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Sep 2, 2009 05:35 PM

Trip Report & now going back & need recs

Hello. I managed to scour these board prior to my trip a few months ago and this is what I "accomplished" in a week:
Day 1
Katz's Deli - Pastrami on Rye
Russ and Daughters - Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Bagel
Doughnut Plant - Creme Brulee, PBJ, Blackout Cake Doughnuts
Otto - Margherita Pizza, Pasta and it was the gelato that blew me away - Creme Fraiche, Olive Oil and Pistachio
Day 2
Sushi Yasuda - sublime. It was sockeye salmon season so that was very good.
Went back to Otto for the gelato - Meyer Lemon Blackberry Swirl, Salty Caramel
Day 3
Shake Shack - burger was just meeh IMHO but the custard was very tasty
Day 4
Cafe Un Deux Tres for lunch - it was close to hotel. Food was good
Had cheesesteaks @ Yankee game. So so food.
Day 5
Ssam Bar - interesting dishes although it didn't all work for me
Crif Dogs - deep fried dogs, what is there not to love?
Rice to Riches - I found it way too sweet
Day 6
Balthazar for Brunch
Cafe Habana - grilled corn rolled in butter and cheese. Why did I not think of that before?
Spotted Pig - fried pigs ears, cheese stuffed dates (yummy)
Day 7
Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th
Day 8
Shopsin's - sliders and mac and cheese pancakes
Doughnut Plant - got doughnuts to go
left for airport (I know...last hurrah)

Now I am coming back to your lovely city yet again. I was hoping to get some feedback and also some recommendations as well. I will be around for 6 nights and here is what I have so far:

Getting in Tuesday around 2pm. I am going to be dining solo on all.
Thinking of going to Co. for a late lunch
I have theater tix
I have late dinner reservations at Degustation

Wed - Lower East Side
I am thinking of going to Clinton Street Baking Company for breakfast as I have reservations at the Tenement Museum
Lunch - Shopsin's again? Any other places nearby that is quick and good?
Snacks-pre theater?
I have theater tix then I do have late dinner at Perilla

Thurs-FiDi/Wall Street
Any early breakfast places and a quick lunch nearby or should I head to Chinatown?
I have a couple of tours around Wall Street area then I am heading to Brooklyn/DUMBO area to see the bridge from the Brooklyn side. Is it worth to go to Grimaldi's? I am a frequent chowhound reader and I know the must eats in Brooklyn are Di Fara and Peter Luger. I have been told that they are not close to where I am at though. Any suggestions?

If not Di Fara's or Peter Luger, anything I am missing for dinner that is a must try and not hard to get reservations the day/night of?

Friday - I have lunch reservations at Jean Georges

Saturday - US Open

Sunday - I am hoping to walk in to Babbo when they open.

Whew. Sorry this post is long. I have been a long time chowhound reader but first time poster. Any suggestions, corrections will be appreciated.

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  1. > Getting in Tuesday around 2pm. I am going to be dining solo on all.
    > Thinking of going to Co. for a late lunch

    NB: they state that they close at 3pm so if you get in slightly later, you might not make it before the kitchen closes. I'd have a backup plan if you are delayed for any reason.

    > Wed - Lower East Side
    > I am thinking of going to Clinton Street Baking Company for breakfast as I have > reservations at the Tenement Museum

    I find that Clinton St's breakfasts are so BIG and filling, I rarely need another meal until dinner, btw. But if you want a little something to nosh on, I'd go to the bar at 'inoteca or Freemans and get something small or grab a sandwich at Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop. There's also Katz's for a pastrami sandwich on rye but the sandwiches there are pretty big.

    OR you could grab some gelato at Il Laboratorio de Gelato (very close to the Tenement Museum), some chocolates from Roni-Sue (in the Essex St Market), and a cupcake at Sugar Sweet Sunshine!

    > Snacks-pre theater?

    I'd do a plate or two at the Bar Room at the Modern. Lots of people on CH also like Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe. Or you could try to find a street cart, check for a map so you can see what's close.

    For Brooklyn, you'll need to post on the Outer Boroughs board.

    Also, for the US Open, you might find this helpful:

    24 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thank you Kathryn for even MORE restaurants for me to check out :) My list is growing by the minute. Thank you for the Bar Room at the Modern rec. I did need to find places like that which are open straight from lunch to dinner. The menu looks amazing.

      I also have been wanting to see what the proximity of the various chowhound approved places are. I have made one for the East Village but perhaps way too ambitious consuming wise:

      Start at Degustation - small plates
      Pomme Frittes - self explanatory
      Graffiti - small dishes
      Momofuku Noodle Bar - pork buns
      The Redhead
      Artichoke - square slice only, right?
      Crif Dogs and Dumpling Man if still can eat!

      Sometimes, my trips are more of a "job" than vacation. But someone has to do it!

      1. re: GoChow

        I don't find Pomme Frites to be that interesting. Haven't been to Graffiti.

        Note that you can get the pork buns are Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssam Bar (even up until 2am on the new late night cocktail menu they serve midnight to 2am), and Momofuku Milk Bar.

        My favorite thing at the Redhead is the fried chicken, but it's pretty popular these days, and most of the portions are pretty big. Are you planning on just appetizers there?

        Artichoke, yes, just the square slice.

        1. re: kathryn

          i like the crab and the margharita slice at artichoke as well

          1. re: kathryn

            Skip Pomme Frites there isn't anything particularly exciting about it. Just a waste of calories.

            1. re: kathryn

              the Redhead - I will try anything that is good, although I think I am getting waaaaay ambitious trying to jam all these places in one night :) I will remember to get the fried chicken. Thanks!

              1. re: GoChow

                I also like the bacon brittle (though it is more like party mix/loose peanuts than candy), the chips and dip, and the mushroom flatbread, too.

              2. re: kathryn

                I found milk bar to be the easiest access for pork buns if you go on a weekend night, though there is a line, the other places are packed and you will have to wait for a table. BTW you might want to try the pork bun with egg too but they stop serving it at 5pm I believe and it is only at milk bar.

                I would go for a steamed pork dumpling and coconut buns at mei lai wah -- I don't think much of their baked ones now.

                1. re: tpigeon

                  you cab get buns to go at SSAM too

              3. re: GoChow

                if you're in the area of pomme frites, you should stop by caracas arepa bar.

                1. re: GoChow

                  Degustation is at the top of my list of places to try. I'd personally skip Crif Dogs unless you really like novelty toppings on your hot dogs. I would also skip Grimaldi's unless you're going at a really odd hour -- the pizza just isn't worth the hassle imo. DiFara might be worth it but is a serious investment of time as you will be traveling almost to Coney Island then will wait in line at the restaurant as well. There are plenty of excellent pizza options in Manhattan. In addition to the square slice at Artichoke, you should try a pie one of the coal oven places like Arturo's on Houston or Angelo's in midtown.

                  PS: One pizza place to consider in the Wall Street area is Adrienne's Pizza Bar.

                  PPS: Why are you going to the Halal Cart on 53rd? There are many other middle eastern places I'd consider more destination dining. For example, Azuri Cafe on 51st and 10th is one of the best falafel and shawarma joints in the US.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I think Crif is more then about novelty toppings. The fried dogs are delicious. My favorite is probably the spicy redneck.

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      crif dogs is all about the hidden bar, which also has dogs by wylie dufrense and david chang

                      1. re: thew

                        Hmmm, can I show up at PDT then without ordering drinks (I don't drink) but getting the dufrense and chang dogs? Probably not, eh?

                          1. re: GoChow

                            Don't try to go to PDT and get hot dogs but not order a drink. They will not be happy.

                            You can get the Chang dog from the regular Crif Dogs menu. Not sure about the Wylie dog.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              thats a change , as far as i know. i could be wrong but i thought those dogs were only in pdt.

                              im sure if you go in w/ someone else, who is drinking they certainly wont care if you order a nonalcoholic beverage

                              1. re: thew

                                A some point last year they quietly added the Chang dog to the menu, but the menus on places like aren't up to date. I know the owner would prefer to keep the two menus separate.

                                > im sure if you go in w/ someone else, who is drinking they certainly wont care if you order a nonalcoholic beverage

                                I've done this with a big group (several people + one friend who doesn't drink). I definitely wouldn't try it with just one person. I suppose two could be ok.

                      2. re: a_and_w

                        I guess I should skip Crif Dogs and the Halal Cart on this trip as I have been to them a few months ago. I wanted to check out what the big fuss was about to the cart and it was good and cheap! I will check out Azuri IF I have the time and tummy room! Thank you for the recommendation and I will add to my list.

                        Also, I am dining solo on all of these and I find that my biggest challenge that I need to overcome is the awkwardness I feel when dining at a very nice place. Sitting at a bar I can deal with, but what I can imagine EMP and Daniel (I have been to the latter but was not dining solo)...oy, I think it will be very awkward unless it won't be too odd for me to read a book (?).

                        1. re: GoChow

                          Oh, I dine at bars all the time. You can totally bring a book or magazine subject only to noise and lighting limitations. Often, you will find yourself getting into conversation with others at the bar. EMP has a very comfortable bar -- quiet and well lit -- but you can only order from the bar menu, as I recall.

                          1. re: a_and_w

                            EMP's bar area has a separate menu (the bar menu) during dinner, but you can order from the regular lunch menu at the bar during lunch.

                      3. re: GoChow

                        Eating all of this as a snack will probably give you a heart attack!

                        One square slice at Artichoke or one serving of fries at Pommes Frites will fill me up for a meal by itself. I would skip Dumpling Man, as I find it dry and bland. I would go to caracas or Artichoke.

                        Also, Chinatown over FiDi. Much cheaper and lots of tasty places. Check out Aji Ichiban for candies and preserved fruit snacks if you don't have one in your city.

                        1. re: windycity

                          Hilarious about the heart attack but I hope it does not come. Yes, I know it is way too much food that is not good for me. But I am in NYC, if it's a must try, I will try.

                          We do have Aji Ichiban and that place is dangerous for me as the weighed items can add up $$$ quick.

                          1. re: GoChow

                            sorry, I didn't know what city you were from. I know what you mean about cost - I once hurriedly bought a pound of the dried crabs b/c they reopened for me - it was 20 dollars!

                            For Chinatown, you should hit the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory - they have the best lychee ice cream. Next door is New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe which has good soup dumplings.

                            for the LES eating tour, you can get a fries sample with sauce. That's a better way of eating all that you want.

                      4. re: kathryn

                        Il lab is a must for you. I like it even more than otto.

                      5. Hello All - I made it to your city and I will try to do a post while I am able to breathe from all the food I've tried for the past two far. Sorry in advance for the length.

                        Kathryn, thank you for advising me about my back-up plan in case my flight was delayed. I didn't realize how long the travel time is from the airport to downtown! Anyway, I did go to the Modern but alas, the kitchen is closed on Tuesdays. I think it probably is because the MoMa is closed on that day as well? I walked by DB Modern and it was closed as well and not to open until 5 or 530. So I walked to Grand Central Station to get some sightseeing done and stumbled on Golden Krust for Jamaican patties at the lower floor. I got the jerk chicken - it wasn't the greatest but it was good enough to satisfy me for the meantime.

                        530pm rolls around and I show back up at the Bar at the Modern. I ordered the slow poached farm egg with maine lobster, green asparagus and sea urchin froth. It was served at some jam jar type of deal and the food was delicious. I also ordered the grilled yellow fin tuna with crispy sweetbreads. The yellow fin was very fresh but I thought the sweetbreads were too tiny to make an impression. Perhaps it was there to give a crunch to the dish. Minor issue though and both were good. I was surprised as to how crowded and busy the place was. It sure was a good find and will definitely be back when I have the time.

                        After the theater, I called Degustation and told them I will be early. No problem they said. I try to find the place and stumbled on a bar, I walked in and asked "Is this degustation?" The bartender was like, no, this is the fish bar, but would like a drink anyway? Uh oh. So I keep walking and pass by Jewel Bako and figured I'm at the right place. I find it and there were about 8 people dining. I chose the ten course tasting and all in all, I thought there were stand outs that I would order ala carte the next time I visit. The other dishes were just not awesome. My favorites - seared pork belly, avocado, pickled watermon with heirloom tomato, the sardines, wildboar with tomato, and the almond soup with champagne grapes.

                        Day 2 - I did not head out as early as I expected and arrived at Clinton Street Baking Company an hour after they had opened. Alas, there are people waiting outside for tables. I figured how hard could I get a seat for one? I've mentioned the awkwardness of dining alone at a very fine dining place but the beauty of being solo is I can get squeezed in a bar seat - well no luck with this place. There are two bar stools facing the window but a solo diner has already taken the spot and it would be a tight squeeze for me to sit there unless we knew each other :) I also spied that she is eating the famous blueberry pancakes - the serving portion was huge and indeed the pancakes are fluffy. I finally get seated 30 minutes later and the solo guy diner next to me also had the same pancakes. His order arrived and I can see from the corner of my eye, he is folding his long sleeve shirt as if I challenge has arrived and he is going to task. Alas, he gives up and barely eats half of it.

                        I ordered the southern breakfast and it came with fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, sugar cured bacon and 2 eggs. Since I have never had grits nor fried green tomatoes, I have nothing to compare this dish to but man, it was heavenly. The grits were just the right consistency - not too thick nor runny and very cheesy. The fried green tomatoes were crunchy on the outside and inside, juicy and tart. Sugar cured bacon...I love bacon and I love sugar in my it was a no brainer. Jackpot. I was eyeing to order a half blueberry pancake half brioche french toast but I asked and the kitchen told the hostess they could not do that. Oh well, like what I've been advised, the portions are huge! I move on.

                        I drop by the Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery and got a lemon cupcake. Very lemon-y. I am not sweets and cupcake expert but I thought I would give it a try to see what is the fuss with the place. I think I still prefer Italian buttercream as it is very light.

                        My tour finally happens and as I had 2 hours to kill for my next one, I pop by Il Laboratorio Del Gelato. They didn't quite have interesting flavors today so I got the weirdest one I can find - Fresh Mint and Fresh White Fig. The mint was true to form, like eating menthol candy (?) while the fig, I couldn't quite taste. I might come back here as I am still eyeing my 2nd serving of Clinton's Southern Breakfast! It was that good.

                        I am very full, but the museum I went to had listed food places nearby for their guests. As if I need even a longer list! So I went to my staple - Doughnut Plant and got a Tres Leches. It was very subtle in flavor and not too sweet, the way I like it. Kossar Bialy was next door but I couldn't make myself go as I haven't had a bialy, didn't know what to expect, and was already so full that I wanted to make sure I know what I was eating. I walked to Prosperity Dumpling and there was a long line of people inside waiting for their orders. Because I was pressed for time to get back on my next tour, I asked the cashier lady "what is the order that comes out the quickest?" she goes, "fried pork dumpling with chives". 4 pcs for $1? Really? That is quite the bargain. So I ordered that and walked back to the museum. The dumpling was just okay. I felt that the crust seems too thick and the meat wasn't as rich and flavorful as it should. I might go back and try the steamed/boiled ones next time.

                        I do a walking tour, which I was thankful to be rid of all the food that I have been eating, then I was asking how to get to my next destination. I was advised to walk it instead of taking the subway. So I walked about 14 blocks or so and the first few blocks, I stumble on Pinisi. I tried to memorize and stare at most of the Chowhound recommended places you see so that when I do see it, I can recognize it withough having to check my list. I go in and get a red velvet. No review yet as it is sitting in my hotel room waiting to be eaten.

                        So I keep walking and saw the Arepas place. I grab a to go menu and keep walking. Finally, I see Redhead and walk in. It was only 5pm so I had to chill (literally) at the bar and wait for dinner to be served at 530. I overheard the bartender answer a phone call and someone must have asked what would she order, and she does mention to the caller that the most popular dish is the fried chicken. That was already what I wanted in my mind anyway (thanks Kathryn) so I get that and boy was that delicious - good crispy crust and moist chicken inside! It was served with a refreshing strawberry, almond, green salad and a corn bread on the side. I get the bacon peanut brittle to go and the guys sitting next to me at the bar goes "Now how do you know to get that? Besides, WHAT is that?" Hahaha.

                        I leave and get ready for my play. Then I go to Perilla and order the duck breast with curry, popcorn and pluots. Good dish but somehow, the popcorn kept bugging me. I guess there is a consistency with me and little crispy things on dishes.

                        That is all. It's been 2 days and have had a lot of great eats indeed. I will try to go back to the ones I liked and missed opportunity (gelato - I want more weird flavors to try).

                        Thanks to everyone for your help and always kind suggestions. I appreciate it. I will try to report again soon.

                        1. Glad you're enjoying your trip so far! Do you remember what you ordered at Ssam Bar, what did work for you, and what didn't? I'm thinking of going there tonight, though it could be brutal trying to get a table on a Friday night.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Pan

                            I believe we ordered the pork buns and some type of salad with boiled egg and peas. I think those were my "hits". The misses were the spicy pork sausage and rice cakes and the chicken fried chicken. I am trying to remember based on my memory of the pictures I took when I dined there months ago :) Good luck on getting a table!

                            1. re: GoChow

                              I didn't end up going tonight. Thanks for your reply.

                              1. re: Pan

                                No problem. I went to Graffitti tonight and it was superb. I had the watermelon feta salad with mint sorbet. Interesting combination of flavors but it worked. I also had chickpea crusted skate with mint yogurt sauce. Crunchy skate but moist inside. Then I had braised pork buns with apricot chutney. I thought it was better than ssam bar pork buns?!?!

                                I did drop by ssam milk bar for horchata soft serve and took some chorizo challah home. :) It was loud at ssam, I had to eat outside in the cold/rain.