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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: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625876 )

              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...

              1. Just turn the corner and go north on Columbus (don't even need to cross the street) to try Bello Sguardo -- which serves well-prepared Mediterranean/ Moroccan at very reasonable prices, also has a good wine list. I love the lemon chicken tagine with green olives. A very good and friendly neighborhood place!


                1. Keens, Katz's, and Jean Georges sounds like a great time!

                  Tons of UWS recommendations in this thread, too:

                  And, because someone's bound to mention it, there's always the Shake Shack for their famous Shack burgers (thin patty, griddled, special sauce) and frozen custard (very thick frozen dessert, like a very thick ice cream, Midwestern style).

                  There is also the new Fatty Crab uptown, Mermaid Inn uptown, Jacques Torres store, Grom for gelato, and Grandaisy Bakery for bread, sweets, and their Roman style pizza.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    For breakfast or a quick meal I'd throw Ouest in there. Hang out at the bar and get some apps, or go there for Brunch on the weekend, and enjoy one of the better brunches in the area. If you need a weekday spot, head for Barney Greengrass or Good Enough to Eat, I won't go near either of those on a weekend, but like a nice leisurely breakfast there when working from home and without the crowds.
                    For a casual UWS dinner on a weeknight, Nice Matin, Kefi, Celeste, West Branch and my underrated favorite Bar Bao, are all great. I really like Bar Bao, and everyone I bring has loved it. I've only had one miss there, but everything else has been great. B cafe is a little hectic, but the mussels and beer are both good. Mermaid has the blue plate special early, and I find it more tolerable to get the lobster roll and a beer for cheap $, and not have to put up with the crowd there.
                    Also, Fairway Cafe for some of the best pancakes around.

                    1. re: UWSEater

                      I thought Ouest only had breakfast/brunch on the weekends? I listed it in my reply above.

                      Note to OP: Fairway Cafe is a cafe inside Fairway the grocery store.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Ouest is a weekend only brunch option. Wasn't sure on the time frame specified. Their bread basket is great, and the egg/omelete souffle is fantastic.

                    2. re: kathryn

                      The Shake Shack on the Upper West Side is 77th and Columbus

                      Someone mentioned Bello Sguardo, I am not a fan but if you're looking for it it is on Amsterdam not Columbus.

                      I am an H&H bagel fan (let the flame wars begin)... Get bagels there (80th and Broadway) and buy the nova at Fairway (75th and Bdway) or at Zabars (80th and Bdway) and make a real NY bagel. They do not make the sandwich for you at H&H and the nova in the fridge case there isn't any good.

                      Breakfast at Good Enough (am and 84th or so) to eat is a very UWS thing.. go on a weekday

                      Freds is good local eatery (83rd or so and Am)

                      If going to Katz's (I am a fan) def go during the week. It is absolute madness on the weekend. The subway route from the UWS is about a 30 minute trip... 1/2/3 train to Times Square, N/R to 34th and then the F to Houston and 2nd Ave

                      1. re: msny98

                        When it comes to bagels in the UWS, I'm personally a fan on Lenny's Bagel on 98th and Broadway. WAY better than H&H in my opinion.

                        Kefi! Greek food...delicious and very well-priced. It's at 84th and Columbus. The spreads dish is my favorite, along with the lamb shank and the meatballs. I know some have been apprehensive at the new location but I still love it.

                        Second Shake Shack, Dovetail, West Branch. Calle Ocho that kathryn has mentioned, I'm a fan. Esp for Sunday brunch...the taco cart is DELICIOUS! $8 for about 6 mini tacos. Most dishes are under $16 but the best thing is the unlimited sangria bar that comes with your brunch! (Although recently, I've notice the alcohol content has gone down quite a bit. but still delicious)

                        I really like Citron Bistro. It's a typical French bistro but their salads, frites and clams in white wine sauce are DELICIOUS!

                    3. Salumeria Rosi is a fun place with lovely Italian Charcuterie, and the irrepressible Cesare Casella holding court.

                      I love Ed Brown's food, and he's at 81, across from the Museul of Natural History. It's kinda pricy, tho.

                      1. I love Celeste between 84th and 85th on Amsterdam. They have Italian food. Their cheeses are amazing. I highly recommend their pizzas or their gnocchi. Though I have not ordered it, I have heard that they have a great selection of wine.
                        You may also want to try Patsy's on 74th and Columbus. They specialize in pizza.