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Mar 8, 2010 12:27 AM

Suggestion for somewhere near Benjamin Hotel

I'll be arriving in JFK at approx 7.30pm. Assuming I can through security and get checked into the hotel by 10pm (is this realistic?) is there anywhere within about 5 mins walk of the hotel that I can get a quiet relaxing tasty supper with the family at that time, and without booking? Is the restaurant in the hotel ok? or is there one? The website seems to be more focused on the Emery bar for food, it sort of looks like they are between restaurants.

Also what is the best nearby place for a decent, cheap and cheerful breakfast?

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  1. Many New Yorkers sleep in apartments they rent, so we may not be as familiar with the locations of hotels. What's the intersection of the Benjamin Hotel? Google says there's one at 50th and Lexington. Is this correct?

    How many people will you have with you, total? You mention "family" -- do you have kids? What ages? Any special needs or requirements? What's your price range, including tax, tip, and drinks/wine? What cuisines do you prefer?

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Yes 50th & Lexington, one 13 year old, no special requirements - really I'm only looking for a drink and a bite to eat after a long day travelling from Ireland, so nothing too elaborate. At the same time, I don't want to waste a limited opportunity to test somewhere good out. Before wine, I wouldn't be looking to spend more than $50 per head on two courses before drink(we're not really dessert people).

      What I've found within a couple of hundred yards of the hotel are ...

      Mr K's
      Relais de Venise
      Chin Chin
      la Bellezza Pizzeria
      Sofia Wine Bar Cafe
      Smith & Wollenski (not really interested, will try another steakhouse elsewhere)

      Any of these particularly worth trying, and would fit the bill, or any particularly worth avoiding? Any gem I've missed? Likewise if anyone has eaten in the hotel recently I'd be interested to hear what they thought of it.

      I'd still be interested to hear about a decent breakfast place nearby, I suspect this will be an expensive week without knocking up a big tab for breakfast as well.

      So far I've booked L'Ecole, Balthazar Locanda Verde and DB Bistro Moderne (Pre Theatre), so I've only 4 to go, and then only if I can squeeze 1 in on arrival night. Momofuku Ssam Bar is one I really want to try but can't book. I have to try a steakhouse, probably Keens, and a BBQ (Blue Smoke?)but was playing with the idea of going to Charrascaia platforma to pretend I was covering both. I know it covers neither really but it sounds a fun night out and might suit the boy. Anthos, Artisinal and MAS look nice. Chinatown has to get a go. I have to find the best burger. I'll have to slip quietly into a Japanese place while the wife is off shopping. Yet there's only so much I can eat and so little time.

      1. re: Melendez

        Momofuku Ssam is not that difficult to get into especially if you go for lunch or on the early side.

        I love Keens and your son might get a kick out of the old photographs, newspaper clippings, smoking pipes hanging from the ceiling, or the lovely, nude portrait of Miss Keens in the bar.

        For BBQ, I would do Hill Country because it's family friendly and might be interesting for your son since you order food at the counter, they put it on a big piece of butcher paper, you bring it back to your table, and you eat with your hands. The fatty brisket is not to be missed.

        1. re: Melendez

          Churrascaria Plataforma does not compare in any way with Keen's, and does not have anything remotely resembling BBQ. I tried it years ago and while the food was decent, I would never consider returning. A fun night out? Maybe, but with so little time why miss out on Keen's?.

          1. re: Melendez

            On your list, Relais is a steak/salad place, very casual/reasonable, only steak on the menu, so if that suits you, that would be a good choice. I've eaten at Zarela's, it's an ok mexican place, little on the pricey side.

            Otherwise, head over to 3rd Ave, there's tons of Irish bars/restaurants where you'll feel right at home for a casual meal after a long flight.

            The rest of your picks are great choices, I think you'll enjoy them all.

        2. Stayed several times at the Benjamin Hotel and its a great midtown location.
          They do offer a great breakfast and we received free breakfast coupons from the Front Desk that we used for room still is one of the best breakfasts I've had in along time!
          The restaurant with lots of windows on the corner was excellent for app's and drinks..there is another one with no windows and it seemed like I was dining in a closet.
          This is a lovely suite hotel.
          Lots of food choices around the hotel and the Waldorf is across the street.
          Easy walk to Grand Central and we dined at the GC Oyster was pretty good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Beach Chick

            If I could get free Breakfast vouchers I'd be made up. Sadly, good things like that always seem to happen to other people. I'll stroll around the lobby looking hungry for a few minutes every morning just in case though. It's handy to know the kitchen can produce good stuff.

            1. re: Melendez

              'Sadly, good things like that always seem to happen to other people.'
              Gotta change the energy thinking..
              ; )

          2. Breakfast @ Scotty's Diner 39th and Lex a short walk
            also Penelope 30th and Lex for more of a gourmet breakfast
            Ess-A-Bagel 3rd Av and 51 st for a great NYC bagel
            Dinner: Sip Sak on 2nd Ave in the 50's has good middle eastern food

            1. Really funny to see this post, because I am staying there this weekend, even though I am from the metro area.
              The comment I have is that I would not say that Churrasquita Platforma would ever substitute for a good steakhouse or bbq. I am not a fan of the style of dining at Hill Country, but plenty of people like it. NY is really not known for its barbeque. Steakhouses though, you can do fine. We are fans of Morton's, and their NYC branch is right near the hotel. Also, there is Del Frisco's, that is in the 40's, I believe.
              Like your choice of db bistro, one of our favorites when we go to the theatre.

              1. "I love Keens "
                "NY is really not known for its barbeque. Steakhouses though, you can do fine. "
                "but with so little time why miss out on Keen's?"

                OK I'm convinced. Keens is booked. After seeing a picture of the Mutton chop on Yelp, which I'll have to get, I think I'll have to ditch the BBQ, and look for dainty refined meals to fill the rest of the program.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Melendez

                  One last question for you chowhounders and I'll leave you alone, set off by the picture of the mutton chop mentioned above.

                  How do restaurants feel about splitting\sharing dishes or under ordering? We'll be going out to nice enough places at least 7 nights in a row, and frankly, I'm not sure the system will take going the whole hog in each of them, yet I want to try out as many different places as possible.

                  Would we get snooty waiters looking down on us if we shared a "chateaubriand for two" between three people in Keens, or if we ordered an antipasta and a pasta in Maialino or Laconda Verde and left the "secondi" alone?

                  Aplogies btw, I know I've found a topic on splitting or sharing on the board before but got interrupted before I could read it. Using search words "splitting" or "sharing" is doing me no good this morning in trying to find it.

                  1. re: Melendez

                    Sharing varies - some places have a 2nd plate charge - very common in delis. Many people these days will order two appetizers and have that instead of an app and main. Midtown especially is accustomed to dealing with these variations partly because it's a visitors area and partly because it's the business district. Some Italians will happily serve a main pasta dish as two apps. It doesn't work out with tasting menus, but otherwise, just ask.

                    There's another little place in the neighborhood which you might like for a light meal - and they're open quite late (the website doesn't say so, but they are now open until 4 a.m.: Le Bateau Ivre - 51st bet. 2nd & 3rd - 2 1/2 blocks from your hotel:
                    I think they'd be good after a long flight.

                    1. re: Melendez

                      Most places would be fine with sharing, esp many of the Italian places where its not all that common to order an appetizer, primi and secondi per person.

                      Keens is also very reasonable and flexible. I've taken my parents out to dinner there and my mom asked the waiter if she could order the smaller mutton chop from the pub menu (we were in the main restaurant) and they had no problem with it (and the rest of us ordered from the full menu - wouldn't try to order everything from the pub menu in the main dining rooms) I have also been to steakhouses and split one ribeye between me and my wife while also ordering appetizers and sides too. so 2 apps, 2 sides and one steak for 2 people.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        We're not big eaters either, we've never had any trouble with a restaurant when we've wanted to split an app, entree and then dessert. And we do the same in steakhouses, one steak, plus a few sides. We also usually have a bottle of wine, which to me, far makes up for the price of an entree :)