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Weekday Solo Dining in the Times Square district - Help me choose.

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  • Apple Mar 15, 2011 07:40 PM
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I am headed to NYC next week for a conference. I will be staying in the Times Square area and unfortunately the days are long so I won't have much time to explore such a large city. So all I have are my dinners & breakfasts to get a taste of NY. I have no pretensions of looking for something non-touristy as I recognize I am in a very touristy part of the city.

I live in Toronto - we have all kinds of ethnic foods...(of varying quality)... so I don't necessarily need an "ethnic" experience unless it is quite sublime. I only have 4 dinners so I don't want to waste them - help me choose. Budget isn't really a consideration.

So far here is what I have in mind....

Ma Peche - and probably a stop at momofuko milk bar before I head home
Le Benardin - do they have a bar area?
Szechuan Gourmet
Jean Georges - not available
Hagi - on 49th street

For breakfast - probably le pain quotidien... I am not opposed to wandering around and stumbling upon a breakfast place. Although great coffee would be nice.

Are there any other things I should consider? I am open to other ideas - eg. casual street food. Toronto's street food culture is non-existent so I would be open to this as well.

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

Hagi
152 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

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

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

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

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  1. Great idea about dinner at Ma Peche; it's become one of my favorite restaurants. Food is delicious and creative, and service is friendly and attentive.

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

    1. Breakfast options include Amy's Bread (9th ave near 46th) or Bouchon Bakery in TIme Warner Center, depending on the time you have to travel in the AM. Bouchon also might be an option for a light dinner; it might be fun to experience Time Warner Center. Obviously at the other end of the spectrum you could do Per Se in TWC.
      As re dinners; if you want to try a neapolitan pizza spot that would be completely comfortable eating alone, try Zigolini's. Not the top place in the city, but good nonetheless and would be close to your area.
      There is a new place in midtown with French cuisine: La Silhouette, run by a chef who has worked with both Daniel Boulud and Laurent Tourondel.
      A great option for you would be the Bar Room at the Modern.
      Also, if Jean Georges isn't available, perhaps Nougatine, its sister restaurant (more casual) would be? I know some people who actually prefer the experience there, in fact.
      If you let us know your cross streets we might be able to narrow options to a smaller radius if you are concerned about your long days. If you avoid Times Square itself, midtown really isn't such a bad spot!

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

      Bouchon Bakery
      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

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

      Amy's Bread
      672 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      Nougatine
      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

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

      5 Replies
      1. re: orthorunner

        Thanks everyone for the great suggestions...

        I will be staying at the intercontinental. I can walk abit - willing to get up early to explore.

        Orthorunner - is central park safe to run in - early morning - say 6-7am?

        1. re: Apple

          The park is totally safe after 6am. There will be runners everywhere.

          For dinner, have you considered Marea? Its a great place to eat at the bar. Get the fuscilli.

          -----
          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: gramres22

            beejus... this menu is awesome. spaghetti with uni? I am all over it. Now... if I can get a reservation...

            (ps. thnks re: the park.)

            1. re: gramres22

              Agree with gramres; however, with the darkness lasting later with daylight savings time, I would recommend staying off the Harlem Hills until closer to 7am unless you have someone to go with. I still wouldn't consider it unsafe but it can feel a little more spooky up there when its dark. (It's still a 5 mile loop to go around up to 102 and down)
              Glad you enjoyed the suggestions. If you can explore and want coffee, another spot is Fika, on 58th near 6th. They have coffee and food items with a Scandinavian bent, as well as excellent chocolates to save for later.

              -----
              Fika
              41 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: orthorunner

                Scandinavian bent - sounds interesting - we don't have that here (outside of Ikea of course ;) ) Of course the chocolates would be a great little gift for my team.

        2. Blue Fin (47th & Broadway, SW corner) is open for breakfast. Also lunch & dinner, of course, but I bet it's special for a nice breakfast: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

          -----
          Blue Fin
          1567 Broadway, New York, NY 10036

          1. Le Bernardin has a tiny bar area which serves the full menu. Jackets are required for lunch and dinner.

            As an alternative to Jean Georges, consider Picholine.

            For an upscale breakfast in the Times Square area, try DB Bistro Moderne.

            Here's the NY Magazine list of the best food trucks. You can follow most of them on Twitter.
            http://nymag.com/restaurants/cheapeat...

            If you are willing to wander a bit from Times Square, here are a few other suggestions for food that you might not find in Toronto:

            Marea
            Aldea
            Nuela
            Kin Shop
            Casa Mono
            Momofuku Ssam Bar

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            Casa Mono
            52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

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

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

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

            Picholine
            35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

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

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

            Kin Shop
            469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

            1 Reply
            1. re: peter j

              I love the food truck listing. not on twitter but I will keep my eyes open for a pre-dinner snack. Will also check out your other recs. thanks!

            2. i would hit Petrossian for a croissant one morning, as well as Amy's (soda bread or oat scone) and Bouchon (sticky bun), both mentioned above by ortho. also, you mentioned interest in Milk Bar. they brew Stumptown Coffee there and, while it's not as good as what you'd get at the Stumptown cafe, it's still worth stopping in for if you are nearby.

              i would absolutely skip Hagi. it's a fine place to have a sake and some bar food, but their entrees are off-putting. don't waste a meal there.

              also, realize that from Times Square you'll be exactly three subway stops from TriBeCa, where you have Bouley, The Harrison, Locanda Verde (bit of a walk) and a host of other interesting options.

              -----
              The Harrison
              355 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013

              Petrossian
              182 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

              Locanda Verde
              377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

              Bouley
              163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

              Stumptown
              18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

              1 Reply
              1. re: coasts

                I should move to NYC - there are not enough days to eat...

                Maybe if I am feeling brave (read - not lazy) - I will hop on the subway and try another neighbourhood. I will check it out. Thanks so much for the suggestions - everyone!

              2. Thanks NY Chowhounders for the excellent recommendations - here is my post trip review:

                Marea - excellent choice! I had a seat at the crudo bar... and I was alone. It was slightly depressing, as a result... no view of the room. Just stared out at the fence in between courses. But regardless, it was an excellent choice. But had a delicious and memorable meal. Started with the Lobster Burrata - creamy smooth burrata, perfectly cooked lobster, crunchy sea salt & lightly pickled eggplant for an acidic note. Basil oil to finish.

                I know the recommendation was for the fusilli but when I saw the spaghetti with uni - it had me at uni. Not bad - beautiful coral colour, rich, but no distinctive uni flavour. Also the menu indicated there was crab in the dish, but I didn't really detect any. Topped with a pangrattato.

                Stopped by Milk Bar for dessert - a slice of crack pie & compost cookie. For those who are familar with tarte au sucre. That is what the crack pie reminded me of. Delicious but 1 slice was plenty. Compost cookie was tasty and different.

                Next day - had dinner at Ma Peche. I had the seven spice sour cocktail - had a big of kick. Delicious. Started with the beef tartare and had the cod in coconut broth as the main. Both delicious and solid choices. (I wasn't wowed or blown away but nevertheless, solid!) Shared the bone marrow carrots. Delicious and I will be making them this way at home! My colleague had the summer rolls and the duck with spaetzle. She thought it was amazing.
                Overall, Ma Peche was a hit. Awesome atmosphere. Very cool vibe.

                Tried to hit up Fika coffee - it was just closing up (hours 7-7) when I arrived.

                For a burger, my plan was to hit up 5 napkin burger - for a quick takeout burger. But I think it was a 10oz burger. That's way too big. Despite the warnings on this board, I had myself a Shake Shack burger with fries. Sigh. Burger wasn't anything special. No great flavour, not particularly juicy... but boy does that place have long line ups.

                Unfortunately, I came down with the flu and had to order roomservice for the rest of my stay. Thanks New York - I'll be back!

                -----
                Shake Shack
                Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                Fika
                407 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016

                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                Momofuku Milk Bar
                251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

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

                10 Replies
                1. re: Apple

                  Glad Ma Peche worked out for you. The Seven Spice Sour is my favorite cocktail at Ma Peche. Hope you feel better soon.

                  1. re: Apple

                    Thanks for the nice writeup.

                    I was struck by how you went to Shake Shack with low expectations ("Despite the warnings on ths board...") and it met them. In fact, reviews of SS are rather solidly positive here, with the occasional loud critic. You must have taken away a non-standard impression. I've often wondered how our pre-notions of a place affect our notions. Is it possible to dine at Per Se and hate it entirely? Our reactions to food are so much more complex than how it tickles our taste buds.

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

                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                      I guess my recall of SS reviews was less than stellar. (ha!)
                      You're right about our reaction to food... but i always try to keep an open mind... I had been spying the lines for a couple of days at the SS... so I was intrigued to see what the fuss was about. I guess i was hoping for a juicy, beefy flavour burger. I remember eating the burger thinking, (wait for it) - Wendy's tastes better. But that's just one person's impression.

                      Obviously SS doesn't need me as a customer - they do plenty fine on their own! (My colleague who dined at ma peche with me - loved SS... so go figure!)

                      the Seven Spice Sour - is subline. Yuzu juice! Genius.

                      1. re: Apple

                        I assume you got the classic Shack burger. It sounds like your preference is for a thick, pub style burger, not Shake Shack's thin, fast food style patty (similar to In'n'Out in California) with sauce on top.

                        You can easily make the 7 Spice Sour at home as well.

                        Seven Spice Sour, Don Lee, Momofuku, 2009.

                        Sake infusion
                        * 7g shichimi togarashi spice
                        * 500mL Junmai Honjozo sake

                        Infuse for 5 minutes. Strain with cheese cloth. Make sure to strain completely.

                        Cocktail
                        * 2 oz Seven Spice infused Sake
                        * ½ oz simple syrup (1:1 proportions water to granulated sugar, shaken briskly until dissolved)
                        * ½ oz fresh lime juice (must be fresh, don't use Rose's)
                        * ½ oz yuzu juice (bottled, often available at Asian grocery stores)

                        Shake with ice, strain, serve up.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          I love burgers - all kinds. We have a new place in Toronto, Burger Priest... and I was comparing SS to it. since they look so similar. (It is a thinish, full beef flavour, fall apart goodness type of burger.)

                          Thanks for the recipe, BTW. I happen to have yuzu in my fridge... I will be making it this weekend. Thanks so much!

                          1. re: Apple

                            It's a very minor issue in your very full food week, but I like the SS burger precisely for the beefy flavor of its meat. Although there's the Shack sauce, etc., I find the beef flavor shines through all that. That's why I like it. Otherwise I'd just put Shack sauce, some melted cheese, and a bit of lettuce on a piece of cardboard (unbleached, of course -- I'm not crazy), stick it in a Martin's bun and eat it.

                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                              It is a VERY minor issue. And at least, I can say I have had Shake Shack burger washed down with an Arnold Palmer.

                              (PS - I plan on calling Alinea on Friday to get a reservation for the end of June. I'd wait for that!)

                              1. re: Apple

                                Ah, but you're not waiting in the cold outside the restaurant. That's a different kind of waiting. Although I must say that friends who've eaten at El Bulli had urged me for years to try and get a reservation, but I resisted because I did not like the idea of having my schedule determined by a meal.

                      2. re: FoodDabbler

                        I do think expectations play a big role in how one assesses a dining experience.

                        No restaurant gets universal praise, even per se. There is at least one person who posts on this board occasionally who hated his experience there. We thought our one meal there was superb though no more so than other restaurants on that level we've been to.

                        I happen to love the Shake Shack burger. We only go to the flagship in Madison Square Park but never stand in line. I don't think any burger or, for that matter, any food no matter how delicious is worth standing on a ridiculously long line for.

                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                        1. re: RGR

                          I agree, for the most part, on the line question. I have about a twenty minute limit, unless I'm with friends and spending time chatting with them is part of the overall experience. But I will go after food that involves lines by planning my approach, not just dismissing it (I know you didn't, but others do) because it involves lines. When SS first opened, I happened to regularly be in the MSP area at 7--8ish. The wait was usually reasonable to non-existent then, so I ate there many times. If there was a long line, I'd pop over to the Bread Bar at Tabla.

                          What we'll wait for is another interesting question. Although I love food, it's a curious art, partly because it's ephemeral, but not wholly. I waited 8 hours at Central Park last summer (from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to see Al Pacino as Shylock in Central Park. I was unsuccessful, but I don't regret the experience. (I've since seen him twice on Broadway, and for good measure the F. Murray Abraham interpretation as well.) I can't imagine waiting that long for any food, and then not being totally pissed off if I didn't get it.