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Help me choose 4 Manhattan restaurants after hours on chowhound

g
glang Feb 13, 2011 01:13 PM

I will be staying in Secaucus 2/27-3/4 for a training. It's my first access to Manhattan in over a decade and I can only go in for dinner, after 7:30 pm. Will be taking the train into Penn Station after a 12-hour day of work.

I am adventurous and v knowledgeable about food and will eat anything but mangoes (allergic) but am out of touch w NYC food scene. Don't have a lot of money but will spend whatever I have on food! Could go cheap for 3 nights and do one big splurge, or medium all nights, but can't do high end every night. (For me, cheap = under $20 for meal/drinks/tip, medium = under $50 for ditto, big splurge = under $150 ditto). Probably will be eating alone but may be with one or two other people at most (can't try lots of dishes at one place except w tasting menu).

My tastes run the gamut from street food to v sophisticated, but when I go out I look for what I can't easily make at home (we are good cooks/know a lot about ingredients).

I am determined to make the most of my 4 nights (Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed), but after spending most of today reading posts I need some very specific info.

1) Chinese - can't get anything decent here (Boulder CO) so it might even get 2 of my 4 nights, won't be able to go anywhere but Manhattan, like all different regional, don't speak/read Chinese (so the menu translations here are great but not sure if current?). Reading threads, I got pretty interested in Shanghai Deluxe, Szechuan Gourmet, Old Sichuan etc but then got confused and overwhelmed about which are open, where they are now, how to choose just one and then how to choose specific dishes. Lau, erica, buttertart, bigjeff, scoopg et al, any consensus if I only have one or two nights for Chinese? Any chance you all are having one of those gang foodfests and I could horn in? ;-)

2) French - lived in France, love it all, scared to even start reading threads - I'll be here all night! Maybe French for my big splurge? If so, one night, where?

3) Italian - husband lived there, we have travelled there a lot, love all regions, pretty picky. If just one restaurant, where?

4) Seafood - I live in CO so am always craving fresh seafood. Maybe I can effectively combine this with the three listed above?

5) Japanese - can actually get some decent here, but not transcendent. This could also be my big splurge or my seafood wallow...

Finally, am flying in and out of JFK so on Thursday my only meal opp will be at the airport! Is there anything worth trying? Maybe an oyster bar or something?

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for the help!

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

Old Sichuan
65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. loratliff RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 01:48 PM

    I think going "medium" all nights is very practical and a nice way to sample a variety. If you're not a heavy drinker, $50 per head is totally respectable at many quite nice places.

    If you did want to do a big splurge, I think you'd be very well-served at Eleven Madison Park. Single diners are treated extremely well there and the four course dinner menu is $125, although that is pre-tax and tip.

    As for French, in the "medium" category, you should certainly visit La Sirene. It's a teeeny-tiny restaurant, cash only, but is some of the best French food in the city that I've had and $50 would serve you quite well. Also, they're BYOB so you'd save some money that way too. If you have their heavenly skate dish, it would satisfy your seafood craving too. Escargot and cassoulet are phenomenal there too.

    For cheap seafood, I'm always quite impressed with Fish on Bleecker Street. They have a special that includes six oysters and a glass of wine or beer for $8. That, in conjunction with a cup of chowder or bisque, is a nice meal.

    If you go into Chinatown for your Chinese, it will be a relatively cheap meal so you could recoup some costs with that meal. I personally like Grand Sichuan, but I may be partial because I live so close to the one on 7th Avenue. I also really like Joe's Shanghai—their soup dumplings are cheap ($4.35, or so, for a big basket) and worth a try if you don't get much Chinese.

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

    La Sirene
    558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

    1. scoopG RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 01:55 PM

      Hi glang and welcome back!

      For French: Daniel or Bouley would be my top choices. For a heavenly dining experience (but not French) overall and not likely to be found in lovely Boulder: Eleven Madison Park. All three will put you in the "splurge" category. But hey, life is short, no?

      For Chinese: Szechuan Gourmet is the place for you. Be sure to get their appetizer of 1000 Year-Old Eggs in Spicy Sauce. They are the only place in Manhattan serving this delicious dish. It is the flagship of Manhattan's Sichuan restaurants. I'd avoid Joes Shanghai. Loaded with tourists so there are always long lines. Shanghai Cafe Deluxe (slight name change) at 100 Mott Street will serve your needs for XLB - Xiao Long Bao - the Shanghai style soup dumplings. Not the best in NYC but I prefer them over Joes.

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

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

      8 Replies
      1. re: scoopG
        g
        glang RE: scoopG Feb 13, 2011 02:11 PM

        Thanks loratliff and scoopG for the quick replies. I had made a res at EMP but cancelled based on cost... sounded amazing but several folks mentioned going well over my max budget (I do drink with dinner and my tastes usually exceed my wallet!). Could reinstate res if indicated.
        Went to La Sirene site and it looks lovely, but also like food I could (and do) prepare at home... do you think that's wrong? Was hoping to go to places where the preparation, ingredients or level of culinary expertise are well beyond me.
        Went to Joe's Shanghai way back when it opened and the xlb were wonderful then, but based on reading recent posts was thinking about Shanghai Cafe instead - but curious scoopG, what do you think ARE the best xlb in NYC?
        Good to hear Szechuan Gourmet confirmed as it was in my short list. Eggs noted. Any other specific dish recs would be appreciated, especially if only in Chinese on menu. In the threads the mentions of Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ meat had me swooning.
        Am about to check out your other ideas...

        -----
        Joe's Shanghai
        24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

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

        La Sirene
        558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: glang
          scoopG RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 02:17 PM

          glang, the menu at Szechuan Gourmet is in both English and Chinese and all the staff speak English. Will you be dining alone? (Also I find they have the deepest, most extensive Sichuan menu compared to anyone else.)

          The Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ dish is at the Shanghai Cafe, now called the Shanghai Cafe Deluxe.

          The best XLB in NYC are here at Nan Xiang, in Flushing. Only 35 minutes from Manhattan!
          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/0...

          1. re: glang
            hcbk0702 RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 02:29 PM

            Nan Xiang has the best xiao long bao in NYC, but given your schedule, I wouldn't recommend the trip out to Flushing. If you only go to one Manhattan Chinese restaurant, I'd probably agree with the Szechuan Gourmet choice.

            In the splurge category, sitting at the sushi bar at Sushi Yasuda or 15 East will take care of your Japanese and seafood requirements.

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

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

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

            1. re: hcbk0702
              g
              glang RE: hcbk0702 Feb 13, 2011 02:49 PM

              Hooray for all this great advice!
              Checked out Daniel and Cafe Boulud, also Bouley... all sound great, tho also probably maxing out my budget. Might try for a tasting menu at one of them. Any other thoughts on French, y'all?
              Sushi Yasuda looks amazing. Might try for the sushi bar there for one night, wonder if I can pull off that AND a French feast...
              I was afraid you were going to say Flushing, scoopG - sadly, I think it's too far since I already have to get to Penn from Secaucus and will be starting out late (also have to start work each day about 7 am). I am probably on my own which is why I'm thinking 2 nights for Chinese - I'm a big eater but still can't try as much as I'd like on my own! So I am thinking Szechuan Gourmet for one night and Shanghai Cafe Deluxe for one night...
              loratliff, I read about Fish on Bleeker and saw some mixed reviews, but I would love to go to a great seafood place with a raw bar- people were mentioning Mary's - what do you think? I do get to go to SF more often than NYC and I usually have an oyster orgy there, but can't have too many of those!

              -----
              Cafe Boulud
              20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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

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

              1. re: glang
                scoopG RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 02:52 PM

                I think you will be satisfied with the XLB at the Shanghai Cafe Deluxe. Please report back on your trip!

                1. re: glang
                  k
                  kathryn RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 06:52 PM

                  If you want a big variety of oysters, try Aquagrill.

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                  Aquagrill
                  210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

              2. re: glang
                loratliff RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 04:02 PM

                It's simple French food, for certain, but the owner/chef is really a character. Upon reading the other replies though, I do think you'll like Cafe or Bar Boulud.

                Also, your moral compass may vary, but I avoid Shanghai Cafe Deluxe. Read on: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                Oh, also, if you really love complicated techniques and ingredients, you'd likely enjoy WD-50 if you have even the slightest interest in molecular gastronomy. You could easily make it work in your price point too.

                -----
                Bar Boulud
                1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                1. re: glang
                  k
                  kathryn RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 06:41 PM

                  At Szechuan Gourmet I'd do the mapo tofu and cumin lamb, for sure. Portions can be pretty big though.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760484

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

              3. d
                David W RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 02:44 PM

                I'm not sure it fits any of your categories, but a number of us are pretty happy with Riverpark-there are some really nice pasta's on the menu, and fish-and if you make it your Sunday night dinner you'll make the last night of the extended restaurant week-which means you can get 3 courses for $35 - the website doesn't show the RW menu, but it contains items from the regular dinner menu-they've had eight choices for appetizer and main, and 5 for dessert.
                I would reserve that soon.
                http://www.riverparknyc.com/index.php

                Another thought is Apiary-to me, one of the better price/value places in town. Note that Monday night they have free corkage-you can pick up a bottle at the nearby Union Square Wine store.

                http://www.apiarynyc.com/main.asp?pag...

                17 Replies
                1. re: David W
                  g
                  glang RE: David W Feb 13, 2011 03:05 PM

                  Oh, I didn't realize I had one night of RW - now I'm really gonna be on here all night! I will check those out DavidW, thanks.
                  BTW scoopG, I will be clutching your menu translation when I go to Shanghai Deluxe Cafe!

                  1. re: glang
                    g
                    glang RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 03:11 PM

                    Hmmm, I just checked out Bar Boulud and it looks pretty tasty and more in my price range than the other Boulud restaurants or Bouley - plus the heavy emphasis on charcuterie appeals to me! Thoughts?

                    -----
                    Bar Boulud
                    1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                    1. re: glang
                      h
                      H Manning RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 03:14 PM

                      If you like charcuterie, Bar Boulud is the place. By all means go. It's much more casual than Daniel, Cafe Boulud or Bouley.

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                      Bar Boulud
                      1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                      1. re: H Manning
                        g
                        glang RE: H Manning Feb 13, 2011 03:18 PM

                        Thanks, H Manning.
                        Another q for anyone out there - the many years ago that I was in NYC I had a wonderful meal at Il Buco. Is it consistently good or did I luck out?

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                        Il Buco
                        47 Bond St., New York, NY 10012

                        1. re: glang
                          g
                          glang RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 03:46 PM

                          Here's what I'm thinking, please let me know if I have any of these locations wrong (the Chinese restaurants are confusing because so many similar names) and what you think of my choices:
                          Sunday - Szechuan Gourmet 21 W 39th St (walk in around 8 pm?)
                          Monday - Cafe Boulud (make res for 8 pm)
                          Tuesday - Shanghai Deluxe Cafe 100 Mott St (walk in between 7 and 8?)
                          Wednesday - Sushi Yasuda 204 E 43rd (can't make res tonight cause they are closed, will check back)
                          Thursday - will be rushing straight from Secaucus to JFK after work but must wait for plane - anything in airport? (a forlorn hope, I know, but there are a few airports with decent food...)
                          Thanks again to everyone who has responded - I won't have much time to research this week, but will watch for replies til I leave.

                          -----
                          Cafe Boulud
                          20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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

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

                          1. re: glang
                            coasts RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 05:34 PM

                            personally, i would skip Boulud and sub-out one of the Chinese meals with Keste. any visit to New York should include pizza and Keste is a stand out. it's not your street corner pie, by any definition.

                            don't be quick to rule out Bouley. try to find a way to make it work. we're going on the 28th and will be counting the days until then.

                            another point: you don't have any desserts on your list. i would highly recommend picking up a TKO at Bouchon (in Time warner, Columbus Circle), as well as Apple Pie Cake Truffles from Momofuku Milk Bar. I wish i hadn't had the thought...i want them now.

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

                            1. re: coasts
                              g
                              glang RE: coasts Feb 13, 2011 06:54 PM

                              Oh, just when I thought I could force pizza out of my mind you write this!
                              Yeah, I thought (and read) a lot about pizza for this trip. There is so much that people are writing about that I kinda gave up early, but Keste does sound great. Not sure about going to a place with a huge wait (and by myself, no sharing of different pies), but will mull it over. BTW I loved Patsy's when I was in the area last, many years ago.
                              Re Bouley, i will take another look at the menu to see if I can pull it off financially.
                              You saw right on the dessert thing - I have much more of a savory than a sweet tooth. Dessert is not usually a destination for me, although I am always happy to find something delicious where I am eating.
                              Thanks for the thoughts, all ideas welcome!

                            2. re: glang
                              k
                              kathryn RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 06:45 PM

                              Bar Boulud or Cafe Boulud?

                              For JFK it highly depends what terminal. Post this on the Outer Boroughs board since JFK is in Queens.

                              -----
                              Cafe Boulud
                              20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

                              Bar Boulud
                              1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                              1. re: glang
                                d
                                David W RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 06:45 PM

                                Not that I have much to offer re JFK, but you know there are multiple terminals there, right? Which one (airline) are you flying out of?

                                1. re: glang
                                  g
                                  gutsofsteel RE: glang Feb 14, 2011 03:29 AM

                                  Kill Shanghai Deluxe Cafe.

                                  1. re: gutsofsteel
                                    g
                                    glang RE: gutsofsteel Feb 16, 2011 05:38 AM

                                    Are you thinking because of the labor dispute, because of the food or both?

                                    1. re: glang
                                      r
                                      reatard RE: glang Feb 16, 2011 05:50 AM

                                      I love Shanghai Cafe. I've been going for years and have seen the same staff the entire time so I don't know what to make of the labor dispute.

                            3. re: glang
                              k
                              kathryn RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 06:47 PM

                              2nd Bar Boulud.

                              -----
                              Bar Boulud
                              1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                              1. re: kathryn
                                g
                                glang RE: kathryn Feb 13, 2011 07:02 PM

                                Flying Delta, no idea what terminal. Will find out. Will also post for Queens.
                                And whoops, I was meaning Bar Boulud (too many Bouluds to keep track!). What do you think?

                                -----
                                Bar Boulud
                                1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                1. re: glang
                                  k
                                  kathryn RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 07:14 PM

                                  I love Bar Boulud!

                                  http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/07...

                                  -----
                                  Bar Boulud
                                  1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                  1. re: kathryn
                                    g
                                    glang RE: kathryn Feb 16, 2011 05:46 AM

                                    kathryn, appreciate your thoughts. Am also checking out Aquagrill.

                                    -----
                                    Aquagrill
                                    210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                  2. re: glang
                                    r
                                    RGR RE: glang Feb 13, 2011 07:18 PM

                                    Perhaps, seeing photos of Bar Boulud's charcuterie would help.

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

                                    While I like Bar Boulud, I absolutely adore Cafe Boulud. Chef Gavin Kaysen is serving some of the most superb cuisine in the city right now. In my view, he's a 4-star chef cooking in a 3-star restaurant. You can go a la carte and choose from the 4 regular menus + the menu of daily specials. Or you can do a tasting menu which, at $89, will keep you in range of your budget even with the addition of wine.

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

                                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                          2. m
                            mangiamama RE: glang Feb 16, 2011 12:22 PM

                            There is a Bobby Van's Steakhouse in Terminal 8 American Airlines.

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