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4 days in April (has my research paid off?)

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Hi, I’m visiting NYC from Australia in April for four nights. This is my third time to NYC but the first where I have really tried to plan out my meals.

Having spent the last two months researching what’s hot and what’s not, I have come up with the following restaurants to reflect what has appealed to me, and I have noted in brackets where I am undecided or where a specific food item has caused me to choose a particular restaurant:

Sunday
Breakfast – Normas (we went two years ago and the fiancé really liked it)
Lunch – Spotted Pig (burger with shoestring fries)
Afternoon tea – Hill Country Chicken (fried chicken)
Dinner – Momofuku Noodle Bar (pork buns, momofuku ramen)
Dessert – Momofuku Milk Bar (milk cereal soft serve ice cream)

Monday
Breakfast – Russ & Daughters (bagels with lox)
Lunch – Le Bernadin or Jean-Georges (which is consistently better?)
Dinner – R.U.B. or Blue Smoke (I am leaning towards Blue Smoke because I read somewhere the mac n cheese is excellent; my main interest for this meal is good pulled pork and mac n cheese)

Tuesday
Breakfast – undecided
Lunch – Motorino or Keste (pizza – open to other suggestions)
Afternoon tea – Artisinal (mac n cheese unless we go to Blue Smoke the night before and are satisfied with the mac n cheese there – the fiancé really loves mac n cheese)
Dinner – Yasuda (is it still good without Chef Yasuda?) or 15 East
Dessert – Momofuku Milk Bar (crack pie)

Wednesday
Breakfast - H&H Bagels
Lunch – Marea (bone marrow & octopus fusilli; any other stand-out items?)
Dinner – Per Se, Daniel or EMP in order of preference

Thursday
Breakfast – undecided
Lunch – Virgil’s (simply because I love bbq, it is next to our hotel and our flight leaves NYC at 3pm)

Any comments would be appreciated, specifically in relation to meal layout (noting that when or if I can get a reservation for Per Se will play a big part in this) or restaurants where I have indicated I am undecided.

Thanks to everyone for all their posts that have helped me compile the above list!

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

15 East
15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

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

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

H&H Bagels
639 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

Momofuku Milk Bar
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

Hill Country Chicken
1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

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  1. Nice list. Some thoughts:

    I'd drop Hill Country Chicken, as it's not very good. Doubly so for Norma's, unless your fiancé is absolutely dead set on it.

    Momofuku Ssäm Bar is more interesting than Noodle Bar. If you're after ramen specifically, Ippudo is a much better choice.

    There's no need for two separate visits to Milk Bar. You can find better desserts.

    Le Bernardin over Jean Georges (for me, over Per Se, Daniel, and EMP as well).

    Can't go wrong with Motorino vs. Keste or Sushi Yasuda vs. 15 East. The sushi quality at Yasuda hasn't declined.

    At Marea, the lobster with burrata, eggplant al funghetto, and basil is a standout antipasto. The desserts are quite strong across the board, but the affogato is a favorite.

    If you're after pancakes, Clinton Street Baking Company is worthwhile for a weekday breakfast.

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    15 East
    15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

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

    Sushi Yasuda
    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

    Le Bernardin
    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    Ippudo
    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Marea
    240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

    Hill Country Chicken
    1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

    8 Replies
    1. re: hcbk0702

      Thanks for the feedback.

      RE: Noodle Bar v Ssam, I'm mainly interested in the pork buns and I guess for the rest of the meal I will see which menu intrigues me more closer to April.

      Do you have any dessert-only recommendations near momofuku ssam/noodle bar or yasuda/15 east to swap for one of the Milk Bar trips?

      I think I will definately go with Le Bernadin for lunch.

      1. re: namor

        If you go to Yasuda, the best desserts nearby would be at The Modern Bar Room on West 53rd (a few blocks closer that the Milk Bar on West 56th). The Bar Room serves a full menu, but you can certainly order just desserts.

        1. re: peter j

          I wasn't too interested in the Modern's main menu but I never considered going there just for dessert. Thanks for the suggestion!

          1. re: peter j

            Don't miss the beignets at the Bar Room at the Modern.

          2. re: namor

            ChikaLicious Dessert Bar and Spot Dessert Bar are very close to the Momofuku restaurants, and both are within reasonable walking distance of 15 East.

            As for Yasuda, I'd tell you to skip dessert and head across the street to Sakagura for some sake and izakaya fare. But if you're up for a longer stroll, The Modern Bar Room, as mentioned above, is a nice option. Within roughly the same walking distance, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon might have even better desserts.

            Michael Laiskonis is the best pastry chef in the city, so you'll be fine at Le Bernardin. Consider requesting his signature "Egg" dessert (milk chocolate pot de crème, caramel sauce, caramel custard foam, maple syrup and Maldon sea salt served in an eggshell).

            -----
            15 East
            15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

            Sakagura
            211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

            ChikaLicious
            203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

            Spot Dessert Bar
            13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: hcbk0702

              Thanks for the recommendations. I certainly like the look of Spot Dessert Bar's menu.

              I will spending 7 nights in Vegas as well on this trip and going to L'Atelier and/or Joel Robuchon but thanks for suggesting the NYC version.

              I will definitely be ordering the egg at Le Bernadin!

              -----
              Spot Dessert Bar
              13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: hcbk0702

                You should be aware that there are two Chikalicious' across the street from one another. One is a sit down dessert restaurant. The other is takeout with some seating.

          3. If you enjoy the food at the Spotted Pig, you might like The Breslin (another one of April Bloomfield's restaurants), on Tuesday. Or, if you're planning on being in the West Village most of that day, you could do breakfast at Joseph Leonard, then be close to Keste for lunch.

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            Spotted Pig
            314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

            Joseph Leonard
            170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

            The Breslin
            20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

            1. Gret list and preparation. Not sure if you know that H and H Bagels (on the west side, anyway) is a shop without seating so it's good for picking up baels that you'll put together with toppings from elsewhere and eat elsewhere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: yebo

                Yeah, we went to H & H Bagels two years ago and ended up eating our bagels nearby on a park bench in the middle of winter - good times!

              2. Monday lunch - Le Bernardin is consistently better than Jean Georges in terms of food and service. Much nicer atmosphere too.

                Wednesday lunch - Try the ricci appetizer (sea urchin on toast topped with a thin slice of lardo). It's not on the lunch menu but they will serve it upon request. Other favorites at Marea include the lobster with burrata, grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, crab spaghetti with sea urchin, risotto mare, roasted scallops with chestnut puree. For dessert, try the rosemary panna cotta, affogato, or the gianduja.

                Wednesday dinner - my top choice would be Per Se, followed by Daniel.

                The crack pie and cereal milk soft serve are the best items at Momofuku Milk Bar, glad they're on your list.

                -----
                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

                Le Bernardin
                155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                Momofuku Milk Bar
                15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                2 Replies
                1. re: peter j

                  Sounds like Le Bernadin it is.

                  1. re: peter j

                    I like the pies and cookies at Milk Bar but I find the cereal milk ice cream very underwhelming.

                  2. Try the mini bagels at Absolute instead of H&H.

                    One good breakfast place for you to consider is Cafe Mogador. You can actually get brunch there any day of the week, and it's much better to go there on weekdays, when you don't have to wait and the atmosphere is relaxed. Their weekend brunch menu is longer, but their best items are available every day.

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                    Cafe Mogador
                    101 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                    Absolute Bagels
                    2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                    1. H&H Bagels is take out only and they don't sell sandwiches - go to Barney Greengrass instead - it's excellent, a real NY institution, have a bagel and don't miss their log & egg & onion omelette. And their smoked fish is fantastic.

                      Choose 15 East over yasuda for dinner.

                      Go to Hill Country for bbq over Virgil's and RUB. I like Blue Smoke.

                      EMP is the best on your list, it's wonderful at lunch too.

                      Don't go to Milk Bar twice - once is enough.

                      Do you want to do *anything* else besides eat in restaurants? You don't have time to do anything else with what you've listed here.

                      -----
                      Barney Greengrass
                      541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      15 East
                      15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

                      Hill Country
                      30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

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

                      H&H Bagels
                      639 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        I'm not sure I would do Marea for lunch followed by Per Se, Daniel or EMP. That's a lot of heavyweight eating for one day. Maybe switch the Keste/Motorino pizza lunch to Wednesday and do Marea Tuesday lunch?

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                        Per Se
                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                        Marea
                        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                          I haven't been to H&H in years, but don't they sell schmears and such? Do you have to buy the cream cheese and lox and put it on, yourself?

                          1. re: Pan

                            Nope they sell whole bagels only. they also sell containers of cream cheese and packaged lox but you have to do it up yourself.

                            To the original poster. What you can do is go to Zabar's and pick up your smoked fish of choice along with some cream cheese and butter. Head down to H&H and get your bagels. You can assemble your sandwiches on one of the benches on broadway or head over to Riverside park. April should be nice enough for this (I hope).

                            Also a tip for H&H. Just ask for whatever just came out of the oven. No matter the variety whatever has just come out of the over in bready heaven.

                            1. re: MVNYC

                              Good tip on buying whatever is warmest. I used to stand there and put my hands on the barrier to try to see which was freshest.

                              And yes, do bring some utensils and napkins!

                          2. re: gutsofsteel

                            I like Hill Country but they don't do pulled pork since they are a Texas style BBQ restaurant. Also I find their mac and cheese to be mediocre. I love their fatty brisket, ribs, and sausage, though.

                            Perhaps OP is planning only upon eating and taking naps in between. Or trying to walk around a lot to stir up an appetite?

                            -----
                            Hill Country
                            30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

                          3. Sunday
                            > Breakfast – Normas (we went two years ago and the fiancé really liked it)
                            > Lunch – Spotted Pig (burger with shoestring fries)

                            I don't see how you're going to be able to do this without dropping dead of a heart attack! Why not do brunch at Spotted Pig and drop Norma's?

                            > Afternoon tea – Hill Country Chicken (fried chicken)
                            > Dinner – Momofuku Noodle Bar (pork buns, momofuku ramen)

                            Or go to Redhead early and share some fried chicken at the bar and then go to Noodle Bar. Or Ippudo. You can also get pork buns to go at Milk Bar.

                            One plan of attach would be to go to Ippudo at 5, put down your name for a later time, like 9pm. Go to Redhead, share the fried chicken at the bar. Then go to Milk Bar, try the pork buns. Then go back to Ippudo and have ramen. And if you're still hungry afterwards, get some cereal milk ice cream & a slice of crack pie to go (they sell it prepackaged in paper sleeves, you can try it the next morning if you want).

                            > Breakfast – Russ & Daughters (bagels with lox)

                            Try a few different tastes of the smoked salmons on offer before choosing one. (I actually find proper lox to be too salty for me.)

                            > Dinner – R.U.B. or Blue Smoke (I am leaning towards Blue Smoke because I read somewhere the mac n cheese is excellent; my main interest for this meal is good pulled pork and mac n cheese)

                            Blue Smoke is good, just make sure to reserve well in advance, they are popular.

                            For your two undecided weekday breakfasts: try Clinton St Baking Company (biscuit sandwich, pancakes) and Locanda Verde (sheep's milk ricotta, pastries, egg dishes). Maybe Maialino.

                            Overall, I think your itinerary is still ambitious. Are you still going to be hungry enough for breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and dessert? I don't know about Australia but I think the places you've chosen have portion sizes large enough to keep you full for several hours.

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

                            Spotted Pig
                            314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

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

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

                            Ippudo
                            65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            Locanda Verde
                            377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                            Maialino
                            2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                            Hill Country Chicken
                            1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: kathryn

                              Thanks to everyone for their comments. I anticipate doing lots and lots of walking, plus a few gym sessions at our hotel during our stay, to keep the body alive and the appetite going! My soon-to-be wife and I are getting married on the west coast and are spending most of our time there; I am dragging us to the other side of the country for four nights purely because of the food and so I want to make the most of it.

                              That being said, taking everyone's suggestions into consideration I will make the following adjustments:

                              1. I will skip the "afternoon tea" meals at Hill Country Chicken and Artisinal - hopefully I can get decent fried chicken elsewhere on this trip; if not I will follow Kathryn's suggestion of Redhead followed by Momofuku (if so, we will probably just have the pork buns from Momofuku).

                              2. I will swap Tuesday's lunch (pizza) with Wednesday's lunch (Marea) to provide a better balance of meals.

                              3. I will go with Le Bernadin over Jean-Georges for Monday's lunch and will make sure to order the egg.

                              4. I will go for Blue Smoke over RUB for Monday's dinner.

                              5. For the two undecided breakfasts we will probably just have oatmeal from the nearest Starbucks (which tends to be my staple breakfast on my US visits to allow more ambitious lunches and dinners)

                              6. We will go to the Modern for the beignets as our dessert on the Tuesday, unless we get enough of that particular dish elsewhere on our trip in which case we will go to Spot Dessert Bar - do we need to book either place if we are just going for dessert on a weekday?

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

                              Spot Dessert Bar
                              13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                              Hill Country Chicken
                              1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010

                              1. re: namor

                                The Modern serves other great desserts besides the beignets, like the coffee caramel dome, hazelnut dacquoise, and cheesecake.

                                Note that the Egg at Le Bernardin is a complimentary pre-dessert for VIPs and frequent customers, so be sure to request it when you order your appetizer and main course (or tasting menu if that's what you're getting).

                                -----
                                Le Bernardin
                                155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                                1. re: peter j

                                  Noted! Has anyone ever reported any issues with requesting it?

                                  1. re: namor

                                    It's generally not an issue, but the kitchen only makes a certain number of the dessert each day, especially since it's off-menu. Asking earlier is better.

                                    1. re: hcbk0702

                                      Agreed, though I recently had a late lunch at Le Bernardin (2:30 pm) and didn't have any issues requesting the Egg. My server seemed very pleased that I knew about it (thanks to hcbk0702, of course).

                                      -----
                                      Le Bernardin
                                      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                                2. re: namor

                                  I don't know if Spot takes reservations.

                                  For the Modern, they have the bar with seating, and some lounge seating and a banquette that is first come, first served. They also have tables that are freestanding and that's what you'd get if you reserve I believe -- but I've only ever reserved if I'm having a full dinner. But if it's a weekday, it might be more fun just to drop in and eat dessert at the bar. They have good cocktails as well.

                                  1. re: namor

                                    If you happen to find yourself uptown, I might stop into Amy Ruth's for fried chicken and waffles (with butter, maple syrup, and hot sauce). Ditto for if you're in Williamsburg & near Pies 'n' Thighs. Oh, and if you're near Blue Ribbon Bakery or Brasserie, their fried chicken isn't my favorite but their house made hot sauce is great.

                                    -----
                                    Amy Ruth's
                                    113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

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

                                    1. re: namor

                                      I'll second Kathryn's recommendation of Redhead. Moist, excellent fried chicken - even the white meat is quite good. Very nice sides, desserts, and beers, too.

                                      I have yet to have to wait at Spot, but I may not have come at peak times (I've usually gone on the late side, after dinner).