HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Trip Report - October 2009

Yikes… time flies. These longer trips are way harder to write up, but I do find them useful for my own future reference (plus, I always get great recs for future trips from Manhattan CHers in response). Hopefully other people will find them helpful as well.

Exceeded expectations:
Shake Shack
Momofuku Noodle Bar’s ramen

Did not meet expectations:
Keste
Obika
Momofuku Ko
Momofuku Milk Bar’s pork bun with egg

Best bargains:
SHO’s $30, 3-course lunch
EMP’s $28, 2-course lunch

Worst use of deconstruction:
Perbacco’s “carbonara”

Biggest (pleasant) surprise:
Momofuku Noodle Bar’s ramen

Most memorable sweet:
Momofuku Milk Bar’s chocolate chip and passion curd cake
(runner-up) – Corton’s “fruit plate”

Most uneven meal: Graffiti

Not as good as I remember:
Absolute Bagels
City Bakery’s pretzel croissant

Just as good as I remember:
Yasuda

Head to head comparisons:
Pizza - Keste vs. Motorino: Motorino
Lasagna – Salumeria Rossi vs. Perbacco: tie. Both great.
Chocolate chip cookies: Levain vs. Jacques Torres: tie. Both disappointed.
High-end – SHO vs. EMP vs. Corton vs. Ko: Corton

Still haven’t made it to: Artichoke

High on my list for next visit: Sorella, Maiolino, Marea, Txikito

Itinerary Overview:

DAY 1
Salumeria Rossi
Grom

DAY 2
Locanda Verde
Keste
Sushi Yasuda

DAY 3
Momofuku Milk Bar
Obika
Aldea

DAY 4
Absolute Bagel
Azuri Café
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Chikalicious Dessert Club

DAY 5
Grandaisy
Levain Bakery
(lunch provided by conference)
Motorino

DAY 6
Bubby’s (Brooklyn)
Jacques Torres
Graffiti

DAY 7
Little Giant (Sorella closed)
Momofuku Ko

DAY 8
SHO
City Bakery
Corton

DAY 9
Wafel and Dinge
EMP
Perbacco

DAY 10
Matsugen
Shake Shack
Zabar’s
William Greenberg

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. DAY 1: Salumeria Rosi, Grom
    DAY 2: Locanda Verde, Keste, Sushi Yasuda

    DAY 1
    I arrived on the UES around 6, dropped off my bags, and headed straight to Salumeria Rosi. Their lasagna, a classic Bolognese version, was excellent, all velvety texture and complex meatiness. I followed it with a small plate of pork belly flavored with an interesting garam masala-like rub, paired with beans and dandelion. Beautifully cooked food that managed to be both homey and refined at the same time.

    Dessert was chocolate and hazelnut gelato from Grom. Nothing earth-shattering, but a satisfying end to the day.

    DAY 2
    Breakfast was a superb fig-almond muffin and an ok cappuccino from Locanda Verde. I then met up with a friend at Keste, where we ordered the lardo/pecorino/basil pizza, and the eponymous Keste pizza. The crusts were a bit softer and blonder than I generally prefer, but my biggest problem with Keste was the quality of their toppings – the prosciutto was really badly cut, and of mediocre quality.

    Dinner was at Sushi Yasuda, and excellent as always. I didn’t have anything particularly unusual or exotic, but the salmon, the Tasmanian trout, and the arctic char were particularly good this night.

    -----
    Grom
    2165 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

    Sushi Yasuda
    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

    Salumeria Rosi
    283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    1. DAY 3: Momofuku Milk Bar, Obika, Aldea

      I’d drooled over a picture of Momofuku Milk Bar’s pork bun with an egg months ago, and was really looking forward to what I expected to be the best Egg McMuffin ever. Incredibly, it actually debunked my previously held belief that all delicious things are made even better with a gently cooked egg. There were just too many flavors, with the egg and the hoisin clashing in particular. The chocolate chip and passion curd cake, on the other hand, was outstanding.

      Obika was definitely the worst meal of the entire trip. I’d passed by this place on my last trip to NYC and was disappointed to find out it wasn’t to open until a few days after I’d left, so I was really looking forward to going this time. I ordered a mozzarella and salumi plate, and a bread basket. The mozzarella was fine, nothing amazing, the salumi was utterly forgettable, and my $3 bread basket consisted of 8 half-slices of mediocre bread. Unforgivable.

      Fortunately, dinner at Aldea was lovely and more or less erased the memory of my disappointing lunch. Everything we had was really good, but when I look back on this meal, the dishes that really stand out in my memory were ones that I had dismissed in my mind as too conventional (and even boring), but that my dining companions wanted. And so, I can barely remember the taste of the sea urchin toast, the littleneck clams with foam, the foie gras terrine with nectarines and cocoa nibs, the matsutake mushroom broth with slow poached egg, and the baby cuttlefish with lychee and squid ink (all my own choices), but have vivid memories of the shrimp alhino (which came in one of the most memorable sauces of this trip), the arroz de pato, the cod, and the monkfish. I came to the conclusion that while the more adventurous dishes were good, they were not better than similar dishes I’ve had at other restaurants, while the Portuguese classics were far and away better than any other version I’ve ever had.

      -----
      Grom
      2165 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

      Sushi Yasuda
      204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

      Obika
      590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

      Salumeria Rosi
      283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

      Keste Pizza & Vino
      271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

      Aldea
      31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

      Locanda Verde
      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

      Momofuku Milk Bar
      251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

      2 Replies
        1. re: daveena

          Nice reports. Agree with you 100% on Milk Bar's pork bun with egg -- sounds good in theory but doesn't translate well in real life. The runny egg yolk occludes all of the other flavors.

        2. Huh. Having trouble managing my links. My apologies if I end up with enormous, cumulative link lists after each post. Will do my best to keep that from happening.

          DAY 4: Absolute Bagel, Azuri Café, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Chikalicious Dessert Club

          Breakfast was an everything bagel with cream cheese from Absolute. I’d been looking forward to having more Absolute Bagels all year - in the past, I’ve swooned over the near-velvety texture of Absolute’s bagels’ interiors, and the satisfying chew of its crusts. This time, the crust was crunchier, and the velvety feel was gone. It made me wonder if they’ve switched to a lower gluten flour – I’m pretty sure the textural aspects I adored before were all due to highly developed gluten. The bagels weren’t bad, but they didn’t inspire me to haul a dozen on the plane in my carry-on, the way they did last year.

          I stopped by Azuri Café for lunch - the falafel were pretty excellent, and as many people have noted, their spicy sauce is stellar.

          Dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar was completely off the charts fantastic. Every single thing we ordered was outstanding. For me, the roasted foie with charred onion puree, apples, and pickled shallot was a standout – beautifully cooked foie, paired with the most addictive foie-soaked onion puree. I adore their roasted rice cakes too – I like this version infinitely more than classic dok bukki (and I really like classic dok bukki) For one of my guests, and avowed vegetable hater, the savoy cabbage with honey crisp apples and pork broth was a revelation. The biggest shock for me, though, was the ramen.

          I’ve heard so many bad reviews of this ramen, I was reluctant to order it, but my two guests really wanted it. I’m so glad they convinced me – I thought it was excellent. I’d heard multiple reports that the noodles were no better than store bought spaghetti, but ours were the real deal – chewy and elastic, able to withstand the absorption of the broth. I loved the pure porkiness of the broth, and the quality and simplicity of the toppings (I’m not one for lots of extra stuff on my ramen – the Ippudo Akamura Modern is too busy for me). The Momofuku cookbook says that they used store-bought alkaline noodles in the early years, and only recently switched over to house-made noodles – that explains a lot.

          I capped off the night with vanilla soft-serve from Chikalicious Dessert Club, and took a caramel cupcake and green tea and caramel macarons home. I think they were all good… my note taking sort of deteriorated around this point.

          -----
          Momofuku Noodle Bar
          171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          Azuri Cafe
          465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

          Absolute Bagels
          2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

          Dessert Club, ChikaLicious
          204 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

          1. DAY 5: Grandaisy, Levain, Motorino

            Grandaisy makes some good breakfast sandwiches. I had one with asparagus frittata and pecorino – simple, and perfect.

            Levain Bakery – I feel like I’ve been reading about their chocolate chip cookies forever, so I had swing by and see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t take detailed notes on what it was about the cookies that disappointed, but I do remember thinking that they were mounded too high in the middle, and that the texture wasn’t to my liking (too cakey, I think).

            Dinner was at Motorino, which I found enjoyed much more than Keste. I preferred the char and texture of the crust, and really enjoyed the toppings (we had the butternut squash, the margarita, and the brussel sprout pizzas).

            -----
            Grandaisy Bakery
            176 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

            Levain Bakery
            167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

            1. DAY 6: Bubby’s (Brooklyn), Jacques Torres (Brooklyn), Graffiti

              Eating at Bubby’s in Brooklyn was more about convenience than anything – my friends have two young children, so we and everyone else in DUMBO headed here for brunch. I just had some cheese grits and sausage, which were inoffensive, and certainly less memorable the sounds of various liquids and foodstuffs being thrown/poured on the ground all around me.

              I wanted to go to Jacques Torres because this recipe had been sitting on my pile for over a year, and I wanted to taste the JT version before committing to buying a food scale:
              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/din...

              This was, apparently, a trip for debunking long-held beliefs for me. First, I learned that not everything tastes better with a soft-cooked egg. Then I learned that I do not always prefer the more adventurous dishes on a menu. On this day, I learned that there can, in fact, be too much chocolate in a chocolate chip cookie. Having used the aging cooking dough technique on a simpler recipe, and having loved the butterscotch-toffee-caramel notes it developed, I found that there was simply not enough cookie in the original JT version! I plan to continue using my variation on Mark Bittman’s recipe (substituting in half a cup of whole wheat pastry flour, which gives it a pleasantly nutty flavor, and then refrigerating the dough 48 hours before baking).

              Dinner was at Graffiti, which surprised me by having a number of stellar savory dishes. I liked the chickpea crusted skate so much that when I went home, I immediately ground some toasted dried chickpeas with garam masala and used it to crust sole. I also really enjoyed the watermelon feta salad with mint sorbet. Other dishes were only so-so, and a few dishes suffered from too much salt (the green mango paneer, in particular). Desserts were surprisingly pedestrian (except for the warm truffle almond strawberries and pepper ice cream), considering that Mehta made his name in pastry – the hazelnut chocolate caviar cupcake, in particular was attractive but not particularly delicious.

              -----
              Jacques Torres
              350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

              Graffiti
              224 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

              Bubby's Restaurant Bar & Bakery
              118 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

              2 Replies
              1. re: daveena

                Yes, I too was disappointed when I revisited JT's chocolate chip cookie. If you like butterscotch caramel notes, I think Roasting Plant's chocolate chip cookie is excellent. You must try to fit it in the next time you're visiting.