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Marea, Anissa or Union Street Cafe for Sunday dinner?

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Friends have offered to take us out. We are considering one of these three (please, no other suggestions). Two of us do not eat meat but do eat fish/seafood. Cost is not the issue. Looking for a comfortable dinner out when we are visiting NYC. Other dinners already booked for this visit include Esca & Craft. Any opinions much appreciated.

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  1. I had a celebratory dinner at Annisa a few months ago and absolutely loved it. There are lots of fish and seafood options on the menu, although I have to say the chicken dish was one of the best chicken dishes I've ever had in a resto. Admittedly, that isn't saying much as I almost never order chicken in a restaurant. This was incredible.

    1. For me, Annisa wins hands down, but it really depends on your tastes. Annisa is very creative and some might find it too adventurous. See if the menu appeals to you. Union Square Cafe serves high quality food but to me is unexciting, enjoyable but no "wow" factor. Marea is good if you want a more Italian twist to the cooking. Pastas are great, seafood main courses competent but not exciting.

      1. Thanks for the responses. Surprised to hear that Marea seafood main dishes are only so-so. Anyone else want to weigh in?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Phoenix

          Marea has maybe the best pasta in the city. Their crudo is also great. You go to Marea for the crudo and the seafood pasta, not the seafood secondi (heh). Their dessert Affogato is also the best in NYC in my opinion.

          1. re: Phoenix

            Marea may be too similar to Esca, especially since the highlights for me at both places are the salt-baked branzino and different types of crudo.

            If you do go to Marea, I'd skip the mains except the Adriatic seafood soup. However, if everybody gets a pasta as the main dish, it might be too rich. Maybe half of you should get the pasta as the main and the other half go for the fish/meat. Oh, and add the ricci.

            1. re: LucidInterval

              LI,
              Thanks for the post. Would you suggest Annisa instead or somewhere else?

              1. re: Phoenix

                +1 Annisa

                1. re: Phoenix

                  I haven't been to Annisa yet, but I do want to come to Marea's defense since I enjoyed my meal there so much. My full review of that meal is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805785

                  Even though Marea supposedly has only so-so seafood secondi, they're second to none at the things they excel.

                  I still salivate when I think of the amazing Lobster with Burrata and Grilled Octopus dishes I enjoyed. Their Octopus and Bone Marrow Pasta, my god, it's still my absolute favorite pasta dish in the city.

                  I was impressed by my meal at every level -- it was definitely one of the most memorable for me in 2011. Marea is a wonderful restaurant truly. Don't write it off just yet.

                  1. re: Phoenix

                    Of the restaurants mentioned, I'd definitely choose Annisa, Craft and Marea. However, if your friends have already reserved Esca and it'd be impolite to ask them to change the reservation, I'd still do Marea if seafood is your thing or Annisa instead if you want a different cuisine altogether. You can order different types of dishes at Esca and Marea without coming away thinking you've eaten at the same restaurant.

                  2. re: LucidInterval

                    We did the brunch at Marea which is one crudo or starter and one pasta or secOndi. Then we added dessert. It was delicious and not too rich since we were only doing those three courses. The prices were better for the same thing but a more limited menu. One in our group got a secondo instead of pasta and although it was tasty I wouldnuabe been dissappointed doing the same.

                2. I would suggest swapping Marea for Esca as they are somewhat similar but Marea is better. I also would remove union square cafe from your list. was not impressed at all by my visit there

                  1. Since you are already going to Esca and Craft, I would choose Anissa hands down. It is very different from the other two - and it is fabulous. BTW, I totally agree about secondi at Marea. Of course, IMO, most restaurants have better starters and pasta than mains. I think that maybe main dishes are just not as interesting.

                    1. Thanks again for all of your thoughts. Seems it comes down to Marea or Annisa - but what if we throw Ai Fiori into the mix? Does that chane anything? Which of those 3 would you choose (remembering we are looking at a Sunday night, assuming that makes any difference!)

                      1. I'm going to Anissa tomorrow night and although I've been before I can't remember what I had. Does anyone have any recommendations?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: lucyj

                          Unagi and Taro Chawan Mushi
                          Seared Foie Gras with Soup Dumplings and Jicama
                          Poppyseed Bread and Butter Pudding with Meyer Lemon Curd

                          http://endoedibles.com

                          1. re: uhockey

                            I think I may have ordered the chawan mushi last time....thanks for the recs!

                            1. re: lucyj

                              Have the barbecued squid appetizer.

                          2. re: lucyj

                            The chicken (yes, the chicken!) is great. I believe a number of dishes have been mentioned on this thread?

                            1. re: linguafood

                              Nope, you were the only one who had previously mentioned a particular dish at anissa. thanks though...

                            2. re: lucyj

                              Menu had changed a little, no more chawan mushi for example. Ended up getting the barbecued squid, the sable as a main and the poppyseed bread and butter pudding with meyer lemon curd. Since the online menu isn't complete I can't remember the description of the sable but I thought everything was delicious. Complex, strong yet delicate flavors, unique combinations. I haven't had anything there I didn't like yet.

                            3. Been to all three. Definitely Anissa.

                              http://endoedibles.com