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restaurant suggestions, downtown please

thanks to everyone who made suggestions about where i should go during my month in new york last august. now, i'm coming back to visit the man who joined me on all my eating adventures and i'd like to have a few tricks to pull out of my hat.

last trip, we went to:

market table
casa mono
cookshop
barbuto
spotted pig
breslin
num pang
xian xian
milk bar
chickalicious
republic--ick

i'm sure there were more, but it all melts into a wine soaked distended stomach romantic haze.

so here's what i'm looking for:

places to eat with a guy i'm crazy about with really good food, maybe a bit romantic, but not cheesy and not too uptown. i love fashion just about as much as i love food, so i'll be dressing, more martin margiela than coco chanel but he's pretty casual and i need him to feel comfortable, too.

fish isn't his favorite, me, i'll eat just about anything if it is delicious.

and to further give you an idea of what i like, until it closed, tailor served me just about the best meal i've ever had, yet i don't love wd50. i loved alias back when it didn't have tacos on the menu.
and i absolutely hated my dinner at dbgb, though the time i went to his midtown place with the foie gras burger still tickles me because martha stewart was sitting at the next table. no, i'm not star struck, i live in la and here everyone is a star, but she, in public, picked food out of her teeth with her finger. i saw it. my friend saw it. and it still makes me laugh.

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  1. Not sure what you meant by Xian Xian. Did you mean Xian Famous Foods (there's one in Chinatown and another on St Marks). I love their cumin lamb. For a different, Sichuan take, try the cumin lamb at Szechuan Gourmet.

    If you liked Market Table & Cookshop, you might like Hearth (always solid and less pricey than Craft), Gramercy Tavern (perhaps the front room for less formal dining), or Northern Spy Co. Maybe the Redhead, Blue Ribbon Bakery, or Prune.

    If you liked Casa Mono, I'd do Txikito, El Quinto Pino, or Degustation, with the latter being Spanish influenced small plates and the most expensive and not necessarily very romantic. Aldea is similar in that its Portuguese, newer, and not built around an open kitchen though you can eat at the chef's counter if you like. For great atmosphere and good (but not as good as Txikito) tapas, try Las Ramblas (it's a bit cramped, though).

    For really good food, but not cheesy and not uptown, I'd do Po, Perilla, or Peasant. If you're willing to pay a bit more, Maialino or Scarpetta but these aren't as romantic as the others I mentioned.

    Milk Bar and Chikalicious are both unique so it's hard to make recommendations based upon that. But, for good macarons (you mentioned this in your previous review), go to La Maison du Chocolat.

    For brunch, have you checked out Minetta Tavern or Locanda Verde?

    I also reiterate my previous suggestions of doing Defonte's, Lamazou, This Little Piggy, Despana's takeout counter, Salumeria Rosi (takeout), Di Paolo's (takeout and porchetta available only on weekends I think), Sunny and Annie's, Crosby Connection...

    Also noticed you didn't include Katz's Deli, pizza (I love Motorino), or smoked salmon (Russ & Daughters) on your previous itinerary. Worth a trip if you've not been yet.

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    Perilla
    9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

    Despana
    408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

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

    Lamazou
    370 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

    Casa Mono
    52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

    Minetta Tavern
    113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

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

    Market Table
    54 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014

    Szechuan Gourmet
    21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

    Blue Ribbon Bakery
    33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

    Las Ramblas
    170 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

    Crosby Connection
    284 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

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

    La Maison du Chocolat
    63 Wall St, New York, NY 10005

    Txikito
    240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

    Salumeria Rosi
    283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

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

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    Xi'an Famous Foods
    88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      oops, typo, i meant xian where, by the way, i most liked the celery salad, super simple and delicious.

      Had an icky meal years ago at Prune with my then-husband. He was just about the only man in the room and we felt really, really out of place and I never feel out of place.

      I also may be the only foodie on the planet who didn't love degustation. It was fine and fun to watch the chef artistes do their thing, but a bit to precious for me.

      I am a huge fan of maison du chocolat, but what i thing they do amazingly well is their fruit gels. all the bakeries in paris do them, but maison du chocolat, let's just say here in la, i used to make up excuses to stop at neiman marcus just so i could buy a fruity gel square. the counter was right next to the shoe department, another one of my weaknesses, so it was a good thing when they stopped carrying mdc.

      of course, been to katz's--i'm a big fan of new dills, i think you call them half sours in ny and there is nothing like a brisket sandwich a a plate full of salty cucumber pickles. i'm puffy for a week afterward, but so worth it. And Russ and Daughters, of course, though i prefer to dig in the cold case and get a tub of baked fruity farmers cheese.

      Been meaning to get to Perilla, but have wondered if it is cheesy and hyped or solid and good.
      Coming from Los Angeles, I'm just not all that into the "I was on TV" thing. Here, it seems everyone is famous for something (a friend recetly reminded me I used to be, too) and not always for their talent.

      Looking forward to a week of delicious. Of course, will have to stop at Barbuto for some of that delish chicken.

      Any thoughts on, i think it is called the little owl?

      -----
      Perilla
      9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

      1. re: jrnlmkr

        I know that Eleven Madison Park offers fruit jellies (I think only with dinner mignardises?) and they are quite good but I'm not an expert.

        Perilla is solid and good and I think a better restaurant than Little Owl (and way less cramped and easier to reserve). I think NYers are so used to celebs that celebrity owned restaurants undergo more scrutiny than others. That might be just me, though.

        -----
        Perilla
        9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

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

        Little Owl
        90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

        1. re: jrnlmkr

          I agree with kathryn re Perilla vs. Little Owl. Whether or not a chef has appeared on television is meaningless to me. Out-of-towners seem to be obsessed with celebrity but natives are generally not.

        2. re: kathryn

          i'm back in la, stuffed and having a hard time buttoning my jeans.

          once again, i ate myself silly and here's what i thought:

          hearth. we had no reservations, but managed to score seats in the kitchen which was really fun and romantic and much prettier than the hum drum decor in the main room. my bf declared his pasta the best he's ever eaten. i guess because we were sitting in the kitchen, we were given a complimentary plate of gnocchi which were buttery and really yummy. the staff was super attentive, the somm very smart, the chef friendly and funny and the food really good.

          the harrison. again, without reservations, we strolled in and were about to be shown to our table, when my bf discovered one of his customers seated at the bar. we were invited to sit and the next thing i knew a parade of cocktails and things we didn't order appeared before us. again, we were given gnocchi. and again it was delicious. two really strong drinks keeps me from remembering specifics, but everything tasted great, especially the giant dessert. robert, the sweet bartender makes a wicked manhattan and was nice to us even though we hogged two prime barstools until closing.

          aldea. i'm embarrassed to say we showed up at 5:30 pm and were the only non white-haired customers in the place for several hours, but we'd not had breakfast or lunch. the hostess, who we'd met several months before at otto remembered us from there and offered us seats in the kitchen which we loved. the place is beautiful, so no seat is bad, but the chef is so intense and focused, it was a huge treat to watch him. we started with foie gras and octopus, accidently quite a contrast to each other which we really enjoyed. the plates were so so lovely i barely wanted to dig in, but screw art, i was hungry; i'm thinking the scene looked a bit like lions feeding on the animal planet and though i can't quite remember, i'm hoping neither of us licked our plate. the pork belly was the most beautiful presentation of food i have ever seen. i loathe foam, but made friends with it here.. again, lucky choice, the duck was lusty and earthy and a direct opposite to the pick ethereal pork.

          cookshop. i confess, we have friends who work there, but we go because we like it and this trip i went three times.

          casa mono. damn, i really like that duck egg on potatoes.

          casa. my man is brazilian so for my last night, we went to casa in the west village so i could see what he grew up eating. after being seated i heard a lot of portuguese, then some chicken wings and some spicy green sauce were placed in front of me. we had yummy shrimp in coconut milk and a plate of assorted brazilian stuff, rice beans, meat, garlicky greens, tomatoes and onions and yucca flour. it was very homey, delicious and filling.

          murray's cheese. the grilled cheese sandwich was only four bucks, but the bread was kinda stale and the cheese grained up as soon as the thing began to cool. not horrible. just not grand.

          hearth harrison aldea cookshop spotted pig casa

        3. Perilla
          Aldea
          Annisa

          I agree with you in regard to Tailor and WD-50. Unfortunately I don't think anything like Tailor exists now.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rrems

            bummer, still dream of my meal there. the food was so good i had a great time despite being the only eating customer in the restaurant for the full two hours i was there.

            1. re: jrnlmkr

              That always amazed and disappointed me too. It was almost always empty, though they did seem to get busier on our last few visits, then they closed.

          2. If you're looking for nice, somewhat romantic and downtown, I'd throw in Corton and SHO.

            -----
            Corton
            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            1 Reply
            1. re: edwardspk

              I love SHO, and am not fond of Corton, but aside from that, both are rather formal.

            2. Perilla is a great choice. Try the duck meatballs if you are a more adventurous eater. Also Apizz (Italian) on the LES is one of my favorites. It is small, intimate, and romantic. The butternut squash ravioli is to die for and always a must when I go! They also serve homemade ricotta cheese and tomato sauce with bread which I can eat as a meal itself.

              -----
              Perilla
              9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

              Apizz
              217 Eldridge St., New York, NY 10002

              1. I loved Heatth, Peasant, Perilla. If you like Indian - Tamarind in Tribeca was great. We are going to Apizz in two weeks and heard some great reviews of the place!

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                Perilla
                9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

                Apizz
                217 Eldridge St., New York, NY 10002