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May 8, 2009 02:00 PM

Tourist Seeking Advice: Small Plates, Gastropub and American New

I am visiting Manhattan from CA again and wanted some food recs.

I have been to Eleven Madison, the modern, babbo, a voce, blue hill, gramercy tavern, Balthazaar, WD-50, Spotted Pig, Prune, Inoteca, Momofuku Ssam Bar.

In Summary I am trying to find good replacements for Gramercy Tavern, Spotted Pig, Inoteca, momofuku ko, Prune

Of the bunch, I thought Eleven Madison and the modern had the most "refined" food, WD-50 the most "creative" but I enjoyed my meal best at Gramercy Tavern. I don't need ultra refinement and white glove service or overly precious and engineered food. I want bold global flavors and Gramercy Tavern delievered. Blue Hill was super fresh and natural, but it was a bit too similar to the seasonal simple market driven cooking we get here back in CA.

Places like Jean-Goerges, Le Bernadin, Boluod, etc just don't seem to appeal to me.

Are there any other choices for American New like Gramercy Tavern? Places that are very updated and global but maybe lack a little refinement. Places that use things like foie gras, pork belly, short ribs, fish crudos (like hamachi krudo), sweetbreads, . Sort of like the big bold combinations at momofuku ko. I also love seafood, but in the same vein as the food above.

I LOVED spotted pig. That's my kind of place. I certainly want to go back there, but again, I want to try some place different this time. Any suggestions.

I liked prune a lot for brunch. It was a small neighborhood brunch spot that served very pleasing yet updated brunch food. Are there any other places like this?

I liked inoteca for wine and small plates. Great atmosphere and good concept, but I want something a little more Spanish and or global and less italian this time around.

I went to a place in Boston called Toro.
It was more of a spanish/american new tapas place that felt like Inoteca, except it had very good cocktails (almost as good as milk and honey's) and great beers to go along with the great wines. They served a few basque dishes, but they mostly had very good "global american new" type dishes as well. The tapas place also has to have a very nice charcuterie and cheese platter.

I will try to get into Momofuku ko, but I doubt I will be able to. What is the best replacement? I looked into degustation, but it just didn't seem the same. And all of the other American New with slight Asian influence type cooking is similar to Jean-Goerges style places like Spice Market, which I don't really care for.


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  1. casa mono should be on your list. good tapas-inspired food, great selection of spanish wines. have a drink next door at bar jamon, maybe a ham platter, too before migrating over for dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: steve h.

      If you liked Momofuku Ssam Bar, you'll probably like Casa Mono. Croquetas, clams with fideos, mojama (cured tuna) with duck egg, skirt steak with romesco sauce, foie gras with five kinds of onions....

    2. I don't share your tastes really but I appreciate that you went so detailed that I think I can understand yours. Here's my two cents, you should research them since we are not exactly on the same page.

      I love Hearth, I think you will too, very American, very good, very good wine program. Also Tailor, very American, it is somewhat experimental with flavors, but not with construction, small winelist, adequate, very interesting cocktails. Telepan has some pizzazz, some southwest thrown in there, great wine restaurant.

      Freeman Alley, a little more downscale and youth-appealing, pretty good food, it's a fun place, great ambiance and vibe, good cocktails and wine. Ouest many people recommend. I find the heartiness too much to be too much, for me to the point of gut-busting. Perhaps it's for you?

      A French place August is very hearty French peasant. Balthazar, also French, I don't care for it at all, put people love it.

      (darn it, I was going to link them all for you but I forgot and they don't allow me to edit them in there)

      9 Replies
      1. re: acidity

        Thanks acidity. you nailed my tastes perfectly. All of the choices, except Balthazaar, were what I was looking for, with Hearth being the most appealing to me.

        Are those places really considered "VERY" American? To me, its just a good example of New American Cuisine with some Global Influences.

        I like the fact that Hearth has some nice seafood (halibut and scallops) as well as some nice salads in the mix. It seems just right! Tailor seems very interesting. It doesn't have the salad and seafood options that I like to see, but still quite intriguing. Ouest appears a little quite rich, but many things seem appealing.

        I don't care for French Brasserie Fair ala Balthazar. Steak frittes and straight forward seafood platters are just not for me. The cocktails there are okay though.

        I don't want to imply that I like overly rich food, because I don't. I just don't like food that is so subtle that it comes off as bland. Hearth was just right. Aside from Balthazaar, Telepan is also in the right direction, but not as good as the other suggestions.

        You nailed my tastes perfectly. Bravo!

        1. re: jlrobe

          OK, so maybe we have more overlapping tastes in common. I do like food that's so subtle it comes off bland (just give me chicken broth). but I don't mind added fatty/salty, and I don't mind bigger flavors, I think I just don't like them together, which explains why I perhaps like Jean Georges Asian fusion and you don't, but I also want a mating of flavors not just a cacophany which is why I don't like Le Bernardin.

          There aren't that many gastropubs in NYC, and you're right, Freeman's is more of a reastaurant. But it has an unusual feel, not quite sure how to describe it. Everybody there seems like they belong to this club, but you don't feel unwelcome, and not to mention it's a rustic hunting lodge.

          A couple more suggestions, I should have mentioned Allen & Delancey, it's right up your alley, and then a little off to the side, Cookshop.

          Anyway, glad I could help, cuz I like compliments :)

          Oh, BTW if you want breakfast and you eat French toast, go to Landmarc and try the Pain Perdu, it's an unsliced half a boule sort of thing, soaked in French toast juice and then roasted crispy outside, liquory-custard inside. Order a side of bacon.

          1. re: acidity

            I would do cocktails at Allen & Delancey and then do dinner elsewhere as I haven't really heard much about the new chef there. But the cocktails are quite good.

            I might go to the Kuma Inn because it's got the big bold flavors/seafood thing going on. It's run by a chef who has both Thai and Filipino ancestry and has dishes like pork belly, edamame with Thai chili oil, garlic rice, sauteed Chinese sausage, and scallops with kalamansi.

            1. re: kathryn

              BTW kathryn, I've never been to Kuma so I'll take a look at it, but in the original question jlrobe said "no Asian influenced fusion". I know, hard to keep track of these things as the posting rolls forward :)

              1. re: acidity

                Ah, see, the OP said they didn't care for "Asian influence type cooking is similar to Jean-Goerges style places" but Kuma Inn is much more homey, rustic, and hearty than JG and it's not really Asian fusion. It reads very much like an Asian restaurant, not American with Asian influences or French with Asian influences.

                1. re: acidity

                  "BTW kathryn, I've never been to Kuma so I'll take a look at it, but in the original question jlrobe said "no Asian influenced fusion". I know, hard to keep track of these things as the posting rolls forward :)"

                  I know that this is a thin line. I would rather hear the suggestions, look at the menu, and then make an assessment, but more often than not, I skip the heavily influenced asian fancy food. Its hard for me to describe what I don't like, but if you know about SF food, I don't like places like E&O trading co, Slanted Door, etc. etc. I don't like places like Spice Market. At the same time, I like momofuku. I know its a bit convoluted. Thanks for the suggestion.

            2. re: jlrobe

              Maybe Mercat? Degustation (no website, not on All these Hearth posts made me think of Terroir.




              PS Mercat had a change in chefs earlier this year. Perhaps someone who has been more recently can comment whether there have been any changes in food quality.

            3. re: acidity

              Freemans reminds me of some of the "gastropubs" in SF, but it appears to be more of restaurant than late night bar with great food. As a restaurant it probablyt isn't as good as Hearth and as a bar, its bar food probably isn't quite as good as say inoteca. I will probably pass.

              1. re: acidity

                Seconding Hearth, Tailor, Freemans (they have good cocktails too).

                Hearth, Craft, and Gramercy Tavern all share a common lineage in that Tom Collichio used to work at Gramercy Tavern, then left to form Craft, and the folks who opened up Hearth used to work at Craft (and David Chang from the Momofuku empire also spent time in the Craft kitchens).

                Actually if you liked GT you might also like Craft!

                If you end up at Tailor, the miso butterscotch pork belly is not to be missed, otherwise the menu changes pretty frequently dependent upon the season. For cocktails, my current favorites on the Tailor menu are the Crumble and Aqua Verde.

                Agree that Ouest is very good but on the rich side.

                Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

                403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

                525 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                359 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

              2. Have you looked into Perilla? Harold Dieterle seems to have a strong affinity for many of the proteins you listed.
                The Asian influences there are very subtle and well integrated, and the flavors are bold without being overwhelming. Dishes are refined without being precious.

                Agree with steve h. that Casa Mono should be on your list, and you should still consider Degustation - not as a replacement for M. Ko, but to fill the modern Spanish tapas slot. Degustation also tends to feature a lot of the proteins you listed.

                You might also like Little Owl... and for brunch, maybe Cookshop? It's not as intimate as Prune, but the food's great.

                3 Replies
                1. re: daveena


                  Thanks. I checked out the menus at all those places. All three of you have hit the nail on the head! I think Im good! Wow, that was easy!

                  Now that I think I have plenty of places to choose from for my New American food and tapas places, I wanted to see if there were other things out there.

                  Are there any places like casa mono or spotted pig that have solid food but also really extensive beer lists, and/or cocktails as good as say little branch or milk and honey? I like very good cocktails and beers just as much or more than I like decent wines (I can't afford the really good stuff), so its nice to have options.

                  Are there any other places that you recommend that didn't exactly fit what I was asking for?

                  Are there any other random "destination" places to hit up like Katz or Doughnut Plant? I have been to those places, but if there are other random must-go places for out of towners, let me know.


                  1. re: jlrobe

                    I really love Perilla, too, and it's surprisingly comfy for a West Village restaurant. Service has always been good, too. Mmm, spicy duck meatballs. I also heartily second Degustation and Casa Mono.

                    Cookshop is good for brunch but I don't think it's as creative as Prune. Of the Five Points-Cookshop-Hundred Acres family, I prefer Five Points the most for brunch. I also recommend Shopsin's (that menu is just insane, closed Sundays), Alias (Latin and Pennsylvanian influences), Stanton Social (global/eclectic), Blue Ribbon Bakery (french toast, bone marrow, hummus, club sandwiches, oysters, all on the same menu - they serve the lunch + dishes form the dinner menu).

                    I like Little Owl more for lunch/brunch than dinner because a) dinner is a pain to reserve or try to walk (1.5 hr wait at 5:30 for two on the weekends!); b) it's much less crowded; and c) you can order a burger or the sliders off the lunch menu. They have a pretty good burger.

                    Spitzer's Corner has solid food and a huge beer list, as does Jimmy's No. 43. With Jimmy's No. 43, you can also pop next door to Burp Castle for a beer, too.

                    The newest cocktailian bar in town, Mayahuel, has solid food (tamales, quesadillas, spiced popcorn) and amazing tequila cocktails. PDT has deep fried hot dogs from Crif Dogs (both are owned by the same person, you must enter Crif Dogs to enter PDT). And the bites at Death & Co are also quite good but not really "dinner" per se; however, the cocktails there are fantastic. Pegu Club (Audrey Saunders' bar) and Employees Only have food as well.

                    Hope you've seen these topics.

                    Don't leave NY without eating

                    Three week chowfest

                    Best brunch:

                    Best offal, charcuterie, and nose to tail eating:

                    1. re: jlrobe

                      My other randoms are:
                      Kee's for chocolates (I went three times in my last trip, they were so good)
                      Petrossian for croissant
                      Grandaisy for potato pizza

                      Also, while I might not send someone all the way up the UWS for it, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, I really love Absolute Bagels.

                  2. We had the most amazing experience at Degustation last week-chef Wellsey is beyond beyond-try not to miss it.
                    Cannonau, suckling pig, wild boar- incredible.
                    momofuku milk bar, crack pie, soft serve- meh
                    enotecca del posto, lunch-great value, delicious pasta with rabbit
                    wu liang ye, tea smoked crispy duck, dan dan noodles-omg
                    of course Babbo-heaven

                    1. For gastropubs, I recommend The Redhead in the east village. Make sure to get the lamb t-bone and the fried chicken.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: una mas

                        Readhead sounds great. Anything else like it?