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Feb 28, 2009 12:37 PM

Best on the Upper West - please help

Will be in New York and staying on the Upper West Side. We would like to have dinner in the neighborhood at least two nights, and have read good things about 'Cesca, Telepan, Dovetail and West Branch. Of the four, which two would you choose?

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  1. Dovetail and Telepan...For more casual food, environment, West Branch works. But, I would go to the new Kefi, if you can get in. The Greek food is wonderful and the prices are very moderate.

    1. I would agree with Will4Food that Kefi is where you should go. The food is totally reasonably priced and delicious, although it does get very crowded almost every night. If you are looking for a casual quick lunch then hit Shake Shack behind the Museum of Natural History. The burgers and milkshakes are well worth any wait. Dovetail is actually next door and is a good place to go for a nice dinner. We have also tried West Branch and my one caveat is that the food there comes off as very heavy, but is also very good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nyu_uws

        Saw a feature on Kefi on CBS Sunday morning, and it is now on my 'must visit' list for a weekend lunch. I love Greek food and would love to find a great place other than schleping to Astoria Queens.

      2. Thanks for the recommendations. I know that Kefi gets great reviews, but we were looking for something a bit more "bistro" and it seemed like the others fit the bill, at least to some extent. Am I wrong on that?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Phoenix

          I'm not sure what your definition of "bistro" is...
          I would compare Telepan (which I highly recommend) to the Globe Bistro in Toronto (I looked at your other posts) in style.
          I don't care for Dovetail (I just don't like the chef's flavor combinations) or Cesca.
          I like West Branch...but it's pretty average. If you're looking for a place someone in the neighborhood might eat on an average night, then it's fine-but it's far from the best NY can offer.
          I haven't been to Kefi since they moved, and can't comment on the new place...while I've enjoyed the food at the old place, I found the pace of the dinner a little too frantic-I don't know if they allow more time to eat in the new place.
          And I'd like to put in a plug for Nougatine (at Jean Georges)-it's a very relaxed spot, with some of the best food at that price in the area-during the week they have a set menu for $35...true, you don't have a choice, but I've found most things good there.

          1. re: David W

            David, thanks for the help. I'm not a meat eater. Would the prix fixe at Nougatine be too limiting?

            1. re: Phoenix

              It may be...the $35 menu has no choices-I don't know if you could substitute or not. I'd also note there are limits-not available on Saturday, and not between 6:30-10:00, so you have to be there early or late.
              I would add that the seafood dishes on the regular menu are delicious, and not that pricey, in relation to many other NY restaurants...

            2. re: David W

              I've never felt rushed at either the old or the new location (which, however, full disclosure: I've been to only once so far) of Kefi.

          2. Telepan is not to be missed. They also have the best brunch in the city. Jean-Georges of course is wonderful and their lunch is an incredible bargain (as is their breakfast which is less memorable but nonetheless delicious.)

            1. The best restaurants on the UWS are Jean Georges and Dovetail.. Excluding the Time Warner Building.. Ouest is next, everything else is far behind.. Kefi was once good when it was called Onera.. Now it is a food warehouse that is loud, hurried and average..

              If you were living on the UWS for a month, I would suggest you try it, but, its not worth dining at if you are visiting..

              Telepan is ok but, the food is hit or miss and the room isnt that great..
              If you wanted to eat at Telepan, I would tell you to go to Ouest instead.. Ouest has great food though a little heavy..

              If I had to answer your question on which of the 4 I would choose, I would choose Dovetail twice..

              8 Replies
              1. re: Daniel76

                Kefi, average? I'm sorry, but their consistently fresh, excellent food is in no way "average." Say what you want about the ambiance, but you don't eat ambiance.

                1. re: Pan

                  Have you been to the new location.. It was below average.

                  1. re: Daniel76

                    Yes, and all the food we ordered was at worst very good, and fresh.

                    1. re: Pan

                      That's a lot different than my experience and others I have spoken to.. Either you were lucky or we were unlucky.

                      1. re: Daniel76

                        Or there may be people who are letting the fact that it's no longer a small restaurant but now a big one that is nevertheless actually hard to get reservations for on weekends in this depressed economy affect their attitude toward the restaurant and, therefore, color their judgment of the food. I think that some hounds irrationally want the restaurant to fail because they think it should be "so popular, no-one goes there anymore." I get the sense that some hounds love places only when they are small and think that when they are big and popular, the Emperor has no clothes when it's exactly the same emperor they bowed down to before, simply in _different_ clothes. Note that I'm not accusing you personally of that attitude, but when I go there after the move, and my food is EXACTLY THE SAME AS BEFORE, I have to suspect that something else is going on than a bunch of people having suddenly bad food experiences there. I'd cite the difference in the judgment toward Chef Ng's lionized dim sum at World Tong in Bensonhurst and often-panned dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie (though with the additional large difference of price) as Exhibit B. And I'll note, lest people should get funny ideas, that I am merely an occasional customer (several times a year) and have no relationship whatsoever with any of the personnel at Kefi - still less, at Chinatown Brasserie, which I've been to twice in total - none of whom I know (or know me) by name.

                          1. re: Pan

                            I am someone actually who went to Onera and didnt like the Kefi that replaced it. I went to Kefi and found it to be bad. End of story, nothing behind it, I am not a chowhound, I am just some guy that doesnt like shitty food..

                            Chinatown Brasserie I actually like for sunday dim sum. Not my favorite but, certainly good.

                            1. re: Daniel76

                              So if I'm understanding you right, you never liked Kefi in the first place, regardless of the move. If that's true, then why did you claim that it was "below average" after the move, as if the move were relevant to your appraisal of Kefi? If the relevance is that by moving, it displaced Onera, I understand, but again, it's not relevant to the quality of the place, except that you never tried it when it was at 79th St. Do I have that right?

                              And Daniel, we're all hounds here! I'm not panning hounds - _I'm_ a hound! I very carefully made my comments about _some_ hounds!