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June Honeymoon - Trip Report

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I want to start by saying a big thanks to all users on this board. I have been lurking for months whilst planning my trip, this site is invaluable for food obsessed travellers such as myself.

Wife and I live in Ascot, England. We were married on June 24th, the day before we flew out for our 8 night trip. Both early 30's.

Mudville 9

After our late arrival at our first hotel, The Mondrian Soho, we made our way to Mudville 9. Just as I imagined, a great little sports bar with a mixed crowd. Beer list was extensive to say the least with lots of choice on tap and bottled. Wings were moist and delicious and the buffalo sauce super tangy (my mouth is watering now just thinking about it!). Super friendly service from our waitress. This was our first bite to eat in NYC and was a great choice and even better value. Highly recommended.

Craft

Dinner: Service was sublime from the minute we walked in to the moment we left, the waiters and captain couldn't do enough for us. I had previously informed the restaurant that it was our honeymoon and personalised menus were given to us as a gift upon leaving along with two breakfast scones. Our servers were polite and knowledgeable offering great advice on the menu. I ordered the Fois gras terrine and my wife had the Wagyu carpaccio. Both were delicious, but the beef took the prize as the best app. The steak for two was out of this world good and the bone marrow cooked to perfection. Roast onions were a good accompaniment. We ordered the choc souffle and were given 3(!) desserts as a bonus! When I joked that we could have done with a few more desserts our waiter then brought us the menu back over! Sarcasm was lost on this guy! The coconut cake was the standout, but something I never would have chosen myself. Also the mini donuts were great with a choc sauce. Great choice of wines by the glass. Very highly recommended.

A big shout out to my main man sgordon for this recco!!

Fatty crab

I only popped into Fatty crab to grab some take out pork buns for consumption on the highline park. I made a special trip as FC had been recommended by a friend who is a head chef in London. The cute little restaurant was busy even at 1200 midday. I only ate the one appetiser but can safely say that it was exceptional. The steamed dough encases the pork belly almost like a slider, spicy sauce and cilantro salad went perfectly. Highly recommended, I wish we could have gone back for dinner.

Chelsea Market

This was a great spot for a foodie, endless choice of delicious treats. We bought some whoopie pies and red velvet cupcakes from Eleni's which were delicious but so sweet my teeth ached aferwards! OH made her selection from the Aussie pie guy - delicious.

*on the Highline I had a pork Taco from a food cart. Can't remember the name but it came smothered in guac and cheese and was delicious

Marc Forgione

Restaurant was very busy on our arrival, there was no space at the bar so a short wait for our table felt a lot longer. Service was good once seated, our server polite and attentive making recommendations based on our likes and dislikes. I ordered the Foie Gras to start which was delicious, though now I can't help but wish I ordered the chilli lobster… it's in all the reviews!! Against my better judgement we ordered the Chicken under a brick with extra black truffles over the Tomahawk steak. I have to say the main was spectacular, the chicken cleverly boned and cooked to perfection… it was dampened only by a very slight over seasoning that left an overpowering salty aftertaste. My wife disagreed and thought it was seasoned perfectly. Chef Forgione actually came over and spoke to a couple at their request. A nice touch I thought and good to see he is actually in the kitchen cooking which can be a rarity with 'celebrity' chefs and their namesake restaurants. Trendy, dark, noisy and highly recommended.

Babbo

Lunch: We chose to have lunch at Babbo as we were doing the theatre that evening and thought a big lunch would be a good move. The restaurant is a charming place just off Washington Square Park. It looks more like someone's house than a restaurant from the front. The service was great, our waitress explained the menu in detail and said they would be happy to split some of the pasta dishes so we could try more dishes on the menu. We ended up ordering five of the pasta dishes which they split in two and brought out in five courses. They were all good, the gnocchi telefono and the beef cheek ravioli stick out as the most memorable. Delicious. Even though we ordered no alcohol I still thought the lunch was great value at just over $100 including T&T. Highly recommended

* a big thank you to kathryn for giving me nudge to book this lunch res. I can't believe I was worried about a $5 phonecall!

The Spotted Pig

Lunch: We popped into the spotted pig fully expecting a lengthy wait for a table so we were over the moon to be seated straight away. It's a charming place on the corner of a residential street, if it wasn't for the pig hanging outside you would walk right by! After much deliberation we both ordered the burger medium. When it came my wife took a bite and found it too rare so she asked for it to be cooked a bit more. They brought her back a brand new medium-well burger which was unnecessary but still, a nice touch. The shoestring fries were sensational fried with rosemary and garlic, I couldn't get enough. Luckily the portion was enormous! The burger was really good, thick and juicy with a nice charred flavour. I can't help but think the Roquefort cheese overpowered it slightly. My wife had hers without the cheese and I preferred the flavour of hers. Great choice of local and craft beers. Service prompt friendly and patient. Not sure about the Michelin star, but still, very highly recommended.

Friday we moved hotels to The London NYC on West 54th st.

The River Café

Dinner: We had an 8.30 reservation at the river café so we would experience the setting of the sun. I had emailed ahead asking for a table near the window. We got a table at the opposite end of the restaurant from the window, but still had a nice view. I can appreciate that everyone must request a window table as most if not all people are celebrating something. The restaurant was absolutely freezing, I was very glad for the jacket I was required to wear! My wife instantly felt too cool so I gave her my jacket to wear. The waiter came over and told me I had to put it back on. When I explained about my wife being cold he brought her a spare jacket to have instead. The A/C was on absolutely full blast, a diner near us complained as the vent was dripping cold water down the back of his neck! They moved him soon after he complained. The food was great. The 3 course menu gave great choice but my wife couldn't find a starter she liked so I got to have two! I had fois gras with a suggested pairing of Sauternes dessert wine, delicious. I also had the Lobster ravioli starter which was even better. My wife chose the 1lb NY strip which was cooked to perfection and served with fried potatoes. I had the whole lobster special which came with broccoli rabe and gnocchi which were so light and fluffy they almost stole the lobsters thunder. The chocolate Marquise was a perfect way to finish and they wrote a celebratory message in chocolate on my wife's plate. Highly recommended.

Minetta Tavern

We went for Saturday brunch and were eager to try the burger. When we got there my wife decided to have poached eggs but I chose the Black Label burger. This is made with 75% dry aged beef compared to the regular burger which is less. The burger doesn't come with cheese in order for the taste of the beef to come through. It was really good, but to be perfectly honest I preferred the taste of the spotted pig burger. Everything on the menu looked so good I was disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to go back for an evening meal. The Cote de Boeuf would be first on my list. Our Parisian waiter broke the mould by being helpful, polite and patient with all of our questions! Again, not sure about the Michelin star, but I think it would need to be judged on an evening meal. Highly recommended.

Keens

I was initially disappointed when I walked into the restaurant, not with the actual restaurant itself but with the other patrons. Everyone was dressed as if they were spending the day at the beach. Shorts, t-shirts and the like appeared to be the dress of the day. Even though it had been 95oF all day I still think you should get dressed up for dinner at a smart restaurant. We arrived very early and waited at the bar for our table to be ready. Our bartender was great and told us about the history of the restaurant. Apparently the restaurant has the largest selection of single malt whiskies East or West of somewhere or other… also, hard-boiled eggs were available at the bar for consumption by customers - free of charge! A first for me. When we were seated our waiter brought over two glasses of sparkling wine as a congratulatory offering as I of course had called ahead to tell them it was our honeymoon. We missed an appetiser and went straight for the porterhouse for two. Our waiter managed our expectations by explaining that cooking steak wasn't an exact science but explained that we could always ask for it to be cooked more if it was under. We ordered it medium-rare and it came out perfect. We ordered one side of fries and this was still too much food for two even without an appetiser! Highly recommended for old school steakhouse charm and great meat.

Gramercy Tavern

This place was absolutely first class from start to finish. Even the reception area was impressive with a huge floral display. We had a reservation in the restaurant and were seated straight away even though we were 20 minutes early. The restaurant is intimate and luxurious, really romantic. Our waitress introduced herself and brought us a complimentary glass of champagne to celebrate. She explained that both of us would have to have either the tasting menu or the 3 course menu. I asked if she could make an exception as my wife doesn’t eat seafood (which made up 3 of the 5 courses of the tasting menu). She agreed and even brought out some complimentary dishes for her so she wouldn’t be sat with nothing in front of her when some of my dishes came out. The food was spectacular though some of the dishes escape me now as I write this. In particular the pork and the fluke were good and the pea custard was out of this world good. The selection of wines by the glass was excellent as was the beer list. I ordered a bottle of Brooklyn Monster Ale without realising it was 12% abv!! Maybe this is why I can't remember the entrees... After dessert they brought out some complimentary sweets and petit fours. We had these packed up to take home and they gave us some muffins to take away too. This was the best meal we had during the week. Cannot recommend highly enough - almost perfect.

Eleven Madison Park

Dinner: This was our main celebration meal on the last night of our honeymoon. Getting a reservation had not been easy, it took me several attempts to get a reservation that wasn't at either 5.30 or 11.00. I was so excited to eat here and wasn't disappointed one bit. Our waiter explained that we would both have to have either the 9 course or the 4 course, no exceptions. We went with the 4 course and we gave our choices along with any likes, dislikes and dietary requirements. The food was outstanding. We started with savoury black and white cookies. As my wife had specified no offal we got the vegetarian version which were parmesan and black truffle. Delicious. I think the alternative had foie gras in it. We then had savoury lollipops and other exciting things that I now cant remember for the life of me, it all seems like a bit of blur! I had the fois gras, lobster, pork and chocolate. All were exceptional and cooked to perfection. My wife choose broccoli as one of her appetisers. It came with an chamomile tea espuma… very strange. We both tried it and wanted to like it, the combination was just a bit odd. The waiter said he would pass our feedback to the chef. It wasn't bad, just strange. At the end of the meal they brought over a bottle of cognac for us to enjoy at our leisure, this was a nice touch and showed they weren't trying to rush us out. I expected the bill to be astronomical, but it came in at under $400 which was a pleasant surprise. The two bar men deserve a special mention as they were really friendly and knowledgeable. I have experienced stuffy staff at other 3 Michelin star restaurants, and these guys were a real breath of fresh air.

Shake Shack

On the last day of our trip I just had to try Shake Shack. We didn’t make it to Madison Square park on our last trip and this time I was determined to. We got there 5 minutes before it opened at 1130 and we were already about 10th in the queue. It didn’t take long to get to the front and we ordered two Shack Burgers, one Shack Stack, two cheesy fries and one concrete. The shack burger was unbelievably good. Better than Burger Joint in my opinion. I think the main difference is the bun. The Shack bun is a potato one I think and is soft and slightly sweet. Delicious with a capital D. The shack stack is also great but I think the fried coating on the mushroom takes it a step too far on the greasy scale. The gooey cheese filling is out of this world though! Cheese fries were great and the concrete was awesome. Next time I'll just get a coke though, the shake almost pushed me over the edge into a food coma! I wish we had eaten there earlier in the trip so I could have gone twice. Awesomeness burger-onified.

We also ate at Burger Joint, Carnegie's deli, a few pizza slice places and a Sicilian pizza joint in Brooklyn. We walked to Grimaldi's but baulked at the size of the queue. An hour + wait? The pizza at Ignazio's was really good, and we got a table straight away.

I didn't make it to Ed or Luke's Lobster, Katz's, The Doughnut Plant or Balthazar. We did get a Doughnut Plant donut from Dean and Deluca though, but still want to go to an actual shop.

I'm really happy with our choices, on our next trip I'll be trying new places for sure but will definitely have to go back to Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern. The food was better at EMP and had more wow factor, but I just preferred the whole GT experience, ambience etc. EMP will remain in my memory as one of the best meals I have ever eaten, but GT took the prize as best dining experience overall due to it's effortless simplicity, intimacy and elegance.

I have a sinking feeling that this week will never be surpassed and will forever remain the greatest week in my gastronomic life... 8 Michelin stars, Boom! It was amazing and I'll never forget it :-)

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  1. A perfect food tour!!

    1. Thanks for the report! Sounds like your trip was great. I'm jealous!

      1. What a great report! That sounds like the perfect honeymoon! Congrats to you and your wife :)

        1. Great report. Glad you enjoyed it. Surprized you still praised River Cafe even with all the "glitches". I was really glad to see the mention of the EMP bar tenders, those guys (and gals) are the best.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Spiritchaser

            Yeah, I agree. I absolutely detest excessive air conditioning, and my girlfriend, who's a singer, hates it even more than I do.

            Wonderful report!

          2. Sounds like an amazing trip - I'm jealous! Pretty foie-heavy, too! (Wondering, since you had the foie pretty much everywhere... which one was tops?)

            Probably better you went with the chicken at MF - what with doing beef in some form or another at Keen's, Craft, Minetta, River Cafe, Shake Shack... good to break it up a bit. I know a few people who find Forgione to have a bit of a heavy salt hand (a number of chefs do, though, I find) so I know where you're coming from on that. Too bad you didn't get the chili lobster (or the halibut) though! Maybe on an anniversary trip...

            Congrats!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              The foie at EMP was the best. They asked if I'd prefer a terrine or an actual piece of liver, I had the piece and it came seared and served with some type of praline... outstanding.

              River Cafe came close second - they served it as a terrine. The slice had squares of pate and liver, kind of like a perverse battenberg cake. Awesome

              1. re: sgordon

                Just remembered the *orange egg cream at EMP, ooooh! That was REALLY good.