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must haves that close early

Hey everyone, due to classes and work I often can't make it into the city before 9pm. Luckily one of my classes next week will be canceled and I will have the opportunity to come into manhattan early. I was wondering what your thoughts were on places I should visit that I never get a chance to. I was thinking of stopping at kee's chocolate, shopsin's, donut plant and then chelsea market. I would love to hear any suggestions.

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  1. You should definitely do shopsin's.

    26 Replies
    1. re: ChiefHDB

      Shopsin's is a waste of your precious opportunity. It's a gimmicky place with an uninteresting sideshow staff and bad food. However, the market it's in is fun to shop in. Especially Saxelby's Cheese.

      1. re: gutsofsteel

        thanks, do you have any suggestions in place of shopsin's.

        1. re: daffyduck

          You want to eat dinner in that neighborhood? What kind of food do you want to eat and how much do you want to spend?

          1. re: daffyduck

            daffy, i wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Shopsins. a lot of CHers give it positive reviews. don't strike it off your list because of one person's comment.

            1. re: coasts

              A lot of people like all kinds of things. Shopsin's is a disgrace. I mean if you just like going to a place because it's weird, then go. Personally, I like to eat edible food in a somewhat pleasant surrounding and not be abused by the people who work there.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                i vote "yes" for shopsins. and you can try their ebelskivers for dessert, instead of going to donut plant--whose owner is a far bigger d than kenny shopsin.

            2. re: daffyduck

              I'm not a crazed fan of Shopsin's - I like it okay - but the general consensus is positive, and it's definitely worth a visit. You should search this board for more opinions on it, so you can be better informed. I don't find the setting at all unpleasant - it's small, but not cramped. And I like the szechuan shrimp soup quite a bit. I've seen the staff act like jerks, so if the possibility of getting yelled at scares you, yes, stay away.

              I wouldn't bother with Donut Plant, though, unless you're really into donuts and/or you're in the neighborhood. They're good donuts and all, but they're just donuts.

              1. re: small h

                Oh it's not a question of being scared. Call me crazy, but I want to eat edible food in a moderately comfortable setting and not have the staff pissed off the entire time.

                I guess it depends on what the OP wants. Just dinner in that general area? There are many much better choices.

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  Since Shopsin's closes at 3pm, it's not an option for dinner anyway.

                  I'm not sure what you ate that you despised so much, or what happened during your visit that made you so uncomfortable. I've developed a hatred for more than one popular restaurant myself based on a negative experience (Les Halles comes immediately to mind). But Shopsin's has more supporters than detractors.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    no, i'm not really looking for dinner. I usually am able to make it to the city once a week around 9pm sometimes even 8, so I don't have problems eating dinner anywhere. the thing is I almost never get into the city early (before 1pm) so I want to take advantage of this opportunity. I'm looking more for bakeries that close early and places with items you can only get for brunch that are to die for. And I've done Clinton St's pancakes before so I thought Shopsin's would be a good idea especially since it is near Donut Plant. But I am willingly to travel, I will probably make a stop at Levain even though it is on the other side of the city. As far as money is concerned, I'm willingly to spend a lot.

                    1. re: daffyduck

                      I second the Bialey's, and also suggest the onion flats at Kossar's.

                      Stopping by Essex Market might be an interesting excursion, but more as a New York oddity, than anything. The cheese and chocolate shops are hidden gems, but probably not worth a special trip to the area.
                      You can take a look at Shopsin's and decide. It's not much to speak of, just a small number of tables stuck in alcove, hallway like space. There is nothing comfortable about it, and despite the way people talk about the place, it's closer to a food stand with seating, than a full blown restaurant.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        At Kossar's you should get:

                        Bialys, Bulkas, Pletzels

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          I've tried the bialy at Kossar's before and really didn't like it. It was hard and dry. I couldn't eat it even with cream cheese and pastrami lox from Russ and Daughters, maybe because it was 3pm. But 5 minutes after me someone ordered 21 bialys. I cringed at the thought, I think I just didn't like it. Kind of reminds me of the pizza bianca which everyone seems to like at Grandaisy, I don't really see the big deal. It's just a piece of bread, not really much flavor. I actually prefer the bread at my Cosi.
                          Thank you for the cheese and chocolate shops, you were right they were great.

                          1. re: daffyduck

                            Bialys must be toasted. And in an ideal world, shmeared with schmaltz (aka known as spread with chicken fat, which melts onto the hot bialy)

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              <Bialys must be toasted.>

                              Blasphemy! Also, I agree. Unless they're super-fresh, bialys are better toasted.

                            2. re: daffyduck

                              Bialeys are a strange thing, and not for everyone. There's a reason they haven't caught on much in the US, outside of New York. You probably would have been happier with the onion flat I mentioned (if they still sell them) or anything with everything toppings. Hope you got some donuts to make up for it.

                        2. re: gutsofsteel

                          i feel the need to step up and defend shopsin's here.

                          I have eaten at shopsin’s maybe 20-30 times and have never had anything but delicious (no, not gourmet) comforting food in a warm, convivial and ENTERTAINING environment. It may sound funny but a lot of people walk into restaurants with feelings of entitlement and walk away feeling like they’ve been mistreated or taken advantage of. This often the case at peter luger for example… but just like with luger’s, the only people who I’ve heard complain about brusk service, etc at shopsin’s are the amateurs. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in restaurants and believe me when I say that nothing draws contempt from restaurant staff more quickly than an entitled attitude on behalf of the customer. Argue with me all you want but the customer is NOT always right, particularly in cases like shopsin’s, luger’s, etc. These are places with strong personalities that are known for a number of things beyond their good food. Going to shopsin’s is a unique experience and one that I would argue cannot be held to the standards of a generic restaurant. Kenny and Zack do use profane language while they are working but it’s not something that distracts this eater from the overall experience which I would say is overwhelmingly positive. Shopsin’s is a respectable family business and one that makes New York such a special place to live and eat. Gutsofsteel, I’m glad if you won’t be returning because it’s one less person for me to wait behind.

                          1. re: El Tigre

                            I love how you assume that if somebody doesn't like Shopsins, that must mean they have a sense of entitlement. I don't liike Shopsins. I think the food is muddy and uninteresting and diner level. I think the attitude is rude and bizarre. I eat all over the universe, every level of dining imaginable, shitholes to 4 stars. But ya know what, I don't want some server swearing at me (yes it happened) or my food basically thrown at me and a filthy table which takes 20 minutes to clear while the waitress has a screaming fight with her boss. Sure you might think that's "entertaining" but I have better things to do with my time and my money. But mostly, the food I have eaten there has been lousy. Every time. Add their "we're doing you a huge favor" attitude, plus their "we're so weird and quirky that makes us special" attitude? bye-bye. I love weird and quirky as much as the next guy. Shopsin's is not that, not in a positive sense anyway. It's just bad and bizarre.

                            Chacun a son gout.

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              i've had excellent food there, and for some reason, the whole staff has been really nice every time i've gone. i grew up on diner food, and shopsin's is not diner food.

                        3. re: small h

                          thanks, yeah i'm aware they're just donuts. i've been there before and only tried 5 donuts but I thought two of them were fantastic and i don't mind the trek to try more.

                          1. re: daffyduck

                            Oh, then by all means go. And grab a few bialys from Kossar's while you're at it.

                    2. re: ChiefHDB

                      Shopsin's is worth a try. I love the food there but the menu is so big I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few clunkers. I've never had a bad meal there! It's not gourmet but I find it delicious.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        that's reassuring to hear, your best brunch list for 2009 is like a brunch bible of manhattan.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          In case I get kicked out of Shopsin's for ordering too much food. What restaurant do you think has the best lunch I was thinking Jean Georges, Del Posto, or EMP.

                          1. re: daffyduck

                            I love lunch at both EMP and JG. Edge to EMP. Have not had lunch at Del Posto.

                        2. re: ChiefHDB

                          Another yes to Shopsin's. No, it's not gourmet, but it's super delicious and I've never had any trouble there either.

                        3. I am obsessed with Kee's chocolates. Just be aware that many flavors sell-out. I would call ahead and place an order for pickup. Let them know what time you are coming and they will make it fresh.

                          The kaffir lime has a citrus note that truly sings. The creme brulee is unlike any other chocolate. The coconut truffle is luscious. The lavender macaroons are crisp, delicate and perfumed.

                          Rich, complex flavors and restrained sweetness.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            A reasonable obsession! But don't forget the lemon basil and raspberry.

                            1. re: Pookipichu

                              thank you, didn't know that. I'll definitely call.

                            2. I always considered it surprising that Chinatown closes early. My suggestion would be something in Chinatown: Saigon Banh MI bakery on Mott St, Hand pulled noodles on Eldridge St, Best Fuzhou on Eldridge St, Xian at 88 East B'way..

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

                                  Thanks, I've only had banh mi at viet restaurants in chinatown, flushing, and elmhurst. I'll definitely since I never had a bahn mi sandwich from a place that specializes in it. Interesting that the hand pulled noodle place closes early because in flushing they are open late.

                                  1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

                                    I second the Saigon Banh Mi suggestion. They're technically open til (earlyish) dinner time, I think, but my understanding is that they often run out earlier in the afternoon. Possibly the best lunch for the money in the city.

                                  2. The original comment has been removed
                                    1. Some of my favorite bakeries, of course, close before 9 p.m. namely Levain Bakery and Two Little Red Hens. Worth keeping those in mind if you're in the neighborhood!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: uwsister

                                        If you think you will make it all the way to Levain Bakery, you should put Barney Greengrass on your list. Their nova is the stuff of Upper West Side legend.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          NB: Barney Greengrass is closed on Mondays, as an FYI to the original poster.