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Jun 10, 2009 10:05 PM

Breakfast, Lunch &/or Dinner Upper West Side

We are staying at The Lucerne on W. 79th at Amsterdam later this month. We have kept plans sort of loose, so we may end up near the hotel for a few meals. Any standouts in the neighborhood? Price isn't a big issue, and we prefer French, Italian and American sorts of places, and we like wine. Our only solid reservation at this point is dinner at Keens and we plan on lunch at Katz's and at Jean-Georges. I guess we'd like to pretend we live on the upper West Side and are just popping out for a meal.

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  1. Nice Matin is in your building and it's pretty solid. There is a good choice of higher end restaurants in the neighborhood, including:

    Dovetail (77th near Columbus)
    Telepan (69th near Columbus, I think)
    Compass (70th west of Broadway/Amsterdam)
    Ouest (Broadway near 84th)
    West Branch (77th & Broadway, bit less high-end)

    There is a good choice of Italian within walking distance too:
    Celeste (Amsterdam near 84th, loud, maybe all cash, great cheese plate)
    Cesca (75th east of Amsterdam)
    Spiga (84th west of Amsterdam)

    There are also a number of new wine bars in the neighborhood. Can anyone suggest one? Bon appetit.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rteplow

      I know Bin 71 (71 and columbus) and Wines and Roses (73 and columbus) are both great wine bars!

      There's a new one at like 80/81st and Amsterdam. Right beside St James Cafe. But I've never been

      1. re: rteplow

        Rteplow's suggestions are great -- all very good and/or well liked on this board. I'd also throw in:

        - La Vela for inexpensive, fresh Italian pasta
        - Bruno Ravioli for great lunchtime sandwiches and good cannoli
        - Recipe, a new, new American on Amsterdam between 71st and 72nd (the NYT just had a review, yesterday)

        JungMann's suggestion of Barney Greengrass is also a good one, for breakfast as well as lunch (beware that the digs are kind of old and threadbare, sort of 70s cafeteria in style... it's the fish that's worth going for).

        I used to love Bin 71 (kelea's suggestion), but haven't been in ages. IIRC, the wine and food were both good, but sort of pricey for what they were (small portions of food, higher than usual markup on the wine). The crowd is predominantly in their 20s and 30s.

        Of the restaurants mentioned in this thread, Ouest and Cesca have the best wine lists IMO. Compass, Telepan and Dovetail all have decent ones. Spiga's is so-so.

        Bruno the King of Ravioli
        2204 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

        La Vela
        373 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

        452 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

        1. re: cimui

          Have you taken away any of the prepared foods at Bruno Ravioli? I have to admit to a certain weakness in the knees for the cheesy eggplant dishes at Fairway, but they are rather bland. I'd be interested in trying some of the parmesan-esque dinners at Bruno if they're at all good.

          1. re: JungMann

            I've tried the lasagna and stuffed shells, but not the parms. I frankly didn't love them: When you make pasta that far in advance, it has a tendency to get a little too mushy in all that sauce. I can't imagine anything breaded and fried surviving the prolonged soak in any better form.

            They DO have a few parmesan sandwiches (eggplant, chicken, meatball) that are sauced right before serving. Those are pretty good, since parts of the breading stay crispy.

            If you're ever feeling more like a sitdown meal, La Vela has a good breaded chicken breast baked with asparagus, Parmigiano and white wine (pollo al forno, $12). I'm usually much more a fan of their pastas than meat entrees, since the meat is so often overcooked and dry. The chicken in this dish stays surprisingly moist... probably because it's fried and bad for you. =)

            1. re: cimui

              Eh, ok for the sake of balance, I feel like I have to pass this on: The SO just told me I was silly for expecting eggplant parmesan to retain any semblance of crispiness and that a proper one should be mushy. (See, e.g., the crispy foods covered with gravy thread: )

              But he also said he doesn't particularly care for the eggplant parm at Bruno, despite it being 'properly' mushy. (I am unclear why.)

              So there you go. Fair and balanced. =)

      2. Picholine (you can do a full blown meal which I highly recommend) or have some small plates in the wine/cheese bar area.

        Bar Boulud for outstanding charcuterie.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Seconding Bar Boulud's charcuterie, housemade boudin sausages...

        2. Barney Greengrass for a light breakfast of bagels with nova or sturgeon is a definite must.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            Seconding Barney Greengrass. Check hours, though, as they are closed on Mondays. They get pretty packed on the weekends.

            Other breakfast options:
            Good Enough to Eat (stick with carbs, omelets, weekends are crowded)
            Popover Cafe (good omelets, slightly less popular)
            Sarabeth's (breakfast daily, weekends are crowded)
            Nice Matin (weekends only)
            Ouest (weekends only)
            Calle Ocho (never been but other hounds rave about it)

            There is also a brand new Joe the Art of Coffee in the neighborhood. Some of the best espresso and coffee in town, and they carry good pastries and such.

          2. Salumeria Rossi (73 and Amsterdam) for small plates, cured meats, cheeses and wine.

            1. hi...i lived on the Upper West Side for several months, and i have to say, despite gamely trying many many places in the neighborhood, i still think it's one of the weakest areas in the city for restaurants...

              that said, as mentioned above, Barney Greengrass and the cheese plate at Picholine are good options...

              but the only place i really like up there is a rustic Argentinian tapas place called Cafe Ronda on Columbus/71st...they have lots of reasonably priced wine by the glass and the lamb meatballs are great...

              In other neighborhoods, Keens is one of my favorites...and you might also consider eating at the bar of Scarpetta: stellar contemporary Italian food and lots and lots of great wine...