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Culinary Character in NYC

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I will in in NYC this weekend (3/13/09) and am looking for some interesting eating experiences. I love places that mix atmosphere, intimacy and an exciting menu.

In terms of types of food, I'm easy, I just want to go somewhere that has interesting/extremely tasty dishes.

Along with taste, I prefer intimate places as opposed to commercial ones. Even though there are some very good larger restaurants in NYC, I am looking for places that can only seat a few and are found on smaller streets.

I will be with my gf, and as such also want a place that has a nice, relaxing atmosphere.

I am into all types of food - my only request is that people present me with places that serve good tasting stuff, in an independently owned, nicely appointed place.

Here are some places I really enjoy in NYC:

Barbuto, Extra Virgin, Caracas (not for dinner), Care Mogador, MomoFuku (do not love, a bit commercial - but cool), Malatesta

All recs. are welcome. Thanks in advance for your help.

-pk

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  1. I also wanted to add that I am willing to venture - If you know of a chef that has taken over a warehouse in Brooklyn, I'm down for that - as long as the lighting is good... hah

    When I said atmosphere, I meant more interesting than fancy.

    Thanks.

    -pk

    1. The one place that comes to mind for me is Perilla -- it is small/intimate, and the food is thoughtful and quite good. (It's the restaurant from the winner of the 1st season of Top Chef, and while that I'm sure is a draw for some, it's got a good reputation on top of that.)

      I haven't been myself, but you might also look for some reviews of WD-50. If you are looking for interesting and chef-driven, it's probably the most "out there" place in NYC.

      1. 'ino and kyotofu come to mind;
        'ino is tiny, rustic italian atmosphere, the high quality version of the now-ubiquitous panini and wine bar
        kyotofu is minimalist asian decor, with fantastic smaller dishes themed around tofu, asian noodles prepared in different ways than the norm. fantastic desserts too!
        Mogador is a go-to for me as well, I head there whenever I am waiting to get a spot for drinks in the EV!
        In general there are some good-to-great restaurants in Hell's Kitchen that might fit your bill, though some may be too casual? Israeli, Iraqi, true Mexican, Afghan.... all smallish or tiny family-owned places

        2 Replies
        1. re: orthorunner

          those ethnic places in HK would be of interest for lunch... any that stand out?

          Thanks for the response.

          -pk, http://www.theculturephile.com

          1. re: orthorunner

            What's the Iraqi place you'd suggest?

          2. Do you have any upper limit on price point? And can a restaurant that's one of three owned by the same person qualify?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pan

              no and sure.

              -pk

              1. re: pkafka

                In that case:

                My girlfriend and I had a fantastic meal at Degustation earlier this week. I'd describe the food as modern tapas. It's certainly an intimate space - a counter at an open kitchen - and the waitstaff are extremely helpful and knowledgeable, while the different courses are paced to maximize relaxation and enjoyment.

                Have a look at this thread:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/527747

                Here's my meal report on our 10-course tasting menu:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5277...

                I'd definitely describe the dishes as quite interesting and well-balanced in their mix of different tastes, as well as delicious.

            2. Try Kyo Ya for Japanese (non sushi), Dell' Anima for Italian, Le Gigot for traditional French, Terroir for wine bar and small bites. Will second Degustation and Perilla.

              1. Upon reading your post I immediately thought of Salt in Soho.

                4 Replies
                1. re: CK212

                  I've never heard of Salt. Please describe their cuisine.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Salt looks great saltnyc.com

                    thanks for the rec.

                    all of these places, thus far, have been right up my ally.

                    I wish some of you would join my online community - http://www.theCulturePhile.com

                    -pk

                    1. re: pkafka

                      Thanks for the link. Oddly enough, they list their lunch and brunch menus, but not their dinner menu, which I found on menupages.com:

                      http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

                      Their brunch and lunch menus seem more interesting to me than their dinner menu. I don't get that far west in the vicinity of Houston St. too often, but I am definitely interested.

                      1. re: Pan

                        it is on their site - in a weird place - you have to click on savour... then it pops up.

                        Ill prob go there for lunch. Like the menu.

                        -pk, http://www.theCulturePhile.com