re: Pan

                                      Haven't been here in a few years, but one name I almost never see come up on this board is Gusto va Mere. It used to be a great place, and I assume it still is. The soups, especially, were great. Anyone else been there recently to confirm (or deny)?

                                      1. re: queenscook

                                        A friend of mine went in May or June and said it was excellent. I've never been though.. usually when I go out for dinner it's meat.

                                        1. re: queenscook

                                          i agree that it used to be fantastic, but its been years for me as well

                                          1. re: shoelace

                                            It's been more than a year since we had lunch at Abigails: of our entire family, only one daughter and her husband are observant; the rest of our family were our non-Foodie, semi vegetarian daughter and hubby, plus Argentinian relatives. A wonderful lunch was had by all, and the service was quite accomodating.

                                            1. re: Bashful3

                                              Do you remember what you had? My mother and I excluded them from consideration for her birthday dinner because, based on their menu, they seem to be trying to cook everything from everywhere, and I doubt such a scatter-shot approach can produce consistent excellence. However, I've never been there.

                                              1. re: Bashful3

                                                I've been there for lunch many times- always consistent and excellent. My husband has brought non-Jewish clients as well, they always comment that the food is excellent. I usually get one of the entree salads with chicken, the sushi is excellent, as is the macadamia crusted chicken.

                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                  No, it was a while back, and I don't remember what each person in our party ordered, I only know that everything everyone ordered (and their were good choices for all) was quite pleasing. Even my husband, who has an irrational predudice against 'Kosher' restaurants enjoyed his choices. And, our observant daughter and her husband, the only ones in our party who eat only Glatt Kosher meat out really enoyed their choices.

                                                  Can't get much better than that. I asked for good service ahead of time, and was not disappointed. They were quite gracious.

                                                  1. re: Bashful3

                                                    I'll definitely keep this in mind, and thank you. For now, though, we have reservations at Mike's Bistro. My mother noted that the menu was "very expensive," but she and I think it's the most interesting of the higher-end kosher places, and I've seen no negative reports on the place here. I'll let you know how it was after the fact.

                                                    Thank you very much to everyone who gave recommendations and discommendations.