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Manhattan eating for four nights.

c
cheeseandstuff Sep 26, 2011 09:15 AM

Hello. I may be coming to Manhattan in a month or so, and am looking for an ideal 4-night set. I will most likely only have nights to eat (probably doing Artisinal's cheese course during the day), and want to find a good balance between fine dining and just great eating. I'm saving up now, but my budget will probably be around $800...I'm a college student at CU Boulder, so I'm not just throwing the money around, I really want to do it right.

For now, I know I want to go to Per Se for dinner on my last night. WD-50 is high up on my list, and then after that, I'm up for suggestions. I was leaning toward Momofuku, but is it better to go a more traditional ramen place?

Any suggestions are welcome, thanks!

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  1. h
    hungrycomposer RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 26, 2011 09:20 PM

    In answer to you Momofuku/ramen question, I'd suggest Ippudo for ramen, and momofuku ssam bar for a weekday lunch of rottiserie duck and pork buns. But I'll admit I prefer the atmosphere of momofuku noodle bar to Ippudo and rarely go to Ippudo myself in spite of their excellent ramen. If you're free all hours, try to hit the places that don't take reservations in the off hours, unless you like waiting on the sidewalk. For even cheaper eats check out posts on Xi'an and Zabb Elee in the East Village. And if you'd like a formal meal, lunch at Del Posto is a great bargain and still quite an experience. $29 prix fixe, plus the option (not on the menu) of paying $10 for an extra pasta course.

    -----
    Del Posto
    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    Ippudo
    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Zabb Elee
    75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    1. k
      kathryn RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 26, 2011 10:01 PM

      If you are interested in ramen and are a ramen purist, go to Ippudo.

      WD-50 is excellent, but I'd do a la carte rather than the tasting menu.

      Instead of Per Se, have you considered Eleven Madison Park?

      See also:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8050...

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

      WD-50
      50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

      Ippudo
      321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

      5 Replies
      1. re: kathryn
        n
        nmprisons RE: kathryn Sep 27, 2011 04:15 AM

        I would do both EMP and Per Se. Skipping either, when you can afford both, is a huge mistake.

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

        1. re: nmprisons
          n
          nmprisons RE: nmprisons Sep 27, 2011 06:00 AM

          Ah, now I see that the budget is $800 for four nights, not $800 a night. I am not the swiftest.

        2. re: kathryn
          c
          cheeseandstuff RE: kathryn Sep 27, 2011 01:43 PM

          I'm really tempted by Eleven Madison Park, but I'm leaning toward Per Se. I hope/dream/wish/am trying to make enough money for maybe Eleven Madison Park too, but would doing both in four nights be worth it?

          1. re: cheeseandstuff
            MVNYC RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 01:51 PM

            If you have an reservation for Per Se, please use it. In my opinion it is a couple of classes higher than Eleven Madison Park.

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

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

            1. re: MVNYC
              h
              H Manning RE: MVNYC Sep 27, 2011 08:20 PM

              I agree with MVNYC.

        3. y
          Yanak RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 04:54 AM

          Park avenue autumn ( also known as four season restaurant, not hotel) is great. Food is delicious and atmosphere is great.

          -----
          Park Avenue Cafe
          100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021

          1. sgordon RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 11:04 AM

            "Traditional" Ramen is wheat noodles, usually made with alkaline or egg, in broth. The broth can be meat, fish, or miso based. It can have toppings. Pretty much any place you get Ramen will be "traditional" - I wouldn't worry about that adjective.

            "Good" is an adjective I would worry about, though. As far as that goes, to each their own. Matter of taste. Some find the Momofuku Noodle Bar ramen a bit on the salty side, others just right. I dig it. The toppings are always high quality. Ippudo's good as well, but the lines... I mean, Momo will have a line, but Ippudo can be ridiculous, for what's essentially a Japanese chain restaurant. Ramen Setagaya also has a number of fans.

            For me, I prefer getting my noodles at Momo because the side dish options are better. An order of pork buns, or one of the seasonal dishes. Hard to go wrong. A solid lunch.

            Another solid lunch is, as mentioned above, the rotisserie duck at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Fantastic. Slather it with the ginger-scallion sauce at the table and go to town. I probably wouldn't do the pork buns (awesome as they are) with the duck, but go something brighter, maybe one of the veggie side dishes (recently there was a broccoli in smoked bluefish vinaigrette that was pretty awesome) - and of course, the duck fat potatoes, which they cook by leaving them in a pile at the bottom of the rotisserie and just letting all the hot duck fat & juices drip down on them. Awesome.

            The Del Posto lunch, also mentioned above - a steal. Well worth doing lunch one day there.

            ----

            As to your nights...

            Per Se (after tax) = around $325
            WD-50 (after tax & tip) = variable. If you do the tasting menu, it'd be about $180. I'm normally not a fan of tasting menus, but when dining alone it can work - you get to try a lot of different things, and with a place like WD-50 that's always good. Another option is to "make your own" tasting - pick out two apps, an entree, and dessert - since you'll also get an amuse, a pre-dessert and post-dessert, that'll be seven courses - three of them just small bites, but a few of the tasting courses would be that way anyway. That way, for a bit less (around $120) you could taste nearly as much and have a little more control over what you get. But you may want to leave it in Wylie's hands. Hard to say which way to go. That said, it's a great place for dining solo at the bar, especially if Jafrul or Tona are bartending that night - they're both very engaging with solos (if they're not crazy busy), and two of the best mixologists in the city right now, hands down.

            It's very hard to say what to do after that without knowing what you'd be drinking. Would you plan on doing wine pairings at Per Se and WD? If so, that could be your $800 right there. If you just get a couple glasses with each meal, it could be quite different.

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

            WD-50
            50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

            Momofuku Noodle Bar
            171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

            Ramen Setagaya
            34 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

            Ippudo
            321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

            28 Replies
            1. re: sgordon
              Silverjay RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 11:31 AM

              Minor quibble. Miso ramen broths are not actually made from miso. In miso ramen, miso paste is mixed with animal, seafood, and/or vegetable broth shortly before serving. I note this as someone may get the notion that miso ramen is vegetarian (and actually healthy!)......Momofuku's main divergence from Japanese ramen is the use of bacon rather than katsuobushi, in the making of the broth. Sounds like it might be good because hey, it's bacon. But I don't think so. And part of me would argue that chain or no chain, a good ramen shop isn't worth a damn if there's not a wait of some sort, but I can understand that dealing with Ippudo can be a hassle.

              1. re: Silverjay
                sgordon RE: Silverjay Sep 27, 2011 12:01 PM

                Well, then, miso ramen broths ARE actually made from miso (among other things...)

                I'm not one to buy into "just because there's a wait it must be good" - though I do like Ippudo fine. I just find their non-ramen options (mostly) less than exciting.

                -----
                Ippudo
                321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: sgordon
                  Silverjay RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 12:12 PM

                  Miso is added to broth to make a soup. The broth isn't made with miso. It's easy to get confused.

              2. re: sgordon
                Cheeryvisage RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 11:38 AM

                You get amuse and pre-dessert at WD-50? Strange, I was there 2 weeks ago and didn't get those. Hmm...

                -----
                WD-50
                50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                1. re: Cheeryvisage
                  sgordon RE: Cheeryvisage Sep 27, 2011 11:59 AM

                  Hmm. Maybe we're VIPs. But I'm pretty sure we'd always got those, even before the staff started to recognize us...

                  1. re: sgordon
                    n
                    nmprisons RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 12:03 PM

                    I have gotten an amuse on my (handful) of trips there (don't know about pre-dessert as we usually order a ton of desserts and it is hard to keep track). I don't think it was special treatment, as this occurred before we had any connection to the industry in New York.

                  2. re: Cheeryvisage
                    h
                    H Manning RE: Cheeryvisage Sep 27, 2011 08:17 PM

                    I also got an amuse and pre-dessert during my first visit a few weeks ago. I liked the flavors at WD-50 but thought the textures were quite disconcerting. Which probably means I'm missing the whole point of the restaurant.

                    -----
                    WD-50
                    50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                  3. re: sgordon
                    k
                    kathryn RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 11:57 AM

                    Note that the Momofuku Ssam Bar rotisserie duck is available ONLY for lunch. Weekday lunch has an all duck focused menu. Weekend lunch has the rotisserie duck and a duck sandwich, and selected items from the dinner menu.

                    http://www.momofuku.com/restaurants/s...
                    vs
                    http://www.momofuku.com/restaurants/s...

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

                    1. re: sgordon
                      n
                      nmprisons RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 12:03 PM

                      Mr. Gordon. People don't tell you enough how valuable your posts are to this board. Bravo!

                      1. re: nmprisons
                        sgordon RE: nmprisons Sep 27, 2011 09:27 PM

                        RIght back atcha!

                        (Unless you're being sarcastic, in which case... um, right back atcha, I guess?)

                        1. re: sgordon
                          n
                          nmprisons RE: sgordon Sep 29, 2011 05:10 AM

                          100% serious.

                      2. re: sgordon
                        c
                        cheeseandstuff RE: sgordon Sep 27, 2011 01:40 PM

                        Thanks sgordon, this is some good advice. I'm leaning against doing wine pairings, I figure I can do another nice meal with the money I save not doing pairings. I'm leaning towards the tasting menu at WD-50. If I have time for lunch, I think Del Posto seems like a definite option.

                        The dollar amounts with a few drinks would be something like:
                        Per se: 360
                        WD-50:220

                        Say I had $250 for two more dinners. I'd like one to be Momofuku/Ippudo/ramen, but am up for anything. In general, for the other two nights, where should I go for that amount (could be a $225 night and a $25 night or $125/$125) that will best give me embody Manhattan food?

                        -----
                        WD-50
                        50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                        Del Posto
                        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: cheeseandstuff
                          h
                          hungrycomposer RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 01:57 PM

                          Try for a reservation at Momofuku KO. It's one of the most memorable meals I've had. I agree with Seth on preferring Noodle bar to Ippudo, but if you want to try a more traditional Japanese version go with Ippudo. Noodle bar is more fun and friendly and noisy.
                          I know EMP is popular here, but I found the place stodgy and the service seemed... insincere? As in "you're not the best customer, but I'll get effusive when I deliver the check".
                          To mix things up a little, you might want to get an Eastern European lunch on 2nd Ave - Ukranian Home, The Stage Restaurant, or the much more assimilated Veselka. Or the old kosher B and H dairy. The culinary standards won't be as high, but it would be a cheap way to get a taste of the city's character.

                          -----
                          Ippudo
                          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          Veselka
                          9 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: cheeseandstuff
                            Silverjay RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 07:35 PM

                            Skip Momofuku Noodle Bar and get the ramen at Ippudo, which is tops in the city, a full tier in quality above Momofuku- and it's a lively Japanese cultural dining experience on top. Afterwards, you can hit up nearby Sake Bar Decibel for a great selection of chilled sake. Along those cultural lines, with your budget, you can also consider a kaiseki meal at someplace like KyoYa. Only a handful of places like it in the country and something worth taking advantage of while in New York City... Of course one could also plant themselves solo at the bar at Minetta Tavern and pull down cocktails and go through a mid-20th century style entree...

                            1. re: Silverjay
                              h
                              hungrycomposer RE: Silverjay Sep 28, 2011 06:07 PM

                              If Ippudo generally is "a lively Japanese cultural dining experience" I'd happily give it another shot. I've always been seated at the communal table with drunken Caucasian yahoos, which didn't make me rush back.

                              -----
                              Ippudo
                              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              1. re: hungrycomposer
                                Silverjay RE: hungrycomposer Sep 28, 2011 06:22 PM

                                Gee drunken Caucasian yahoos in the East Village. Go figure? I've always been seated next to Japanese but nevertheless, I wasn't characterizing the atmosphere as stepping into Tokyo and being surrounded by Japanese on all sides. .... My last experience at Momofuku Noodle involved sitting next to some starry eyed dingbats talking non-stop about the celebrity of the owner. Dealing with the fuckleheaded server who didn't know anything about the food she was serving was an equally nice touch on top of the lousy food.

                                1. re: Silverjay
                                  h
                                  hungrycomposer RE: Silverjay Sep 28, 2011 08:05 PM

                                  Yeah, I knew I was setting myself up when I hit "post". When I go to noodle bar I sit at the kitchen/bar next to my BF which is the easiest way to ignore the noisy yahoos. And I've always had good luck with all of the servers there, but I suppose every meal for everybody is different. But I will give ippudo another shot.

                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                    u
                                    uwsister RE: Silverjay Sep 29, 2011 12:04 AM

                                    "Fuckleheaded server" - I love the typo!

                                    1. re: uwsister
                                      sgordon RE: uwsister Sep 29, 2011 06:56 AM

                                      Not sure it was a typo... but it's my word-of-the-day now. One of my employees or co-workers is gettin' a "fucklehead" before closing time.

                                      But that aside... yeah, every (popular) restaurant is gonna have its dingbats. Nothing to be done about that. It's kind of like, (and as an old punk I hesitate to admit this, but...) I thought the Grateful Dead (or at least some members of) weren't bad at certain points in their existence. But would I be willing to be stuck in a room full of patchouli-and-stale-weed stankin' Deadheads yammering about how Jerry was speaking to them on a cosmic level, just to see them? Psssh. THAT would be difficult to tolerate.

                                      But I can deal with the overly pretentious hip kids at Momofuku. Sure beats the Jersey / Long Island frat boys & bachelorette parties that clog up most of the EV/LES restos on the weekends.

                                      1. re: sgordon
                                        Silverjay RE: sgordon Sep 29, 2011 07:13 AM

                                        Yeah I don't really, truly hold it against Momofuku. You're right. It's a popular place and shit happens. The anecdote was more or less teased out of me from the conversation.....Saturday nights seem to be the full moon of douchebaggery (Kathryn's word?) in the city.

                                        1. re: Silverjay
                                          u
                                          uwsister RE: Silverjay Sep 29, 2011 08:14 AM

                                          Douchebaggery is a commonly used, if not grammatically correct, term. See also: tomfoolery.

                                          EV/LES is getting harder and harder to tolerate on weekends - my husband refuses to go most of the time, he says he misses junkies on the steps and being the only white boy getting off Second Ave stop.

                                    2. re: Silverjay
                                      h
                                      hungrycomposer RE: Silverjay Sep 29, 2011 09:36 AM

                                      Since I live in the east village I know to avoid eating out on the weekends. It truly becomes the fucklehead district. I try to go out to lunch instead of dinner, but on weekends you're competing with the less drunken but equally clueless brunch crowd. Weekday lunch (for those of us sans day job) is the way to go, but sometimes I wonder if the best chefs are on duty. Come Saturday night I'm happy I know how to cook.
                                      As for Momofuku, their employees win for best work ethic, but I think that's company policy. And they are generally very nice if you're nice to them. I've seen a lot of entitled customers raise servers' hackles everywhere in this town.

                                      1. re: hungrycomposer
                                        Silverjay RE: hungrycomposer Sep 29, 2011 10:37 AM

                                        I like Friday nights in Manhattan and Saturdays exploring the ethnic places in the OB's.

                                        1. re: Silverjay
                                          h
                                          hungrycomposer RE: Silverjay Sep 29, 2011 01:16 PM

                                          I managed to talk myself into lunch at Ippudo. Really delicious, and only a 10 minute wait at 2:30PM on a Thursday(!). The one thing that I'm not crazy about is that it feels a little corporate, and the music is pretty lame. Even if we are in the fucklehead district here in the East Village, we do have the advantage of so many small, personal, privately owned places to eat.

                                          -----
                                          Ippudo
                                          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                          1. re: hungrycomposer
                                            Silverjay RE: hungrycomposer Sep 29, 2011 01:32 PM

                                            I agree. Many of the cheap to mid-range Japanese places in Manhattan feel corporate. Sakagura, all the Totto, En, etc. It's sort of a price to pay for a certain amount of authenticity and quality for this cuisine. I lamented Ippudo's "brasserie" approach on this board when they first opened. That said, visitors to New York without as much cosmopolitan dining experience may still find novelty in the Japanese-ness of these places....Anyway, check out Kuboya on E.5th for a decent smaller, privately owned ramen shop.

                                            -----
                                            Kuboya
                                            536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

                                            1. re: Silverjay
                                              h
                                              hungrycomposer RE: Silverjay Sep 29, 2011 08:47 PM

                                              How's the ramen? The ramen menu is almost identical to a place I went to in LA years ago.

                                              1. re: hungrycomposer
                                                Silverjay RE: hungrycomposer Sep 30, 2011 03:56 AM

                                                Soup is good, noodles lousy. But that was a year ago, round when they first opened. Ramen menu is generic shoyu, shio, miso options identical to a million places. He uses more dried seafood than most places to make the broth. This is becoming a bigger trend in the ramen scene in Japan. Setagaya started out like that here but I have no idea where they are with their recipe these days.

                                2. re: cheeseandstuff
                                  sgordon RE: cheeseandstuff Sep 27, 2011 09:21 PM

                                  If you can do with nursing three glasses of wine to make your way through the tasting menus... that'd be around $45, give or take - a little more at Per Se, probably, a little less at WD, maybe. So those numbers might be a wee bit low, but only by ten bucks or so. I would set aside $400 for Per Se and $250 for WD, just as a precaution - the worst that'll happen is you'll have extra money. Nothin' wrong with that.

                                  I'm not sure if there's a cocktail that will marry well with the first few courses at WD, but if you're dining at the bar, ask one of the guys. Was just there for cocktails a couple nights ago and had a tequila-shiso-cucumber concoction that won me over pretty nicely. Also a cocoa-infused mezcal thingy that would go wonderfully with the desserts, I suspect.

                                  Ramen + a couple side dishes at Momofuku Noodle would run you about $50, I guess, with a beer. Hard to say as there are (annoyingly) no prices on the website. Momo is a fun place to go with other people - the dishes are really good for sharing - and that way you get to try more stuff.

                                  KO is, of course, a great suggestion, there's just no way to know if you'll get in until a week before. It's $125, plus beverages - last time I was there the cheapest pairing was $50, so likely a minimum of $175 + t/t, about $225 overall. Might not be doable with two other big splurge dinners already, even if you didn't drink much at those. Also, three tasting menus in four days... make sure you have some Lipitor on hand. (Personally, I'd do KO over Per Se, but that's a whole different matter... and I'm sure many will disagree with me...)

                                  As an alternative to KO, there's the amazing Kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya. Do a couple searches and you'll find photos / reviews floating around the interwebs. Pretty amazing stuff, and not as well known as it should be. And it would be a change of pace, flavor-wise, from the heavier, more intense flavors you'll get at Per Se & WD. Much more subtle, but just as exquisite. And it goes great with beer, which keeps the drinks cost down. Though their sake selection is pretty great.

                                  But that aside - really, for your fourth night, I'd say do something a la carte, that way you can budget it more easily AND it wouldn't be food overkill. Not that we wouldn't all love to live vicariously through someone who did Per Se, WD, & Kyo Ya or Ko all in a week.

                                  I don't know what our tastes are - obviously you like good food, but otherwise... so here's a somewhat random list of my ever-changing personal favorite places in the high-mid-range $$ neighborhood that would probably be within your budget, specifically those with dining-at-the-bar, which is always nicer for solos:

                                  Marc Forgione (BBQ Oysters & Chili Lobster are the two must-try dishes)
                                  Prune
                                  Public (lots of good stuff, very eclectic - also one of the best brunches in town if you're around on the weekend)
                                  Morimoto (dine at the sushi bar... just don't order sushi, go for a few composed dishes. One of which should be the "oysters foie gras")

                                  ...but my top choice would probably to go get in line at around 4:30 to get one of those elusive no-rez bar seats at Babbo. If it's a weeknight, and you're solo, it might not too long a wait if you go later. But it tends to fill up quick and stay mobbed. The only problem with going there is there'll be only one of you, and a dozen things on the menu you'll want to try. I'd pass on the tasting menus (though they're a good deal and reasonably priced) and just order a few of the oft-recommended classics a la carte - I'd even say skip the secondi, just get a few antipasti that interest you and one pasta (beef cheek ravioli w/ squab liver would be my choice... but to each their own.) and call it a meal. Maybe a dessert if you still need.

                                  At a lower price point (hey, never hurts to save money) my off-the-cuff choices are:

                                  Zabb Elee
                                  Xi'an Famous Foods
                                  Itzocan Cafe
                                  Frankies 17 Spuntino
                                  Caffe Falai
                                  The various stalls around Eataly, though I'm not sure how late most of them are open. If it's a nice night, you can get a few things and go picnic in Madison Square Park

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

                                  Babbo
                                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                  Frankies 17 Spuntino
                                  17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                  Momofuku Noodle Bar
                                  171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                  Caffe Falai
                                  265 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                                  Morimoto
                                  88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                  Kyo Ya
                                  94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                  Public
                                  210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

                                  Itzocan Cafe
                                  438 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

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

                                  Marc Forgione
                                  134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

                                  Xi'an Famous Foods
                                  81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                  Xi'an Famous Foods
                                  88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                                  Eataly
                                  200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                  Zabb Elee
                                  75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                  Xi'an Famous Foods
                                  67 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

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