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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?

Our schedule:

23rd May (date of arrival - evening)
Dinner: Redhead / something else in the East Village

24th May
Lunch: Minetta Tavern (booked)
Dinner: Momofuku Ssam Bar

25th May
Lunch: Torrisi Italian Specialties (booked)
Dinner: Free spot = Unsure - somewhere in the East Village, perhaps? Somewhere fun, not too mobbed if possible

26th May
Lunch: Smorgasburg
Dinner: Empellon Cocina (booked)

27th May
Brunch: Clinton Street Baking Co. / Prune / Shopsins / Another East Village or LES brunch spot
Dinner: Katz's

28th May
Lunch: Free spot
Dinner: Free spot

29th May
Lunch: Del Posto (booked)
Dinner: Free spot

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?

Other places we've seen and are interested in:
Motorino
Paulie Gee's
Shake Shack
Crif Dogs / PDT
Ippudo
Danji
Mad For Chicken
Joe's Pizza
Gramercy Tavern (Tavern)
Caracas Arepa Bar
BaoHaus

Thanks in advance :)

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  1. > - 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:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609073

    > 23rd May (date of arrival - evening
    )> Dinner: Redhead / something else in the East Village

    Motorino delivery/takeout.

    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:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835953

    > 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?

    > Motorino

    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.

    > Ippudo

    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.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      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.

      1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

        I assume when they open for lunch, 11am.

        Prune is very good for brunch. I love their fried monte cristo with red currant jam.

        1. re: kathryn

          Sorry, just realised how silly that question about Ippudo was. I blame looking at information about TV show tapings and their queuing systems at certain times...

          That monte cristo sounds excellent. Thanks once again :)

    2. 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.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sam1

        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.

        1. re: Pan

          Haven't been, but I'd heard the starting point there is Singaporean, with forays into Indonesian and other cuisines ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/din...

          1. re: squid kun

            Thanks, squid. It sounds like I might like it if I accept it for what it is, but I think it's a shame that they are serving red snapper for their fish curry. I do my best to avoid overfished fishes like red snapper and Patagonian toothfish ("Chilean sea bass").

            1. re: Pan

              >I think it's a shame that they are serving red snapper for their fish curry. I do my best to avoid overfished fishes like red snapper and Patagonian toothfish ("Chilean sea bass").

              Agreed on that score.

        2. re: sam1

          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...

          1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

            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.

            1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

              Just a note, DBA is right near you and does not serve food. This means you can bring anything in there or their nice garden while enjoying a drink. I frequently bring Russ and Daughters to enjoy with a lager. They have a very good hard liquor selection as well.

          2. 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.

            4 Replies
            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Thanks a lot :) How does Nicky's compare to Banh Mi Saigon on Grand Street? We went there when we were most recently in the city and enjoyed it. Is Nicky's better?

              1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

                I prefer Banh Mi So 1 on Broome Street over the other two. Of those two, I prefer Banh Mi Saigon to Nicky's. Nicky's doesn't really do it for me.

                1. re: MVNYC

                  Thanks MVNYC. I reckon we'll try the one on Broome Street and might share a sandwich from Nicky's if we have time.

                2. re: Ibrahim.Salha

                  Nicky's is closer. Ive never been to Banh Mi Saigon. Nam Pang on E 12th is my favorite, although they call themselves Cambodian sandwiches, there is nothing that even resembles these in Cambodia. They have delicious sandwiches and soups though

              2. 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.

                9 Replies
                1. re: von_levi

                  ...the matzoh ball soup @ Katz's sucks. Load up on the pastrami instead!

                  1. re: LeahBaila

                    I think "sucks" is too strong. It's OK, but the split pea soup is better. But yeah, soup is an afterthought at Katz's.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Nah, I'm going to stick to sucks. But, yes, soup is absolutely an afterthought.

                      1. re: LeahBaila

                        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.

                        1. re: von_levi

                          I've had good matzo ball soup at 2nd Av. Deli (a bit salty, though) and perfectly fine matzo ball soup at Cafe Edison years ago. But no, neither of them were as good as the matzo ball soup my cousin makes.

                          1. re: Pan

                            You both are right. I've had good MB soup at Bubby's and a decent bowl at Kutsher's. However, it's not as good as the recipe I make of my grandmother's.

                  2. re: von_levi

                    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.

                    1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

                      Have fun.

                      And at Big Gay Ice Cream, go with either The Salty Pimp or the Monday Sundae.

                      If they have a special flavor of the day and you want it, you have to ask them to make your order with it.

                    2. FWIW, prepaid cell phones can usually be found at most "big chain" retailers (and many others) for fairly short money...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BrettLove

                        A lightbulb just went off thanks to your post, BrettLove. I've got a prepaid cellphone from a couple of years ago. I wonder if it still works... Good call, thanks!

                      2. Hey guys, I'm back in London after my trip now and I thought I'd give you a rundown on where we ate and my/our thoughts. First of all, I'd like to thank every single one of you once again for the suggestions and discussion. I came back to this thread numerous times during our stay in NYC, it really helped.

                        This is in roughly the order we ate at the places:

                        Katz's
                        Our first meal in NYC, after being delayed at the airport, standing in a massive queue and hitting serious traffic coming over the Manhattan Bridge. A couple of blocks away from our apartment, I must admit I did find it hard to not go in every single time we walked past; we resisted and only visited the once, but this was my sixth Katz's visit in five NYC trips. Had a pastrami on rye, which was as delicious as ever. Will very likely go next time I'm in the city.

                        Minetta Tavern
                        We visited Minetta for the second time, albeit for lunch this time. Verrrryyyyy quiet, which I found a little bit surprising, but it was more relaxed and the staff seemed more at ease (although they were brilliant last time). My brother and I both went for the Black Label burger, despite him nattering on about the French dip for weeks prior. He didn't regret his decision. In my opinion, it's the best burger. I can't imagine a better burger, and this is from someone who loves sliders and smashed patties. Worth the price. My girlfriend actually went for the French dip, which she really enjoyed. I had a bite and thought it was pretty tasty, but preferred the burger.

                        Momofuku Ssam Bar

                        We went a couple of times. First time was an evening visit. Immediately sat down at a three-top despite there being a pretty long queue and list of twos and fours waiting for a call-back, which was quite nice. We ate: crab claws (decent; harissa mayo was surprisingly bland); scallops (good flavour, liked the yuba); uni (really delicious); steamed buns (fattier than I remember, made me feel a bit queasy if I'm honest); BBQ bun (preferred this bun, though the coleslaw had an odd flavour...mine is better); bok choy in XO (good stuff); soft shell crab (didn't enjoy this dish despite loving soft shells, but I can't quite remember why...); veal sweetbreads (decent, not enough sauerkraut for me though); grilled trout (tasty, quite garlicky). Also, I had a cocktail called a ramp brine 2012 which was kinda like a Gibson, which I thought was absolutely vile. Had a sip and couldn't drink anymore. Strange, because I quite enjoy Gibsons and martinis.

                        Our second visit was just before we went to catch our flight, for lunch. We all got the duck lunch. Wow... Crispy skin, delicious and tender flesh. Enjoyed wrapping up a slice in the pancake with hoisin and fried shallots. I'm not a huge eater but thought the portion could have done with being slightly bigger. Also, at the risk of sounding petty: my brother got nine slices of duck while I only got seven! :)
                        I think if we do visit again we'll go for lunch.

                        Torrisi Italian Specialties

                        Visited for lunch. Really quiet restaurant - more people came in to ask if they were in Parm than actually dined in the restaurant during the two or so hours we were eating there. I'm guessing it's a lot busier for dinner, but it's strange because by my reckoning, this is seriously stunning food. A really fantastic restaurant in general. The service is brilliant, the all-American wine list I understand some aren't too fond of but I liked what I drank, and thought it was decent value by the glass. We ate: warm mozzarrella, asparagus in sour, italian sausage pate, spring vegetables and cod roe in rice; sea shells with octopus and potato; black sea bass; cookie plate. My brother and girlfriend went for the lamb as a main. Apparently they have menu supplements during dinner and I've also heard about the 20-course tasting menu. I must go back for it... One of the very best NYC restaurant experiences I've had. Really loved it, in case you can't tell.

                        East Village food crawl, as suggested by Kathryn with slight tweaks:

                        - Roast beef slider from This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef (delicious)
                        - Slider from Mark (great slider, one of the best I've had, but a bit inconsistent with the seasoning from slider to slider. Excellent fries)
                        - Hot dog from Japadog (horrible)
                        - Okonomiyaki from Otafuku (they had stopped making takoyaki by 9pm, which was odd for NYC, but fair enough. The okonomiyaki was alright. Squid was better than the shrimp version)
                        - Taste of Maine (lobster, shrimp and crab rolls) from Luke's Lobster (preferred the crab to the others, and preferred Red Hook Lobster Pound from our last visit)
                        - Ice creams from Big Gay Ice Cream (a half hour queue for ice cream... good, fun flavour combinations, Worth the wait? I guess, since we had come all that way, but probably wouldn't wait again)

                        Smorgasburg:

                        Can't really remember, but definitely tried the doughnuts and the smoked brisket from the place with the stupidly long line. Also fried anchovies from Bon Chovie, which were pretty good.

                        Amor y Amargo

                        LOVED this bar, despite simmering to a sweaty mess in the tiny space with no air conditioning. Gin and tonic was amazing and the house negroni was also very good. Would visit again.

                        Redhead

                        This place didn't have air conditioning either. Thought the pretzel was quite good, but the fried chicken was slightly disappointing. The exterior was plenty crunchy and nice tasting, but the chicken flesh itself was pretty tasteless. I make better fried chicken.

                        Five points

                        Seemingly the only place a short walk away that took reservations and had availability the night before via Opentable. We ate: breakfast sausage benedict (me), chocolate French toast, eggs rancheros, baked egg whites. Good stuff. Funny thing: ran into our server from Torrisi there, who we had a good chat with after he spotted and approached us. Don't mean to go off point but that would almost never happen in London... He ended up inviting us to go to Roberta's in Brooklyn with him but unfortunately we couldn't make it, which was a shame.

                        Booker and Dax

                        I drank a gin and tonic and gin and juice. Both great and I liked that they were served in flutes. We also shared some Benton's ham and shiitake buns. GREAT ham, really good buns. Probably my favourite bar of this ilk in NYC.

                        Motorino
                        We had clam pie (me), Brussels sprouts pie, margherita, cremini sausage pie. Think I enjoyed the slice I had of my girlfriend's Brussels sprouts pie the most out of all of them, but my clam pie was pretty delicious. Got pretty sloppy by the end, though, so I'm not sure how it'd hold out when delivered. Is it nearly as good?

                        Mile End Sandwich

                        Picked up a few sandwiches to take to the park and eat. I had beef on weck, which was ok. My girlfriend had the smoked meat, which was good but seemed particularly tiny. Not sure. We've been to Mile End in Boerum Hill and preferred it to the sandwich place.

                        Hill Country

                        Thought this place was better than Fette Sau, Daisy May's and RUB, which we've visited on previous occasions. We ate: lean brisket, moist brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, sausage, beef shoulder, corn bread, beans, mac and cheese. Lean brisket was probably the best item, but the beef ribs were also good.

                        Shake Shack
                        I've been to this place five or six times now and I've gotta be honest: I really don't get it. I've had one real good burger there but the others have been pretty average. Certainly not worth the line. I mean, all of the components to me mean it should be an outstanding burger, even for four dollars or whatever. Good meat, my favourite burger buns, classic melty American cheese, but it just seems to be a bit...blah. I've been to the UWS location as well as the Madison Square Park original. Wish I liked it more, because I like the idea of it so much, but I'd rather have a couple of sliders from Mark.

                        Vanessa's dumplings
                        Quick stop at the 14th street location. Terrible. Really like the Chinatown one, though. Higher turnover so fresher?

                        BaoHaus
                        Really wanted to like the Haus bao and Birdhaus bao, but absolutely didn't. Thought both were too soggy. Shame.

                        Roberta's pizza stall at Madison Square Eats
                        Wow, incredible pie. Must visit the restaurant proper.

                        South Brooklyn Pizza
                        Grabbed a couple of slices here. Two slices of Margherita and a Sicilian. The Margherita slices were good. Absolutely huge. Grana Padano on top? Real nice. Sicilian was very good, crisp, oily. Like the no-nonsense nature of the place. Would love to have a local slice joint like this at the end of my street.

                        Eleven Madison Park

                        Excellent meal, but I'll say this: I thought the service and the drinks were both better than the food. While good, it wasn't quite as mind-blowing as I was anticipating. I started with hamachi, which was sliced sashimi style and topped with shaved horseradish. Pretty simple, really good ingredients though, of course. Next I had cobia which was poached with mushroom and garlic, topped with pine nuts (paired with an incredible Rioja). Then I had beef, roasted with wood sorrel and potatoes. Very good beef, with some fantastic little bits of bone marrow dotted on the plate. Dessert was a malt sorbet with peanuts, pretzels and Dijon. Outstanding dessert. I find it hard to criticise, which it sounds like I might be doing when I'm speaking about the food, but it felt like there was something missing. Like I said, the service was unbelievable, while the wines paired with the food were wonderful. I came away thinking more about the little extras (black and white cookie - savoury and sweet versions, egg cream, even the bread) more than the four courses I had selected. An unforgettable meal, nonetheless.

                        Van Leeuwen ice cream
                        I had an espresso shake, my brother had a scoop of the palm sugar ice cream. Good stuff, but the guy serving just could not be bothered. Probably the only time I can remember ever receiving bad service in the States. To me, the level of service you guys get is incredible, so it's particularly noteworthy when someone ignores your 'how are you?', doesn't look up for the duration of the interaction and replies with one-word answers to your questions. No bother, just seemed odd.

                        Once again, a big thank you. Thanks for reading through all of that too, if you managed it. Sorry it was so long. Until next time :)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

                          Love to read about satisfying experiences from fellow fraternity member!!

                          No Fried Chicken at Hill Country?! So crispy, flavourful, moist interior and greaseless! ( see photo )

                          BTW, secret of getting a really great burger at Shake Shack is to order them 'rare'!! ( big difference )

                          Agree with you about EMP. I too found the food a bit 'underwhelming' in taste. But as you eluded to. Service was GREAT!!

                           
                           
                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            That Hill Country chicken does look fantastic! Next time...which will be fairly soon, hopefully!

                            I didn't even know you could order burgers rare at Shake Shack. I will give it one more shot and I'll be sure to specify rare :) Thank you

                          2. re: Ibrahim.Salha

                            You must envy me actually having South Brooklyn Pizza around the corner!

                            Thanks for the great, detailed report. I'm glad you had a good time!

                            1. re: Pan

                              I am jealous like you wouldn't believe, Pan :) Thanks for the kind words.

                          3. Just remembered a couple of places I forgot to talk about:

                            Momofuku Milk Bar

                            We went to the EV location a few times and we all really liked it. Soft serves are pretty good, but for me the cake truffles are what I liked most. Really enjoyable little treats.

                            Paulie Gee's

                            My brother went by himself to pick up a couple of bottles of the hot honey, and also had a Hellboy pie while there. Said it was on a par with Motorino for him. He brought back a slice for me and it held up reasonably well. Must visit properly next time.

                            Russ and Daughters

                            Got the pastrami cured salmon with regular cream cheese in a bialy. The bialy was way better than the bagels they have, so thanks Kathryn for that suggestion. Lovely breakfast.

                            My girlfriend has some pictures of New York itself and of food we ate in her Flickr stream, if anyone is interested in having a look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8769083@...