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Foodies from out of town need rec for intimate dinner

Will be in NYC in August for a few weeks with my boyfriend. In exchange for going to Eleven Madison Park (my #1 pick) he would like to dine somewhere smaller with a more intimate atmosphere and service. Any recs? We are both huge foodies willing to spend $200-300 for dinner and a bottle of wine. We're 25 years old and will travel anywhere in Manhattan. Also although we are young the restaurant doesn't have to be skewed towards a younger crowd, just good food. Any cuisine aside form Asian/Indian fusion... We eat (and love) it all.

Also I know there are approx. a million threads about visiting NYC, but if anyone wants to shout out their "must eat at" restos I'd definitely appreciate it and take note. We're here for 3 weeks so I've compiling quiet the list from previous threads.

Thanks in advance!

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Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

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  1. Does anything in this thread strike your fancy?
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719071

    Does the $100-150pp include also tax and trip? Or just food and wine?

    Perhaps you could post what places you're compiling onto your list; that will give us more clues as to your personal preferences.

    1. I suggest you look up Convivio in Tudor City place for good Italian food and intimate dining.
      The Modern at MOMA is also a fine restaurant within your requirement that you may want to look up.

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      Convivio
      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

      1. i have not been there since they re-opened after a fire but no nyc restaurant is more romantic and intimate than annisa in my opinion. i am not a huge fan of their food...this is not better than 11 madison or bouley...but the space is serene, the service is fantastic, and its a restaurant that just works.

        quick must eats:

        dell'anima for sweetbreads and pasta (pasta is insane there!)
        minetta tavern for meat
        keens for steak
        ushiwakamaru for sushi
        ippudo for ramen
        keste for pizza
        black market for burger (new favorite)
        shake shack for quick burger
        blue ribbon bakery for lots of options
        westville for casual breakfast

          1. Morandi, Minetta Tavern, Peasant, Prune or Tocqueville

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            Minetta Tavern
            113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

            Morandi
            211 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

            17 Replies
            1. re: jacquelines

              Thanks everyone! Degustation sounds perfect. Prune looks good too though! I'll try to add it to the list as well.

              I followed some of your posts Kathryn and went down the veritable rabbit hole of visiting NYC restaurant requests (3 Week Chowfest with a213b being my fav) . Here's the short list I'm working on and a lot more questions. Help????

              Bagels: Ess a Bagel, Bagel Bob’s
              Burgers : Minetta Tavern, Corner bistro, Shake Shack (anything in between Minetta and Shake Shack quality wise someone would recommend?)
              Indian: Spicy Mina or Southern Spice (both in Queens)
              Italiano: A di La (Brooklyn), Locanda Verde, Scarpetta
              Pastrami: Katz
              Pizza; Motorino, Artichoke (square slice), and Di Fara (also thinking about Keste, Franny's and Lucali's, thoughts?)
              Ramen: Ippudo, Menachnko-tei
              Steak : Keens (is there somewhere else I should be considering?)
              Tapas: Txikito

              Some more questions..:

              1.) How does everyone feel about Devi now? I know it was going through a transition phase a little while ago, but I love Indian spices/flavors.
              2.) My bf also loved Scott Bryan when he was at Veritas… thoughts on Apiary?
              3.) Is Gramercy Tavern a must? I was thinking of dining Tavern Side.
              4.) Anyone have a recommendation for French or French inspired. My list seems a little Italian skewed right now.
              5.) Thoughts on the Momofuku empire.. If you had to pick one would you go to Noodle or Ssam ? Or skip the whole venture?
              6.) Other amazing places I'm completely overlooking.... ?!

              Also ass I side note I wish I could do more lunches. I would be at Jean Georges in a heartbeat, but alas I will be in the financial district M-F and unable to get away. that being said I'm limited to week nights and weekends although I am willing to go out any night of the week.

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              Gramercy Tavern
              42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

              Bagel Bob's
              51 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

              Jean Georges
              1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

              Shake Shack
              Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

              Minetta Tavern
              113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

              Veritas
              43 East 20th St., New York, NY 10003

              Ippudo
              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Scarpetta
              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

              Txikito
              240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

              Locanda Verde
              377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

              Motorino
              349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: steffibell

                there are many good burgers between the fast food of shake shack, and the indulgence of minetta or db bistro.

                stand on 12th street is fun with a cool vibe. nice milkshakes, including several of the adult variety. and deep fried pickles.

                finegan's wake on the upper east side is a local irish pub, does a great burger. there are many like this all over NYC. unknown gems.

                #3 - i love gramercy tavern. eaten more in the dining room than the tavern, never disappointed in either.

                #5 - for old old old school french there's Le Veau D'or, a place that is an a stasis field that prevents it from leaving the early 60's. great traditional. FOr a cheap meal there's le sans culotte's in the east 50's. it's a prix fixe place - the first course is a nice mix of crudites and sausages and pate. the entrees are not blow you socks off, but i have affection for the place just the same. there's some good bistro's and brasseries scattered about the city as well. (lately i've been eating at the b.cafe, because it's around the corner from me - but it's belgian)

                #5- I'm a big fan of Ssam. big fan. only went to noodle bar once, and nothing was wrong with it, but i haven't been back either.

                1. re: steffibell

                  Bagels: looks fine
                  Burgers : "Shake Shack (anything in between Minetta and Shake Shack quality wise someone would recommend?)" I like BLT Burger for something in between. Though I wouldn't really waste a meal on a burger in NYC.
                  Indian: Spicy Mina or Southern Spice (both in Queens) If you're willingly to go to Queens I think Delhi Heights (sublime chicken makhani) is better than Spicy Mina. I never tried Southern Spice.
                  Italiano: looks fine
                  Pastrami: Katz, I would also stop by Russ and Daughters for various herring, lox, sablefish, etc. My favorite item there is the super heebster sandwich.
                  Pizza; I tried all the ones you mentioned except Lucali and Franny's and I think I like Keste the most especially their truffle spread pie.
                  Ramen: looks fine
                  Steak : Keens (is there somewhere else I should be considering?) Striphouse? Peter Luger? Though I wouldn't waste a dinner on steak if my time was limited in ny.
                  Tapas: I like Casa Mono
                  1. I believe I read Devi just switched chefs and the feedback right now isnt good.
                  2. I never tried so I can't comment.
                  3. I never tried.
                  4. How much do you want to spend? If you're willingly to spend $ I would say Le Bernadin. If not I liked Balthazar I have had a few mediocre dishes there like (roasted chicken (28$) and the duck shepard's pie.
                  5. You could do Noodle Bar and that will take care of ramen for your list. I would avoid Milk Bar, but some people love it.
                  6. I think it's great you're willingly to go to the Outer Boros (Queens\Brooklyn), I think you should try some of the various ethnic foods out there. I don't particularly know Brooklyn well but there are many gems. The outer boros will have more information you can search by neighborhoods, my favorite food neighborhoods are Jackson heights\Elmhurst (Thai, Indian, Latin), Flushing (Chinese, Korean), and Astoria (Greek). I can't help you much with brooklyn. =\

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                  Casa Mono
                  52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                  Shake Shack
                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                  BLT Burger
                  470 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                  1. re: daffyduck

                    If the OP is going to Ippudo, then skip all other ramen joints. Momofuku Noodle Bar isn't known for their ramen, despite the name. In fact, it gets rather poor reviews on this board for the noodles.

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

                    Ippudo
                    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                  2. re: steffibell

                    Bagels: Russ & Daughters. First-rate!

                    Burgers: Blue Smoke and Shake Shack (both owned by Danny Meyer) use the same meat supplier (La Frieda) as Minetta. Blue Smokes burgers are much thicker than Shake Shack's. It's excellent and not nearly as expensive as Minetta's.

                    Italian: Our favorite right now is Maialino.

                    Maialino photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    Pastrami: Sarge's

                    See photos of Sarge's pastrami sandwich here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    Pizza: Co.

                    Co. photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    Re: Questions

                    1.) I've always liked Devi a lot, but with the departure of Chef Hemant Mathur (opening his own restaurant in the fall), I am staying away until I hear reports from others whose opinions I trust about the status of the food.

                    2.) We have been longtime fans of Veritas and, like you, loved Scott Bryan's food (though I adore current Chef Gregory Pugin's French cuisine even more!) We have been to Apiary. The food Bryan is cooking there is more rustic than his cuisine at Veritas but still excellent. You can see photos of our meal + a link to an in-depth review here:

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    3.) I'm not a fan of Gramercy Tavern's Dining Room as I've never had a meal there that impressed me. In fact, my most disappointing meal of 2009 took place there. I do, however, like the food in the Tavern Room. Since they don't take reservations, and we never put up with long waits for a table at any restaurant no matter how great the food might be, we've always gone there late in the evening (after 10 o'clock) when we've been seated immediately.

                    Tavern Room photos with commentary here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    4.) French is our favorite cuisine, and there are endless possibilities that could fill that gap in your dining itinerary, A bistro I highly recommend right now is La Mangeoire. A few months ago, 4-star Chef Christian Delouvrier took over the kitchen, and the food he is putting out is, needless to say, wonderfully prepared and seriously delicious.

                    La Mangeoire photos and commentary here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    5.) We've been to Ssam Bar once for the Bo Ssam and Noodle Bar once for the special fried chicken dinner. They normally do not take reservations, but they do for these special dinners, so we were willing to try them. The food was fine but for me nothing to rave about. The noise level is so deafening, especially at Ssam Bar, that I will never set foot in either place again. We've also been to Ma Peche once for lunch. Again, the food was fine, but they don't serve dessert as part of the lunch or dinner meal (if you want some, you have to get that at the Milk Bar upstairs) Ridiculous! I hate what they've done to the space (gorgeous when it was Town), and the X-shaped communal table is idiotic. They have started to take limited reservations. I doubt we'll be back anytime soon.

                    1. re: RGR

                      I'm probably in the minority, but I rather liked the spare room, subdued lighting, and moderate noise levels at Ma Peche. The corner tables can be intimate. The seating is more comfortable and the service a lot more solicituous than the downtown Momofuku locations.

                      The food is wonderful, definitely in the same league as Ssam Bar, with a lighter touch (though I haven't tried the Beef Seven Ways). The restaurant does serve a cheese course, and you can go to the Modern Bar Room afterwards (3 blocks south) for amazing desserts if the Milk Bar isn't your thing.

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                      Ma Peche
                      15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                      1. re: fm1963

                        The fact that Ma Peche serves a cheese course doesn't mitigate the fact that there is no dessert served at the table. Chang does it because people let him get away with it. Anyone else would be laughed at and/or serverely criticized. If I'm going to have my dessert in the Modern's Bar Room, I'd just as soon make it easy on myself and have my entire meal there. I like the food there far better anyway.

                        Btw, it doesn't take much to make seating more comfortable than those hard backless benches at Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar (and, I gather, at Ko, which we've never been to). I guess Chang figured that was one thing he couldn't get away with with a Midtown dining crowd. As for the decor, as one wag quipped on another food forum, "Town felt like a glamorous subterranean space; Ma Peche feels like a basement."

                      2. re: RGR

                        If you make a reservation at Ma Peche for lunch or dinner, you can have the prix fixe menu which includes "dessert" (petit fours IIRC).

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                        Ma Peche
                        15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                      3. re: steffibell

                        BTW, you can get the prix fixe lunch at Jean Georges on Saturday, not just Monday through Friday!

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                        Jean Georges
                        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                        1. re: steffibell

                          > Bagels: Ess a Bagel, Bagel Bob’s

                          You might want to read this:
                          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...

                          That said, I 2nd the Russ & Daughters recommendations.

                          > Burgers : Minetta Tavern, Corner bistro, Shake Shack (anything in between Minetta and Shake Shack quality wise someone would recommend?

                          )

                          I second what RGR said about Blue Smoke. See also:
                          http://aht.seriouseats.com/tags/NYC

                          > Italiano: A di La (Brooklyn), Locanda Verde, Scarpetta

                          Note that you can dine at the bar for both of these. They're pretty popular restaurants.

                          > Pizza; Motorino, Artichoke (square slice), and Di Fara (also thinking about Keste, Franny's and Lucali's, thoughts?

                          )

                          Go to Di Fara and skip Artichoke. Only go to Artichoke if you can't get to Di Fara (check their Facebook page for operating hours -- I think they're on vacation right now). Go to Keste if you want a less smoky, more soft Naples style pie or if you love burrata which they have fresh starting on Thursdays every week until they run out. Go to Motorino if you like a more well-done, fluffy, puffy crust that isn't as heavy. It's a little too similar if you go to both. Haven't been to Lucali. Love Franny's but I don't go to Franny's just for the pizza, I got for the house made terrine, lovely crostini (I think they have a pancetta with RAMP butter one), the pastas, the gelato. I mean, the pie is good but I don't go out of my way just to have the pie. Co. aka Company, recommended by RGR, is hit or miss: I've found the crust to be subpar when the proprietor is not around: too flat, not puffy, missing that lovely internal chew you want in pizza. I'd say that the others are much more consistent.

                          > Ramen: Ippudo, Menachnko-tei

                          If you get to Ippudo, skip all others.

                          > Tapas: Txikito

                          If you can't get in, go to El Quinto Pino, their sister restaurant (set up more like a bar with food though). Both are really great, though. I also like Boqueria and Casa Mono although I think the level of cooking just a tiny bit less at Boqueria.

                          Casa Mono is great too but their portions are huge in comparison to others (raciones vs tapas) and it's more an "interpretation" of Spanish good, whereas Boqueria, Txikito, and El Quinto Pino are more authentically Spanish with Txikito being the most Basque of them all. That said, Casa Mono for weekend lunch with all the windows open and a glass of cava? Heaven.

                          Oh, and if you find yourself in Soho, go to Despana for a sandwich made to order (the stuff in the window is all premade) with their brand of chorizo (they make it in Queens) or morcilla. So good! They usually have samples up front, too.

                          -----
                          Russ & Daughters
                          179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                          Despana
                          408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                          Bagel Bob's
                          51 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

                          Casa Mono
                          52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                          Shake Shack
                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                          Minetta Tavern
                          113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                          El Quinto Pino
                          401 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011

                          Blue Smoke
                          116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                          Boqueria
                          53 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

                          Ippudo
                          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          Scarpetta
                          355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                          Txikito
                          240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                          Locanda Verde
                          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                          Motorino
                          349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: steffibell

                            If you are in the FD at lunchtime, I would highly recommend SHO Shaun Hergatt. It is in the neighborhood and very good, comparable (IMO) to Jean Georges.

                            -----
                            Jean Georges
                            1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                            SHO Shaun Hergatt
                            40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

                            1. re: kiworan79

                              as stated elsewhere i find SHO to miss the mark. the upshot of my long review was that the place is flawless, but soulless. nothing is wrong, and yet i wasn't as wowed as i ought to have been. something is missing.

                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                  There are many, however, on this board, who find SHO to be remarkable -- especially for the price. OP said she would be stuck in the FD at lunchtime and, given its proximity and the fact that I (and others) have enjoyed it very much -- it may be worth OP's time. The lunch prix fixe right now, at $24, is a steal.

                                  1. re: kiworan79

                                    no need to be defensive. no one is denying anyone else's experiences, we are just relating our own experiences.

                                    personally when i'm stuck in FIDi i head for vietnamese or chinese in chinatown.

                          1. I would recommend Hearth.