London 'Hound seeking list refinement, advice and tips (bit long)
Hello NY Chowhounds.
I'm coming over in a couple of weeks (arrive on 23rd and leave on 31st May) with my girlfriend and my brother and I'd appreciate some help with our eating schedule/list.
Just a few things to note/questions:
- We're aged between 23-25 so we tend to lean towards places with a younger crowd but feel comfortable dining anywhere
- We're staying on East 2nd street, between 1st and 2nd
- We don't really have budgets - we've booked a few lunches at higher end/more expensive places (see below) as it seems the best value for money. We'll keep it more casual at night generally
- It's Memorial Day Weekend while we're there. What sort of effect does this have on restaurants in the city generally? Emptier? Do they close for the weekend? Any change at all?
- This might sound a silly question but… Can anyone explain Russ and Daughters, please? I have been there before and am planning on going again, but would like an outline of how it generally works. The one time we went we just went up to someone and asked for a lox bagel, which was pretty good - the fish and other components were very nice, but the bagel was pretty poor. Are you encouraged to try different slices of fish and then make a decision? What should we get if we dislike the bagels they use?
- The first night we'll want to stay reasonably close to the apartment we're staying in as we'll probably be quite tired. Redhead looks a good option. Thoughts?
- We've been to Momofuku Ssam Bar before and enjoyed it about two years ago. Is it still good for dinner? We're aware of the duck lunch, which looks fantastic, but dinner might be our best option.
- We're staying reasonably close to Clinton Street Baking Co., Prune and Shopsins, and are anticipating a wait at all three. Which is the most comfortable wait out of those three? Or is there somewhere else close-by to get pancakes etc. that isn't quite as packed as these?
- We won't actually have working phones apart from for wi-fi use. I know some places take your number down and call or text. Is there any way around this if you don't have a phone?
- Which bars should we be drinking at? I've seen mentioned: Angel's Share, Please Don't Tell, Death and Company, WD50 bar. Other good ones?
23rd May (date of arrival - evening)
Dinner: Redhead / something else in the East Village
Lunch: Minetta Tavern (booked)
Dinner: Momofuku Ssam Bar
Lunch: Torrisi Italian Specialties (booked)
Dinner: Free spot = Unsure - somewhere in the East Village, perhaps? Somewhere fun, not too mobbed if possible
Dinner: Empellon Cocina (booked)
Brunch: Clinton Street Baking Co. / Prune / Shopsins / Another East Village or LES brunch spot
Lunch: Free spot
Dinner: Free spot
Lunch: Del Posto (booked)
Dinner: Free spot
Lunch: Eleven Madison Park (booked)
Dinner: Free spot
Lunch: Our last lunch in New York. We'll need to be at JFK at around 4pm or so. Perhaps somewhere in the East Village where taking luggage won't be too problematic. Suggestions?
Other places we've seen and are interested in:
Crif Dogs / PDT
Mad For Chicken
Gramercy Tavern (Tavern)
Caracas Arepa Bar
Thanks in advance :)
> - It's Memorial Day Weekend while we're there. What sort of effect does this have on restaurants in the city generally? Emptier? Do they close for the weekend? Any change at all?
The city is a little emptier but places that are tourist attractions won't be really empty.
Restaurants will stay open -- there are many people who come IN to NYC for the weekend.
The only real change I can think is that some who don't usually serve on Mondays during the day might choose to do Monday brunch.
> - This might sound a silly question but… Can anyone explain Russ and Daughters, please? I have been there before and am planning on going again, but would like an outline of how it generally works. The one time we went we just went up to someone and asked for a lox bagel, which was pretty good - the fish and other components were very nice, but the bagel was pretty poor. Are you encouraged to try different slices of fish and then make a decision? What should we get if we dislike the bagels they use?
It's a grocery store set up that also has a sandwich counter. Some people are there to buy a pound of this or that to take home. Some people are there for takeout sandwiches. It's more about the fish there than the bagel. You can definitely try different slices of fish and then make a decision or ask for their recommendation. You can also ask for a mini bagel if you wish. I usually get nova on a sesame seed bagel, with cream cheese, red onion, tomato, and capers.
If you don't like their bagels, try a bialy, perhaps? Or buy some fish and cream cheese by the pound, go get some bagels elsewhere, and go assemble the sandwich yourself, back where you are staying. It is a short walk.
I believe they changed bagel suppliers some time in mid/late 2010, so I'm not sure if you tried the newer supplier or the older one.
> - The first night we'll want to stay reasonably close to the apartment we're staying in as we'll probably be quite tired. Redhead looks a good option. Thoughts?
Lots of options nearby, the East Village is an area very rich in restaurants.
If you're really, really tired, Motorino does delivery.
> - We've been to Momofuku Ssam Bar before and enjoyed it about two years ago. Is it still good for dinner? We're aware of the duck lunch, which looks fantastic, but dinner might be our best option.
Yes, and the menu is completely different compared to two years ago. You can also try their new cocktail bar next door, Booker & Dax.
> - We're staying reasonably close to Clinton Street Baking Co., Prune and Shopsins, and are anticipating a wait at all three. Which is the most comfortable wait out of those three? Or is there somewhere else close-by to get pancakes etc. that isn't quite as packed as these?
Clinton St and Shopsin's are best for weekdays because they serve on both weekends and weekdays.
Shopsin's may also choose to take Memorial Day weekend off (it's a small family-run restaurant and they do quirky stuff like that on occasion), so I'd go on Thursday just in case. Plus, it'll be better than Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to avoid a wait. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Clinton St on Friday would be my pick, but it's possible you'll still have a wait. Not a giant one like the weekend, but a shorter one, like 30 minutes. Versus two hours.
Most of the city will have Monday off, so I'd reserve somewhere if you want to brunch out.
Since you're going to be staying so close to Prune, it shouldn't be too big a deal. Just get there around 9:30am or so, the line starts forming about then. They open at 10am. You'll get seated in the first round. They only do weekend brunch.
> - We won't actually have working phones apart from for wi-fi use. I know some places take your number down and call or text. Is there any way around this if you don't have a phone?
Interesting - wait at their bar, if they have one, or ask the host where you should be waiting (surely you can't be the first w/o cell coverage they have encountered)?
It also depends how accurate the host is at estimating waits, they might merely tell you to go take a walk and come back 30 minutes later. In which case you just need to make sure the host KNOWS you don't have a working cell phone on you.
> - Which bars should we be drinking at? I've seen mentioned: Angel's Share, Please Don't Tell, Death and Company, WD50 bar. Other good ones?
I don't think Angel's Share is in the top tier any more, but that is only because the top tier is so competitive here. If you want an artisanal/hand-crafted cocktail, my top are PDT, Death & Co, Booker & Dax, Lani Kai, or Milk and Honey (I've been told the NYC one shares the same name as the London one but that's about it -- there's no ownership connection). These are bars, first, restaurants, second.
If you want great cocktails with your meal, or to hang out in a restaurant bar, try The NoMad, Peels, Empellon Cocina, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Locanda Verde, Fatty Cue, there's probably more I'm missing.
Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:
> 23rd May (date of arrival - evening
)> Dinner: Redhead / something else in the East Village
Redhead often has a wait to sit down, just so you know (you didn't say what time you were getting in).
If you're really into the fried chicken thing, though, look into Bobwhite, which has been getting some buzz lately. It's a little bit further of a walk, though.
> 24th May
> Lunch: Minetta Tavern (booked)
> Dinner: Momofuku Ssam Bar
I might switch Minetta around to another day, which frees you up for a Shopsin's or Clinton St brunch.
Note also that they are open late.
> 25th May
> Lunch: Torrisi Italian Specialties (booked)
> Dinner: Free spot = Unsure - somewhere in the East Village, perhaps? Somewhere fun, not too mobbed if possible
For dinner, you could do a little East 7th St food crawl. Lobster roll (chunks of lobster, a kind of mayo salad, on a hot dog like bun) at Luke's, Porchetta, Butter Lane cupcakes, Caracas Arepa Bar, the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream shop. Then hop over to East 6th and have drinks somewhere like Amor y Amargo, which is a tiny (tiny!) bitters-focused bar run by some great folks.
There probably won't be a wait at any of these except for Caracas.
> 26th May
> Lunch: Smorgasburg
> Dinner: Empellon Cocina (booked)
Great choice for dinner, great cocktails, too.
My review of Empellon Cocina:
> 27th May
> Brunch: Clinton Street Baking Co. / Prune / Shopsins / Another East Village or LES brunch spot
> Dinner: Katz's
I'd do Prune since it's a Sunday and they only do weekend brunch. Or move Minetta Tavern into this spot for Sunday brunch.
Katz's is a great choice for dinner but could also work as a lunch.
> 28th May
> Lunch: Free spot
> Dinner: Free spot
For lunch, takeout from Russ & Daughters.
For dinner, Txikito for Basque tapas, perhaps? Don't miss the suckling pig, miss the sofrito/chorizo/quail egg pintxo, croquettas, padron peppers, suckling pig, torreja dessert or whatever is on the daily specials board. It's not cheap eats, though.
> 29th May
> Lunch: Del Posto (booked
)> Dinner: Free spot
For dinner, maybe Zabb Elee for Issan (Thai) food, especially their excellent larb, sauteed Chinese broccoli with crispy pork, papaya salad, grilled pork shoulder, and more obscure dishes. No pad thai. No curries. And it's very reasonable.
> 30th May
> Lunch: Eleven Madison Park (booked)
> Dinner: Free spot
> 31st May
> Lunch: Our last lunch in New York. We'll need to be at JFK at around 4pm or so. Perhaps somewhere in the East Village where taking luggage won't be too problematic. Suggestions?
NB: It's pretty small in there and luggage might be difficult.
> Paulie Gee's
Note that Paulie Gee's is dinner only, no reservations, and closed Mondays. Good pizza but I didn't find it noticeably better than Motorino.
> Shake Shack
No luggage/space constraints at Shake Shack, because it's in a park (I assume you're talking about the Madison Square Park location), that might be good for your last lunch before the airport.
> Crif Dogs / PDT
It's down a few steps, and not terribly large, luggage may be annoying. I really like their hot dogs though.
Note that you can put down your name at Ippudo during the day to hold your spot for dinner later that night. Same-day, in-person reservations only.
Wow, thanks a lot, Kathryn :) That's amazing. A lot to consider... a lot to take in. Do you know what time Ippudo start taking reservations from on the day?
Just asking my pals about moving Minetta to the Sunday, their brunch menu looks great. Plus I do really want to go to Shopsin's, so that could work on the Thursday. I've chickened out about six times now... Though, actually, thinking about it my brother really wants to try the French dip sandwich at Minetta so that could be another weekday lunch somewhere.
I think Prune on Sunday for brunch is probably our best bet? Enjoyed reading Gabrielle Hamilton's book, so would like to visit.
some answers to your questions (in order):
-memorial day tends to find the city a bit emptier than usual. even with tourists coming into the city, you generally see the streets a bit emptier with locals getting out of town. restaurants arent significantly quieter but its slightly easier to find a table...slightly.
-russ and daughters doesnt have any seating so i would occasionally pick up something for my apartment or some appetizing stuff for a family dinner. the bagels are not great but they're not horrible either. in my opinion, its a cute place to check out but id rather eat at second ave deli where i can sit down and enjoy my meal.
-redhead is fine...i suppose you dont have good southern/comfort food in london and its close but its not a destination restaurant. some other options in the east village: ippudo (amazing ramen...super packed but not late at night), masak (indonesian on 12th street), or perhaps motorino for pizza.
-im not a fan of momofuku ssam...just horribly overrated. that being said, i LOVE their duck lunch...particularly the duck over rice. id only consider going to ssam bar for that. i recommend all of your party get the same thing.
-clinton st baking company seems like a disaster these days. their pancakes are great but i couldnt wait on that line. i love prune for weekday lunch (great price, great crowd, nice atmosphere) but shopsins is a favorite. wed and thur is the best days to go but friday isnt horrible. you lineup on the wall like a prisoner if there's a wait. it has a bad reputation for service but if you have manners and aren't an a$$hole you'll find that it's awesome. get the pancake sampler.
-very few places call you back so its not such a huge thing.
-bars are subjective. i like wine and go to terroir in the east village religiously. great list, great vibe, great small plates. highly recommend for wine. im not a cocktail person...these places have sprung up everywhere and they just are lame to me. i prefer solid bars for a good drink. i like tom and jerrys bar on elizabeth, dba for beer, 124 rabbit club for beer, black and white on 10th street, shoolbreads on 2nd ave.
-may 25th dinner...go to ippudo for ramen and pork buns...they take reservations the same day in person so walk over and make a reservation. otherwise, be prepared to wait.
-may 28th dinner...i love casa mono on irving. just a great vibe, amazing spanish raciones.
-may 29th dinner...i recommend you go to dinner...perhaps walk off your meal...walk over the brooklyn bridge and have dinner at vinegar hill house near DUMBO.
-may 30th dinner...take the train and go to franny's in park slope for pizza and small plates...great food.
of your other listed restaurants, i think keste is better than motorino for pizza and highly recommend you go there for a chill lunch or inexpensive dinner. lunch is pretty empty...dinner, wait can be 20-30 minutes. shake shack is a must...particularly on a nice day in madison square park...but be prepared for a line...its worth it. crif dogs i find gross...i just dont see the appeal of mediocre hot dogs. i think pdt is lame but thats a personal thing. big with tourists from what i have seen. danji is great...gets crowded so prepare to wait but good food. joe's pizza is just a place for a slice...not a destination. tavern room at gramercy is a great idea...solid food and good prices. caracas arepa bar...i dont like it but you can do worse for a snack. baohaus on 14th is ok for a snack but not great either.
Masak - I didn't know there was an Indonesian restaurant around here. Can you tell me more about it, like whether you know which part of Indonesia the chef or/and owner are from or whether they specialize to some extent in a regional Indonesian cuisine? And is the food nicely spiced (doesn't have to be fiery) and tasty in a well-balanced way? I love Indonesian food and may check this place out even if it proves to be a disappointment.
Thanks a lot sam1, that's really helpful.
I actually agree with you to an extent about Crif Dogs. We went before and I thought it was alright...but my brother really wants to try the bar and the hot dogs available there (like the Wylie Dufresne dog).
Joe's pizza is a place we go to every time we come to the city. We like the slices there. I've heard South Brooklyn Pizza in the EV is good for a slice - thoughts?
Yeah, Redhead was chosen because I saw it on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (guilty pleasure) and you're right, we don't really have anything even close to that in London. Looking at reviews of Bobwhite Counter, which Kathryn mentioned, and it looks quite good. Might be a toss-up, but I'm leaning towards Motorino for our first night dinner.
Thanks for the list of bars, too. I was meaning to ask for places that weren't just houses of mixology, or whatever, as I like bars like the ones you mentioned and the cocktail places. Really, I just want a good gin and tonic and I'm happy...
My favorite hot dog at PDT is the John John Deragon hot dog, which has cream cheese and other bagel toppings on it.
I really like South Brooklyn Pizza. Plus they will probably deliver to where you are staying.
As for gin and tonics, definitely try out Amor y Amargo and PDT. They make their own tonic water.
Kathryn,s suggestions are perfect,especially the 7th st places[my favorite food block} I'd add maharlika which is on 1st ave and 7th for some Filipino sizzling sisig. I'd also add Nicky,s Vietnamese sandwiches I think on 4th and ave B, as far as Russ and daughter bagels,get a bialy instead.try their homemade cream cheese on it with a different smoked salmon I.e.gaspay, try a few pieces of the different herrings.
Given the luggage issue with the last lunch, how about doing Katz's then? There's enough to have bags with you. I also wouldn't do it for dinner -- I mean, I think of a pastrami sandwich and matzoh ball soup more of a lunch or late night snack.
You're really close to Big Gay Ice Cream -- don't miss it.
I don't think I've ever had good matzoh ball soup at any restaurant (like fried chicken, it's one of those things that 100 year old family recipes that you grew up with are the best), but the OP is from London, so good or bad, I'd imagine that what Katz serves will be a new experience.
That's a very good idea, thanks von_levi. I agree with you about pastrami sandwiches being more of a lunch food. Think we'll shift Katz's from its dinner spot to our last lunch.
We definitely won't miss Big Gay Ice Cream. Looks fantastic, and everything on the menu sounds ridiculous - in a good way.