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Disappointed NYC foodie needs your help, guys!

OK, so: NYC is supposed to be this great culinary apogee. Do I have to spend $100 per person to experience this? I moved here from Portland, OR two years ago and I haven't had a better meal here than I did at Sympatica or Le Pigeon out there. It seems like you have to catch restaurants no more than a year after they open in this town -- after that they either close or backslide in a calculated way once they have a name for themselves and have a guaranteed customer base.

What am I looking for? A creative, but not overly molecular fire-worky place, New American/Continental influences, below 14th street or in Brooklyn, and that does not cost more than $50-60 per person. (Flexible re: location.) Some places on my radar include: Perilla, Little Giant, Nuela, Aldea, Perry St, Blaue Gans, Locanda Verde, Buttermilk Channel, Dressler, Saul, Convivum Osteria, Osteria Morini, Scarpetta, Sorella. (Sorta new here - is it not OK to be asking about some Brooklyn restaurants on the Manhattan Board? This is definitely more about Manhattan than BK ...)

Places I have been:

Prune: Had been wanting to try this place since before I came to NYC and was disappointed. Duck breast w/ dandelion greens and raisin/caper vinaigrette sounded like just what I wanted: a fatty slab of animal resonating with some salty bitter sweetness. What I got was a well-cooked piece of duck on a bed of greens with a barely-perceptible dressing. While the breast was good, I have had duck breast before and had been looking for something different. Off night? Poor choice? Should I return?

Dell'anima: Gnocchi w/ rabbit sausage. Again, comforting and well-executed, but the flavors didn't pop. I had just been to Modo Mio in Philly and it absolutely blew this (as well as Al Di La -- bland Ragu + excellent pasta = decent meal) out of the water. Again, has this place jumped the shark? Should I have just gone w/ pasta instead of gnocchi?

Frankie's Prime Meats: Sauerbauten: Good at first but devolved into cloying sweetness. Tasted mostly of meat and salt; the herbs didn't really come through. Bone marrow toasts w/ gremolata were rockin' though.

Franny's: Good but inconsistent. Bruschetta w/ pancetta and roasted peaches was awesome. Didn't love the terrine. Pizzas were of course good but this thread isn't about pizza. Roasted broccoli salad was v. good.

Breslin: Lamb Burger finally came through as an NYC food item that blew me away. Intense, concentrated lamb flavor, saved from unctuousness by the bracing Feta on top, perfect bun, overall a great experience. But you can only eat like one of those a year.

Since I am on a budget these are really the only "foodie" places I have been (have loved meals at Broco Tacos and Metro Cafe in Sunset park, Di Fara, Sal and Carmine's, Ba Xuyen, Lucky Eight, but am not really interested in traditional food in this thread).

Anyways, sorry for the long post but I wanted to try to give a more clear idea of what I was after. Thanks guys!

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Perilla
9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

Little Giant
85 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

Blaue Gans
139 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

Sorella
95 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

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

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

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

Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. definitely add DBGB to your list. for fresh pasta,

    i'm a tremendous fan of Crispo, specifically for their Trofie al Prosciutto.

    you liked Breslin, so why not go to Spotted Pig - same chef/owner?

    if you can snag a seat at Minetta Tavern, the Black Label Burger is really something to try. plenty of people disagree, but that burger holds a firm place in my top five favorite dishes.

    also check out Five Points. it's not on the same level as some of the places you've been wanting to try, but i find their food to be consistently good. based on what you've eaten elsewhere, i think it'd be a good fit for you.

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

    Minetta Tavern
    113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

    Crispo
    240 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

    Five Points
    31 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

    DBGB
    299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

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

    1. Portland really punches above its weight, foodwise. I miss living there sometimes.

      1. The moderators' rules are that Brooklyn restaurants be discussed on the Outer Boroughs board.

        I wouldn't rush to DBGB. The sausages are very good, but the food is hardly rave-worthy.

        From that "on your radar" list, there are only three Manhattan restaurants we've been to, and I highly recommend all three: Scarpetta, Aldea and Nuela.

        At Scarpetta, two signature dishes are not-to-be-missed: Spaghetti with Tomato & Basil, and the mushrooms with polenta.

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

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

        At Aldea, two signatures are musts: the main course Arroz de Pato and for dessert, the Sonhos.

        Aldea photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        Nuela's amazing Arroz con Pato is very different from Aldea's in make-up and is sized for two.

        Nuela photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        ETA: Both Aldea and Nuela are above 14th St. The former is on 17th and the latter on 24th. Scarpetta is right on 14th.

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        1. Have been to Little Giant and found it good. Even better is Recette in the Village and I think it meets your criteria.

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          Little Giant
          85 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

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

          1 Reply
          1. Does the $60 include tax, tip, and beverages?

            I really like Blaue Gans. Although it's certainly "traditional food" (not quite sure what you mean by that)

            Have you considered Savoy?

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            Savoy
            70 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012

            Blaue Gans
            139 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013