HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
What's your latest food project? Get great advice
TELL US

Looking for creative small plates for birthday weekend trip Jan 22nd-24th

askdrtodd Dec 8, 2010 11:17 AM

I love absolutely everything foodwise, the crazier or more unique, the better. Looking for some good lunch/dinner spots for saturday, sunday, monday (lunch only) with some interesting & unique small plates, my wife and I much prefer ordering 4 or 5 appetizers to ordering a couple entrees. Last year we did WD-50 (enjoyed it), any other molecular gastronomy places like that spring up? Ssam bar was great too. Hoping to essentially get small plates at the ~$15/each range with a good variety, so we can order maybe half a dozen and get some (reasonably priced) wine and come out under $150 for the meal for dinner, maybe around $100 for lunch. I should also mention I'm a huge craft beer nerd so that's always a plus.

My current food itinerary (PLEASE critique at will)

Sat:
Lunch - Somewhere at Eataly (been wanting to check that out)
Dinner - Sugiyama (for Kaiseki)

Sunday:
Brunch: Balthazar
Dinner: Riverpark

Monday:
Lunch: Eleven Madison Park

Thanks for your input!!!

-----
WD-50
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

Sugiyama
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

Eataly
200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Riverpark
450 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016

  1. askdrtodd Jan 26, 2011 05:40 AM

    So I managed to do pretty good, between Saturday AM and Monday afternoon we managed to hit:

    Bouchon Bakery
    Casa Mono
    Shake Shack
    Eataly
    Union Sq market
    Les Halles
    Aldea
    Rattle N Hum
    Momofuku Milk Bar
    Stantion Social
    Katz's
    L'Asso
    Boqueria
    Balthazar
    Kyo Ya
    Craft
    Jimmy's 43
    Blind Tiger
    Eleven Madison Park
    The NTL

    and a couple others that slip my mind. quite a trip.

    9 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd
      y
      yebo Jan 26, 2011 06:33 AM

      Impressive! Any comments on specific places? You have so many -- what about just - ones that cuold have been missed w/ no loss - and dnt misses?

      1. re: yebo
        askdrtodd Jan 26, 2011 09:43 AM

        Here's my abbreviated version. The only ones we had full meals at were EMP, Kyo Ya, Casa Mono, and Stantion Social. Everything else the 4 of us would split a couple small plates, typically whatever was highly recommended by either you guys or the server or the menu. I like to crowbar as much stuff as possible into a "vacation" :)

        Bouchon Bakery - I never come to NYC without getting at least a yogurt parfait and a macaron here.

        Casa Mono - Good but wouldn't return. TINY (uncomfortable) space, mediocre server (ours anyway). Razor clams were tasty but a few had bits of shell in them which was a turnoff. No reasonable (under $70) bottles of wine, but plenty of selections over $1,000 (a wee bit odd for a small plates restaurant?). Bill averaged over 50 a head and we didn't leave full/stuffed by any means. (I should mention our group is a group of lean, typically health-conscious eaters that throw caution to the wind in NYC) :)

        Shake Shack - Great burger. Fortunately there wasn't a line to get it. I've had better but it was quite a treat and really was a nice value after Mono (this was right after Mono, we all split a couple burgers)

        Eataly - Freaking Madhouse. Awesome place though, was a treat to see them making the Mozz, making the pizza in the wood fired oven, all the amazing produce, meat, seafood, specialty Italian items, breads, wines, beers, etc. Great spot. Can't wait until the rooftop beer garden opens up later this year!

        Union Sq market - Really cool for a small-city (Tampa) boy like me. They had fun stuff like Emu eggs and elk jerkey and teas and herbs and veggies, every time I get to explore one of those it makes me really sad I don't live in NYC.

        City Bakery - Chocolate Chip cookie, marshmallow, and maple bacon biscuit all divvied up by the foursome, all well worth the visit. Love that place.

        Les Halles - Just did the french onion soup and a glass of wine. Disappointed. Very pedestrian. I absolutely love Bourdain too.

        Aldea - Good but at the price point there are a lot of places I'd go first. Really enjoyed the sardine with ikura on toast and the poached egg in beef broth.

        The Bresselin - This is at the top of my list to eat at next visit. Only got to try the charcuterie (which was excellent with the blackened sourdough) and some great craft beers, but the place was slammed so we never got to sit down :(

        Rattle N Hum - Only had hummus and a half dozen spectacular rare draft craft beers. CAN NOT WAIT to return. Loved it.

        Momofuku Milk Bar - Crack pie. So aptly named. Just finished the last bites of our piece last night. That stuff is unreal.

        Stantion Social - Perfect recommendation, thank you guys very much for that one!! We tried 7 or 8 dishes and loved at least 5 of them, the kobe philly cheesesteak slider was delectable. Fries- killer. Eggs Benedict - loved it. French Onion soup dumplings- meh. Chicken & Waffles- good but wouldn't order it again, chicken was kinda dry. Periogies - AWESOME. Fish tacos - meh.

        Katz's - Pastrami, split 4 ways, the other three guys hadn't been there before and appreciated it, you can't go wrong :)

        L'Asso - The best pizza I've had in NYC without question. So artful and flawless.

        Boqueria - I dug this a lot more than Mono. Prices a bit more reasonable, nicer decor, killer croquetas, sangria was blah. Better wine/beer selection.

        Balthazar - French onion soup and wine. Just as awesome as last time.

        Kyo Ya - WOW. That was an adventure. We ordered the most unique and interesting things possible off the A La Carte menu and had one of the most memorable meals of our lives. Service was flawless (albeit the server was a bit goofy, in a fun way). Amazing sake and beer selection. Would return in a heartbeat.

        Craft - didn't impress, wouldn't go back. Just had snacks and beer/wine, not bad but would go to Bresselin or Rattle N' Hum first.

        Jimmy's 43 - Cool little spot if you're in the area, (It was right by Kyo Ya) and near Burp Castle (also cool). I would seriously never recommend anywhere more highly than Rattle N Hum for craft beer in Manhattan though.

        The NTL - IMPRESSIVE cocktails, really cool bartender, rib appetizer was memorably tender, sweet, and delicious.

        Blind Tiger - Fun, staff was really cool, service was friendly and knowledgeable. Had some beers, no food. Good selection.

        Eleven Madison Park - Went for lunch, did 4 course tasting menu with wine. Hands down most impressive service I've ever had in a restaurant ever. Everything creative and delicious. Expensive tho. I'll eat there again but wouldn't recommend the wine pairing.

        1. re: askdrtodd
          MVNYC Jan 26, 2011 10:10 AM

          That is some trip. I bet your wallet is lighter and you are heavier. Glad you got to experience a nice range of places here. I hope you got to sample some of the Captain Lawrence and Sixpoint beers at the beer bars.

          1. re: MVNYC
            askdrtodd Jan 27, 2011 04:20 AM

            Yep! Correct and correct :). We did, one thing I noticed is that the brewery I work at is everywhere up there now, Cigar City. Crazy, it was at every bar I went to had it. Love Cap'n and Sixpoint!

          2. re: askdrtodd
            k
            kathryn Jan 26, 2011 11:33 AM

            Yeah, Bourdain hasn't been involved in Les Halles' kitchen for some time, and other hounds have reported mediocre experiences as well. Especially since they apparently greatly increased the number of seats without expanding the kitchen size.

            Never been to L'asso but my go to for pizza is usually Motorino.

            I wasn't aware they had snacks at Craft. What did you have? You asked for small plate restaurants and Craft's dishes are basically the opposite. Big portion sizes. You went to Craft on 19th St, not Craftbar on Broadway, right?

            Where is the NTL? Never heard of it.

            -----
            Les Halles
            15 John Street, New York, NY 10038

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

            1. re: kathryn
              sgordon Jan 26, 2011 01:18 PM

              Bourdain was never really known as a "cheffy" chef - he's always been more a writer and personality. But Les Halles I've found to be solid. When I lived in that part of town they were a decent enough neighborhood standby for steak frites, a glass of wine, classic bistro stuff. They're not Haute French they're not priced like that (or trying to be) either.

              -----
              Les Halles
              15 John Street, New York, NY 10038

              1. re: kathryn
                askdrtodd Jan 27, 2011 04:28 AM

                Oops after some more cautious googling I guess it's called The National (http://www.thenationalnyc.com/). It's near 51st and Lexington. Good atmosphere and really cool mixed drinks! Here are a couple pics.

                 
                 
          3. re: askdrtodd
            thew Jan 26, 2011 06:47 AM

            holy shit. did you bring a porter to carry you around?

            1. re: askdrtodd
              k
              kathryn Jan 26, 2011 07:09 AM

              Quite a list! What were your favorites? Least favorites?

            2. askdrtodd Jan 18, 2011 02:05 PM

              OK so our friends bailed on us and we're coming solo (duo?) and no more Brooklyn. Here's what is probably the final itinerary (unless you awesome CH'ers point us in a different direction)

              Saturday Lunch: Casa Mono
              Saturday Dinner: Aldea (unless I somehow get into Brooklyn Fare)
              Sunday Brunch: Stantion Social
              Sunday Dinner: Kyo Ya
              Monday Lunch: Eleven Madison Park

              Backups or Maybe Snacks @- Eataly, Shake Shack, Burger & Barrel, A Voce, Spotted Pig

              Whatcha think?

              11 Replies
              1. re: askdrtodd
                y
                yebo Jan 18, 2011 02:14 PM

                Perhaps alone, I do not find Aldea awesome, just very good. Sleek room, excellent service. I ate at the pass. Arroz con pato nice -- rice with duck cracklings, more or less. Food clean, nicely presented. I think there are many many restaurants in NY with more joy, creativity, and my favorite, intense tastes.

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

                1. re: yebo
                  sgordon Jan 19, 2011 10:21 AM

                  @yebo - you're not alone. I've been underwhelmed by Aldea. Not only did I find the food nothing terribly special, aside from a couple dishes I didn't find it terribly Portuguese, either. I'll take Convivium Osteria in Park Slope over them any day. And though the Arroz con Pato was really good, I don't see it as anything worth going out of one's way for.

                  But the majority certainly seem to like them, so I won't debate it. Looks like a good list, overall. If you were to replace something, you could certainly make a return trip to Ssam Bar or WD-50 - aside from a couple perennial items, the menus will be completely different than the last time you were here.

                  Stanton Social is a good brunch call. They're always solid. And if they're busy, for a real "only in NYC" experience you could (in the same neighborhood) always go to Shopsin's General Store. Just be sure to peruse the (8,000 or so item) menu online beforehand.

                  -----
                  Shopsin's General Store
                  120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                  1. re: sgordon
                    k
                    kathryn Jan 19, 2011 12:50 PM

                    Recent/seasonal changes at Ssam Bar: the current oyster prep is with vermouth and a dot of bergamot lemon meringue. They have a new pork bun: crispy pork belly, avocado, basil, smoked mayo, which has been a daily special for a while but isn't on the proper menu. The honeycrisp apple kimchi with maple labne and jowl bacon is only available in the winter. And the veal sweetbreads prep has changed drastically, it's now battered and fried and served with thai chili.

                    1. re: sgordon
                      askdrtodd Jan 19, 2011 02:39 PM

                      OOH I forgot about Shopsins, I watched "I like killing flies" a few months ago and really dug it.

                  2. re: askdrtodd
                    p
                    peter j Jan 18, 2011 02:29 PM

                    Great list. Aldea is a must.

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

                    1. re: askdrtodd
                      k
                      kathryn Jan 18, 2011 03:27 PM

                      Stanton Social is pretty good for brunch, but I think Locanda Verde, Minetta Tavern are better.

                      Just went to a great dinner at Kyo Ya this past weekend. Try to reserve for the chef's counter in back if you can. Really lovely service, food, the whole deal.

                      For other backups, Ssam Bar? Motorino? Sorella?

                      -----
                      Minetta Tavern
                      113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                      Stanton Social
                      99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                      Kyo Ya
                      94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                      Sorella
                      95 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                      Locanda Verde
                      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

                      1. re: kathryn
                        askdrtodd Jan 19, 2011 06:29 AM

                        Thanks Kathryn! I think Stanton will fit the bill OK for what we're looking for, and we're already going to be in that area. Happy to hear you enjoyed Kyo Ya, I was hoping to order small plates a la carte rather than go with the full blown kaiseki, that's still an option there correct?

                        Ssam bar was great, we went last time we were there. Come to think of it, I wouldn't rule that out, cuz we could go to the milk bar afterword :)

                        1. re: askdrtodd
                          k
                          kathryn Jan 19, 2011 09:16 AM

                          Yes, when we went on Friday, we ordered a selection of different plates. Unfortunately, our later reservation meant they were already sold out of much of their box pressed sushi. Really loved their Hokkaido style lamb chops, fresh Peale Passage oysters, and the crispy battered and fried lotus root with scallops.

                           
                           
                           
                           
                           
                          1. re: kathryn
                            askdrtodd Jan 19, 2011 09:28 AM

                            Kathryn, how many pieces of box pressed sushi are you getting for $24? I'm assuming it's nigiri?

                            1. re: askdrtodd
                              k
                              kathryn Jan 19, 2011 12:38 PM

                              It's a generous serving, like 10 pieces, but I always somehow end up wanting even more.

                              Some photos I found on Flickr (not by me):
                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/kowarski/4002112971/in/photostream/
                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennychun...

                      2. re: askdrtodd
                        kelea Jan 19, 2011 07:18 AM

                        I LOVE burger and barrel's truffle burger...man I'm drooling just thinking about it

                      3. askdrtodd Jan 6, 2011 05:08 AM

                        so it looks like this has been revised to:

                        Saturday Lunch - Casa Mono
                        Saturday Dinner - Brooklyn Fare (Backup of Traif if I can't get in BF)

                        Sunday Brunch - Stanton Social
                        Sunday Dinner - Kyo Ya

                        Monday Lunch - Eleven Madison Park

                        Look good to you guys?

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

                        Casa Mono
                        52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                        Stanton Social
                        99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                        Kyo Ya
                        94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: askdrtodd
                          k
                          kathryn Jan 6, 2011 06:12 AM

                          Went to Traif recently and wasn't all that impressed. It was good but not great. I'd choose another backup.

                          1. re: kathryn
                            askdrtodd Jan 6, 2011 10:20 AM

                            Crap. Anything awesome in Brooklyn somewhat near Fattie Cue and/or the Brooklyn Brewery?

                            1. re: askdrtodd
                              k
                              kathryn Jan 6, 2011 10:33 AM

                              My personal preference would be to go to Diner or Pies 'n' Thighs, there's actually a lot in the neighborhood that I haven't been to yet like Dressler, 1 or 8, Rye, Walter Foods, Dumont, Egg. Just not specifically creative small plates.

                        2. askdrtodd Dec 27, 2010 06:55 AM

                          WOW. I just saw a review of Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, is it impossible to get in there? That would be amazing. Any other places like that? With reasonably priced bajillion course meals?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: askdrtodd
                            k
                            kathryn Dec 27, 2010 10:11 AM

                            Much more difficult now due to the awarding of 2 Michelin stars. Brooklyn Fare is unique as far as NYC restaurants go.

                            1. re: kathryn
                              askdrtodd Dec 27, 2010 12:01 PM

                              I'm #1 on the waiting list. Fingers crossed.

                          2. daffyduck Dec 19, 2010 01:13 PM

                            great suggestions you can try the bar room at the modern or maybe the half portion pastas at sd26

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: daffyduck
                              askdrtodd Dec 27, 2010 06:20 AM

                              Thanks guys. We ate at the Bar Room last time we were there, had some cool dishes (poached egg with foie gras en croute in a baby mason jar was amazing). I'm leaning toward boqueria vs. casa mono, but I'd love to hear more about either or both! I think Kyo Ya is replacing Sugiyama. I might be stuck in Brooklyn for half a day, to visit the brooklyn brewery. Anything highly recommended over there? Maybe some killer pizza?

                              -----
                              Kyo Ya
                              94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                              1. re: askdrtodd
                                r
                                RCC Dec 27, 2010 06:25 AM

                                We like both Boqueria and Casa Mono. Slightly larger portions/plates at CM than at Boqueria. Dishes at Boqueria are truer to Sapnish tapas as I know them. Wine list is deeper with more expensive ones at CM, but Boqueria's list has more smaller obscure ones and relatively cheaper. However, can't go wrong with both.

                                -----
                                Casa Mono
                                52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                1. re: askdrtodd
                                  g
                                  gutsofsteel Dec 27, 2010 08:15 AM

                                  I think Casa Mono has better food than Boqueria.

                                  For Brooklyn pizza not too far from where you'll be - go to Lucali's. Avoid Grimaldi's.

                                  -----
                                  Casa Mono
                                  52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                  Grimaldi's
                                  47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                                  1. re: askdrtodd
                                    k
                                    kathryn Dec 27, 2010 10:10 AM

                                    Casa Mono is much more creative than Boqueria because it's a interpretation of Spanish cooking, whereas Boqueria is more traditional.

                                    Brooklyn Brewery is in Wiliamsburg -- do you want to stay in Williamsburg and get pizza in that neighborhood? It can be a little annoying to travel from Williamsburg to get to other parts of Brooklyn. Personally, I would just take the L a little further east to get to Motorino.

                                    That neighborhood is also rich in great places to eat -- Diner, Pies 'n' Thighs, and I've been hearing great things about Traif, which has creative small plates.

                                    http://traifny.com/

                                    -----
                                    Casa Mono
                                    52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                    1. re: askdrtodd
                                      thew Dec 27, 2010 12:09 PM

                                      the razor clams and duck breast at casa mono were 2 of the best dishes i had all year

                                      1. re: thew
                                        askdrtodd Dec 28, 2010 05:16 AM

                                        sold! :)

                                  2. Motosport Dec 16, 2010 11:26 AM

                                    Stanton Social has excellent and very creative "small plates". Check out their menu.

                                    -----
                                    Stanton Social
                                    99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                                    1. thew Dec 16, 2010 09:45 AM

                                      casa mono has some outstanding food, and i really like degustation

                                      1. a
                                        AdamD Dec 16, 2010 09:18 AM

                                        Boqueria on 19th st.

                                        1. m
                                          ml77 Dec 9, 2010 06:23 PM

                                          I wouldn't do Eataly. For Italian small plates, I like Salumeria Rosi at 73rd and Amsterdam (UWS). Another great option for Italian would be Maialino (Gramercy Park Hotel at 21st and Lex). Would be a great option for brunch or dinner. Bar Room at The Modern is a bit pricier than your preferred budget, but very much worth it. Aldea is also an excellent suggestion. You could ask to sit at the chef's counter and watch the kitchen in action.

                                          -----
                                          Salumeria Rosi
                                          283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

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

                                          Maialino
                                          2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ml77
                                            LeahBaila Dec 16, 2010 10:01 AM

                                            Agreed re: Eataly / Salumeria Rosi. The selection, quality, and taste of the cured/dried meats at Salumeria blows Eataly out of the water.

                                            www.thelunchbelle.com

                                            -----
                                            Salumeria Rosi
                                            283 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

                                            Eataly
                                            200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                          2. k
                                            kathryn Dec 8, 2010 06:46 PM

                                            Sadly we really don't have another like WD-50.

                                            I'd walk through Eataly and maybe have a snack but not sure it's special enough for a full meal given the chaos, crowds, and lack of organization.

                                            I would also consider Kyo Ya for the kaiseki.

                                            If possible try to squeeze in Degustation (dinner service only). Possibly Kuma Inn, which is BYOB and not as nice as the others but also less pricey.

                                            Also these all serve lunch & do small plates:
                                            Bar Room at the Modern
                                            Aldea - good small plates selection if you order from the left side of the menu
                                            Casa Mono

                                            Also no reason you can't do Ssam Bar again, the menu is likely different now.

                                            -----
                                            WD-50
                                            50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                                            Casa Mono
                                            52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                            Eataly
                                            200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: kathryn
                                              askdrtodd Dec 9, 2010 12:14 PM

                                              thanks, Kyo Ya looks great (from what I can find on blogs)!

                                              -----
                                              Kyo Ya
                                              94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                              1. re: kathryn
                                                p
                                                pauliface Jan 6, 2011 08:43 AM

                                                I have not eaten at Kyo Ya.
                                                But of places I've been to, Sugiyama is my favorite Kaiseki restaurant outside of Japan.
                                                I leave it to others to compare the two, but Sugiyama gets my highest rating.

                                                -----
                                                Sugiyama
                                                251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                Kyo Ya
                                                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                              Show Hidden Posts