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2 nights 3 days in nyc

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looking for some help
coming from toronto in november, friday to sunday
first time away together without kids - eldest 5 now (where has the time gone)
like our food, pretty much anything
also into the experience / ambience
not into insanely expensive but for a once in 5 years treat can splurge some

a lifetime ago at various times we've been to and loved gramercy tavern, river cafe, le bernardin, blue water grill, aquagrill, nobu, balthazar
also been to scarpetta in toronto

staying at the standard hotel

some of our thoughts:

need 2 dinners, 2 lunches and a breakfast just before going home sunday (maybe just at the standard)

minetta tavern
locande verde
abc kitchen
prune
eataly
momofuku (which one?)

any opinions / standouts / misses / omissions?

thanks for your help

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  1. I think you have a solid list save for Eataly, which is good for a stroll, but I'd eat elsewhere.

    Sounds like you're here from Friday through Sunday. Some of the restaurants you've chosen have brunch on both Saturday and Sunday, so you'll need to be more clear as to what restaurants will be for what meals.

    For example, Minetta Tavern serves dinner daily and weekend brunch (but not weekday lunch). The menus for dinner vs. brunch are pretty different. Locanda Verde serves weekday breakfast, lunch, and dinner all days of the week, but on the weekends has a brunch menu (not lunch). Prune has weekday lunch, dinner all days of the week, but weekend brunch, and the weekend brunch menu is very different from the lunch menu.

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

    Prune
    54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    Eataly
    200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I have to disagree with you somewhat about Eataly. I wouldn't bother with the eating venues that don't take reservations. The food's fine but not worth waiting any length ot time for. However, the food at Manzo is excellent, and they take reservations. The dining room is white tablecloth, service is professional, and the noise level is surprisingly comfortable. From what I've heard, the noise level at Locanda Verde can get insanely high, which is the main reason I've not considered going there.

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

      Re: which Momofuku? I would highly recommend doing the duck lunch at Ssam Bar on Friday.

      Photos of duck lunch at Ssam Bar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

      1. re: RGR

        Thanks. That duck looks amazing!
        Eataly looks definitely worth a visit if only to browse.
        Suppose we were thinking more minetta tavern and locande verde for dinners?
        Maybe ssam bar Friday lunch? Prune Saturday?
        Is noise at locande verde a big problem?

        -----
        Eataly
        200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

        1. re: bangers and mash

          Note that Minetta Tavern and Locanda Verde can be tough dinner reservations (but much easier for brunch).

          Minetta Tavern in particular is notorious for holding back all of its primetime reservations (roughly 6-10pm) for VIPs, offering slots like 5:30pm and 10:30pm to "normal" folks. I've had trouble getting earlier than 9:30pm at LV, too. Both take reservations 30 days in advance, IIRC.

          LV is loud during dinner but not the loudest restaurant I've been in. Maybe a notch or two below "insanely loud," and the NY Times says "unkind to whisperers" in its review. I found it manageable for a party of two. Probably less so for a bigger group.

          Prune for Saturday brunch will have a long wait. It is very popular and doesn't take reservations for brunch. Take a look at the menu and see if it appeals.

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

          Prune
          54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

          Locanda Verde
          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

          1. re: bangers and mash

            Uncomfortably high noise levels in restaurants are a giant turn-off for me. Since I've heard that Locande Verde falls into that category, I won't go there. It's extremely popluar, though, so obviously, lots of people don't care about that.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

      2. Minetta Tavern, imo, is the best bistro in NYC today. Given how successful it is, the VIP-only-during-peak-hours thing is almost a myth. Lots of popular restaurants in NYC, including board-regulars fave like Maialino and which they don't mention when recommending, does the "before 6pm and after 10pm availabilities only" b.s.

        A walk-in at Minetta Tavern, before 7 pm, will give you a good chance of scoring a table within 30 mi

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

        28 Replies
        1. re: RCC

          I've successfully gotten 8pm tables at Maialino, though, by booking exactly 4 weeks in advance, right when the books open.

          Is that possible at Minetta Tavern? Booking an 8pm table, not walking in and waiting, that is.

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

          Maialino
          2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

          1. re: kathryn

            Bit confused on the bookings.
            Is it generally 4 weeks, 30 days or 1 month in advance?
            Or variable depending on restaurant?

            1. re: bangers and mash

              Variable dependent upon restaurant.

            2. re: kathryn

              I've never booked that far in advance for any restaurant, ever.

              For Minetta Tavern, we've always walked in with anywhere from 5 seconds to 20 minute wait for a table, but as I've said, always before 7 pm.

              That VIP thing that you say is a complete myth

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

              1. re: RCC

                I'm asking specifically about the availability of *reservations* for non-VIPs at Minetta Tavern, not whether you can walk in and try to get a table.

                MT's reservations desk may very well may be doing both things:
                - tables can only be booked by persons known to the house
                - leaving rest of tables for walk-ins

                1. re: kathryn

                  I don't buy your claim that the 7pm to 10pm reservations EVERYDAY for popular restaurants, including Maialino, Locanda Verde, The Dutch and MT etc, are booked by, and available only to, VIPs.

                  Besides, I'm also letting the OP know that tables are available if they know when to show up.

                  -----
                  Locanda Verde
                  377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                  Maialino
                  2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  1. re: RCC

                    I only said two things:

                    1. Minetta Tavern is known for not letting non-VIPs book primetime slots
                    2. I personally have had trouble getting a decent time at Locanda Verde.

                    Those are the ONLY two restaurants I mentioned. Minetta Tavern and Locanda Verde. Because the OP had them on their list.

                    I think you're misreading my comments.

                    (You brought up Maialino...to which I said I HAVE successfully booked an 8pm table.)

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

                    Locanda Verde
                    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                    1. re: kathryn

                      My question to you is how do you know ONLY VIP's are allowed to book during prime time slots?
                      Were they that specific to you when they declined your request for a booking? Have you actually seen the mix of people that eat there during prime time slots?

                      1. re: RCC

                        I will say it because I know.

                        You CANNOT get a reservation at Minetta Tavern between dinner time -- say 8 or 9 PM on any day except maybe a Sunday -- unless you are a VIP. It is simply the truth. I know this from experience.

                        I say that as someone who is known to the on-site staff at Minetta, but not to the "central authority". I can get accommodated as a walk-in, to the extent possible, because the on-site staff know me. But I can't get a reservation, because the central staff doesn't.

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

                        1. re: Sneakeater

                          Why don't you tell the on-site staff your name, and ask them to pass your name on to the central staff? Or are you not interested in being able to make reservations?

                          1. re: gutsofsteel

                            Because they won't. There's no connection between the two. The "central staff" is essentially Keith McNally's rolodex.

                            Or, to put it a different way, just because I eat there a lot, that doesn't make me a "VIP" by the McNally organization's definition.

                            1. re: Sneakeater

                              VIP in the restaurant industry typically means something slightly different than it does with a nightclub

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                But what I'm saying is: NOT HERE.

                                1. re: Sneakeater

                                  So you're saying that at 8pm, Minetta Tavern looks like the green room of an awards show, and only VIP's get seated on reservations?

                                  I doubt it.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Not everybody on Keith's list is famous. But they're still Keith's list.

                                    I'll tell you what. Try to call and get an 8 o'clock reservation and tell me what happens.

                                    And then, while you're at it, do the same thing at the Lion, Crown, and the many other NYC restaurants that operate the same way. (I'm not justifying this rather creepy practice. Just acknowledging it.)

                                    1. re: Sneakeater

                                      And also -- I forgot -- there are the tables filled by walk-ins.

                                      1. re: Sneakeater

                                        The effect is funny when the Friends of Keith don't show up. I was at Minetta Tavern yesterday (Sunday). Between 6 and 8, the dining room was packed with people who had only been able to get reservations at 6.

                                        After 8, it was almost empty. Because nobody wanted to eat at that time? No, because the tables had been held for VIPs. And I guess the VIPs didn't want them.

                                        1. re: Sneakeater

                                          None of these restaurants cater strictly to the exclusive clientele they want you to think they do. I didn't think New Yorkers still bought into that sort of thing.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            Minetta certainly doesn't cater strictly to an exclusive clientele. It just saves the mid-evening tables in the back room for it.

                            2. re: RCC

                              I will say kathryn is correct re: Minetta's reservation policy.

                              1. re: uwsister

                                can i just add that i once had a girlfriend who worked in several places in the city that seemed to have this kind of policy.

                                none of them are currently still open.

                                1. re: hyde

                                  Most restaurants that open with this policy either loosen the policy within a year or so, or close as they get replaced by the next "hot" sceney restaurant.

                                  I don't want to sound like I'm rewarding bad conduct, but I think it's a testament to how good (and how much fun) Minetta Tavern actually is, that it's been able to remain successful with this kind of booking policy so long.

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

                                  1. re: Sneakeater

                                    The worst offenders of the Keith Mcnally bunch have stayed open - Balthazar and Pastis come to mind. Even at their height, they couldn't fill 25% of the rooms with VIPs, unless it was a private party. Pastis probably did more celeb business at lunch as walk ins.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      I never claimed that Balthazar and Pastis have the same reservations policy as Minetta. They don't.

                                      1. re: Sneakeater

                                        They don't...currently.

                                        Back when they first opened, they were equally as big draws, with less competition. There are places which function like a VIP clubhouse, but I don't think Minetta is one.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          No. Just the back dining room, during prime dinner hours.

                                          Non-VIPs can eat at the bar and the bar tables as walk-ins during prime dinner hours, in the back dining room as walk-ins during prime dinner hours if they're lucky, in the back dining room with reservations during non-prime dinner hours, and, on very rare occasions, in the back dining room with reservations during prime dinner hours if it's clear to the "central authority" in advance that not all the tables need be held that night (or if they're just feeling expansive).

                                          You don't believe me, call for an 8 o'clock reservation. When they refuse you one on the day you want, ask when the next available one is. See what they say.

                                          I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

                                          1. re: Sneakeater

                                            Or, as Wilfrid puts it in the Pink Pig blog (would link it but don't know how to on this site):

                                            "Anyone can walk into the Minetta Tavern at any time and grab a seat at the bar or at one of the bar tables (more likely to see the latter available off-peak). Anyone can call for a reservation; but anyone who does so will be offered tables at off-peak times. Frequent guests may have a better shot at getting a table or a good table than others. However, it is only an inner circle of VIPs who can secure tables at peak-time (roughly 7-9pm) on any day of the week."

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

                  2. re: RCC

                    Maialino can actually get ridiculous about walk ins. The last time I bothered, we were seated in the empty bar area during brunch, even we could see there were tables open in the main dining room. They claimed there was no availability, despite it being half empty at the time. We quickly realized how tense it is in there, and how the decor of the front area looks like a third rate hotel chain. We left and went to Resto...never been back since.

                    It's not a VIP thing, it's a poor service thing in that case.

                    -----
                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  3. I love Prune- I've gone for both brunch and dinner. Make sure you order their bloody mary, the juice is freshly made every day and it is amazing (and they give you red stripe beer to cleanse your palette)! Anyway, on Sundays you don't need any dinner reservations. As for brunch, if you go exactly at 10:00am (when they open) or right around 3:00pm (when they stop taking names and there are less people eating inside) you can sit right away....

                    -----
                    Prune
                    54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: citykid426

                      I must say i was sceptical at all the discussion around VIPs and reservations that ensued from my original post.
                      So with 1 month to go and armed with (what was in retrospect) a certain level of naiveté i called locande verde and minetta tavern. For a party of 4 I was offered variously 5:30, 5:45 and 10pm.
                      Seems fairly ridiculous to me, although on some level reassuring as to the quality. Problem is don't want to eat at those times yet reluctant to have no reservation and attempt to drop by given we are only there for a couple of nights.
                      What to do?
                      Suggestions?

                      1. re: bangers and mash

                        For Locanda Verde, did you call exactly 30 days in advance in the morning, when reservations are released? I've been able to get closer to 8pm (I think 9 or 9:30pm) by doing that.

                        Does lunch or brunch at LV interest you? Much easier to get in then. You should call to make a reservation for weekend brunch as they do get quite busy.

                        Same for Minetta Tavern -- they don't serve weekday lunch but weekend brunch is much easier to get in. We've always made a reservation but there have always been some empty tables when we've brunched there.

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

                        Locanda Verde
                        377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                        1. re: bangers and mash

                          Get on the wait list maybe? New Yorkers change plans and can't make their original dinner commitments quite frequently, so you never know something could become available at your desired time. You guys could also sit at the bar, which I have definitely done at Locanda Verde and the service was just as nice. Yes, I know it may not be the most ideal situation for 4 people, but hey that's at least a way for you to eat there...

                          -----
                          Locanda Verde
                          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                      2. By the way since you mentioned liking and visiting several seafood-oriented restaurants "a lifetime ago" in your original post, may I suggest Atlantic Grill for lunch or dinner? It is on the Upper East Side (3rd Ave and 76 Street), not too expensive, has the freshest seafood each time I go (which is about once or twice a month), and the dining room is very attractive without being stuffy. I took my in-laws there once and they were impressed with the service and the food, so I'm sure you and your friends would have a nice time. They will probably be able to accommodate you guys if you call a few days ahead.

                        -----
                        Atlantic Grill
                        1341 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10021