Foodie / Valentine's Day Trip to NYC.. need help!
NYC has always been a favorite city in my mind's eye.. and I'm finally going there with one other for 2009 Valentine's Day weekend.. I'm planning what to have for 5 lunches and 4 dinners.. and maybe a late night snack.. here's a tentative itinerary .. and wondering what y'all think? I deliberately avoided big names on Feb 14 as well... but remain open to all suggestions.. foodie or valentine's related!
Day 1: Arriving late past normal dinner hour, hotel's in the SOHO region.. suggestions?
Day 2: Le Benardin (lunch.. a lttle afraid that everything will not be as good after this. LOL.. Eric Ripert is my fav. chef), Esca (dinner... I've heard mixed reviews but like Dave Pasternack's philosphy)
Day 3: VALENTINE's DAY! Ippudo (lunch), Nothing planned yet (for dinner)
Day 4: Dovetail or The Little Owl? (for brunch), Babbo (dinner, may need a backup plan)
Day 5: Gramercy Tavern (lunch), Nothing planned yet (for dinner)
Day 6: Jean Georges (for lunch), leave NYC
Obviously, I'm hitting the high end restaurant at lunchtime to save some money.. trying to strike a balance with my foodie curiosities/OCD and breaking the bank. Please help me balance it out between haute and honest-to-goodness value as you see fit! Camera-friendly establishtments are needed but I don't use flash photography. :)
In between.. we'll be doing the tourist thing and visit
- Times Square / Broadway (Chicago musical.. weird go to NY to see that)
- Ellis Island and the lady
- Central Park
- Yankee Stadium (she must have a Chien-Ming Wang bobblehead!), Mets Clubhouse
- Wall Street, NY Library, UN Headquarters, Empire State (for those been there done that photo ops)
What I don't know are the romantic things to do during Feb... what are some of the things locals appreciate to do to get away from the hum drum of life. How should one get to know NYC (withoug getting mugged? LOL).
Le Benardin, Gramercy Tavern and Jean Georges are a must for me.. I've got reservations for those already... and not much wiggle room as y'all know for that weekend. What do y'all suggest (Is Ssam good?)? What sights to see? We're from the cold North so we won't mind walking around and commuting via subway. What am I missing out? Where are the hole-in-the-walls.. or unique NYC foodie places? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Bump! It's getting closer to my trip date. Hoping for more suggestions! I've added Perry St. to my number of reservations... I also heard that Fleur de Sel is closing soon this month.. Any NY CHers can share their experience at Fleur de Sel? I'm also looking for a replacement in my schedule for Esca potentially ... didn't get Babbo.. and not sure if I'll walk in.. but I'll visit Ssam Bar on one of the nights. Still undecided on DoveTail / The Little Owl
Nearly all NYC restaurants are camera-friendly except for Momofuku Ko.
> Day 1: Arriving late past normal dinner hour, hotel's in the SOHO region.. suggestions?
How late is "late"?10pm? 11pm? Blue Ribbon Brasserie serves until 4am. Balthazar serves dinner pretty late, too.
> Day 2: Le Benardin (lunch), Esca (dinner)
I like both restaurants but I wouldn't do two seafood places in one day. Granted, one is French and one is Italian, so the styles are very different, but it seems like you'd want to spread it out a little. Also note that Esca is in the theatre district, so it will be much easier to get a table there after the pre-theatre rush has left.
> Day 3: VALENTINE's DAY! Ippudo (lunch), Nothing planned yet (for dinner)
Ippudo doesn't take reservations. Since it is a Saturday, be prepared for a longish wait . If you haven't made VD dinner reservations yet...yikes. This is going to be difficult. I would choose something a little off the beaten path (maybe Latin? Asian?) that most people don't traditionally consider romantic. A place that doesn't take reservations might be better because most of the ones that do are probably all full up already.
> Day 4: Dovetail or The Little Owl? (for brunch), Babbo (dinner, may need a backup plan)
I really like Little Owl's brunch, but check out the menu, as it is pretty short. I've heard nothing but good things about Dovetail's brunch, haven't been yet. As for Babbo, if you don't have a reservation already, they might be fully committed or only offering 10:30pm tables. They do take walk-ins but you might be waiting 2 hours for a table if you come at prime time. Unless you show up early and get in line. IIRC, the bar opens about 30 minutes before the actual dining room opens. And you can order dinner at the bar or one of the few tables reserved for walk-ins. But Babbo is extraordinarily popular.
> Day 5: Gramercy Tavern (lunch), Nothing planned yet (for dinner)
An excellent choice. I assume you mean the formal room since you have a reservation.
> Day 6: Jean Georges (for lunch), leave NYC
Another excellent choice. Make sure you have a reservation for the formal room and not the casual room (called Nougatine), as sometimes it's unclear when you're making the reservation over the phone.
Thanks for the suggestions!
Day 1. late should be around 9-10pm... I'm thinking of making my first NY experience a Pastrami Sandwiches at Katz (nearby to hotel)... what other NY street/cheap eats are must-trys?
Day 3. I have this insane idea of purposely avoiding the restaurant sit-down crowd on V-Day... something about the kitchen being so busy that particular night makes me want to wait till later to get a better chance for good quality... So hoping for some suggestions that doesn't require reservations.. off the beaten path... but still good food. Besides.. we have a whole weekend that we'll call Valentine's.. :D
Day 5. Definitely the dining room... I want to try the tasting. Any suggestions for dinner?
Katz's is a great idea. But just so you know, it's on the LES, not in SOHO. If, for some reason, you don't make it in time to go to Katz's (open until 11 p.m. on Thursdays), you can go further uptown to Sarge's, on 3rd Av., /bt 36th & 37th Sts. Excellent pastrami (different style from Katz's), and it's open 24/7.
Another option is to take kathryn's suggestion and go to Blue Ribbon or Balthazar (open until 12:30 a.m.) on the night you arrive, and go to Katz's for dinner on Valentine's Day.
Another outside-the-box idea for Valentine's Day dinner is Daisy May's, on the corner of 11th Av. & 46th St. Definitely off the beaten path but so worth the trek. It's a cafeteria-style set-up, and there's not much in the way of decor. But who cares? The bbq is delicious! They are open until 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
The tasting at GT is fantastic. I haven't had the dinner tasting in a while (last time I had a tasting menu there was a lunch tasting but I've dined off the prix fixe twice since then), but if you are with another person, you can do one of the chef's tasting and one of the vegetable tasting (vegetable centered but not strictly vegetarian), so you can try more dishes. And if you like something on the prix fixe menu, they will gladly let you substitute out an item on the tasting for an item on the prix fixe menu.