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Moderate Priced Weekend for Foodies - Perry St., Degustation, Babbo, Momofuku Ssam Bar...

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Thank you already for all the help posted here, just thought I'd ask for feedback on our food schedule and maybe any important spots we're missing!

We're two foodies from Canada (recently moved from Calgary to Toronto) who are looking for fantastic food experiences with a budget of about $100 each (without alcohol) per meal. We're celebrating our 3rd anniversary, so I wanted to make sure we had a fabulous eating trip!!

After going through most of the Manhattan board, our current eating schedule looks like this:

Friday night:
Perry St. - late dinner upon arrival (10:30 reservation)

Saturday:
Shake Shack - lunch (11:00 am?)
Degustation - early dinner (7:30 reservation)
Momofuku Ssam Bar - late dinner (no reservation - walk up around 11 pm?)

Sunday:
open depending on sightseeing

We'd thought about trying to get in to Babbo without a reservation for Saturday instead of Degustation, but were worried we might not get in. Should we move our reservation at Degustation up to an earlier time slot?

So I guess, any other suggestions/changes we should make? Is this realistic?

Thanks in advance to all the chowhounders for all your help on this!

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  1. I think Degustation is a more interesting choice than Babbo, given your limited schedule. And why Shake Shack? I've not been there, but can't imagine waiting in a long line for a burger. I love BLT burger, the meat is of really high quality, onion rings are delicious, good beers on tap, and you can sit comfortably and not have to wait.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      I had originally thought Shake Shack because it seems like there isn't much of a line when it opens at 11 am (based on what it says in the forums here), it's well thought of by foodies and it's supposed to be the "best" burger in New York. Also, I thought it would be a nice change-up from "fine dining" for lunch.

      Being a Calgary (Canada) born native where great beef is plentiful, I've had quite a few good burgers, so if there is another experience that everyone would recommend for lunch (e.g. a food experience of a "can't miss" variety), I'm definitely open for suggestions!!

      1. re: Tony Calgary

        Was reading some of the older posts and The Modern comes up quite often. Would Chowhounders suggest replacing either Saturday lunch (Shake Shack) or early Saturday dinner (Degustation/Babbo) with the Modern?

        Also, while it's a minor consideration, how does it's value compare (as it would add significantly to the budget if substituted for lunch and is a bit more expensive than either Degustation/Babbo)?

        Thanks for everyone's patience with all my questions!

        1. re: Tony Calgary

          Do you really want to have lunch at 11 am? I can't believe Shake Shack's burger could be any better than BLT's. And what if the weather is unpleasant (as is predicted for this Saturday)?

      2. Updated schedule (based on reading older threads):

        Friday night:
        Perry St. - late dinner upon arrival (10:30 reservation)

        Saturday:
        Porchetta - lunch (noon?)
        Degustation - early dinner (7:30 reservation) OR try to get into Bobbo (no reservation) OR Adour (is it worth the money)?
        Momofuku Ssam Bar - late dinner (no reservation - walk up around 11 pm?) OR Momofuku Ko (if I win the reservation lottery for Dec. 5?)

        Sunday:
        Modern Bar Room - lunch

        I added Modern on Sunday as I think we might go to MOMA to see the Tim Burton exhibit.

        Sorry to expand the list, but still taking suggestions and other ideas on what a "best of" tour would look like with a $200 (no alcohol) budget per meal for two would take us!

        Thanks again everyone!!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Tony Calgary

          One last thought - where would you suggest as a back-up for Momofuku Ssam Bar if they are busy on Saturday night? How long is the wait usually at around 11 pm? I thought Sakagura looked interesting, but it seems a bit far as a back-up choice.

          Thanks again for everyone's help!

          1. re: Tony Calgary

            For two people, there usually isn't much of a wait. I've never had to wait for more than 30 minutes. By 11pm, there shouldn't even be that long of a wait. If there is, they lead you to the Milk Bar next door where you can get drinks while waiting. I'd recommend you do try to make it to Ssam bar. I love it there and think its worth a slight wait. Recommend the pork buns, pork and rice cakes and whatever the greenmarket vegetable is.

            I see there is no pizza on your list. I'd suggest that for lunch on Saturday if you decide against Shake Shack/burgers. Whether its a Motorino or Keste or Co for thinner crust or Veloce Pizzeria for a sicilian style pie. I'd suggest that for lunch.

            I also think Shake Shack is great but not worth a long wait on line. At 11am there won't be a line, esp if the weather isn't great. If there is a long line, you can walk to Blue Smoke on 27th btwn Park and Lex for a burger. Same owner as Shake Shack and the burger is almost identical in taste but in a pub style (bigger patty). Or in the area, there is also Molly's for a great big pub burger on 3rd ave btwn 22nd and 23rd.
            Or the burger at the bar at Primehouse on 27th and Park.

            1. re: ESNY

              So the best luck has happened, and we actually won the Momofuku Ko reservation lottery!

              So based on the following schedule (with changes based on Chowhound recommendations) - are there any changes or other options we should consider for $200 a meal (no alcohol)?

              Also, since we had Ssam Bar penciled in as our late night option but are now going to Ko for our early dinner, where would be best for a late dinner? Would Ko or Noodle bar be too much Momofuku? (if there is such a thing?)

              FRIDAY NIGHT:
              Perry St. - late dinner upon arrival (10:30 reservation)

              SATURDAY:
              Porchetta - lunch
              Momofuku Ko - early dinner
              --> Suggestions for late night dinner option?

              SUNDAY:
              Modern Bar Room - lunch
              --> Suggestions for one last meal before we head to LaGuardia at 6 pm?

              Thanks everyone and I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

              1. re: Tony Calgary

                Tony,
                We visited NYC last weekend from Toronto and hit some of the same spots:
                Friday lunch: Shake Shack -- thought it was a great burger. We went to the location on the UWS and didn't have to wait. Nice to have an inexpensive meal, too.
                Friday dinner: Babbo. We had a reservation at 11 -- very good. Had the lamb's tongue salad, shared the pasta with boar, and had the grilled quail (a little too sweet). The wine list had lots of bottles under $50.
                Saturday lunch: Franny's for pizza, in Brooklyn. Excellent, excellent.
                Saturday dinner: Momofuku Ko. The highlight -- really great. BTW, the wine pairing is $95 pp.
                Sunday brunch: Locanda Verde -- great spot -- would recommend.
                Have a great time!

          2. re: Tony Calgary

            So I chanced upon a late Friday night reservation at Jean Georges -- unsure if it's worth the heftier price over Perry St. or Degustation.

            Bearing in mind the rest of our dining schedule (Porchetta & Momofuku Ko on Saturday for lunch/dinner and Modern Bar Room for Sunday lunch), what do you think I should choose and why?

            Thanks everyone for the thoughts!

          3. i love degustation, and am sad you've nixed it (im going tomorrow for one of my birthday dinners)

            i do not like shake shack - i dont get the hype - but then to me a burger is a thick juicy thing, not a paper thin fast food item......

            momofuku ssam rarely has that long a wait, and certainly won't that late

            kudos on ko- i have yet to go

            27 Replies
            1. re: thew

              agree on degustation- it was one of my last meals in nyc and so glad i had the chance to go an d experience it!

              1. re: liveloveat34

                Hmmm. If I can get a Degustation reservation for late Friday, would you swap it for Perry St. on Friday when we arrive? Or does the current configuration look like a better "taste of NY?"

                Thoughts?

                1. re: Tony Calgary

                  i haven't been to Perry St. but i heard it was a good lunch deal with their prix fixe...i went to degustation for dinner with my husband and it was a great experience watching the chefs and the intimate setting. food matched the experience and was excetional...

                  1. re: liveloveat34

                    So I chanced upon a late Friday night reservation at Jean Georges -- unsure if it's worth the heftier price over Perry St. or Degustation.

                    Bearing in mind the rest of our dining schedule (Porchetta & Momofuku Ko on Saturday for lunch/dinner and Modern Bar Room for Sunday lunch), what do you think we should choose and why?

                    Thanks everyone for the thoughts!

                    1. re: Tony Calgary

                      Jean Georges is most definitely better than both Perry St and Degustation IMO, but it is also in a (much) higher price range. You can think of Perry St as "Jean Georges lite" and while there are some very good dishes, it will not reach the level of the flagship restaurant. Degustation is more along the lines of Momofuku Ko (counter seating, open kitchen, tasting menu format), but the food isn't at the same level. Jean Georges is probably the only restaurant on your list that can match or surpass Momofuku Ko overall, depending on your food and service preferences. However, dinner at Jean Georges (and Momofuku Ko) will be well over your $100 pp limit with service and tax.

                      Porchetta reviews are wildly mixed, so I'm not sure if you should go there. If you show up at Shake Shack right before they open, there should be little to no wait; keep in mind that there's also an Upper West Side location that's nearly always less crowded than the original in Madison Square Park. I think it's worth trying at least once. It's a crowd pleaser and the burgers are certainly one of the best of that type. The frozen custards and concretes are worth checking out too.

                      I like the Bar Room at the Modern quite a bit, but if you're looking for a much more memorable meal in the area, you can't do better than Le Bernardin on 51st St. IMO it's the absolute best high-end lunch in NYC; my last lunch there easily surpassed several meals I've had at Jean Georges and Eleven Madison Park, including EMP's current 5 course Gourmand tasting menu (which I had just a few days ago). Lunch at Le Bernardin will be under your $100 pp limit without wine.

                      1. re: hcbk0702

                        Thanks hcbk0702, unfortunately, it looks like Le Bernadin is closed on Sundays, so back to the Bar Room at the Modern on Sunday. So the current schedule looks like this...

                        FRIDAY:
                        late night dinner -- Perry St., Degustation or Jean Georges (which would be the best value?)

                        SATURDAY:
                        lunch -- Porchini or Shake Shack
                        dinner -- Momofuku Ko

                        SUNDAY:
                        lunch -- Bar Room at the Modern
                        late snack -- ?? -- any other "can't miss" opportunities?

                        Thanks everyone for all their advice already -- only a few days to go!

                        1. re: Tony Calgary

                          Degustation is one of my favorite restaurants. I would do that Friday and then eat at Perry Street on Sunday for lunch. They serve the brunch menu on sunday (which is basically all regular lunch dishes, you can look on their website) and it is an insanely good deal at $26 for three course.

                          I think Bar Rom at the Modern is sneakily very expensive, especially because it doesn't seem that you would save any money at lunch.

                          People say Porchetta is overrated, I'd do shake shack or pizza instead.

                          1. re: ian9139

                            I agree- Degustation is wonderful. I would highly recommend going there and it's a steal in terms of value. I also think you could hit Momofuku Saam late night on Saturday night, after Ko. The experience is completely different- both are great...there's not much to decide at Ko, but at Saam, you must get pork buns...great sausage and rice cake dish too.
                            I'm also partial to Shake Shack- it's a great burger and fun atmosphere. Someone else mentioned Molly's if the weather isn't great- amazing bar burger in an old irish pub with sawdust on the floor. It's fun. You could always go to Spotted Pig for a burger too...there's so much to eat here:-) Enjoy!

                            1. re: Rascal21

                              So I think the agenda's set (unless someone out there comes up with a great argument to revise!):

                              FRIDAY:
                              Perry St. -- land and head there for a late dinner. If our flight ends up late, we'll try to grab a spot at Degustation instead.

                              SATURDAY:
                              Porchetta's -- my girlfriend craves it since having it in Europe, so this is stop #1 -- ideally we'll split a meal so that we can do some shopping in the neighbourhood before stopping for a burger at Shake Shack if it's not too busy. If it's too busy, maybe a stop at Barney Greengrass if we're still hungry.

                              Bouchon Bakery -- after taking in a Broadway show, if we need a snack, maybe a macaroon or four before dinner.

                              Momofuku Ko -- dinner after winning the lottery. Do Chowhounds out there think the accompanying wines/spirits are worth the additional cost?

                              Momofuku Ssam Bar -- if we're craving a late night snack, then one more Momofuku stop. Otherwise, we might stop for a late night dessert at Gilt -- where I hear the Pancetta is amongst the best desserts in NYC.

                              SUNDAY:
                              Bar Room at The Modern -- our last real meal and hopefully a great one since most of the other high end places (Jean Georges, EMP) are closed on Sunday.

                              ??? -- a snack for the flight home? Any suggestions?

                              Thanks again for the help with the agenda everyone! I'll report back after our trip!

                              1. re: Tony Calgary

                                Friday night:
                                Degustation is pretty small, and may not be able to accomodate you. I'd have a backup plan if your flight is late.

                                Saturday: Porchetta is in the East Village, Shake Shack is near Madison Square Park/Flatiron or on the Upper West Side, Barney Greengrass is on the Upper West Side. The theatre district is in between, roughly. Be sure to plan for enough travel time! Porchetta opens at 11:30am, Shake Shack opens at 11am, what time is your show?

                                Skip the macarons at Bouchon Bakery. If you really crave macarons, go to La Maison du Chocolat in Rockefeller Center instead. Mind the hours of both, though.

                                Gilt serves pancetta for dessert? Pancetta as in the Italian "bacon"? If you want a late night dessert, I'd stop at Chikalicious Dessert Bar or Spot on the way out from Ko, grab something to go, assuming they're both still open.

                                For a snack for the flight home, when's your flight and where are you staying?

                                1. re: Tony Calgary

                                  A meal at Degustation will take a while if you go for the tasting menu, which I recommend (my girlfriend and I loved their 10-course tasting menu when we went in March). If you arrive late, you could also consider calling Lupa and seeing whether they could seat you right away. Degustation is much more interesting, in my opinion, but Lupa is very pleasant, and since you had some interest in Babbo, Lupa is a related but less expensive restaurant. Basically, the way I'd break it down is: My meal at Degustation was the best I'd had in several years; before that, my meal at Babbo occupied the same place and was probably the best Italian meal I'd had in New York; Lupa is a place I go to a few times a year and is very satisfying comfort food on a high level. If I had to rate them, my meal at Degustation was close to 4 stars, and certainly very high-level 3-star; my meal at Babbo was a very solid 3 stars but I felt Degustation, although a different kind of restaurant, blew Babbo away in terms of the pure inventiveness and pleasure of my meal; Lupa is an excellent 2-star restaurant. The expense of the meals was in that order, too, from highest- to lowest-priced. (Lupa is around $120-130/2 people for a couple of antipasti, two primi, two secondi, a shared dessert, and a carafina of wine, including tax and tip. My meal at Babbo was $180 for two, again all-inclusive; I paid $240 for two at Degustation.)

                                  1. re: Tony Calgary

                                    UPDATED LINE-UP (based on more feedback!).

                                    FRIDAY - Perry St. is our primary destination. In case of delay, I'll try Degustation (low hope as they are fully reserved at present), Jojo's and Jean Georges as back-ups in that order. The rule for the night is to have a great meal - ideally value priced.

                                    SATURDAY - Porchetta / Shake Shack if we can handle the volume of food between the two of us! The thought is a cool NY meal, inexpensive but delicious!

                                    La Maison du Chocolat - we'll stop there if my macaroon craving takes over and if we feel like a snack. Otherwise, we'll prepare ourselves for Momofuku Ko. The thought is trying to fit in an extra meal or taste of NY if we can!

                                    Momofuku Ko - our big meal. I think the biggest decision is whether or not to do the wine/drink flights. Any thoughts Chowhounders?

                                    Pancetta -- oops I meant Panna Cotta!

                                    Chikalicious Dessert Bar / Spot on the Way - we'll definitely check it out -- heard a lot about Chikalicious, but seemed both good and bad. I assume there's a signature dish(es) at each that we should try?

                                    SUNDAY - Bar Room at Modern / Per Se / Jane -- now faced with a new dilemma. Happy to pay for great food (as I think all would fit into the budget) but what's the best value -- where does the food live up to the price the best. Had originally started at the Bar Room, but the two other options DO look very enticing.

                                    Snack - our flight leaves LGA for Toronto at 7 pm, so I'm guessing something around 5 pm. We're staying by Rockfeller Center / Times Square if that helps, though I suspect we'll be wandering on Sunday!

                                    Thanks again for all the insights Manhattan Chowhounders! It's been amazing!!

                                    1. re: Tony Calgary

                                      If you're willing to spend more, Jean Georges is clearly the best choice for Friday dinner. However, the Perry St prix fixe dinner is a very good deal, so make sure you'll be able to get the prix fixe option (I think there are time restrictions). Jojo is not as good as Perry St, so I probably wouldn't bother with it.

                                      La Maison du Chocolat and Chikalicious are good calls.

                                      For Sunday lunch, Per Se is far and away the best, but far and away the most expensive. If you haven't been to the French Laundry, I would say take the plunge if you can afford it. The 5 course $175 tasting menu is a great option if you want to save $100 pp. Otherwise, Bar Room.

                                      For your snack, try the lamb over rice platter at the Halal cart on 53rd and 6th. It's right by Rockefeller and it is a perennial street food favorite. Make sure you get the right cart, as there quite a few in that area.

                                      1. re: hcbk0702

                                        I couldn't find any lunch menus for Per Se -- is it the same as the dinner menu? Or is it a $175 fixed price menu?

                                        1. re: hcbk0702

                                          Ooops, sorry hcbk0702 -- found the answer you posted elsewhere -- thanks! (yes, it is $175 for the fixed price lunch menu).

                                          1. re: hcbk0702

                                            So based on a search of a combination of "Per Se " and "lunch" and "brunch" here on the boards, I think we're going to go with the Bar Room at the Modern for lunch.

                                            The Halal cart sounds delicious!

                                            ...one other thought - do you think a Katz or Barney Greengrass visit for a sandwich for the plane makes any sense? Or is it going to be too far out of the way?

                                            1. re: Tony Calgary

                                              Katz's is absolutely worth stopping by to get their pastrami on rye. Don't bother with anything else, that is the best item on their menu. Make sure you hold on to your ticket, order your pastrami sandwich from the counter, tip your slicer a dollar or two, and request a fatty cut.

                                              I don't think Barney Greengrass is worth it if you're just getting a sandwich for takeout.

                                              1. re: hcbk0702

                                                (tipping optional)

                                                1. re: hcbk0702

                                                  I think their brisket is also excellent, provided it's ordered "juicy." I think it makes sense for two people to either order two pastrami sandwiches or one pastrami and one brisket and share.

                                                2. re: Tony Calgary

                                                  while that 53rd & 6th cart is delicious, unfortunately for you, it doesn't open till 7:30 PM. it operates from 7:30pm to 4:00AM - an unaffiliated cart is there at other times of the day. however if you do end up needing a very late night snack, i highly suggest this one. just be prepared for a line, even in bad weather.

                                                  1. re: kidadot0

                                                    Actually, the 53rd and 6th cart DOES have day time operating hours, just on another street corner.

                                                    Look for the yellow bags with this logo:
                                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/59445098...

                                                    Daytime: SE corner of 53rd and 6th
                                                    Night time: SW corner of 53rd and 6th (has imposter cart during the day

                                                    )

                                                    http://midtownlunch.com/2007/11/15/de...

                                                    1. re: kidadot0

                                                      As kathryn said, there's a daytime cart now. You can get your lamb and rice fix pretty much anytime.

                                                      1. re: hcbk0702

                                                        this is awesome news. i learned something new today. odd that they don't have that info on their website, though it does look out of date.

                                                        http://www.53rdand6th.com/index.html

                                                        1. re: kidadot0

                                                          The web site isn't actually run by them, which could explain it. It's a fan page.

                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                            that's what i suspected, since those guys don't seem like the type to create a website. but i gave them the benefit of the doubt since the website uses terms like we and us.

                                                            sorry to sway from the original topic. carry on.

                                                        2. re: hcbk0702

                                                          and honestly - there are many other halal carts of nearly the same quality elsewhere

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            Hi all,

                                                            I am embarrassed to say I've been negligent to post the results of our NY trip after all the fabulous advice that everyone here has given.

                                                            I did end up proposing on our NYC trip, so I guess my "excuse" is that I've been busy with working out the details on our wedding! I especially feel guilty as I'm now asking for food advice from west coast Chowhounders for our honeymoon in San Francisco in another post!

                                                            So hopefully I can pay everyone back this way. My fiancee was good enough to blog about it on her food blog -- www.JenIsEating.com

                                                            Here are the specific posts on the restaurants we visited:
                                                            Perry St. -- http://jeniseating.blogspot.com/2009/...
                                                            Porchetta -- http://jeniseating.blogspot.com/2009/...
                                                            Momofuku Ko -- http://jeniseating.blogspot.com/2009/...
                                                            Bar Room at The Modern -- http://jeniseating.blogspot.com/2009/...

                                                            Thanks again for all the NYC Chowhounders for their help in planning this special trip!!

                                                            Sincerely,

                                                            Tony :D

                                                            -----
                                                            Momofuku Ko
                                                            163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                            Porchetta
                                                            110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009