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Heading to New York (again), seeking your incredibly valuable feedback (again)

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Lucky enough to have 2 trips to New York planned in the next couple of months.

First trip first - I'm flying down solo in a couple of weeks to spend 2 glorious days with a dear, family friend who lives in New York. She just surprised me with news that she's treating me to a late lunch at Jean Georges on the day I arrive - I had one of the best lunches of my life there about 10 years ago and look forward to returning. I'm now looking to fill in the rest of our meals, specifically:

1) A nice place to grab a few nibbles to eat at her apartment on our first evening. We'll be stuffed after our big lunch but I know that 4 or 5 hours later, a glass of wine, some cheese and maybe a few other little bits would be perfect. She lives around Sutton Place so ideally, somewhere in that general vicinity where we can stop in as we walk back from lunch.

2) Dinner the following evening - looking for mid-price (entrees $20-$30), unpretentious, warm ambiance with great food. Nothing too fussy or fine dining in style or atmosphere. Prefer downtown, especially West or East Village. Past favourites - Hearth, Tides (RIP), Lupa, August. My (non-exhaustive) short-list currently consists of: Mas (farmhouse), Maialino, Osteria Morini, Annisa, Tertulia and Aldea. My 82 year young friend (who, at nearly twice my age, can still outpace me on our long walks) is a bit hard of hearing so no place that has too much of a din. Also, she doesn't eat pork or beef so no place that's too meat-centric. I eat everything. Thoughts?

3) BHSB - had originally had the idea of going up there, thinking they served a weekday lunch, but now that I see that they don't and not wanting another big meal this trip after JG (never mind not being able to get a reservation), I wondered if you thought a train ride up for breakfast at the cafe was a nice idea with all the fall colours. Not necessarily asking if the cafe food is worth the half-hour train ride but if the train ride + fall foliage + nice coffee and pastries seem like a good backdrop for a few hours of warm conversation. And is it crazy to do that in the morning and end up in the West Village for an early-ish dinner that some day?

4) For breakfast, we always take a walk up to Via Quadronno one morning. If we don't go to BHSB cafe, I was thinking that maybe we'd go to Locanda Verde one morning? Is there any decent espresso midtown east or UES these days or do I still need to head downtown?

Thanks!!!

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  1. 1. You could possibly get some small plates/snacks at the Bar Room at the Modern on 53rd between 5th and 6th, which is on the way between Columbus Circle and Sutton Place (53rd and 2nd).

    2. Osteria Morini is insanely loud, and very very cramped. Like your neighbor's chair touching you cramped.

    Tertulia can also be quite loud. And the wait could be long -- they don't take reservations for parties fewer than 6 people.

    The other four seem like good options but if your friend can't get pork or beef, it may defeat the purpose of going to Maialino (as the maialino al forno is a must-order and may be impossible for one person to finish).

    Aldea also has a good number of options with bacon, jamon, or pork -- see if the menu agrees with your friend.

    Also when you said "unpretentious, warm ambiance with great food" and "not too fussy" my brain immediately turned to Prune, not sure if that is one of the options you're considering. It does get a little cramped though.

    3. It seems like a lot of travel during a short trip. From Sutton Place to Grand Central (let's say 15 min on the 6 train), from Grand Central to Tarrytown (37 mins minimum), plus a 10 minute cab ride to the farm. I'd also pair in a walk around the farm, at the least.

    Note that their hours are:
    Wednesday - Sunday, 10:30 am - 4:30 pm

    4. You can also walk to the Joe the Art of Coffee location in Grand Central. Or Macchiato Espresso Bar. Manhattan Espresso Cafe also gets good reviews on Yelp but I don't think it's gotten any buzz here (I have not been).

    -----
    The Modern
    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

    Macchiato
    141 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017

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

    Manhattan Espresso
    146 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

    Sutton Place
    1015 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

    Joe the Art of Coffee
    89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

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

    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

    Osteria Morini
    218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

    Tertulia
    359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks kathryn - you're always such an enjoyable read and a great resource.

      On the first day, I was actually looking for a gourmet food shop or market where we could purchase some items to take back to my friend's apartment. Eventually, when we've digested part of our delicious lunch, we'll get peckish again and it would be nice to have some snacks to have with a glass of wine.

      I've had brunch at Prune but never dinner. I do recall it beings a bit cramped but it does seem to hit the other criteria. For Tertulia (and for most non-res spots in general), if I get there before 6:45, do I have decent odds? Any thoughts on Mas?

      BHSB - I hear you on the travel, just thought it might be a fun excursion and something a little different. Plus the perfect time of year. We'd definitely walk around the farm as well. I may hold off on this to see what the weather is like. I also just saw you posted a West Village walking tour on another thread and that could be another fun way to spend the day - I love the vibe in that neighbourhood.

      Thanks.

      1. re: peppermint pate

        Jean Georges is very close to Whole Foods' Columbus Circle location. Convenient but not the most pleasant shopping experience dependent upon what time it is when you stop in (too close to dinner time can be madness in my experience.)

        I'd personally stop by Murray's Cheese (and Meats) in Grand Central Terminal on the way home.
        http://www.murrayscheese.com/stores.asp

        Regarding Tertulia, I was there on a Tuesday recently at 7pm and the wait was already very long. They quoted us 2 to 2.5 hours, it ended up being only 1 hour. We waited about 30 minutes for two seats at the bar to open up, sat down, ordered some wine and tapas to start, and our table was ready 30 minutes later.

        One thing to note: there is very little space to wait for a table inside of Tertulia and patrons were constantly getting in the wait staff's way. And the bar is first come first served. I was a little annoyed by people hovering over bar seats, waiting for them to be vacated.

        I have not been to Mas yet but a close friend just went and had a wonderful meal there. He was on a date, though, so I'm not sure if the atmosphere is too romantic or not. Here's a recent topic:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811234

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

        Mas (Farmhouse
        )39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

        Murray's Cheese Shop
        Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10017

        Whole Foods
        10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

        Tertulia
        359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      2. re: kathryn

        "The other four seem like good options but if your friend can't get pork or beef, it may defeat the purpose of going to Maialino (as the maialino al forno is a must-order and may be impossible for one person to finish). "

        One thing to note is that Maialino will offer a plate of Maialino al forno for one.

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

        1. re: steakrules85

          Good to know, thanks, but I think Maialino sounds like a spot I'd prefer with a fellow fan of porky goodness. Definitely on the list for one of my next trips.

      3. re: decent espresso on the UES

        I was happy with my espresso at the uptown, Madison Ave location of Sant Ambroeus last March. Probably not worth trekking too far out of your way, but quite a good option, if you're in the vicinity.

        I also like the coffee served at Cafe Sabarsky. In addition to espresso, they offer several Viennese-style coffees. Beautiful space.

        -----
        Cafe Sabarsky
        1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

        Sant Ambroeus
        1000 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021

        1. 2) mas is truly excellent, but it might stretch your price point a bit (I just re-checked the menu and most entrees ring in above 30). in terms of atmosphere, you could think about cafe cluny. The food while consistently good, is not mind-blowing or particularly creative; im not sure what exactly your looking for in that department. If its a weekday I'd also consider hundred acres; its get a bit loud on the weekends but in my experience its not too crowded on the weekdays.

          4) not sure where you're going to be staying, but Macchiato espresso bar has excellent coffee (52nd and 5th)

          -----
          Mas (Farmhouse)
          39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

          Cafe Cluny
          284 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

          Hundred Acres
          38 MacDougal St., New York, NY 10012

          Macchiato
          666 5th Ave, New York, NY 10103

          1. Thanks so much everyone.

            * kathryn - I think I'm going to have to give Tertulia a pass for this trip. Mas is still in the running, though (hmm, what is "too romantic"? Public groping??). What about dell'anima? I've been to the Whole Foods you're talking about, and we have WF here in Toronto - was kind of hoping for something more along the lines of a gourmet food shop but I guess Midtown East or even the lower UES isn't strong in that area. I've only been to the other Murrays - loved it - so maybe Grand Central is our best bet. Any other favourite vendors there for some bites to accompany our cheese?

            * prima - fancy meeting you on this board. I actually have been to Saint Ambroeus - both locations. For the UES one, I enjoyed my cappuccino while discretely eating chocolates that I had just picked up at the nearby La Maison du Chocolat.

            * cubicles - thanks. Hundred Acres looks good. I'm less fussed about the price point and more focussed on the atmosphere. So as much as I love EMP, for example, that's not what I'm after for this meal. I do appreciate creative food and flavours. I mentioned places like Hearth and Tides as past spots where we enjoyed fresh, creative food in a nice room with friendly, relaxed service. Not sure if that helps define it better. I appreciate the coffee tip too. Speaking of which (and I know it's in a different 'hood), is Abraco still good?

            4 Replies
            1. re: peppermint pate

              At Mas, atmosphere-wise, it strikes me as kind of dark/romantic, but take a look at the photos on the site, you may feel otherwise.

              Murray's has actually a large of variety of items: cheeses, meats, pickles, jams, bread, etc. Wild Edibles is also there too. You probably don't need to go elsewhere unless you want to.

              Dell'anima may be too loud for your friend, but the food is great.

              Abraco is definitely still good.

              -----
              Abraco
              86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

              Wild Edibles
              535 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

              Dell'Anima
              38 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: kathryn

                Agree that Mas is somewhat dark, but don't think it has to be overly romantic (certainly no couples making out or anything that salacious). The side room is definitely more of a "datey"place, but the main room I think can work for both friends as well as dates. I've been to Mas on both dates and simply with a small group of friends and didnt feel uncomfortable or out of place with either. I actually think the somewhat quieter, more intimate atmosphere would work well for the OP with her older friend. i never had the chance to get to tides, and have only been to hearth once (a while ago at that), but in terms of food I really think you can't go wrong there.
                Agree with kathryn that while dell'anima is good (i would still argue mas is better), it will certainly be fairly loud.
                can't speak to abraco as I've never been, but its now on my coffee list when i happen to be in that hood

              2. re: peppermint pate

                dell'anima is good, but their other restaurant, L'artusi, is better IMO. If you sit at the bar area facing the kitchen, they will let you try complimentary pasta dishes only being served that day. My husband and I usually like to order a couple of pastas on the set menu and the chef, knowing we like pasta a lot, will almost always give us other bites to try.

                -----
                Dell'Anima
                38 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                L'Artusi
                228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

                1. re: citykid426

                  Thanks citykid426. I love the idea of sitting at the bar and trying new pasta dishes! I'm assuming you can reserve those seats? Since they're sister restaurants, can I assume that both are equally strong on their pasta dishes? Thank you also for the various coffee recs, though I have to say that I went to Zibetto last fall and I didn't love it. I think the coffee was good but the guy behind the bar was off-puttingly unfriendly. Locanda Verde has been on my list forever - not sure if I'll make it this trip or maybe in November, when I'm back with my husband and kids. Thanks for sharing your love.

              3. As for espresso, Juliano's on Lex and 90th is my favorite cappuccino in the area. The Italian guy with the red barrette is super serious about how a coffee should be made, never lets anyone else touch his espresso machine, and he always smiles at customers:-) I also like Zibetto on 6th Ave and 56th Street, which kind of looks like it came straight out of Milan (it's an espresso bar, no seats but excellent coffee!). Also, as a side note: I absolutely LOVE Locanda Verde for breakfast and brunch. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are out of this world. Worth going downtown for...

                -----
                Zibetto
                1385 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                Locanda Verde
                377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                Juliano Gourmet Coffee
                1378 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

                1. For midtown espresso: Nespresso, Madison @66th St., elegant and modern with pastries (Payard), salads, and sandwiches, though I haven't had the food. I also like Juan Valdez Cafe, on 57th btw. Lex & 3rd, run by the The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia and a nice alternative to Starbuck's.

                  -----
                  Juan Valdez Cafe
                  140 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022

                  1. Okay, so I decided to go with an early reservation at L'Artusi. Looking forward to it. On the day I leave, I need to grab a yummy midtown bite to eat en route to Newark. I see that Ma Peche offers takeout lunches, which I can order in advance online. I think I'm going to take some pork buns home to eat that evening - yes! How are their sandwiches? Any favourites of the 3 (banh mi maison, chicken banh mi and beef and pork belly hero)?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      I want to caution you against ordering takeout for the pork buns. These are meant to be eaten right away (as in, within few minutes of being assembled) and really, and I mean, REALLY, do not stand up to sitting around well (they get pretty gross). I don't think they're going to reheat well either due to the soggy bread bun. I made the mistake of doing the pork bun takeout once, never again. I'll either eat them at the restaurant freshly made or not order them at all.

                      I've had the house banh mi and enjoyed it very much.

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

                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                        Ah, too bad for my husband who was going to be on the receiving end of those buns a few hours later...but good to know. Thanks.

                        1. re: peppermint pate

                          How about Bouchon Bakery for your take out treats? In the TWC.

                          -----
                          Bouchon Bakery
                          10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                          1. re: peppermint pate

                            Are you going to walk somewhere from 53rd and 2nd and then take a cab to EWR?

                            I know the downtown Murray's Cheese has both a pre-wrapped sandwich selection and a hot sandwich counter.

                            But the banh mi from Ma Peche should keep fine.

                            -----
                            Murray's Cheese
                            254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

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

                            1. re: kathryn

                              rkaene and kathryn - thank you both. The tentative plan for that morning is to make our annual pilgrimage to Via Quadronno for a relaxing cappuccino and light brekkie in the front room. We'll then likely meander down the east side of the park for our last couple of hours of conversation, after which I'll grab my bag from her apartment (Sutton Place and 53rd) and then head out to the airport around 1. That's why I was thinking that a midtown east sandwich "to go" would be easiest and wondered if Ma Peche would be a good option - certainly open to other suggestions, feedback, etc. Thanks.