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Critique My Gastronomic Adventure Plans for Labor Day Weekend in NYC?

I am so excited to be coming to New York this Saturday, where I'll be staying in the Lower East Side until I fly back to SF on Tuesday night (9/6). The following are the establishments currently on my gastronomic radar (some recommended by people i trust and others which I have been researching online.) I would greatly appreciate any feedback from locals on which places I can skip out on and which are not to be missed!

Prune : I can't budge on this one, because I am absolutely in love with Gabrielle's book and the restaurant as she describes it. How have New York diners responded to the release of Blood, Bones, and Butter?

Xi'an Fine Foods - lamb burger and whatever else looks good

Katz's pastrami - please advise on this... is it really as amazing as some people have led me to believe?

Russ & Daughters - just a snack

Fatty Crab - worth all the hype? which location is better? why does only one of them accept reservations? Is it hard to get a table for a Sunday lunch in the meat-packing district FC? Anyone wanna recommend Fatty Cue instead? (I'm happy to venture into Brooklyn for some truly great food.)

Speaking of Brooklyn, Roberta's: is it actually better than pizza in Manhattan?

Korzo Haus - really close to wear I'm staying, and looks pretty damn awesome.

Momofuku - super psyched to try any of them except Ma Peche (I can't imagine it's different enough from the Slanted Door in SF). I am waking up tomorrow at 7am (pacific) to book a dinner at Ko, though I won't be heartbroken if I can't get in. Is dinner worth the cost? This would be my one major splurge.

Torrisi Italian Specialties: yeah, I saw it on Bourdain's show. It looks like I would love it. Care to share your impressions/experiences?

And I think at some point I need to experience a real NYC halal cart?

Is it necessary to try a Danny Meyer restaurant? I've already been to Shake Shack, which was great but definitely didn't change my life.

Feel free to throw in some other names if you feel they're really apt. Thank you!

Note:
I have been to New York a few times, but have always been visiting my strictly kosher russian and uzbekistani family there. I'm sure you can imagine why i have yet to try any of the above restaurants!

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Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Fatty Crab
643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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

Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

Korzo Haus
178 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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  1. Prune, Xian, Katz's and Russ and daughters are all great. Fatty crab is fine, but not amazing or worth hype. My one meal at Ko was amazing; if you think meals at this price point are worth it, this one certainly is. The Danny Meyer restaurant most loved/ discussed/ polarizing on this board is Eleven Madison Park. Though they're incredibly different places, I prefer the more casual atmosphere and more interesting food at Ko.

    A recent Roberta's discussion:

    2 Replies
    1. re: rose water

      thanks rose, but i think you forgot a link...

      1. re: rose water

        Ah the misadventures of using CH on an iPhone...

        Can't edit my post above. Roberta's discussion here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794261
        Great Manhattan alternatives include Keste, Co., (and Motorino--I haven't been but trust the commentary)

      2. I have really strong feelings about how good Torrisi is. It's really exceptional, especially for the price. I've been there several times, and it's always wonderful, no matter what they're serving that evening. Make sure you get there ridiculously early in order to get a table easily and quickly. Labor Day weekend should make that easier, though.

        3 Replies
        1. re: alysonlaurel

          Alyson - have you been to Torrisi for lunch? I can see that lunch and dinner are extremely different, and unfortunately it looks like my dinner slots are full...

          1. re: the mess

            I have been to Torrisi various times - for both lunch and dinner. Dinner is a $50 (or is it $55?) prix fixe and is fantastic. Lunch is also great, but it's sandwiches only (and some antipasti). It's a completely different experience - lunch is no reservations, just grab a table if you see one or take your sandwich to go. The turkey is transcendental - best turkey ever. Worth the trip for a great sandwich.

            1. re: the mess

              Yes, I've been for lunch. I agree with Barcelonian that it's great for lunch, but that it's a totally different experience. The turkey really is the best turkey sandwich ever.

          2. Your list looks good. Skip Fatty Crab, especially if you are from San Fran. Likewise skip the cart. Gotham Bar is excellent and you may like that. I would also aim for a classic NY steak perhaps, likely Lugers. Yes Katz's is worth visiting, of only for the spot itself. Have fun.

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            Fatty Crab
            643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

            1 Reply
            1. re: comiendosiempre

              For what it's worth, there really isn't any Malaysian food in SF, save for a few dishes at some obnoxious Pan-Asian restaurants.

              Also, street food is not one of our strong points. There is this whole food truck scene now, but it feels kind of forced and everything is just deep-fried-something-that-was-already-good.

            2. Your itinerary looks good.

              Katz's is definitely worth a try for pastrami on rye. Note: they don't have great rye bread, but they have great pastrami.

              Fatty Crab probably won't be too crowded on Sunday because most people will be dining out for a more traditional brunch (pancakes, french toast).

              If you're only interested in pizza, and are a solo diner, Roberta's may not make sense. I'd do Motorino instead.

              If you can't get into Ko, you can always try one of his other restaurants, don't forget.

              Yes to the halal cart. Try the Halal Guys cart at 53rd and 6th. Make sure you go to the southEAST corner before 8pm, and the southWEST corner after 8pm. They have yellow bags with a red circular logo that says Halal Guys: We Are Different. Don't use too much red sauce.

              Consider also:

              * WD-50 for molecular gastronomy and excellent cocktails. Order a la carte for the best experience. Try the cold fried chicken or the eggs benedict. And the aerated foie gras. And whatever cocktail has "suspension of disbelief" in it.

              * Txikito for Basque tapas. Don't miss the suckling pig, miss the sofrito/chorizo/quail egg pintxo, croquettas, padron peppers, suckling pig, torreja dessert or whatever is on the daily specials board, like this oyster mushroom carpaccio I had once where the mushrooms were sliced incredibly thin.

              * Zabb Elee for Issan (Thai) food, especially their excellent larb, sauteed Chinese broccoli with crispy pork, and more obscure dishes. No pad thai. No curries.

              * Takashi for local/sustainable Japanese yakiniku. Awesome high-tech electric grills. Try the uni/shiso/wagyu dish, beef belly, short ribs, heart, liver, sweetbreads, first stomach, third stomach, four stomach, tendon, or whatever is good that day. I'm partial to the chuck roll sukiyaki they have Monday through Wednesday.

              * Brunch at Minetta Tavern, The Breslin, or Shopsin's (note weird hours/crazy menu/cursing at Shopsin's).

              Shopsin's is probably the most "innovative" breakfast place/diner in town. Breakfast sliders, mac and cheese pancakes, slutty cakes, sandwiches with the "bread" made out of french toast or pancakes, made-up soups from around the world (i.e., "this is what I think Kenya soup would taste like" not "this is the soup they eat in Kenya").

              * Lobster rolls at Luke's, Red Hook Lobster Pound's truck, or Pearl Oyster Bar (I'm assuming you can't get them in the Bay Area). Luke's is more minimal, served cold in a warmed up bun. Pearl's is mayo-heavy, served room temperature. Red Hook Lobster Pound gives you choices of mayo or butter.

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              Fatty Crab
              643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

              Motorino
              349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

              3 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                Wow - a look at Shopsin's menu got a huge smile out of me. And it's super close to where I'm staying!

                But can they really handle all that variety? And would the wait be ridiculous for four people on a Sunday afternoon?

                1. re: the mess

                  Get there as early as you can. There will likely be a bit of a wait.

                  1. re: the mess

                    and one of their (many) rules is that you can't have parties larger than four, so don't bring along an extra friend...

                2. Right now, there's a spot for two open for Monday dinner (9/5) at KO, at 6:50pm.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    :) Already got exactly that time slot, but thanks for looking out!