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Sep 24, 2012 04:39 PM

Yet another tourist on the Michelin 3-star hunt

Hi everyone, I'm going to your beautiful city in late October. It's my first time, and I've always idolized NYC, so I decided to eat exceedingly well. I'd love your thoughts on my itinerary and any tips you might have. I'm particularly looking for advice on good breakfast and lunch spots. Here's what I have so far:

L: Crif Dogs
D: Per Se (reservation secured)

B: Russ & Daughters
L: Eataly / grab a slice of classic NY pizza (not interested in authentic Neapolitan -- we have that in Dallas)
D: Eleven Madison Park (hoping to snag a reservatioin tomorrow)

B: ???
L: Yasuda (do I need a reservation for lunch?)
D: Daniel or Le Bernardin (I'm leaning more towards Daniel, but I'm waiting to see if I can get EMP first)

B: ???
L: The Modern (do I need reservation for lunch?)

What do you guys think? Maybe a little too heavy on the French with Per Se, EMP, and Daniel/Le Bernardin? I'd love to eat at Momofuku Ko, but I hear that reservations are nigh impossible. I'm also planning to hit up NoMad, but are there any other spots you'd recommend for drinks? Other than that, I'm just walking around and taking in the splendor that is Manhattan.

Thanks guys!

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  1. Overall, I think you will enjoy everywhere you picked. Probably you will gain weight on this vacation.
    Your Monday, Is excellent with Per Se on board, don't eat a lot during lunch, save your appetite for dinner.
    Tues I'm not sure I like your B and L. Russ and Daughters you will have to take out the food and find a place to eat it. Unless you already planned where you will eat that.
    Lunch i would do Katz's over Eataly ( another uncomfortable eating situation)
    Wed-Dinner I would pick Daniel, regardless of your EMP res. If you can't get a reservation at EMP, you might consider Jungsik's tasting menu, where you will surely get a reservation.
    - if you can't get Yasuda try 15 East for Lunch for sushi/sashimi
    Thursday Breakfast,,, i'm not sure where you are going to be,,, but perhaps a real NYC breakfast at Big Nick's or Brooklyn Diner.
    Thursday dinner you left blank,,, as long as your heavy on the French , throw in Jean Georges for more good French.
    My other suggestions would be to try Marea or Osteria Morini for some Italian food. Dallas lacks heavy in the Italian food department. They excel in the Tex Mex department and BBQ.( i enjoy eating in Dallas btw).
    Perhaps try a lobster roll at Pearl, Luke's or Ed's,,, Or a walk in the East Village, snacking on
    potatoes and pork or a pork sandwich at Porchetta, some soba at Soba Ya or Soba Koh, Thai food at Zaab Elee, a hot dog at Japadog, some dessert at Chickalicious or an italian pastry and cappuccino at Veniero's. Or try to get a good burger squeezed in at Minetta (fancy burger), or a regular NY hamburger at Big Nick's, Walker's, or Corner Bistro.
    Anyway,,enjoy your NYC eating marathon.

    6 Replies
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      Thanks for the suggestions foodwhisperer! Italian's my favorite cuisine, and you're right about Dallas woefully lacking in the Italian department. Nonna is pretty good in Dallas, but that might be the only decent Italian joint in the whole city.

      I can't do dinner on Thursday because that's when I fly out. I have my fingers crossed American Airlines doesn't screw me over on Monday, and I end up missing my Per Se reservation. I will be infuriated if that happens.

      Can I ask why you'd go with Daniel over Le Bernardin? Is Daniel simply better? I know Le Bernardin is the classic NYC seafood luxury, but I haven't heard much about Daniel except that it's awesome haute French cuisine.

      1. re: AugustusMedici

        I haven't been to Daniel, but based on what I know, I'd compare it to the French Room or Nana in Dallas (Dallas native here!). I'd stick with Le Bernardin if I had a choice. Daniel receives the most criticism here of all the 3-stars.

        If you can't get a reservation at Ko, consider eating at Ssam Bar. Similar style, but no reservations and great for a single diner. Could be a great option for your Thursday lunch.

        Dallas has plenty of good burgers, so I wouldn't waste an NYC meal on a burger. If you do want pizza, you can get a good slice at Bleecker Street Pizza in the West Village or if you want a whole pie coal-oven pie, go to John's on Bleecker right around the corner.

        Eataly is overrated. Similar to Eatzi's in Dallas with more of a focus on the grocery aspect. Fun to walk through if you're in the nabe, but lunch at Katz's would be a much better option.

        1. re: loratliff

          Thanks loratliff, that's great to know. I actually despise the French Room haha. I only found this site yesterday, and it's already paying dividends!

          So does anybody know if reservations are required at Yasuda or The Modern for lunch? I think I might also stop by the Four Seasons for drinks and admire the indoor pool.

          1. re: AugustusMedici

            Just my personal opinion. I had satisfying meal at Le Bernardin only once out of five times in the past. It is currently the least satisfying restaurant of all the three Michelin or four New York Times starred restaurants in the city. For me, Daniel has been a lot better experience. So, like foodwhisperer, I would recommend Daniel over Le Bernardin, if it were soley based on the food. But then again, the concept of 'seafood French' at Le Bernardin could be more appealing to you, esp. if you don't like the French Room.

            1. re: kosmose7

              My experience is similar to Kosmose. When Le Bernadin first opened it was my favorite seafood restaurant. The last two times have been quite disappointing. Food and service needed much improvement. Daniel was excellent. Another option would be Jean Georges, I like this place best of all.

            2. re: AugustusMedici

              Yes, make a reservation at The Modern for lunch.

      2. *EDIT*

        Just got a table at Eleven Madison Park! That was easier than I thought.

        I'll definitely make a reservation at The Modern and Yasuda.

        Now for the final dinner restuarant... Jean Georges sounds very interesting. Does anybody have thoughts on Marea?

        14 Replies
        1. re: AugustusMedici

          I like both Jean Georges and Marea. I've written a report on Marea on this board before, if you're interested:

          1. re: AugustusMedici

            I'd choose Marea for variety. While I love JG, the food would be too similar to the other three stars on your itinerary.

            1. re: Scott_C

              Nice report Cheeryvisage! I've always been too embarassed to take pictures at the table; I don't know how you guys have the balls to do it. Those are some nice food porn shots.

              Good point, Scott_C. I think I'll swing for Marea. After Per Se and EMP, I need to ride this good luck wave with reservations.

              1. re: AugustusMedici

                Have you considered The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.
                We also ate at Per Se. EMP, Jung Sik and The Modern among others and apart from loving every mouthful at The Chef's Table, it offers a completely different experience to the other restaurants.

                1. re: atasteoftravel

                  I really wanted to go there, but:

                  1. They only take reservations for groups of 2 or 4. I'm dining solo this trip :-(

                  2. They only take reservations on Monday for the next six weeks out, so I missed the cutoff.

                  Do you think they accept walk-ins? I hear Brooklyn is the next hot spot now that Manhattan has priced all but the 1% out of the area!

                  1. re: AugustusMedici

                    No to walk- ins but i'd email them for a cancellation! You never know your luck! I'd certainly put it at the top of the list for the next visit to NYC

                2. re: AugustusMedici

                  We did Marea at lunch or brunch time and were very happy. Easier to get a reservation and the menu is almost identical to dinner. Octopus, lobster were winners along with the marrow pasta out of all our orders.

              2. re: AugustusMedici

                I don't want to take this thread in a totally different direction, but could you quickly advise how you got your EMP res? i.e., did you have to call several times? Or did you hit Opentable at just the right moment? Thanks for any tips!

                1. re: pizzajunkie

                  Also I totally agree with the Jean Georges suggestion!

                  1. re: pizzajunkie

                    Sorry, I don't have any advice or tips. I do have the advantage of living in Dallas, central time. EMP starts taking reservations at 9AM. All I did was call right at 8, got through on the second ring, and made my reservation, easy as you like.

                    I did try OpenTable, as I had heard that if you check OpenTable right at midnight, it will release the available tables for the next 28 days. I had zero luck. OpenTable has never worked for me.

                    1. re: AugustusMedici

                      They told me OpenTable 9am, 28 days in advance (including current day), not midnight, when I called and asked.

                    2. re: pizzajunkie

                      When we rang the EMP to see if we could book a table for lunch that day, they said they were fully booked but suggested we come early and eat at the bar. When we arrived they offered us a table in the main room. Perfect! Infact two or three tables were free the whole time during our fabulous lunch! Lucky maybe but worth a try!

                      1. re: atasteoftravel

                        I've long suspected that all but the most uptight restaurants will do their best to accomodate walk-ins. If you show up, look presentable, and seem like you're willing to pay for quality, why would they turn you down? Especially if there's a cancellation (which seems inevitable)?

                        The only reason I can see is if they're truly packed with no room.

                        BTW I considered eating at the bar at EMP, but I've read that they don't offer the tasting menu at the bar. Food for thought.

                    3. re: AugustusMedici

                      Marea's food can be great when you order the right dishes like the pasta with crab and sea urchins or red wine braised octopus and bone morrow. On the other hand, compare to similar version at Lincoln, Marea's Italian Adriatic seafood soup can be a huge disappointment. Furthermore, I find the place a bit stuffy and noisy with tables too closely packed.

                    4. *2nd Update*

                      Well my itinerary is now set. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I decided
                      against The Modern since I'm already eating at EMP the day before. Here's my schedule:

                      L: Crif Dogs
                      D: Per Se

                      B: Russ & Daughters
                      L: Katz (thanks for the heads up on Eataly loratiff and foodwhisperer!)
                      D: Eleven Madison Park

                      B: Big Nick's
                      L: Yasuda
                      D: Jungsik (thanks again foodwhisperer! Never would've heard of this place otherwise. The menu looks amazing, and it's a nice change of pace from Per Se and EMP).

                      B: Probably just grab a bagel somewhere. I'll have gained 50 lbs at this point!
                      L: Marea (Cheeryvisage's report put it over the top)

                      There are still a thousand other places I'm dying to try, but they'll have to wait until next time :-)

                      36 Replies
                      1. re: AugustusMedici

                        Oooh, excellent choice going with Jungsik. That's one of my favorite restaurants along with The Modern. Have a fabulous trip!

                        1. re: Cheeryvisage

                          Jungsik may be the surprise highlight of the trip

                        2. re: AugustusMedici

                          That's a great list. You will need to loosen the belt a few notches!

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            Thanks for all your help everyone! I'm already counting down the minutes.

                          2. re: AugustusMedici

                            Monday, have a dog at Crif Dogs, but then go get a lobster roll at Luke's, or something at Butter Lane, Caracas Arepa Bar, the Big Gay Ice Cream shop.

                            Or scrap that and go to Momofuku Ssam Bar for the duck lunch!

                            Unfortunately there's not an excellent cocktail bar near Per Se.

                            What time is your dinner at Per Se, early or late? If it's a later table, you could bum around the East Village for a while, and then go to PDT right when it opens. And then have your Crif Dog there.

                            Love Russ & Daughters, but if you want to save room for later, get a mini bagel sandwich (make sure you eat it open faced or else it'll get everywhere).

                            Before your EMP reservation, grab a cocktail at Raines Law Room or Flatiron Lounge.

                            I'd skip Big Nick's for breakfast unless you're going there purely for convenience (staying on the UWS)? How about something light at Epicure Boulud or Bouchon Bakery instead?

                            Before/after Jungsik, try Silver Lining, Weather Up, or Ward 3.

                            Best weekday breakfast:

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Wow those are some great tips! The Momofuku Ssam Bar duck lunch sounds great -- reservation required or can I walk in?

                                1. re: AugustusMedici

                                  Walk ins only but it never seems completely slammed like dinner is.

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    And I think the OP is a single diner, so there shouldn't be an issue either way. I agree with the duck lunch in lieu of Crif's—Crif's is a great late-night snack if you're drinking, but not a destination lunch for a foodie trip.

                              1. re: AugustusMedici

                                AugustusMedici, I'm impressed with your appetite. We had lunch at EMP last Monday, then scored an 8 pm table at Per Se the next night when they called to tell us on Tuesday afternoon. We had to pass it up, because my wife wasn't feeling well, but in retrospect, I don't think we would have enjoyed the tasting at Per Se as much because of the volume of food we had at EMP the day before.

                                1. re: beantowntitletown

                                  I used to have an even bigger appetite, but now that I'm getting close to 30, it's starting to slow down :-( A hard truth, but one I must accept. I figure I should enjoy this before I get too old to shovel food into my mouth! I'm also planning to walk around the city all day, something I miss doing now that I don't work in downtown Dallas.

                                  1. re: AugustusMedici

                                    OK, what i really meant to say is I'm jealous of your appetite, even the smaller version.

                                2. re: AugustusMedici

                                  I love to sit at the bar at Eataly and have their carpaccio. I would suggest a snack there rather than a lunch so skip a breakfast and do that!

                                  1. re: bronwen

                                    I noticed Babbo hasn't been mentioned on this list. Lunch is an excellent relaxed afternoon option and dinner is exceptional as always. Not 3 michelin starred, but exceptional Italian fare nonetheless.

                                    1. re: r32nissan

                                      Babbo was definitely on my radar. I'm not a Michelin snob or anything, but I wanted to hit up the big leagues this go around. I'll most certainly go to Babbo on my next trip.

                                      I also noticed that nobody mentioned Robuchon. The only reason why Robuchon isn't on my list is because I plan to eat there when I go to Vegas for New Year's. What's everyone's take on Joel Robuchon's place in NYC?

                                        1. re: AugustusMedici

                                          It is very hard for me to conceive of a system of evaluation in which Babbo is not in the "big leagues" in New York.

                                          1. re: Sneakeater

                                            I wholeheartedly agree.

                                            Although judging by the list, I'd say Augustus' definition of "big leagues" (and please correct me if I am wrong) is modern french inspired.

                                            1. re: r32nissan

                                              Sorry, I somehow missed this post.

                                              I don't know what I meant by "big leagues." I don't know anything about Babbo except that it's Mario Batali's place. I guess I'm aiming for a gastrotemple, tasting menu experinece this go around.

                                              1. re: AugustusMedici

                                                I think you should do a la carte at Babbo. Search this board for some favorites. It has been discussed many times.

                                      1. re: bronwen

                                        I'm not a huge breakfast eater, so I might just do that. But I do want to go to Russ & Daughters -- I don't think I've ever had a proper smoked salmon and bagel living in Dallas.

                                      2. re: AugustusMedici

                                        Augustus -- Thursday - at 8 sharp am go to dominique ansel. Get a DKA, Almond Croissant, a blueberry religieuse (if they have it) and macarons. If you cant eat it all, save the macarons for the flight home. If you can get an extra DKA and almond croissant for the flight.

                                        I will bet these are the best pastries you ever had.

                                        1. re: tpigeon

                                          Much appreciated! How do these pastries stack up against the much vaunted Momofuku Milk Bar?

                                          1. re: AugustusMedici

                                            Dominique Ansel serves traditional French pastry (except for that Paris-NY thing which is skippable). Momofuku Milk Bar features updated retro American desserts which are a bit heavy on the salt and sugar.

                                            It's hard to compare the two. I like both but Dominique Ansel is definitely more refined.

                                            1. re: AugustusMedici

                                              They are very different but Dominique Ansel blows them away. Not even close.

                                              1. re: tpigeon

                                                I don't think you can compare the two. I LOVE them both, but for someone coming from out of town, I think I'd recommend Milk Bar out of sheer novelty. Although, having said that, Milk Bar is more like a dessert/snack place, whereas DA is king of the breakfast pastry.

                                                1. re: loratliff

                                                  Very interesting. I think I'll hit up both! Dominique Ansel looks awesome. I had read somewhere about Milk Bar's Thanksgiving croissant. Hopefully I'll get a chance at one of those if it's not too early!

                                                  1. re: AugustusMedici

                                                    They also have a pastrami sauerkraut rye croissant that's great. I'm a much bigger fan of their savory fare (croissants, pork/veggie buns) than their sweet, which I find just too overpowering

                                                  2. re: loratliff

                                                    Yes, you can compare the two. Just ask yourself if you could never go to one of these places ever again, which would it be. For me, it is an easy choice. DA has some transporting stuff there. Milk Bar is interesting and some things are very good.

                                                    I agree on savory vs sweet wrt Milk Bar. I would go further to say that I like the savory stuff at MB is better than what I had at DA. But like I said, it is not transporting like the sweet stuff at DA so DA wins overall.

                                                    Going to both is always a good answer. When in doubt, gluttony will guide you.

                                                    Edit: speaking of gluttony --You know what a really good idea is? Picking up a box of chocolates for the plane ride back at Kee's when you are done at DA. Kee's is just around the corner...What's better than DA's macaron's you ask? Well DA macarons and Kee's chocolates, of course.

                                                    1. re: tpigeon

                                                      How do the DA macarons compare with the macarons from Laduree (my favorites)? I'm thinking that I may head over to DA next weekend after my lunch at Ko. Definitely want to try the DKA, but wasn't sure about the macarons.

                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                        Hi Ellenost, unfortunately I am not a NYC native and have not had the time to brave the lines at Lauduree during my vistis to compare. I encourage you to try them at DA and report. Uhockey also thinks very highly of the DA macarons, if that is another good data point for you.

                                                        1. re: tpigeon

                                                          The lines at Laduree aren't too bad any more. I stopped by on a Saturday afternoon in mid August, and was done within 15 minutes. I'll look forward to a "taste test" with the DA macarons.

                                                      2. re: tpigeon

                                                        I like this reply. I'll hit up both, but it sounds like Dominique Ansel is higher rated overall.

                                                        1. re: AugustusMedici

                                                          If they have the blueberry religieuese, eat it there. It will not survive going to the airport. DKA, Almond Croissant and Macarons will.

                                                  3. re: AugustusMedici

                                                    I prefer Dominique Ansel (don't care for Milk Bar pastries at all and find that their savory is better than their sweet) as it's more delicate. But as Milk Bar is unique I believe you should definitely make room for it, especially as you can find other places for traditional French pastries. You should be aware that Milk Bar's croissants are pretty dense and not very flaky at all. I would describe it more like a glorified hot pocket than a filled croissant.

                                              2. Hey folks, first time caller, long time eater here. Great thread!

                                                Someone mentioned Luke's lobster rolls which I thought was a great idea. Nothing like Maine lobster. After you done with the lobster go next door for your Caracas arepa fix. If not this visit, next.

                                                Big Marea fan here. Don't miss the Astice, spaghetti with crab and their signature fusilli.
                                                And on your return visit (or this one if still not satisfies) go to Scarpetta. It's loud, cramped and uneven service but the food will make you forget all that. Enjoy and please report back

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Ziggy41

                                                  I definitely will. I only found out about this site last week, and it's already helped me tremendously. Nothing beats local knowledge! Unfortunately, my debrief will be all text. I just don't have the stones to bust out a camera at restaurants!

                                                  1. re: Ziggy41

                                                    Scarpetta is loud and cramped? I've always had excellent service there. And compared to, say, Locanda Verde or Momofuku Ssam, it's not very loud. Prune, Balthazar, those places are cramped... Scarpetta I find actually to be quite pleasantly spaced.

                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                      Funny I was actually more comfortable last time in Balthazar than Scarpetta. Perhaps it was because we were seating next to Rachel Griffiths. In Scarpetta they sat the 8 of us in the middle in a table thats more suitable for for 6 with some of us sitting oddly on the aisle. The waiters were struggling with the space all around us. It wasnt too bad. And the food was simply briliant. Cant wait to go back

                                                  2. I got back from my NYC trip, thankfully right before Sandy hit. I can only read about all the damage, so I hope you guys are safe and sound. Here's my recap:

                                                    L: Luke's Lobster in the Plaza Food Hall. This was terrific, and the first true lobster roll I've ever had! Thanks for the tip kathryn!

                                                    D: Per Se - In a word: underwhelmed. I'm glad to have had the Per Se experience, but I doubt I'll be going back. Particularly at their price point! Full review here:

                                                    B: Dominique Ansel: BIG thanks go to tpigeon for pointing me here. I just had a DKA and a cup of coffee. Nothing better than a perfectly crunchy pastry with a gooey center.

                                                    L: Russ & Daughters - Another great meal for me. I got a simple bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. This truly did taste superior to anything in Dallas. Fantastic.

                                                    D: Eleven Madison Park: Tons of fun! I loved this place; both food and service were above reproach. Full review here:

                                                    B: Skipped. I was so stuffed at this point. I went for a run around Central Park instead.
                                                    L: Momofuku Ssam Bar. The duck lunch was great, but I thought it was nothing special. I felt the duck portions were a little on the skimpy side and not near enough to finish all the rice. Orange creamsicle sherbert was underwhelming as well.

                                                    D: Jungsik: My absolute favorite of the three dinners. Korean cuisine in a French presentation and technique? The novelty of the food and service it came with put this dinner over the top. It somehow made me like things I normally hated, like octopus and kimchi. It was also the cheapest dinner haha! BIG UPS to foodwhisperer and CheeryVisage! Full review here:

                                                    B: Bouchon Bakery. Just had a brownie and a coffee. Tried to stay lite because I was really feeling the punishment of all these calories.
                                                    L: Marea: Good but not great. Pasta had strands clumped together in a thick cord, a cardinal sin for Italian restaurants. I do want to go back though. Full review here:

                                                    Thanks again everyone for steering me right! Next time, I'm aiming for EMP, Jungsik, and Brooklyn Fare. Unfortunately, Brooklyn Fare only takes reservations for groups of 2 or 4. If anybody want to join me at Brooklyn Fare, chime in!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: AugustusMedici

                                                      I'm very happy you enjoyed Jungsik! They're really superb!