Notes from a Labor Day weekend fabulous food visit!
My husband and I spent a long Labor Day weekend in Manhattan to celebrate our 15th anniversary with multiple great meals. Since I always get a lot of great information from Chowhound, I thought I’d share our experiences to hopefully help someone else. To make it a little easier, this post is a summary of the weekend and there are links to longer reviews for some of the places we visited.
We arrived late Thursday night, but did manage to sneak in some Riesling at Terrior Murray Hill to start out the trip. I love all of the Terrior locations and their amazing Riesling selections for the summer of Riesling.
Friday lunch: Eleven Madison Park for the tasting menu. We’ve been to EMP for dinner on a couple of occasions and weren’t originally planning to visit on this trip, but when we read about the changes that are coming, we decided to add lunch to our agenda to check it out before the format changed. As usual, we were not disappointed and I’ll look forward to checking out the next version as well. (And, if I can get in, I would love to attend when EMP invades Alinea this fall!) More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869442
Friday dinner: Txikito. While they apparently don’t take reservations for 2 anymore, they did make an exception for us since we were coming from out of town, which was great. We had to wait a little bit for our table, but found seats at the bar to have a drink while we waited. We would have considered eating at the bar, but I must admit the bartender didn’t exude much personality, so we did wait for the table where our server was quite friendly. We had the Gernika peppers with sea salt, which were really good and reminded me of our Barcelona visits. We also had the white asparagus with celery truffle vinaigrette and chopped egg, which I enjoyed, but I felt like the egg didn’t really do much for the dish. We also had a special heirloom tomato salad and the chorizo hash sandwich—I could have eaten several of these little sandwiches! We had read everywhere that we had to try the suckling pig and we did. It is definitely as good as everyone says; our only question was whether it was really worth $32. Finally, instead of desert, we tried the Kroketas, which were like beautiful pillows of potato in a crunchy case—I would have eaten a whole bowlful! Overall, it was a nice evening and I enjoyed all the food—I would go back and I think it would be even more fun if you had a group.
Saturday lunch: Motorino. I really liked this place. We had a really lovely heirloom tomato salad with a big scoop of fresh mozzarella and some nice olive oil—simple, but delicious. We also had the corn special, which was grilled on the cob with butter, oregano and romano. This was good, but not great. Then came the pizzas. I had a special meatball pizza that had meatball sauce and mozzarella. I had considered their soppressata piccante from the regular menu since I had read good things about it, but I’m really glad I tried this special—the meatballs were fantastic and the overall pizza worked really well. My husband had the pizza al’uovo with the egg, pancetta, pecorino and chili flake. We commented that it would be a great hangover pizza and it was great without one too! We arrived around 12:30 on a Saturday and were able to sit right down. The host/manager was very welcoming and if I lived in NYC, I’d probably stop in on a regular basis.
Saturday dinner: Le Bernardin. We’ve had Le Bernardin on our list for a while, so we finally decided it was time to make the reservation. We had read some mixed comments, but figured we would see how our observations compared. Generally, we had a lovely evening and the food was beautifully prepared. A service lapse at the end marred the evening somewhat, but we still have more positive than negative comments on the experience. More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869443
Sunday lunch: Momofuku Ko. We had been here two years ago for lunch and really enjoyed it, so we wanted to try it again. Almost all the dishes were new and the chefs are really hitting some home runs. A very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon! More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869444
Sunday dinner: Maialino. I know it seems like lunch at Momofuku Ko would be enough food for one day, but we always try to fit in as many places as we can when we visit, so we couldn’t skip dinner. I liked the décor/atmosphere at Maialino and we had a really great server, which also made it a nice experience. We decided to do the Sunday night pasta tasting menu, which was four pasta dishes and desert. We also added a cheese course because we were still drinking a really lovely Barolo. The pasta course portions were good sized without being too big and were very fitting for the season, with ingredients like corn, sungold tomato, summer squash, etc. This was a comfortable spot and I could definitely see it being a once a month kind of restaurant if I lived in NYC.
Monday lunch/snack: Xi’an Famous Foods for spicy cumin lamb burgers—these are SO tasty we had to have them again this year. Then we went to SobaKoh in the East Village for some soba noodles. My husband had some simple cold noodles and I had a lunch special that included warm noodles in broth, shrimp tempura over rice and three little pickled side items. It was an inexpensive way to fill up for an afternoon of a lot of walking. Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Pommes Frites for some yummy Belgian fries with rosemary garlic mayo.
Monday dinner: The NoMad. It only seemed fitting to end our weekend at Daniel Humm’s newer restaurant since we started at EMP. We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal in a lively atmosphere amongst a diverse crowd of fellow diners. More thoughts here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869446
Overall, the weekend was fantastic. While we had debated about whether to go back to a couple of places since there are so many choices in NYC and we typically only visit once a year, we were very pleased that we did revisit EMP, X’ian, Pommes Frites and Ko this year. Some favorite dishes of the weekend were: the couscous and corn dishes at EMP, the chorizo hash sandwiches at Txikito, the meatball pizza at Motorino, the mackerel and beef carpaccio dishes at Ko and the incredibly well priced 1996 Rocche dei Manzoni Barolo at Maialino.
We’ll have to start planning now for next year’s visit!
I was briefly worried about the "corn special" at Motorino - as id hate to have to conceed to my israeli coworker that a pizza place i love had adopted this abominable middle eastern (and asian, apparently) practice. You'll be glad to know i was much relieved to realize that the corn was an appetizer, and not served on the pie.