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March 2011 Manhattan Foodie Frenzy

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We had a whirlwind trip to NYC last week with LOTS of fantastic foodie hits! Got into town on Tuesday and kicked things off with quite a bang with dinner at Daniel in the lounge where we had a really unbelievable evening. We started with a bottle of Daniel’s house label champagne which was absolutely delicious. I can’t remember the name of the bottle of red we had but it was also wonderful, the sommelier was really great. We tasted so many wonderful things with many extra courses – I don’t think you can go wrong here! – but definitely recommend the crab salad, seared scallops, roasted sea bass, braised cod and duo of beef. We loved all of the desserts as well but I think the favorite was the chocolate and pistachio one. The service here set an impossible standard for the rest of the week – this is a truly top tier experience that would be very difficult to beat. We really enjoyed sitting in the lounge as you can create your own menu with the a la carte options.

Breakfast Wednesday morning was a donut muffin compliments of Daniel’s pastry chef – dessert for breakfast! Only on vacation! In the spirits of the high-low foodie trip lunch was a delicious burger at Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien. $8 gets you a pretty yummy burger that hits the spot after lots of shopping – just don’t expect any atmosphere. Wednesday night’s dinner was at Marea. We had assistance scoring a reservation the night before but in general you need to book one month out. Although I usually love uni and so was really looking forward to the uni ricci, we didn’t love this dish unfortunately. However, we loved the grilled octopus, the lobster and burrata cheese, and the fusilli with octopus. We also liked the veal ravioli with sweetbreads. We had heard that the mains weren’t their strong point so we kept to the starters and pastas. We were unfortunately too beat that night to partake in vino. After the insanely great service at Daniel Marea’s service dimmed in comparison but the food was absolutely delicious.

Thursday we scored seats at Koi for lunch. Our favorite item by far was an off-menu spicy tuna roll with tuna on top that was really wonderful. We also loved the crispy rice with tuna as always. The yellowtail and scallion roll was very fresh and the shisito peppers were a treat too. That night we had dinner at Blue Hill which unfortunately we didn’t love (although we did hear the one at the farm is preferable, and we ate at the one in the city). We expected to love the egg appetizer but we just weren't wowed by anything here which was a shame. Of everything we had here my favorite was the winter fruit and vegetable salad. For mains we had the venison and pig, both were good but neither was amazing. The cocktails were very well made and we did have a lovely bottle of red wine. We skipped dessert here in favor of a stop at Magnolia Bakery, where we went WAY overboard and ended up in a sugar coma! The banana pudding was the clear winner. The red velvet cupcake was unfortunately a little dry, and we wished the frosting was cream cheese. We did like the German chocolate cupcake. Afterwards we only lasted for one beer at Spotted Pig, which was fun but too insanely crowded. Great beer selection, and the food looks great!

Friday we had lunch at Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien, which was extravagant but did us right as we were starving. We shared savory and sweet – the Normalita’s Huevos Rancheros, the Artychoked Benedict and the Waz-Za waffle. The benedict was really fun as the artichoke heart was the muffin, really quite good. The Waz-Za would be tough to eat all on your own as it’s truly dessert for breakfast but it was so yum, warm fruit with a crème brulee thing going on, we forced them to take it away so we stopped eating it!

Friday night was a big night of bar hopping. We started with beers at Café Gitane, which looked like it would be a great spot for some food – we passed it Saturday and it gets a huge brunch crowd. We tried to grab drinks at 1534 but it was way too packed so we headed on to Lani Kai. This is a fun spot for well-made cocktails and for some great bar food. We liked the fish tacos, tuna poke and steak tartare. The Martinez and Improved Whiskey Cocktail were both awesome. Then, onward to the upstairs bar at Peels for more fantastic cocktails – the Ichabod’s Old Fashioned was outstanding. From there we bid well-made drinks adieu and made our way to bOb Bar for some dancing – so much fun, especially if you love hip hop! After a few hours there we were in dire need of some late night NYC pizza. Ray’s really hit the spot after 8 hours of drinking but wasn’t the best we’d ever had or anything. Great crust though!

Saturday we nursed ourselves back to life with lunch at Café Habana in Nolita, and did it ever do the trick! Unbelievable Cuban sandwich, delicious plantains and awesome Mexican corn! Can’t miss this spot for lunch! Then we met some friends at Tea Lounge in Park Lounge in Brooklyn, great spot to grab tea or a beer with friends (surprisingly good beer selection) and hang out, lots of couches and they have food too if you’re in the area and need a snack. That night we were pretty beat so we grabbed a burger, sautéed spinach and dirty martinis at PJ Clarke’s in Midtown East, inexpensive bar with surprisingly good bar food that was just what the doctor ordered. We couldn’t resist swinging by Momofuko Milk Bar for some dessert to bring back to the hotel. We tried the soft serves, which we expected to love, but didn’t. We liked the compound cookie and we really liked the crack pie, but all in all we weren’t blown away.

Sunday was a mission for treats to bring home – Levain cookies, H+H bagels and Zabar’s potato garlic knishes. We got a pretty great egg and cheese bagel sandwich on an H+H everything bagel from Artie’s Delicatessen in the Upper West Side to eat on the way to the airport and we were off. The Levain cookie was worth the $4 – 1 cookie is easily 2 regular cookies. Momofuko Milk Bar’s cookies don’t hold a candle to Levain, considered exceptional for a reason for sure.

A true eating whirlwind with a lot worth repeating! Never enough time to try it all but we certainly squeezed in a heck of a lot!!! Here’s hoping the next trip comes sooner rather than later as there are still so many places left to try!!!

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

Cafe Habana
229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

Zabar's
2245 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

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

Artie's Delicatessen
2290 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

Levain Bakery
167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

Norma's
118 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Koi
40 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

Lani Kai
525 Broome St, New York, NY 10012

 
 
 
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  1. Nice post! You made it to a few of my favorite spots.

    If you make it back, be sure to have the burger at the Spotted Pig and the fried chicken at Peels. The corn at Cafe Habana is one of my favorites—they have a mean mojito too! Cafe Gitane is great but gets insanely crowded for brunch; the outpost at the Jane Hotel in the West Village is always much less crowded and just as good.

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    Cafe Habana
    229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

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

    Cafe Gitane
    113 Jane St, New York, NY 10014

    1 Reply
    1. re: loratliff

      Thanks for the suggestions!!! :-)