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2 days in Manhattan, decisions decisions

Here is my meal itinerary for two days staying in Grammercy area:

Thursday, Day 1 late August:

Breakfast: Ess-a-Bagel, everything bagel w/nova
Lunch: Balthazar, must try the french fries (is it worth it?)
Dinner: Might go to Mets game, so dinner is questionable. Suggestions? Perhaps Totonos pizza early?

Friday day 2:
Ess-a-Bagel repeat
Lunch (prix fixe specials): 11 Madison Park, Gotham Bar and Grille, Grammercy Tavern, or is it worth shlepping up to Jean-George Nougatine in the August heat (your votes please)
Dinner: Carnegie Deli (you cannot talk me out of this one)

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  1. If you are thinking of Gramercy Tavern's formal dining room, for a prix-fixe lunch deal, you can remove it from consideration because they don't offer one. Eleven Madison Park is our favorite NYC restaurant, and the 2 for $28 lunch menu is excellent!

    The one time we tried Totonno's on 2nd & 26th, the pizza was very disappointing. We prefer the excellent thin crust pizza at Posto, on the corner of 2nd & 18th.

    http://www.postothincrust.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      The only good Totonno's seems to be the one out in Coney Island and they are recovering from a fire still, and may not be open by the time you get here in August.

      1. re: RGR

        There really isn't any crust to speak of on the cracker thin Posto pizza.

        Just wanted to note that for the out of towner, since it's not for everyone... but it is something different, and they have multiple locations that are usually hopping with fans.

      2. Re: dinner at/before Mets game. There are plenty of posts on the Outerboroughs Board about the eats at the new Citi Field. In short, they are greatly improved and really quite good. Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, a taqueria, box frites, Mama's of Corona, and a bunch of other places. I'd recommend checking out those posts before deciding whether to skip food at the stadium.

        2 Replies
        1. re: LNG212

          Agree with LNG212 -- I'd eat AT the Mets game, it's one of the few stadiums where there is a lot of thought put into the food. And there's a branch of the Shake Shack!

          Or go to somewhere on the 7 train -- so much great food in Queens on the 7 line, especially one stop away in Flushing!

          1. re: kathryn

            I agree with LNG and Kathryn about eating at the Mets game. I was unwilling to brave the Shake Shack line, but the food at the Taqueria was really good both times I tried it.

            Also, I had the two course lunch at EMP in May, and really enjoyed it. I think it would be a good place to check out.

        2. "Balthazar, must try the french fries (is it worth it?)"

          IMO - No - . I was underwhelmed by Balthazar.
          It was good...nothing awful (except that our red wine was served ICE cold -bleh!)..frites were ok - good but certainly not great.
          But I think you could do much better elsewhere!
          If I were you I would seek out more "New York"ish food for lunch that day

          1. If you go to Jean Georges for a prix fixe lunch, I'd go for the formal dining room, not the Nougatine Room. Otherwise, EMP is your best bet.

            11 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              Agreed--I think it is worth the schlep up to Jean George for your prix fixe lunch, but not to Nougatine. The lunch in the formal dining room is the an amazing deal.

              1. re: prdct

                I thought that the deal was only for Nougatine and didn't apply to the formal dining room, am I wrong? If so, what is the prix fix price in the formal dining room? Jacket is required yes?

                1. re: OC Mutt

                  This question actually comes up a lot! For the JG lunch deal, it is offered Monday through Saturday. You get 2 courses for $28 + $14 for each additional course. Dessert is not included but can be added on for $8. There is a long list of options to choose from and the list includes many of the signature dishes (some for a small supplement).

                  As a bonus, they offer you a trio of amuse to begin as well as complimentary marshmallows, petit fours, and bon bons to finish. And these are the very same amuses-bouches and petits-fours served at dinner!

                  See:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620098

                  As for dress code: in the main dining room, jackets are required for dinner only. For lunch, they simply ask no jeans and no tennis shoes. (I've called and confirmed this!)

                  1. re: kathryn

                    I'm assuming no shorts either, which of course brings the brutal August heat into the equation. Would reservations be required? I can't believe that they offer it on Saturday AND at JG (not Nougatine)! This is wonderful news, thank you so much!

                    1. re: OC Mutt

                      Definitely make reservations. Jean Georges recently joined OpenTable.com which makes it even easier to book! And the Saturday lunch offering in the formal dining room is fairly new.

                      Not really sure about the shorts question -- I would call and ask?

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Ok, one more question. JG or EMP - which is more comfortable dining alone?

                        1. re: OC Mutt

                          On their website, EMP states specfically "No shorts." And my guess is that J.G. would not find them acceptable either.

                          Presuming you mean to be seated at a table at EMP (there is bar dining), we've been there countless times -- lunch and dinner -- and I've often seen solo patrons at a table. They are always treated very graciously. I've only had lunch once at J.G. and didn't notice any solo diners, but I'm sure they are treated with the utmost courtesy.

                          P.S. Considering that the weather in these parts has been like early April in June and May in July, who knows if there will be a steamy August?

                          1. re: RGR

                            Thank you for the heads up. I believe that bar dining would be my preference so EMP might be my best choice for this day.

                            1. re: OC Mutt

                              Just FYI EMP has a separate bar menu. However, you should be OK since you can order from the regular lunch menu at the bar during lunch hours. At some point in the late afternoon/evening, they switch over to the bar menu. For dinner, you can't order from the regular dining room's menu at the bar. At least that is what they told me when I called a month or so ago.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Thanks Kathryn, you are amazing! I really appreciate your advice!

                          2. re: OC Mutt

                            I've seen people dining solo for lunch at JG, and the staff didn't seem to mind.
                            If it's a matter of reservation, I for one think Nougatine is perfectly fine, very much worth going for, and every bit as enjoyable. I can't compare it to EMP however.

              2. l love the breadbasket and coffee at Balthazar's
                Barney Greengrass for the other breakfast
                Pizza l like Co, on 9th Ave.
                Ate at Gramercy for dinner @ a month ago, and while place ,wine, and service was very nice, food was way below acceptable. Ate with two chefs and we all agreed, very low level, boring, and rarely served at correct temp.
                Will not talk you out of Carnegie, but there are better, much better. While at B Greengrass, try their pastrami.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I agree with you about Gramercy Tavern's dining room. When we had dinner there several months ago, the dishes I ordered were ill-conceived and had little or poor flavor. My husband's were better conceptually but very unexciting. Desserts were above average though certainly not extraordinary. The only outstanding item was the pre-dessert. Overall, a real disappointment.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Agree completely on the desserts. After Claudia Jennings left to open Northfork Table & Inn, was afraid of desserts no longer being as l like, not sweet and very intense. The desserts now at Gramercy are still wonderful. Should have eaten a entire dinner of desserts

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      That was Claudia *Flemming*, and right after she left G.T., she actually hooked up with the Prêt à Manger chain for some time. Then she worked with her chef husband, Gary Hayden, at a restaurant in Chelsea that didn't last too long. The North Fork venture, also with Hayden, is her most recent. I agree that Nancy Olson, G.T.'s current pastry chef, is doing a very good job.