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Advice on specific questions - dining in NYC

b
boshek Sep 30, 2010 04:28 AM

Hello. I'll be visiting NYC (from the UK) for a few days next month to celebrate my partner's birthday. Eating is a big part of our trip and we often plan where we visit depending on what we want to eat. I've been planning our culinary itinerary through researching on Chow and I have put together a pretty ambitious list of places to try including: Katz's, R&D, Donut Plant, Shake Shack, Burger Joint, The Smith, Il Laboratorio, Momofuku Pork buns (after the heated debate on that thread - I must go see for myself what all the fuss is about!), Degustation, Keens, Blue Ribbon Brasserie etc..

However I have a few specific questions that I would appreciate some advice on.

Pancakes:
I'm mad for the plain fluffy type with bacon and syrup (something no one can replicate in the UK). I've heard so much about Clinton Street Bakery - both about their pancakes and the lineup! Is it really worth it? What time do I need to go (for weekend brunch) to avoid waiting for too long? If I get there at 0845-0900 (their stated opening time), will it still be pretty bad? If I go and find it unbearable, I'll probably just walk(?) around to The Stanton Social for back up.

French toast:
Chow says Pastis, a friend of mine recommended Cafe Cluny - I can only try one! Any thoughts on either? I'll probably have this as an afternoon snack rather than being part of breakfast.

Steak:
I've decided to go to Keens over PL mostly because the recommendations here, the trek to Brooklyn and because PL told me I could have dinner at either 1545 or 2245.... Usually when we visit a steakhouse in the US we would share a large bone-in rib eye as we like a little more marbling on the meat. What cut would you recommend at Keens? and which sides/appetizers are must try?

Degustation:
I've booked for a late (and small, see Raw Bar below) dinner for one of the nights. I think(*) I know what good spanish tapas/food should taste like. From what I have read, I think the whole experience/(some fusion elements?) will be quite unique for a NYC dining experience - I just want to confirm that this is the case and that I won't just get a "standard"/"traditional" (but good) spanish tapas meal that I can get e.g. in London or Madrid.

Raw Bar:
Before Degustation I'm planning to sample a few Raw Bar delicacies early in the evening. Would you recommend Aqua Grill or Blue Ribbon Brasserie? We're not big oyster fans but love good shrimp, clams, lobster etc. etc. Am I correct in thinking that BRB don't take reservations for 2?

(Lastly) Italian:
Inspired by the "NYC Must eat dishes" thread, I want to try and see if I can fit a few of these dishes into 1 evening. The list of places are: Lupa, Babbo, Scarpetta and Perilla (not Italian I know). I've never been to any of them, are any of them setup for casual dining and conducive to doing this sort of "restaurant hopping"? Or will I be shouted at and kicked out the door if I try to share one entree between 2 and leave? I'm guessing this may not be possible so which on that list would you recommend I have dinner at? I probably want to try an Italian place but the duck meatballs sound great at Perilla! I'm looking for something that is somewhat casual, around $40-50 per head all in and somewhere I can still get reservations for in early Oct!

Many many thanks in advance for any tips/advice you have for the above questions or my trip in general. Look forward to reading your views.

  1. Phil Ogelos Sep 30, 2010 04:40 AM

    You've served up a rich and provocative list of queries, boshek, and the hounds will devour it as soon as they awake. I'm not very good on the evening issues you raise, but I can address (obliquely) one point related to your pancakes and french toast questions.

    Through an odd quirk of post-Prohibition regulatory history, city restaurants are not permitted to serve alcohol before noon on Sundays (although most will, if you bat your eyelashes!). Thus, only mad dogs & tourists are out and about on the streets at 9:00 of a Sunday morning. There are all sorts of crowds to worry about in NYC, but sabbath dawns are exempt. You'll feel like you're in a ghost town -one of the best times, actually, to explore it (especially on a bike!).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Phil Ogelos
      b
      boshek Sep 30, 2010 04:53 AM

      Good to know! Thanks for the tip.

      Mad dog - check
      Tourist - check
      Jet-lagged - check

      I'll be out bright and early for sure. Are there places where one can hire a bike for a few hours?

      1. re: boshek
        Phil Ogelos Sep 30, 2010 05:04 AM

        Yes; not as conveniently as in Paris, but yes -and easy to find, once you're here.
        Riding around New York City on a bike on a Sunday morning is as close to heaven as you can be (when you're not eating well).

      2. re: Phil Ogelos
        s
        small h Sep 30, 2010 07:00 AM

        <Thus, only mad dogs & tourists are out and about on the streets at 9:00 of a Sunday morning.>

        And yet there is nearly always a line outside Clinton Street Baking Company *before* it opens on Sunday morning. The OP should not assume he will stroll right in, even if he arrives at 8:45. Also note that Stanton Social opens at 11:30 on Sundays, so it's not a viable back-up if CSBC is mobbed.

        1. re: small h
          Motosport Sep 30, 2010 07:57 AM

          For a backup plan you can always walk around the corner to Katz's. It is a true NYC experience. I've never been there for breakfast but otherwise it is great. I checked the menu, they have pancakes.
          Katz's is huge and will not be hard to get right in. In any case, you should at least try it for lunch or dinner. Great pastrami sammiches!!

          1. re: small h
            b
            boshek Sep 30, 2010 07:57 AM

            Good save - I didn't realise SS opened so late. I'll just have to go to CSBC extra early then. I don't mind a 20-30min wait for great pancakes, just not 2hrs!

            1. re: boshek
              Motosport Sep 30, 2010 08:18 AM

              The pancakes are exceptional and worth a wait. Get there @ opening time.

              1. re: Motosport
                b
                boshek Sep 30, 2010 08:38 AM

                Noted. I'll definitely try to get there for 1st or 2nd round. Thanks.

                1. re: boshek
                  Motosport Sep 30, 2010 12:58 PM

                  Katz's is open until about 3 AM so you can go there and get a nice hot pastrami on rye, chocolate egg cream and a knish. After Katz's you can camp out at Clinton St Bakery and be first on line!! Just kidding, hope you have a sense of humor.
                  Enjoy!!

        2. thew Sep 30, 2010 06:22 AM

          degustation - NOT the standard tapas at all. everytime i've gone i've been delighted

          1 Reply
          1. re: thew
            b
            boshek Sep 30, 2010 07:58 AM

            This is exactly what I wanted to hear! I'm definitely looking foward to this - thanks thew.

          2. Motosport Sep 30, 2010 06:46 AM

            Clinton St Baking: The blueberry pancakes are excellent. They also have the best bacon I have ever had. Gat a side order. On Saturday or Sunday there will be a wait. Earlier is better. I only go on weekday mornings and get a table right away.
            Breakfast, I know. Other Chowhounders will have to help with the rest.

            1. k
              kathryn Sep 30, 2010 08:28 AM

              > Pancakes:
              I'm mad for the plain fluffy type with bacon and syrup (something no one can replicate in the UK). I've heard so much about Clinton Street Bakery

              Worst case scenario, you get there early, you miss the first seating, and you get on the waiting list. They do get people in and out efficiently. It might be a 30 min wait that early because the tables only have to turn once, not 2 hrs -- the people who arrive later on in the day wait that long because the list has gotten so long (tables need to turn multiple times).

              If you're hungry and waiting for your table, go for a walk in the neighborhood and get something to nosh on. Either a donut from Donut Plant or a mini bagel sandwich from Russ & Daughters. There's also a bakery case inside Clinton St Baking Co. and you can get a muffin to eat while you wait for a spot. I wouldn't worry too much about the wait since you plan to get there so early. Also note that they serve their famous pancakes at dinner!

              > French toast:
              Chow says Pastis, a friend of mine recommended Cafe Cluny - I can only try one! Any thoughts on either? I'll probably have this as an afternoon snack rather than being part of breakfast.

              Pastis is pretty busy on the weekends and I think they serve brunch pretty late so even if you have your French toast at 1pm, you're competing with people who just woke up and want a full brunch (they do take reservations though). I love Pastis' french toast and am partial to the brioche style. Although lately, I've been really loving City Bakery's french toast. It's a buffet style bar so you don't really have to worry about lines or only getting one thing and I've rarely seen it super crowded on the weekends.

              > Steak:
              I've decided to go to Keens over PL

              Porterhouse for two. I like their sides but it's usually too much food for me, and I end up leaving most of the side on the table. But then again I can't finish the amount of meat in the porterhouse for two. Portions are generous. It is an American steakhouse after all.

              > Degustation:
              I just want to confirm that this is the case and that I won't just get a "standard"/"traditional" (but good) spanish tapas meal that I can get e.g. in London or Madrid.

              Having spent time in San Sebastian, Madrid, and Barcelona last year, I am confident in saying that these are definitely not traditional tapas. I think they have a small handful of traditional items on the menu like the croquettas, tortilla, torrija, but that's it. Everything else is going to be unique and different.

              > Raw Bar:
              Before Degustation I'm planning to sample a few Raw Bar delicacies early in the evening. Would you recommend Aqua Grill or Blue Ribbon Brasserie?

              I wouldn't do Aquagrill if you are not a huge oyster fan as oysters are their specialty. This is going to be difficult because Blue Ribbon Brasserie is very popular, doesn't take reservations for two, and has a very small bar area (4-5 stools). Most of the people around you will be waiting for a full dinner. They do, however, open at 4pm. If you get there then, you should be OK and be able to order one of the big raw bar platters.

              Another option is Balthazar (which is also very popular but has a larger bar you can sit and dine at). If you finish with your raw bar platter early and have time to kill between that and Degustation, I'd grab a drink at Pegu Club and then stroll over to the East Village and Degustation.

              > The list of places are: Lupa, Babbo, Scarpetta and Perilla (not Italian I know)

              Lupa has a bar you can dine at and sets aside tables for walk in customers. Babbo also has a bar you can dine at and also sets aside tables for walk in customers, but not as many, and it's kind of cramped. They are both very popular restaurant. Scarpetta has a bar you can dine at and also tables for walk in customers but has a larger capacit and is more comfortable and spacious. Perilla has a bar you can dine at but I've walked in and tried to get a table and they were fully committed.

              Also I'm not sure what dishes you plan to order but if it's three pasta dishes and the duck meatballs, I'd not do the duck meatballs. You'll probably be very full by the time you get to Perilla.

              If you're here very soon (in a week or so), it'll be challenging to get a reservation at a decent time at Lupa and Babbo, especially on a weekend night. Scarpetta may be a little bit easier; you can also try to sweet talk them on the phone. Perilla is probably easier to reserve of the four. Don't forget that Lupa is open continuously and you could do lunch there as well.

              Here's what I would do. Take advantage of the fact that Lupa is open continuously throughout the day. Go there at, say, 4pm (well before the dinner rush), order your one dish at the bar, and leave to go to Babbo before the bar opens. The bar opens at 5pm Monday through Saturday and on Sunday at 4:30pm. The kitchen usually opens 30 min. after that. If you get there before the bar opens, you can probably snag two seats at the bar. And then when the kitchen opens you can order the one dish you wish to try. After you're done at Babbo, walk to the West 4th St station and take the uptown A/C/E to Scarpetta. It should be only a short wait for two seats at the bar (and you might need the wait to aid digestion) or one of the bar 2-top tables. I'd end the night at Scarpetta because they have a great bread basket and their pasta portion sizes are large.

              -----
              Lupa
              170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

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

              Perilla
              9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

              Babbo
              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              City Bakery
              3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

              Aquagrill
              210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

              Blue Ribbon Brasserie
              97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

              Cafe Cluny
              284 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

              Pegu Club
              77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: kathryn
                b
                boshek Sep 30, 2010 09:04 AM

                Thanks kathryn for your comprehensive answers. As you can probably tell, most of the "research" I have done came from your posts.

                >something to nosh on
                I was planning to hit Katz's/R&D/Donut Plant after CSBC anyway so I'll bear in mind that I can do it in reverse.

                >City Bakery's french toast
                I was actually thinking about have french toast at 4pm before heading to the airport. City Bakery is on my list - but for the pretzl croissants!

                >I'm not sure what dishes you plan to order
                I haven't really finalised my plan for that evening. It's a Thurs night so reservations may be slightly easier to come by compared to the weekend. I'll probably end up NOT trying 3/4 places since we're not huge eaters and I just don't think we'll manage (such is the problem when you have big eyes but small stomachs). I was thinking more like 1 dish/pasta (at one place, Babbo's octopus for example) and 1 starter and/or entree (at another). May be I'll take your advice and head to Lupa early then try to get a reservation at Babbo. I just had the "ridiculous"-ly priced spaghetti with tomato and basil at Scarpetta in mind when I said I wanted to try 1 dish at each place.

                Once final question on the Batalli places: if I go to Lupa, will I find Babbo very similar? Also given what I'm trying to achieve - (many "must eat" dishes) - how does Otto fare on that list? Should I add/substitute it?

                [As an aside, if you ever visit Taipei, this is how you have to do it - it's not a good day unless you've hit 6/7 spots!]

                1. re: boshek
                  k
                  kathryn Sep 30, 2010 09:43 AM

                  > City Bakery is on my list - but for the pretzl croissants!

                  CB's french toast is really good but very rich. Maybe have the french toast and save the pretzel croissant for the plane? I think they only have the french toast on the weekends, but their lunch salad bar is also very good.

                  Lupa and Babbo are different enough that you'll be fine if you do both but I wouldn't add on Otto unless you're only going there for dessert. Otto is a great every day restaurant especially if you're on somewhat of a budget, but Lupa and Babbo are better.

                  -----
                  Lupa
                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  City Bakery
                  3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

              2. s
                sugartoof Sep 30, 2010 04:49 PM

                Lines haven't been too long at Clinton Street lately, but there's usually a few people waiting by the door. It's manageable, and they keep long Brunch hours now. I believe until 7pm.

                So if you really want to try the place, there's no need for a backup unless you're pressed for time.

                1. Phil Ogelos Oct 1, 2010 05:52 AM

                  Have a great trip, boshek; we look forward to reading a beguiling digest of all your NY tables once you're safe & sound back home.

                  1. b
                    boshek Oct 2, 2010 10:10 AM

                    Thank you so much to everyone for your advice. Really looking forward to my trip now, hope I can try everything on my list. Will report back when I am more than a few pounds heavier!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: boshek
                      b
                      boshek Nov 3, 2010 07:10 AM

                      I have been and come back and just thought I'd share a few quick thoughts on the places we managed to try. As usual my planning was much more ambitious than what our stomachs could handle so we didn't get to try everything on my list but there's always next time.

                      Babbo: Took kathryn's advice and ran into Babbo at around 6.15pm without res, and managed to nab 2 seats at the bar. Tried the grilled octopus and the black ink spaghetti with tiger prawns - both really excellent. Great octopus as already stated on numerous threads and a simple yet effective sauce-free pasta that is close to my idea of perfection. I rate this resto very highly - food, decor, atmosphere, bar service - one of the best Italian meals I have had anywhere. We had been warned about the maitre d' but we bypassed him by going straight to the bar! We were starving and stuffed ourselves so the plan to go to Lupo or Scarpetta afterwards were blown. We did however go to GROM for gelato which was also very good.

                      Degustation: Another standout meal - everything from the croquetas to the wagyu to the torija were sublime. Definitely NOT a standard tapas! - so very far from it. Very glad I managed to get res there.

                      (Not) Blue Ribbon: Purposely declined on the tasting menu at Degustation in order to go to BRB later. Having had a nice drink at the Pegu Club (thanks kathryn), we arrived at BRB 11.30pm and was told there was still a 30min wait! Could have gone to BR Sushi but didn't feel like raw fish so decided to go to Bon Chon chicken in Korea Town instead since it was late night. I was quite disappointed by the fried chicken which had too hard batter on it. May be they over-nuked my batch but I was expecting more tender juicy-ness.

                      CSBC: Hands down THE best pancakes I've had. Despite our best intentions, we ended up getting there around 9am - there was a short line and we waited for around 40mins. We could have had window counter seats right away for 2 but we had a friend join us so had to wait. Was worth it though. Our friend ordered the french toast (quite good but I prefer the pancakes) so I crossed that off my "to eat" list and will save Pastis/Cluny/City Bakery for next time.

                      Katz's: What a place! They don't make'em like that anymore. Pastrami to die for - so tender. Loved the vibe there. Will eat there next time - unfortunately I had to take out the pastrami on rye which was very good.

                      R&D: loved the shop but couldn't bring myself to eat anymore after CSBC and Katz's. Next time.

                      Keens: On my way to the restaurant I don't know why but I felt quite nauseous in the cab. We got there and ordered drinks and I promptly had to run to the bathroom to throw up. I really didn't know why that was, it certainly wasn't anything to do with anything I had eaten there. It was my partner's birthday meal and I really wanted to tough it out and stay but I just couldn't do it. I explained the situation to the staff there and they were totally fine with it. We insisted on paying but they comp'd our drinks and said that we were welcome back any time on our next visit. Obviously we left a good tip but in this way they were totally professional and courteous in their service attitude. The place is amazing and the food on the other tables certainly looked good. I was more disappointed to have missed out than anyone else. I will definitely go back next time.

                      Shake Shack: I was still recovering from the night before and we were quite stuffed by this day (our last) and decided to skip breakfast (planned at The Smith) and head straight to Shake Shack for lunch. There was quite a long line but seemed to be moving. I walked to the City Bakery to get a pretzel croissant (good) and also picked up a bacon and maple biscuit (also good!) to nibble on/have later. I have to say I was a little disappointed by the burger - a little too soggy and not enough of the char-grilled taste. The meat was good though - perhaps even too juicy and hence the soggy burger. The shake was good though. Next time I will try the Burger Joint.

                      Milk bar: Another foodie friend of mine told me the food was very salty there and over-hyped so I decided that I would go only if I was nearby and I ended up not going.

                      Coffee: I'm a big coffee drinker - single estate, brewed, non espresso-based drinks. I visited quite a few places in NYC and would highly recommend Third Rail coffee on Sullivan and Gimme Coffee on Mott. I was disappointed with my coffee at Stumptown (at the Ace hotel) and to a lesser extent 9th street. At almost all of these places I found the staff (barista) to be quite snooty/rude and did not want to engage the customer in chat about the coffee/origins/brewing. There are other places that I was meant to try: Joe, Roasting Plant, Grumpy....

                      Random: if anyone happens to visit Elizabeth, NJ, I recommend Tommy's Italian Sausage for hotdogs - very good!

                      That was about it. I missed so many things on my list so will have to save them for next time. All in all we had a fabulous (eating) trip and as per my previous post, would like to thank everyone again for their very helpful advice.

                      -----
                      Roasting Plant
                      81 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                      Burger Joint
                      118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

                      Babbo
                      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                      City Bakery
                      3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                      Pegu Club
                      77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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

                      Stumptown
                      18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                      1. re: boshek
                        Motosport Nov 3, 2010 08:00 AM

                        Sounds like you had great foodie fun. Glad you like Katz, CSBC and City Bakery, three of my personal favorites!! Come back soon.

                        -----
                        City Bakery
                        3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: boshek
                          s
                          sugartoof Nov 3, 2010 01:09 PM

                          Re: Coffee... Stumptown are usually too jammed to really engage anyone, but it's unlike them to come off rude. 9th Street typically are snobby, and as they're not a roaster, they mostly rely on a Stumptown blend, so it's probably more a shortcoming of the shop in that case.

                          Of the ones you missed, Grumpy is really the only roaster that I would urge you to get to. They can be a bit cold if they're busy, which is often, but you'll be happy with the coffee. Joe's uses Ecco beans (from N. California) and the baristas are more of the college kid working a part time job variety. Roasting Plant does roast, but daily, which isn't always ideal for the bean, and the set up is almost designed for franchising to malls. I'd be shocked if they could really advise you on beans. Blue Bottle would be a stop I'd suggest, or in Manhattan, Caffetteria is a smaller, more personable shop with Blue Bottle beans. I would also suggest Kaffe1668 or RBC for some interesting variety of beans available.

                          -----
                          Roasting Plant
                          81 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                          Ecco
                          124 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

                          Stumptown
                          18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                          1. re: boshek
                            k
                            kathryn Nov 3, 2010 01:45 PM

                            Thanks for the report! I would also add Abraco to your coffee list. And/or next time ask for recs! I don't think you did?

                            BTW, the Shake Shack burger is griddled, not grilled. The softness of the bun is deliberate as they use potato rolls.
                            http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

                            -----
                            Abraco
                            86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

                            1. re: boshek
                              Phil Ogelos Nov 3, 2010 03:36 PM

                              Thanks for your report, boshek. And, while not wanting to make light of your GI problems, I have to say you presented another opening to the tourism advocates who are always trying to find new ways to shill for this city in foreign markets. Las Vegas does it especially well, but maybe New York can use your meme first:
                              NYC: The World Gourmand's Fanciest Vomitorium

                          2. Phil Ogelos Nov 3, 2010 06:18 AM

                            Dear boshek, it being November now, we assume you've come and gone from New York.
                            How was your trip and what did you eat?
                            Sincerely, la canaille

                            1. financialdistrictresident Nov 3, 2010 06:39 AM

                              I do not think Clinton is worth waiting in line for. We went with some out of town friends on a weekday and there wasn't more than a 5 minute wait, no line. They are from the South and said it was their favorite breakfast. Even gave the bacon and grits high marks. If you must go, go on a weekday :)

                              edit: posted this after I read your trip was in October . . .hope it was delicious and fun . . .

                              1. s
                                selenster Nov 3, 2010 08:40 AM

                                the smith? the one in the e. village on 3rd avenue? i think you're better off skipping this place as it's nothing special. i've had the most mundane burger there - you've listed far better places to grab a less expensive and tastier, meatier burger (luger's may not be cheaper but it's certainly way better, and shake shack is great for under 7$).

                                anyway, for italian, MUST EAT is at marea. i know, i post incessantly about michael white but i love his cuisine, specifically here where the specialty is coastal italian. the astice (cold poached lobster w/ burrata) is phenomenal and i still have dreams about how good the spaghetti w/ sea urchin & craab is. also, if you like sea uchin in its pure form, get the ricci, which is a crostini where the sea uchin is topped with sheer, silvery slices of lardo. oh, it's worth stabbing someone for. be sure to make a reservation, even for lunch!

                                for less expensive italian but still m. white fare - osteria morini recently opened. i've yet to go but the reviews have been exceedingly positive AND the man himself is cooking there. my reservation is for this sunday and i'll be sure to update afterward.

                                1. b
                                  boshek Nov 3, 2010 07:07 PM

                                  @sugartoof: Wow, you certainly know your coffee well. I am a strong follower of the "Third wave"/"speciality" whatever-you-wanna-call it coffee thing in the UK and since it's kind of new here, I think people are trying harder to promote it. It's been around in the US for a while so in a way I wasn't surprised that the baristas were not more eager to engage customers. To be fair I went to 9th St. @ Chelsea Market so probably was not the best store to look for that kind of engagement. Perhaps rude was too strong an adjective. I'll add your rec's to my ever expanding list.

                                  @kathryn: yes Abraco was on my list - I already had a list of about 15 coffee places that I had researched from my coffee feeds/twitters/(twitchy blog map) so I thought I had plenty to go on. I took a "put it on the map and drink at wherever I came across it" attitude towards my coffee exploration - but next time I'll definitely ask. Oh thanks for clearing that up about Shake Shack, it explains a lot! Teaches me next time to do my research properly before bad-mouthing a place! =)

                                  @PhilO: it certainly was fancy! lol... I'll try not to make a habit of it. BTW I forgot to mention that I didn't manage to convince my partner to rent a bike with me in the end. She was very apprehensive about riding on city streets since she's not as comfortable a rider as I am... oh well.

                                  @financialdistrictresident: TBH I have had better breakfasts (as a whole meal experience overall) elsewhere but I did think their pancakes were the best I have had anywhere - esp. when you're hungry and waiting in line, they bring out little bites for you to nibble on. I swear they put some extra magic powder on those - to die for! =P

                                  @selenster: Not burgers, I was going to go to The Smith for breakfast (not the pancake kind but what we would call a full-english) as I had read good things about it - but I didn't get to in the end. Re: italians, the other non-Batali's I had recommended to me were Scarpetta and Il Mulino - neither of which I had the good fortune to try. I'll definitely try a M White place next time. I love sea urchin! Just reading your description is making me think bad thoughts about what I can do with my pencil to my co-worker.... lol. Please direct me to your review of Osteria Morini when it's available.

                                  Seriously we had a wonderful time and outside of our eating schedule as well - despite my brief digestive problems. The fall weather was picture perfect, we walked so much my soles were hurting. The best thing is, I still have a substatial list for the next visit which I'm sure is only going to get longer and tougher to choose from since I'll still want to go back to all the great places we hit this time.

                                  -----
                                  Il Mulino
                                  86 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012

                                  Abraco
                                  86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

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

                                  Osteria Morini
                                  218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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