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Shortlist for April trip: constructive criticism welcome!

m
medgirl Feb 15, 2012 05:29 AM

Myself, the husband and our 4 and a half year old boy will be travelling to NYC for 2 weeks in early April (around Easter break). We will be staying with my sister and her husband on West 106th Street. We have been to Manhattan before just for a couple of days when the boy was only 6 months old, which limited us a bit in terms of eating options, but we did manage to get to Katz’s, which was unlike anything we can get in London (England). I’ve been trying to draw up a shortlist of places and would love your expert feedback. Already learnt that Momofuku Noodle Bar fried chicken dinner is perhaps not the greatest thing to attempt with a 4 year old. My current list, in no particular order:

- Spotted Pig (lunch without 4 year old, for the Cubano sandwich and gnudi, maybe the burger, but I don’t like rare and hubby not into blue cheese)
- Maialino (Is the Maialino al forno good for a family dinner, ie 4 adults and a small child? We would order other stuff as well, another special, or a couple of pastas. Of the lot of us, only my husband has a massive appetite)
- Shopsin’s plus a wander round Essex Street Market
- Babbo lunch (just me and sister), but might try Scarpetta (we will probably look at the menus and see which ones has the pastas we like the sound of most)
- Katz’s for the pastrami sandwich (lunch, with 4 year old, who had a great time at Katz’s last time round, the sandwich was almost bigger than he was! But recs for anywhere else with a good atmosphere and great pastrami sandwich would be much appreciated. We are more tourists than pastrami connoisseurs though!)
- Momofuku Ssam Bar for the duck lunch (probably without 4 year old)
- Momofuku Milk Bar
- Peter Luger’s (lunch, with the 4 year old)
- Keen’s (dinner, just me and hubby)
- I need to research posts on pizza in Manhattan, haven't got round to it.
- Amy Ruth’s (with whole family, mainly for fried chicken and waffles)
- Dinosaur BBQ (I grew up in Kansas City, so I’m not really looking for great BBQ in NYC, just somewhere where I can take a kid and maybe use the discount from savored.com)
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My husband and I love walking round markets, so we were going to have a wander round Chelsea Market as well. Apart from Katz’s and Milk Bar, do all of the other places need reservations in advance? How far in advance?! I’m keeping my plans pretty loose at the moment and will fix them properly once I’ve made reservations that need to be made. Thanks!

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  1. Pedr0 RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 05:54 AM

    • Skip Katz's and get a Super Heeb sandwich at Russ & Daughters around the corner.
    • Scarpetta over Babbo.
    • I wouldn't bring a child to Ssam Bar.
    • Lunch at Peter Luger's is a great deal. Excellent hamburgers there.
    • Keste for pizza.
    • Can make a reservation at Keen's (and many other restaurants here) using opentable.com

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

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

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

    Keste Pizza & Vino
    271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

    8 Replies
    1. re: Pedr0
      n
      nmprisons RE: Pedr0 Feb 15, 2012 06:14 AM

      I disagree with some of this.

      1. The Katz pastrami is one of the great things about eating in NYC. And, with a four year old, Russ & Daughters is a bit of a problem as there are no tables and nowhere really to sit inside (if it is cold outside) and only two benches outside (which might be full if it is nice outside).

      2. I think Babbo is more exciting than Scarpetta, though both are good.

      3. Duck lunch at Ssam Bar would be totally fine with a 4-year old. It is casual, not packed, and a real fun place. Don't hesitate at all to take him there.

      Also, I wouldn't do both Luger's and Keens during the same short trip, especially with Dino BBQ thrown in. There are plenty of fun places to take a kid in the city. If the husband really wants dinner at Keen's, why not trade out Peter Luger's for some rocking thai food (Zabb Elee) interesting western chinese (Xi'an Famous's chinatown location) or fun burgers (I personally like Shake Shack, but there is debate there). All are kid-friendly.

      Finally, I just can't rec. Dino BBQ. It is overpriced and only the wings are good. If you want to be up in that neighborhood in need of lunch, go to Absolute Bagel (best bagels in the ciy, imo) which will save you some money and provide some better food.

      Make sure Babbo serves lunch, I can't remember.

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

      Katz's Delicatessen
      205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Keens
      72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

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

      Shake Shack
      Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

      Absolute Bagels
      2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

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

      Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
      777 W. 125th Street, New York, NY 10027

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

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

      1. re: nmprisons
        Pedr0 RE: nmprisons Feb 15, 2012 06:49 AM

        Ssam Bar's lunch or dinner menus aren't what I would refer to as "kid-friendly". If they don't like duck or ham, you're pretty well SOL.

        Personally, I don't get Katz's, especially the pastrami. $16 for an overly-salty, too-thick, dried-out sandwich on mass-produced rye? Even the pickle you get with it is sub-standard.

        Feels like a complete tourist trap there.

        1. re: Pedr0
          n
          nmprisons RE: Pedr0 Feb 15, 2012 07:06 AM

          I guess it depends on what you mean by "kid-friendly." Pork buns, pickles, dumplings, and fingerling potatoes (all on Ssam Bar's lunch menu) seem about perfect for most kids, and I can't help but assume that anyone being raised by those who appreciate good food will, at four, find plenty of happiness in stuff like duck sausage, kimchi, sliced ham, etc. Heck, now that I think about it, Ssam bar for lunch is a perfect kid place.

          1. re: Pedr0
            m
            medgirl RE: Pedr0 Feb 15, 2012 07:25 AM

            Well, the kid is drawn like a magnet to anything with pork fat and loves duck as well, so I guess David Chang would become his favourite chef if he had any idea who DC was! I guess if we can't find a sitter, we will be ok taking him to Ssam bar, given everything seems to be cooked with pork fat!
            I know the touristy aspect of Katz's is cringeworthy, but if you can suggest somewhere to get a pastrami sandwich to share that has some seating and a good vibe, I'd love to try somewhere different.

            1. re: medgirl
              n
              nmprisons RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 07:47 AM

              Don't even try to get a sitter. Seriously. If he likes duck and pork fat and he later finds out you went to Ssam Bar without him, he will hold it against you during his teenage years. Lord know that I would have.

              1. re: nmprisons
                m
                medgirl RE: nmprisons Feb 15, 2012 08:16 AM

                OK, you've convinced me to try Ssam Bar with the kid. If it's an interesting plate, and if he can see ducks on a rotisserie, he will be very happy.

              2. re: medgirl
                c
                City Kid RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 08:29 AM

                Nothing cringe worthy at Katz's, plenty of New Yorkers go there! If he loves fatty meats he will be in heaven.

            2. re: nmprisons
              c
              City Kid RE: nmprisons Feb 15, 2012 08:27 AM

              Agree on Katz's - great fun and super tasty with a 4-year-old.

          2. k
            kathryn RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 06:13 AM

            Overall, I'd recommend making reservations everywhere that takes them, just in case.

            However, Spotted Pig, Shopsin's, and Amy Ruth's don't take reservations (AR only for big groups).

            For Spotted Pig and Shopsin's, weekdays for brunch/lunch don't have much of a wait.

            Spotted Pig for weekend brunch or dinner can get pretty crowded though.

            Shopsin's isn't open for dinner and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, BTW.

            Momofuku Ssam Bar doesn't take reservations for the duck lunch unless you are 3-6 people. However, I think it would be fine with your 4 year old. I had friends go recently with their two kids (1 and 3). Don't forget that the "all duck" lunch is only weekdays.

            Maialino, Babbo, and Scarpetta take reservations. I recommend them for all three. Babbo is the hardest one to get.

            But, Babbo does NOT serve lunch. Neither does Scarpetta.

            Maialino is 4 weeks in advance. They are on OpenTable.

            Babbo is one month in advance to the numerical date. i.e. call on Feburary 15th for March 15th at 10am.

            I believe Scarpetta is 30 days in advance. They are on OpenTable.

            Keens is also fairly easy to book. They are also on OpenTable.

            For Luger's, you need to ask on the Outer Boroughs board. For but lunch you should be OK.

            Best pizza: really depends what kind you're looking for -- gas oven slice, coal oven whole pie, nouveau-Naples-style
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8313...

            -----
            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            Keens
            72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

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

            Shopsin's General Store
            120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

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

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

            Maialino
            2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

            1. m
              medgirl RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 06:53 AM

              Hi all, thanks so much for your responses, which have already made me get my pencil out and start making changes.
              I will leave out Dino BBQ.
              I will prob leave Katz's in just because of the point nmprisons makes: it has a seating area indoors, which makes dining with a kid so much easier. It also has a kind of retro New York feel that is kind of corny but we like! We did pass Russ and Daughters on the way there last time and in the intervening years, the little boy has developed a taste for smoked fish, so will definitely get some from R&D.
              Good to know taking a kid to the duck lunch is possible, but we will leave him with a sitter if possible.
              Will keep lunch at PL and ditch dinner at Keen's. Will think of an alternative to Keen's. Am trying to think of a place that is kind of grown-up but not too upmarket, for my husband and me to have dinner alone at. We are not into high-end dining like at EMP or Per Se.
              Will pursue the Babbo option, if I can snag a reservation.
              London does Naples-style artisan pizza nowadays, so what kind of pizza is specific to NYC? I would be looking for a kind of pizza that can only be had in NYC. I've been to Rome and had tons of pizza there, which was brilliant. So looking for a true NYC experience.
              Thanks kathryn for all the specifics regarding reservations, extremely helpful.

              1 Reply
              1. re: medgirl
                Pedr0 RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 08:04 AM

                Keste is true Neapolitan style pizza. It is also leagues ahead of anything I've had in London and quite different than what you'll typically get in Rome.

                For "authentically New York", Patsy's in Harlem would be a great choice. A warning though; there are several other places in the city with the same name and logo. Do not go to them, they suck. Only the Harlem one is any good.

                -----
                Patsy's Pizzeria
                2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035

                Keste Pizza & Vino
                271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

              2. ttoommyy RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 07:07 AM

                Since Babbo does not do lunch, I would highly recommend Del Posto (another Batali restaurant). If you can't get a reservation through Open Table (I believe it is 30 days in advance), call. It's always worth a try.

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

                4 Replies
                1. re: ttoommyy
                  m
                  medgirl RE: ttoommyy Feb 15, 2012 07:27 AM

                  Thanks, Del Posto's lunch prix fixe for $29 looks great!

                  1. re: medgirl
                    k
                    kathryn RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 07:31 AM

                    Note: Reservations are accepted one month in advance to the numerical date.

                    Note also that it one of the more upscale ones of the Batali restaurants: "Del Posto kindly requests that all guests refrain from wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts (for men only), and sandals. Most men do wear jackets, but it is not required."

                    1. re: kathryn
                      m
                      medgirl RE: kathryn Feb 15, 2012 07:39 AM

                      kathryn,
                      :)
                      thanks for warning me about the del posto dress code. Especially as my husband is from Australia and when we visited the Parliament House there, a sign at the front requested that visitors should be wearing a minimum of shorts and sandals!

                      1. re: kathryn
                        ttoommyy RE: kathryn Feb 15, 2012 07:57 AM

                        Khakis and a polo shirt would be fine in April. I doubt he'll be wearing shorts and sandals. I've never worn a jacket at lunch.

                  2. sgordon RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 09:24 AM

                    First, if you don’t like rare and hubby's not into blue cheese... don't order the burger at the Spotted Pig. Enough other things on the menu.

                    Babbo > Scarpetta / Maialino, though they're all solid. Scarpetta is also becoming a chain, so who knows, in a year you might have one in London. Hard for us New Yorkers to recommend chains - we like our "only in NYC" places, as good as some of the others may be.

                    Keep in mind Del Posto's lunch is weekdays only. Also, splurge an extra $10 and you can have the "full Italian" four-course meal (antipasti, pasta, secondi, docli) rather than having to choose pasta OR secondi. It's a steal, either way, so might as well take advantage of the extra course at such a low supplement. Portions are proper Italian ones (as opposed to Italian-American) so it's not like you'll leave unable to walk after four courses.

                    Duck lunch at Momo is fine for kids. Wouldn't bring kids to dinner there, except maybe at an early (i.e. < 6:30) seating.

                    I would find a way to keep both Katz's and R&D on your itinerary.

                    For pizza in Manhattan, I side with Patsy's (Spanish Harlem location ONLY! The rest are fakers...) but it's kind of out of the way if you're not up in that part of town already. You could theoretically go there after Amy Ruth's, but I'm not sure you'll have room for much more food after the Al Sharpton Special. Maybe find something to do in between - tour St. John's Cathedral, maybe?

                    Couple thoughts for your Keen's replacement dinner, and at a price point a little lower than EMP etc:

                    Marc Forgione: upscale, fun takes on comfort food, local/seasonal, very hearty & bold in his flavors, which it seems like you guys like based on your current choices. Nice "neighborhoody" vibe that belies the level of food that's coming out of the kitchen,.
                    WD-50: a little more expensive, but not in the EMP range. Playful, fun, a big influence on Chang & Co. One of those "every foodie should visit once" places. Also spectacular creative cocktails, if you're fans of the cocktail arts. If you're fans of (or curious about) ol' Heston B. on your side of the pond, Wylie Dufresne is somewhat-less-pretentious NYC alternative. Much cheaper than the Fat Duck, too.
                    Public: adventurous, bold, interesting fusion cuisine - if you've a hankering to try kangaroo, this is probably the place to do it. (But there are more approachable things on the menu as well...) Public is also a great brunch option.

                    If you're using Savored, there are a few good places in there as well - SHO Shaun Hergatt, Aquavit, and Nuela are probably the three standouts IMHO. The first, French with Asian inflections, a really underrated (though kind of out-of-the-way) place. The second, Haute Scandinavian - something kind of like Texture in London, at least in terms of the flavor profile, though not quite as fast and loose with the avant-garde techniques. But much more refined and interesting than, say, Madsen. Either would be around $60/pp after the discount, though many items on SHO's menu carry a supplement not mentioned on the website. Nuela is upscaled "Nueva-Latina" and also has one of the city's better duck dishes - the Arroz con Pato for two.

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

                    Aquavit
                    65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

                    Babbo
                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                    Amy Ruth's
                    113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

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

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

                    Public
                    210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

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

                    Marc Forgione
                    134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

                    SHO Shaun Hergatt
                    40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

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

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sgordon
                      m
                      medgirl RE: sgordon Feb 15, 2012 10:00 AM

                      Thanks sgordon. Marc Forgione sounds like our kind of place for a nice dinner, that's a great tip. We are staying in the UWS, which if I remember correctly, is near Harlem, so Patsy's shouldn't be a problem to check out.

                      1. re: medgirl
                        k
                        kathryn RE: medgirl Feb 15, 2012 11:22 AM

                        Patsy's is in East Harlem...2287 1st Ave between 117th & 118th.

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