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Why go to Manhattan?

After our dinner at Tarry Lodge on Sunday, my husband and I started talking about eating in Manhattan vs eating in Westchester and the general suburbs surrounding us. Our last "notable" mean in the city was at Del Posto, which was a huge and very expensive disappointment. Tarry Lodge, while certainly a different type of restaurant, was better in terms of the meal we had there. Here we also have Haiku, Spadaro, Rosie's Bistro, a fairly long list of interesting and authentic Mexican and South American restaurants in Port Chester and environs, and Siwanoy, a club where we are members and which serves a steak (The Governor) that is equivalent, if not better, than many of the steak houses we've eaten at in NYC. Plus the fact that we love to cook and have a wealth of opportunity to try any kind of exotic cuisine that catches our fancy by making it in our own home. Driving into Manhattan, getting stuck in traffic, looking for a parking spot or paying $40 for parking, and then paying a huge amount for a disappointing dinner seems less and less worth it these day. Of course, there are places in the city that I would love to try, but sometimes the effort seems less than worth it when you tally it all up. Until we moved to the burbs 11 years ago, I had lived my entire life in NYC and was dragged kicking a screaming out of Manhattan. Now, I am happy I am here and I find that as the opportunities for interesting meals locally have increased, my desire to return to familiar ground has decreased.

Do you local CHers feel similarly?

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  1. roxlet, you bring up a good point...the dining scene in the greater Westchester area has certainly matured over the years for the better, being just 15 miles or so from the center of Manhattan...I personally have plenty of places I can enjoy right here in the county but I always try to visit a spot in the Big Apple that intrigues me. I still enjoy the occasional foray into the city. That list never seems to get shorter...

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutreactions

      No, I haven't found enough consistent restaurants in Westchester to compare to Manhattan. Then again, I haven't been to Manhattan in years, so who knows, the restaurants I loved may be gone and their replacements may be as inferior as most of the restaurants in Westchester.

      But yes, the schlep has gotten to be intimidating and unacceptable, so I'll just continue my hunt for more than a paltry few 'great' restaurants in this county.

    2. If Westchester dining options are like Upstate NY (Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady area), it doesn't take long to eat your way through the best restaurants . . .

      1. I love the interesting and authentic ethnic restaurants around the county, but with the exception of X20 and Sushi Nanase, I don't think any fine dining establishments compare to what's available in Manhattan. As far as traffic, we sometimes take metro north , and there are few reasons to pay $40 for parking if some homework is done. The attached website is great for locating Manhattan parking/prices. http://www.nycgarages.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: Marge

          I agree with you, Marge, about the fine dining options in Westchester being inferior to those in the city (and also agree about X20 and Nanase being the two notable exceptions). While we are perfectly happy to eat most of our restaurant meals in Westchester, we generally do our "splurge" dinners in the city, as well as dinners where we are looking for more interesting food. We will usually take the train down if we are eating mid-town. For uptown or downtown locations we drive, and have been pretty lucky over the years with street parking. Even with garage fees, I can't remember the last time we paid anywhere near $40 to park. I enjoy living in Westchester precisely because it's so easy to get into the city when I want to.

          1. re: Shawn

            I've been thinking, and can't come up with a restaurant that has it 'all', as X20 and Sushi Nanase do. I have to try Tarry Lodge for myself before I give it my seal of approval.

            I constantly find it astonishing that a county with the money that Westchester has can't sustain very good to excellent restaurants on an ongoing basis. When a place like Zen Tango closed, it was replaced with a bada bing joint. MacMenamin's Grill went downhill, as witnessed by their abysmal brunch. The Arch, at which I only had one dinner, was lovely but apparently has changed since new owners took over.

            Several very good places have closed, but even then, I can only think of two, Harrald's and Sunset Grill, that had it 'all'.

            There are places for the uber rich, but I don't pay to park to eat. Even in the city, hubby manages to usually find a spot on the street, bless his heart.

            So if Il Mulino and Ennio and Michael and Smith and Wollensky and a host of other amazing places are still there, then no Westchester can't even come close to NYC. And after the twenty years I've been eating out here, that's something for which they should feel ashamed.

        2. Chinese Food, Thai Food, Steakhouses with lobsters and great wine lists, French Bistros..........There is a dearth of these in Westchester County. Not much northern Italian either. That being said, I will do almost anything not to drive into Manhattan for dinner. I work there every day , so the last thing i want to do on a weekend is drive 35 mi into the city for dinner.

          1. In the almost 1 1/2 years that I have lived in Westchester, we have found some good places, many because of Chowhound. My husband and I rarely go out for super fancy dinners -- we are just very casual people.

            So while we have several choices of very good sushi places nearby (luckily we love sushi), there are certain things that just don't compare to Manhattan -- chinese, thai, indian. Yes, there are places that are acceptable/even good, but not great like the ones that we frequented in our former life as city dwellers.

            Traffic and/or paying for parking has never stopped us from going anywhere, but it's doubtful that we will head into the city on a Saturday night just for chinese food because we will also likely go to a movie on our nights while the kids are with a babysitter. Plus we both work in the city several days a week, so its not like we are never there.

            If it was a special occasion, that is a different story. Although, my husband's birthday is next month and I just today made a reservation at Tarry Lodge, which I am really looking forward too. Last year we went to Peter Luger in Brooklyn for his birthday, a 40 minute drive from our house. So I guess my theory of Manhattan and special occasions really isn't so true!

            1. For breakfast, I have yet to find anything in Westchester to compare favorably to Sarabeth's goldie lox or to their pumpkin waffle, to the scones or the cornmeal pancakes with fruit at Alice's Tea Cup (although the buckwheat blueberry pancakes at Wobble Cafe aren't too shabby, but the rest of my breakfast there was so poor that there's no way I'm going there just for the pancakes), to the lattes at the Macchiato Espresso Bar, which also has some mighty fine pastries to go with them, or to the French toast at the Broome Street Bar (well, they start serving so late that I don't go there and instead go to La Grainne Cafe, whose French toast is merely superior to any I've had in Westchester, although Le Jardin du Roi and Patisserie Salzburg, when they bother to make French toast, come close). Speaking of pastries, I know of nowhere to find rigo jansci to compare with that from the Hungarian Pastry Shop and I'm also fond of their mocha cake and dobosh tort; admittedly, Jean-Jacques makes some good cake, but it ain't rigo jansci. Of course, there may well be better places than these in Westchester, in which case I'd be more than happy to learn about them.

              1. Wow !! What a steak !! I took Roxlet's suggestion and went to the Siwanoy Golf Club last night with a degree of suspicion since it was going to be “club food". She hit the nail on the head with this one. Not wanting to get too enthusiastic, I will say that the steak was equal, (would like to say better), to any of four steak houses I have been to in Westchester. Siwanoy has reciprocal privileges with some other clubs so if it happens to be on your own club list, you might want to give it a try.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Sonnyno

                  What does it cost to join the club to get the steak?

                  1. re: Sonnyno

                    Glad you liked it Sonnyno. I have only eaten the Governor once since it's a little too big a steak for me, but it was awesome when I did. I have friends (not members of the club) who feel that Siwanoy has some of the best food in Westchester, despite being a country club. I don't know about that, but we never feel like it's a drag to go there for dinner. Unusual for a "country club," I think.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Congratulations Roxlet. It takes a kind of courage for that 18 ounce Commander cut. I came in at 14 ounces by passing the 12. When I asked the waiter what kind of person goes for that cut, what he said was enough. Sounded like defensive linemen or linebackers would certainly qualify. My companion had the Filet which was quite thumbs up too.

                      1. re: Sonnyno

                        So Siwanoy Golf Club is open to the general public?

                        1. re: dolores

                          No Delores, it is not open to the general public. In my post above at 1:06 Pm I said, “Siwanoy has reciprocal privileges with some other clubs so if it happens to be on your own club list, you might want to give it a try”. Some clubs allow club members from other clubs to dine at their institutions. It’s reciprocal. Each can dine at the other’s club. I don’t know how extensive reciprocity is but for some clubs, it can stretch across the country. It can be quite extensive so it’s a significant part of the dining scene.

                        2. re: Sonnyno

                          Well, thanks for the congratulations Sonnyno, but I will report that I took most of it home!

                    2. Jfood is an FFD resident and in the last 12 years he is extremely pleased with the number of really good places he can go to in his neighborhood. Are they Per Se or Bouley, probably not but after a long week the +/- of food/travel hassle for the NYC run greatly falls in favor of the stay in the 'hood.

                      And this may sound like heresy on this site, but sometimes jfood would rather have a bacoan and tomato pizza from his favorite place than a dinner out. He has turned down several invites to Stone Hill because, to be honest, he does not think he would enjoy it, and the cost just makes him shrug. Give him two meals at some of his favorite haunts in FFD instead and he is a happy camper.

                      That is not to say he does not go to NYC on occassion. His Babbo venture was a classic memory (Tarry Lodge in a few weeks) but you have just as much a chance of getting crappy food in NYC as well.

                      The few remaining consistent posting FFD hounds are absolutely fantastic in steering jfood to great finds (hopefully 2-way street), at good prices, without the 1 hour in, 1 hour out, wait to park, wait for the car, on and on. Who needs it?

                      So it has to be pretty special for jfood (or to meet friends from NYC or NJ) to take the shlep to the city. Too much fun, food and convenience out here.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        the colorado lamb shank at ferrante (stamford) is pretty good. i'll take the pepsi challenge vis-a-vis manhattan on this dish.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          NYC is considered the best food city in America, so to say Westchester restaurants give you little reason to go to NYC is quite a bit short sighted. There are certainly restaurants that can match the quality of some of the better NYC restaurants but the overall variety in NYC is absolutely unmatched. Now weather you want to deal with the hassle of Manhattan is another story (and a completely understandable one)

                          1. re: Jstern35

                            I don't disagree with you Jstern35, but there are so many times that the Manhattan restaurants disappoint. You pay a ton of money for something that you could make just as well at home. I'm all about eating out, but I want to feel that I have gotten value for my money -- that I have had an unique culinary experience. Often, all I've consumed is hype, and that's just not worth it. What I want when I dine in Manhattan is an experience that makes me say, "Hmmm. How did they do THAT?" Most of the time it is more like, "How much did I pay for THAT?" or "Nice, but I could make THAT." I guess that when I go into the city for a meal these days I want transcendence. Most of the time it is in short supply. So my point is that there are many chances to have good meals in Westchester, but transcendence is tough all over.

                      2. I totally agree roxlet. either you pay the $40 to park,gas tolls, train or ..its a big effort to get to nyc( althoug I do it often)., with that expense plus apprx 2 hrs round trip travel.. i would rahter eat in westchester if possible, ive been to all the nyc hot spots, great food places, from lo end to hi end...indeed some are great, others are not, i would rahter spend the extra $$$ and go to a great place in 914 example to have a $150 dinner in nyc you really end up with parking and expenses spending apprx $210. Id rather spend $210 and stay in westchester these days ...i still eat out in nyc quite often, but its easier and more comfortable in 914

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: intrepid

                          Yes, it is not only the food and the price, it's the quality of the experience. A couple of Saturdays ago we were in my much-changed old neighborhood, the West Village, and we had a dinner reservation. I waited inside for my husband to park the car, and waited, and waited and waited until he finally called and said that he was tired of driving around in first gear, and the nearest garage was too far away since it was like a monsoon, so we bagged it and wound up back in Bronxville having a very pleasant meal at Rosie's. I'm not sure that what we would have had would have been better (it was just a small West Village bistro), but the hassle factor was certainly smaller...

                        2. Funny,this came up this weekend with my wife and I. Besides X2O there aren't any restaurants in the area CT or Westchester that I find the equal of NYC. I ate at Jean Louis in Greenwich a few weeks ago. It was ok but didn't blow me away. I'd rather take Metro North into NYC. I'd rather spend the extra time on the train and eat in NYC.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: stevel

                            stevel, I agree.

                            Have you been to Sushi Nanase, though? I've not been to Nobu or the other highly rated spots, but I did have sushi in other places in Manhattan, and i found Sushi Nanase outstanding.

                            1. re: dolores

                              Have not been to a lot of the top tier Sushi restaurants, though I would like to. I've never tried Sushi Nanase. I've been to Nobu 3 times. Twice was excellent, once just ok. I've heard great things about SushI Yasudra. I've heard Masas not worth the money.