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Lunch (Not Brunch) on a Sunday.

The restriction is that we have to get to La Guardia for a flight to Toronto at 16:30 – so need to be at LGA by 14:30 i.e. leave Central Manhattan restaurant by 1:30 (to be safe – we usually take the bus).

We’re not interested (particularly) in a brunch with ‘standard’ items – we’d prefer something “special”. Not bagels, or eggs bennie (and variations).

For example, on previous trips we’ve tried Amma (Indian, which was good, but expensive for what we received); Café Gray (just awful, especially service – would never return) and last visit was Spice Market (certainly acceptable, but disappointing based on our expectations).

Was thinking of (one of) the Momofukus, but have heard that lunch is nowhere near as good as evening (should I save a visit for evening?) and that there are no reservations – which could be an issue if there’s a line-up (considering our time restriction).

Suggestions please (incidentally our existing reservations (Sat & Fri) are for wd-50 and Jean-Georges). We’d like something that isn’t really available in Toronto.

Thanks (in advance).

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  1. I'm not sure the Momofukus are open for Sunday lunch, but you'd be downtown and since they don't take reservations, there's no way to guarantee you'd be in and out by 1:30 p.m. You also could get stuck on the FDR going to LaGuardia, especially if there's a Yankee game.

    One of the best things about lunch at J-G is being able to relax, enjoy the food and the service, and look out at Central Park and Broadway. If you decide to go with that, get there at 11:30, make sure they know you have to leave by 1:30, and concentrate on your meal.

    1. Perry St. should work very well. The menu has a few brunch-type dishes, but is mostly lunch. The food is excellent and it is a great buy at $24 for 3 courses. If you go at noon, you should be out by 1:30.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rrems

        Second for Perry St. - lunches are such a steal there!

      2. Ssam opens for lunch at noon, so you could probably do that pretty easily if you were there when they opened (assuming you had your luggage with you). We just had lunch there last week for the second time. Haven't been for dinner - pretty much everything on the lunch menu is on the dinner menu, which then has additional items on it. I think it's delicious and think about the pork buns all the time!

        5 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          Casa Mono is one of our favorite places for lunch on the weekend as well, and they take reservations. Spanish tapas/raciones.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Jamón Iberico - my mouth is already watering.
            Another great possibility - thanks.

          2. re: MMRuth

            Yes, we will have our luggage (we travel light). Were you there on a Sunday (specifically)? Really need specific feedback for the Sunday so that we don't risk a line-up on the day.
            Thanks.

            1. re: estufarian

              No - we've gone on a Friday both times, probably around 2ish. Kathryn, below, mentioned that it shouldn't be an issue, and I believe she goes to them a lot.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Not sure when you are coming, but the NYT today says that Ssam will be closed from Aug. 24th until after Labor Day for renovations.

          3. Both Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar are open for lunch on the weekends. Noodle Bar serves the same menu all day. Ssam Bar serves a slightly different lunch menu than dinner menu, where the number of interesting/haute/upscale items is reduced during lunch service. Neither tend to be all that slammed during lunch service on the weekends since the majority of NYers like to brunch. I would give Noodle Bar the nod, though, simply because the menu is a little more expanded than Ssam Bar's lunch menu, but you can have a great meal at either.

            brendastarlet, the formal, main dining room of Jean-Georges is not open for weekend lunch. Only Mondays through Fridays. Service on weekends for lunch is provided by Nougatine.

            If you're going to J-G for dinner already, keep the reservation and seek somewhere not in the JGV empire for weekend lunch.

            Other options: BBQ (Hill Country?), Gramercy Tavern, Fleur de Sel, Tocqueville, Hakata Ippudo, Shake Shack (if you get there at 11:00-11:30am the wait won't be so long), Caracas Arepas Bar (though it's tiny).

            Going from downtown Manhattan to LGA via cab is fairly straightforward because you can drive south to Delancey and then go over the Williamsburg bridge. I've done it in about 30 minutes many times. (I like a few blocks from the Momofuku restaurants).

            6 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              I agree with kathryn's suggestions. If you hit Momofuku Noodle Bar just skip the ramen and go for other small plates, summer market dishes, etc because those are the superior dishes.

              On Sunday there is less traffic and I have been to LGA from downtown Manhattan in about 20 mins (seriously). Of course you should build some buffer, but 30 -40 mins is more than enough.

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks - great suggestions and you've answered many of my questions.
                I've visited Fleur de Sel for a weekday lunch before (didn't realize they were open Sunday) - great meal - but it was somewhat leisurely (but I wasn't in a time constraint then). I'll do some research on the others.

                1. re: kathryn

                  kathryn,

                  Tocqueville is closed on Sunday. I think it's just for the summer, and Sunday brunch and dinner will return after Labor Day.

                  estufarian,

                  If you want to do lunch at Fleur de Sel and can get a noon reservation, if you tell them about your time constraints, I'm sure they can have you out by 1:30.

                  Gramercy Tavern's main dining room does not do lunch on Sunday. The Tavern Room does but does not take reservations.

                  Casa Mono and luggage? The space is quite small, and tables are so tightly jammed together, I can't imagine where you would put your luggage.

                  In Midtown West, Osteria Gelsi, is on the corner of 9th Av. & 38th St. For Sunday lunch, they serve their regular menu, which focuses on Pugliese cuisine. Imo, the seriously delicious timbalo is not to be missed. Good service and pleasant atmospherics.

                  http://www.gelsiny.com

                  Btw, Cafe Gray has closed.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Good point about the luggage, but they do have somewhere that they put coats at Casa Mono, so if the OP is interested in going there, it might be worth checking.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      From my experiences with the hostesses at Casa Mono, they haven'r exactly been trained at the Danny Meyer School of Hospitality. Even if there is a place where they put coats, one can't be sure it's big enough to hold luggage, and I'd be willing to bet that someone showing up with same would not exactly be greeted with the proverbial open arms by this particular crew of front desk personnel who have never exhibited, at least the two times we've been there, one smidgeon of welcoming or pleasantness.

                      1. re: RGR

                        That's why I suggested calling ahead. IMO, the food is worth it, and other than some rather odd telephone conversations with hosts, we've never had anything other than very pleasant service once we got there.

                2. Thanks everybody – already I have a multitude of choices.
                  And (fortunately for me) given all these choices I have the luxury of adding a few guidelines (or rules).
                  So far, Perry St, and Casa Mono are the front-runners.
                  Arbitrarily I’ve eliminated BBQ and Japanese as we visited Japan and Kansas City within the past 3 months so have already pigged out on both cuisines. While it is certainly conceivable that NYC does these better, we’ve already had some superb meals in these styles, so let’s try something new. Similarly I’ve passed on Italian as Toronto has a plethora of Italian places (again, I’m not impugning the NYC quality – just finding reasons to narrow these suggestions down). And I do know about Shake Shack too! Just not what was wanted for a ‘last lunch’. And even though I loved Fleur du Sel, it would be a repeat – why not try something new?
                  It occurs to me that my ‘shorter’ list is mainly ‘small plates’ – which (perhaps not coincidentally) is the style that I tend to favor, as I get more choice that way!
                  To help in a semi-final decision (after all I’ve had all these responses in just a few hours, so should at least give it a couple of days for others to respond), is Perry St too similar to Jean-Georges – which we’re doing for lunch on the Friday? And Momofuku (both Ssam and Noodle Bar) was on the original list because of several previous recommendations – but I hesitated because their website (which lists ‘typical’ dishes, not current ones) doesn’t show much that’s exciting – and very few selections at that. Is the web-site typical or are their significantly more options? And I’m tempted to make a reservation at Casa Mono right now (which I’ll cancel if I change my mind).
                  So thanks so far – any additional chorus or information?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: estufarian

                    Well, between Casa Mono and Ssam, I'd probably go to Casa Mono. But, although the menu for lunch at Ssam may seem limited, the first time we went there, we had two orders of the pork buns (which we had again on our last visit), a Kentucky ham (we tried a VA one this time), a Banh Mi, a pate, and some hamachi, and it was all delicious. I've not been to Perry Street, but if you can't find great Spanish food in Toronto, Casa Mono would be a good choice, I think.

                    Here's a thread (well, link to more links) with some of my favorite dishes at Casa Mono:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/53909...

                    The Spanish wine list there is amazing, by the way (there's a great rose Cava, if that appeals), though Ssam also has a nice selection, and last time we had a nice flinty Chardonnay from the North Fork (Long Island).

                    Some people feel that Casa Mono is cramped, and while I won't dispute that, I've never found that it interfered with my enjoyment of my meal.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Hmmmm -- Hill Country is Texas style BBQ (brisket!) so it's going to be slightly different than KC style, but it's your perogative to choose something else.

                      I'd ditch Perry St. if you're going to J-G already. There's a reason one of them is named after the man himself, you know?

                      For the Momofukus, what didn't you find exciting about the menus? The "this is only a sample" is because their menus are seasonal and subject to supply so 2-3 dishes may be different from what you'll find on any particular day, but it's pretty up to date as to what they've been serving lately.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Thanks again.
                        I preferred KC BBQ to Texas for the most part (more consistent). But beef brisket was definitely top in Fort Worth - visited earlier this year. But we're just BBQ'd out!
                        I accept your suggestion to skip Perry St (as we're going to J-G anyway).
                        On Momofuku(s) I've rechecked. I had missed the scroll bar, so only got the first frame (the bar was hidden under my window scroll bar - I had a reduced window that looked as if I had a full screen). Now I'm a sucker for pork (the pig is indeed a magical animal), so I was really hinting for someone to convince me that I was going to be wowed. Now I can see the whole list (rather than the first frame, which only has less than 10 dishes) I'm much more impressed - and had checked 3 times before so this fourth check was prompted by you - thanks! The posted menu for Casa Mono is superb - hard to pick only a few courses. Of course, that could be all make-up but I have to admit to being fooled more than once by a pretty menu!

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Gosh - if you love pork, Ssam is wonderful (I've not been to the noodle bar). But, Casa Mono is great too, so you're just going to have to make a choice. <grin>

                      2. re: estufarian

                        While there is obviously a similarity in the style of cooking between J-G and Perry St., the dishes are different, and the food at Perry St. is simpler (that's not to say it is not as good, just not as elaborate).

                        1. re: estufarian

                          I will also say nay to Perry St. The food there is a simpler version as JG, but not even as good. So why bother if you are going to JG the previous day? You will only feel that Perry St is not as good as JG after you dine there....

                          For small plates I think both Casa Mono and Ssam Bar are valid choice, but as RGR mentioned, Casa Mono is extremely cramped in space and I can't see how you can fit your luggages in (I barely had space to put my handbag). Something to note.

                          1. re: estufarian

                            I wouldn't do Perry Street if you're going to Jean-Georges.

                            Between Momofuku and Casa Mono, that's a touch choice. My choice would be for Momofuku only because the food is pretty unique, and it's hard to find anything like it (well, at this point). But I have to say that I've only had one dish that was a miss at Casa Mono, where I've had more misses at Momofuku.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              You should experience Momofuku if only to have the pork buns. As long as you are traveling light, then go for it. A Friday lunch at J-G will be perfect, you can linger and really enjoy it (be sure to get an extra course, it's worth it. And even if you skip dessert, order coffee, because they come around with marshmallows and chocolates and other goodies.)

                          2. Thanks everybody.
                            By coincidence I had dinner last night with a friend who was in NY last month and he ate at Casa Mono. He was very impressed, so I called today and have reserved. I did mention the luggage and they say they have a closet that can be used to store the bags.

                            But I now have a great list - thanks - and we'll also try to get to Momofuku sometime around saturday lunch as that's open, but our schedule is still tentative.
                            Typically we hop a cheap flight from Toronto (much rarer these days) but they do sometimes exist (just found a return to LA for under $400 including all taxes/fees, so grabbed that).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: estufarian

                              Hi estufarian,

                              Glad that you picked Casa Mono and made a reservation. I hope you have a wonderful lunch and please report back.

                              If you are anything as crazy as I am, I will actually walk over to Momofuku Ssam bar after the lunch at Casa Mono, order 2 orders (that's 4 in total) of pork belly buns to go, and bring them to the airport. Either eat them on the plane and make everyone jealous while they are having peanuts or those ice-cold Todd English salads, or better yet, bring home, heat them up, and enjoy! They are great even after you reheat them.

                              So save time, you can call them to place the order when you are almost done with the lunch at Casa Mono, and just go and pick them up.

                              Sorry, I am quite obsessive with those buns, to the point where I started make them at home....

                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                That's a GREAT idea. I'm compiling a list of places to get take-out near my regular airports - but this opportunity (although not near an airport) makes eminent sense on this occasion.

                            2. FEEDBACK/REPORT

                              Again thanks - we went to Casa Mono, Momofuku Ssam and perry Street. You may be admiring our prodigious feats of dining - but thanks to Air Canada we were delayed for 2 days in New York and rebooked 4 times. Not once did they contact us to advise us of cancellations!
                              However, we made the most of the situation, by visiting the other places you guys recommended in between our several delays and trips to la Guardia (the bus driver knes us by the third time - and commiserated each time!). We eventually escaped through Newark.
                              We're now frantically catching up - but as I have to travel again tomorow, a brief report back.
                              Casa Mono was 'almost perfect'. Certainly well worth a visit. Especially the cocks comb dish - a standout (sort of mushroomy in texture and taste). We were the first people seated and ordered both cava and sherry (oloroso and amontillado), which went perfectly. As we were there first (with suitcases) they knew we were from out-of-town and asked how we found them (you guys got credit), and we mentioned it was a birthday trip to New York - 5 years ago we were in Spain for the birthday so it was a good story. They ended up comping us desserts (with a candle - but no song chorus) and a PX sherry. A really nice touch.
                              Momofuku Ssam was also delicious. The pork buns are certainly addictive, but reminded me of a great place in Toronto (recently closed) that served superb moo-shu pork, so didn't stand out as much as did Casa Mono - which was more suited to a celebration. And the textures at Ssam were better than our moo-shu favourite.
                              Perry Street (monday lunch) was elegant and also good. Astonishing value - but a little far to go for lunch for a working person. Not only was the food a bargain, but they were featuring some wines - we had a bottle of Pinot Blanc from Trimbach (a solid producer) for $20 (I know, the Pinot Gris would have been better). And the "eggs and bacon" they served there included PERFECTLY cooked eggs - I've never had better. Just a notch below Jean-Georges - but cheaper.
                              And just to complete the round-up - wd-50 was sensational - IMO the most exciting food in America (that I've tried) right now. Jean-Georges was "good-but". The menu was mostly repeat dishes over several years and the sauces all seemed a little more acidic than I recall. Still very good, but has lost a bit of the 'wow' factor.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: estufarian

                                Thanks for reporting back. Sorry to hear about your tribulations with flights, but glad you were able to use the time to enjoy some good chow.

                                1. re: rrems

                                  Thank you for the original suggestion. As we (now) say: if you're served lemons - then make lemon curd with a wasabi foam. The chowhounds recommendations enabled us to make the best of a bad situation. I'm sure we coped better than the (presumably) hundreds of others who made fruitless treks to La Guardia.