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Inspire me New York

Hi,

Heading to Manhattan from London (UK) for 5 nights over Easter weekend. Really want to be inspired by the food. Last time I was there is 10 years ago... so a bit lost for ideas.

Planning on one trad French fill at Daniel (is it worth it? Always wanted to try it after reading The Fourth Star, though I know this came out yonks ago).

Then need some more ideas...
For those of you who know the London scene, I love the food at places like Ottolenghi, Providores, Caravan, Texture, Maze, Salt Yard, - all have seriously creative chefs/kitchens.
And for atmosphere The Wolseley, La Petite Maison, Dean Street Townhouse, River Cafe - which all do knock-out food too (though a bit less innovative).

Not really interested in swanky and expensive, just big atmosphere and great food.
Heard The Lion is the happening place to be? True?

Would also like a good sushi rec.
And... is Momofuku any good? Loved the book (which has been a hit here in the UK) but heard it's a victim of its own success.

Staying opposite Central Park, but happy to explore all areas. There are four of us, ranging from 50 to 20, so places that suit all please (ie no thumping music, likewise nothing to staid).

Thanks!

MCW

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  1. i'm not familiar with the dining scene in London, so i won't comment on that, but i will say that Momofuku is more than "any good". there are several restaurants under the Momofuku name, so check the website to see which one interests you most. Ko is the most difficult to get a reservation for. the fried chicken dinner at Noodle Bar is fun, but it's very casual and would be a lot of food for just four people. i don't care for their ramen so much. haven't been to Ssam Bar, but i'd like to.

    about your location, you should mention what side of the park you'll be on, as there may be some hyper-local spots nearby that shouldn't be missed.

    1. I've been to Momofuku Ssam Bar for the Bo Ssam. As the place filled up, the noise level became so hideously high, that shouting was the only way to communicate around the table. Not my idea of a pleasant dining experience.

      Bo Ssam photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      We've also been to Noodle Bar for the chicken dinner. As coasts said, it's a boatload of chicken. There were four of us and we took home quite a bit of leftovers. The noise level was high but not as horrible as at Ssam Bar.

      Photos of Chicken Dinner at Noodle Bar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      We haven't been to London in ten years. Presuming the Maze in your list is Gordon Ramsay's casual spot, we do have one here in The London Hotel. We had dinner there a couple of years ago and liked the food a lot.

      Along those same lines, I would recommend the Bar Room at The Modern, in MoMa, the more casual side of The Modern Dining Room. Delicious food, a very good wine list, excellent service, and a pleasantly upbeat vibe without any thumping music.

      Bar Room at The Modern photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      For Italian food, I highly recommend Maialino. The eponymous maialino-al-forno is THE thing to have (perfect for 4 people) -- though everything else on the menu is equally wonderful. Friendly service. Casual and very pleasant atmospherics. It's extremely popular, so getting a reservation can prove difficult. They accept reservations 28 days in advance. If you want the maialino, be sure to tell them when you book, and they will reserve one for you.

      Maialino photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

      8 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Thanks. Love the sound of Bar Room. Not so keen on Italian.
        Will look into Momofuku and see which one suits best.

        Location is 2 East 61st Street if that helps for recs.

        Thanks

        1. re: miss chicken wing

          the Food Hall at the Plaza is nearby to where you're staying and probably worth hitting for a drink and snack. it might be less interesting to someone from UK, as it supposedly pales in comparison to Harrod's food court. never been - couldn't say.

          Ma Peche, the only Momofuku spot in midtown, is also not far from where you'll be. the brisket pho-like noodle dish is delicious, as are the sweets from the adjacent Milk Bar.

          just a few blocks east is Serendipity III. they're famous for their desserts, which are done in true American fashion - big, sweet and clunky. these aren't delicate French pastries. it's ice cream sundaes with chocolate cake shoved on top and then piled with whipped cream. it's not for everyone, but be aware that it is nearby. the board typically has plenty to say whenever this comes up - usually not good.

          places to avoid include Tao, Serafina, Lavo, Philippe, and Persephone. don't waste a meal at any of them, despite proximity.

          -----
          Serendipity 3
          225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          Plaza Food Hall
          1 W 59th St, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: coasts

            Serendipity and the food hall at the Plaza? Talk about overpriced tourist traps.

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              Cakes at Serendipity are $8 or $9. The more expensive options, averaging around $15, are big enough to share. That's not overpriced. You just don't like the place. I mentioned that it's controversial, but it is close to where they're staying and it is widely popular.

              The Food Hall - again, I wouldn't say it is overpriced at all. I work nearby and enjoy having a lunch there or a glass of wine at the end of the day. flatbreads are $10-14. the hot and cold apps, most of which are quite large, are $8. it'd be a fine place to have a drink and a snack, just as i said.

              1. re: coasts

                I would never, ever send a tourist to a basement of a hotel. Why not something a bit more New York - y?

                Ssam Bar is a good option, but don't do one of the reserved dinners - just go.

                I would choose Cafe Boulud or Bouley over Daniel,

                Fatty Crab is very loud, but not far from where you're staying and the food is good. Malaysian.

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

                Fatty Crab
                643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  I, too, would choose Cafe Boulud rather than Daniel. We just had another sensational dinner there.

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

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    I doubt it if Fatty Crab's "Malaysian" is as good as the good ones in London.

                    -----
                    Fatty Crab
                    643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                2. re: gutsofsteel

                  I agree. Few people there when we stopped by and we thought it was pricey. What got to me though was the first ingredient in their barbeque sauce for sale at the entrance was corn syrup!

          2. i like momofuku ssam, but was the bo ssam was the least favorite thing ive had there

            1. Since it sounds like you're staying at The Pierre, the closest Momofuku restaurant, and one of my favorites, is Ma Peche. I had a terrific dinner there last evening: lobster, seared foie gras, ricotta gnocchi with truffles, duck, crab salad, and apple tart. Casual atmosphere and great fun. Service is friendly and attentive. Great cocktails too.

              -----
              Ma Peche
              15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

              1. Some ideas, a variety of cuisines but all doing some innovative food:

                Annisa
                La Silhouette
                Oceana (you can get a basic piece of fish prepared well, but the standouts are the composed dishes)
                Nuela
                Aldea
                Recette
                Toloache
                Kin Shop
                Kittichai

                With regard to The Lion, I've never been and have no desire to go, but it seems pretty well known that its popularity has nothing to do with food.

                -----
                Toloache
                251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                Annisa
                13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

                Oceana
                120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

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

                Recette
                328 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

                The Lion
                62 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

                Nuela
                43 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

                La Silhouette
                362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

                1. Welcome to town! I've just moved back to New York from London and your list of places makes me very hungry.

                  For good food and loads of atmosphere you should go to Minetta Tavern. You may have to go very early or very late, but it'll be a great time for your group.

                  You should also have some pizza, and there are a lot of great places to choose from. My favorite combination of pizza and atmosphere is Lucali's, in Brooklyn. It is BYOB and delicious. Call about an hour before you want to go, ask to put your name on the list, and they'll call you back when your table is ready. In the meantime you can mill around Carroll Gardens and stock up on Italian pastries to have for dessert. Roberta's might be another good pizza option.

                  ABC Kitchen and Red Rooster are both on my to-try list, and sound like they might fit your innovative and knock-out food requirements.

                  For more atmosphere you might have brunch at Shopsin's.

                  Hope you enjoy!

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

                  ABC Kitchen
                  35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

                  Red Rooster
                  310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: eyroca

                    Does Lucali do lunch or just dinner?

                  2. As someone who spends a significant amount of time in London, this is what I think:

                    The only Momofuku worth visiting for you is Momofuku Ko. But that is very much worth visiting.

                    As for other cuisines, London does Italian on a level that's comparable to NYC, so I'd skip that. I would look into Mexican and possibly higher end Thai along the lines of Toloache and Pampano for the former, Kin Shop for the latter.

                    We also do sushi better than London does, I think, so possibly a omakase at Kanoyama (or Masa or Kuruma Zushi of you can swing it) would be in order.

                    -----
                    Toloache
                    251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                    Momofuku Ko
                    163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Pampano
                    209 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: michelleats

                      i thought London had better Thai options than we do. it's more than ten years since i was there, and i was a less experienced eater then, but i remember thai being a highlight of my trip.

                      1. re: coasts

                        London does have a lot of great Thai! I guess it's safer to say that I personally do not know of many creative, refined, higher end Thai restaurants in that city and think Kin Shop would be unique, there.

                    2. I know London pretty well. I visit often and eat well there. So, for New York, I would suggest:

                      Eleven Madison Park
                      Momofuku Ko
                      The Bar Room at the Modern
                      Minetta Tavern
                      ABC Kitchen
                      Peels

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

                      Minetta Tavern
                      113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                      Momofuku Ko
                      163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      ABC Kitchen
                      35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

                      Peels
                      325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                      1. THANK YOU for all the wonderful recommendations. With 5 days this is proving a bit tricky to squeeze it all in!

                        Currently am thinking:
                        One of the Momofuku places - not sure which one yet.
                        Bar Room at The Modern
                        Neula - love the sounds of the food, don't get much like it in London
                        Toloache for lunch
                        Brunch at Shopsin's

                        Also want the best sushi in town (that's not too far from the hotel pls).
                        And where do I go for the best burger. Have read about Ai Fiori, though it looks a little fancy to go just for a burger. Maybe somewhere typically NY.

                        Re Daniel - is it not worth it? Really want to go, but would DBGB be better?

                        Will have a browse around the Food Hall at The Plaza, though if it's anything like Harrod's it's great fun to look at, but not worth the money.

                        Are there any foodie markets like London's Borough Mkt?

                        Coasts - sadly Thai food in London is not all that. There are quite a lot of average places. Nahm is amazing with the Michelin star to prove it, but you pay a princely sum for the food and it's a very staid dining room. Apparently David Thompson is opening a street-food cafe over here which would be superb. Otherwise second best is Esarn Kheaw and it's way out west.

                        Gutsofsteel - Zak Pelaccio opened a Malaysian restaurant here a couple of years back. Despite the hype it bombed. I went early on and actually really liked his food so may give Fatty Crab a go.

                        Also, as an FYI. New place in London called 'Spuntino' trying to replicate speakeasy-style bars from NY's Lower East Side. Serves sliders, mac n cheese, grits in small portions. Apparently v popular. Will check it out and let you know.

                        Thanks again. HUGELY appreciated.

                        MCW

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

                        Toloache
                        251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                        The Modern
                        9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

                        Fatty Crab
                        643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                        DBGB
                        299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                        Ai Fiori
                        400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: miss chicken wing

                          Shopsin's is awful. Have brunch at Barney Greengrass - a real NY institution with some of the best appetizing around. What about Katz's?

                          What is your budget for sushi? The best in town is Masa or Kuruma - hundreds of dollars per person. Instead, I recommend 15 East. The chef is a lovely and highly skilled guy, generous with his knowledge and time, and the sushi is first rate - fresh, varied, beautifully prepared - and it's a pleasure to sit at the bar there. I always learn something and I always leave relaxed and delighted with my meal. Their kitchen is also first rate, so do get something from the kitchen in addition to sushi.

                          You should do a search here on CH about burgers - lots of posts - and do you want a steakhouse burger or fast food style burger? Personally, my favorite is the burger at Wolfgang's. Go at lunch and sit at the bar.

                          I happen to really like the food at Fatty Crab. There are two locations, FYI.

                          You can't compare Daniel and DBGB. Daniel is a very upscale, grand, multii-starred French restaurant, and it's expensive. DBGB is a casual brasserie.

                          The food hall at the Plaza is nothing like Harrod's - it's barely a food hall - don't waste your time there. It's small and uninteresting and a total tourist trap.

                          Of the Momofuku places - go to Ssam Bar. I can't stand the scene but the food is good. You could also go to Ma Peche, their place in midtown - also good food but not so scene-y.

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

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

                          Momofuku Ssam Bar
                          207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          Wolfgang's
                          4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Fatty Crab
                          643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                          Kurumazushi
                          7 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

                          DBGB
                          299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                          Ma Peche
                          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                          Masa
                          10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                          1. re: gutsofsteel

                            there's nothing awful about Shopsin's. i'd go today if they were open on Sundays.

                            that said, i live near Barney Greengrass and have no interest in going there.

                              1. re: coasts

                                They're open on Sundays now. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Yeah, this is about the only gripe I have with Shopsin's- their hours. They close at 2 (3 Sunday) and they are not open every day!

                            1. re: miss chicken wing

                              momofuko ssam is one of my favorite places.

                              burgers is a tricky subject - if you want over the top i'd go with DB bistro modern - which is stuffed with foie gras and braised shortrib meat.
                              i happen to like good simple burgers - these days my favorite is in an irish pub called finnegan's wake on the upper east side. nothing transcendent, just a good thick drippy juicy burger

                              my favorite thai place closed last year - on the upper east side i like Land Northeast Thai and a place called osha. i had some good stuff at a place called Tue in the west village as well, but only went once, so i hesitate to make absolute statements about it

                              -----
                              DB Bistro Moderne
                              55 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

                              Land Northeast Thai
                              1565 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                              Finnegan's Wake
                              1361 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

                              Tue Thai Food
                              3 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014

                              Osha
                              1711 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                            2. Thanks again all.
                              Anyone know/been to Cafe Habana? Heard it's a fun bar to go to with friends... is the food any good?

                              Ta

                              -----
                              Cafe Habana
                              229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: miss chicken wing

                                I love it there, but it's not really a bar so much as a Cuban restaurant/diner. You can surely get drinks, but it's always so crowded with people eating at the bar area that it's not the kind of place you want to hang around if you don't have seating (there's little to no waiting area and what space they have is full of people waiting in line to be seated for dinner).

                                I think the food is good (the corn is to die for), I love the vibe, etc...but it's definitely not a bar. I think it's fun there and I'd definitely recommend it. Keep in mind that it is very busy on Friday/Saturday nights so you may wait for a while. You can always go next door to their take out section and try the corn if you don't have the patience to wait for a table. Enjoy!

                                1. re: Barcelonian

                                  Sounds like one to try... Do they take bookings?

                                  1. re: miss chicken wing

                                    No reservations....but I've never left because the wait was too long. I think it's worth a shot. Plus there are other great places nearby for drinks or food if you aren't in the mood to wait