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Oct 13, 2012 01:49 PM

40th Bday weekend in Manhattan: will need help with 2 dinners, 2 breakfast, lunch and snacking

Hi! My husband and I are planning a weekend in NYC to celebrate his 40th in January. We will arrive after lunch on Friday and will be hopefully staying in the village, Soho and would like to focus most of our meals down there. After searching the boards and looking at menus, I would like your input:

Friday dinner: hoping for something casual and not "fine dining". Some ideas: La Sirene, Le Gigot (ate there about 5 years ago and loved it), Corsino, THe Smile.

Saturday morning: breakfast or many brunch menus seem really pricey to me. Any suggestions for a simple breakfast spot for some eggs and pancakes?

Saturday lunch/snacking: Katz' deli or head up to Eataly and sample. La Esquina also interests me, but is it worth a lunch? What about Caracas Arepas?

Saturday dinner: This is where I would like to get sort of fancy....but not necessarily white tablecloth. Ideas so far: Northern Spy, WD-50, Craft, Babbo and Public.

Sunday: another brunch and another lunch before heading home mid-afternoon.

I know this is very advance planning, but I love thinking about this stuff!!!

What do you think?
Thank you so much in advance!

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  1. oops....where do you think i could fit in Momofuku SSam? That sounds totally interesting and completely different from anything I can find in Western Mass. Thanks!

    1. I don't think Caracas is anything incredible (in fact, I haven't been there for a few years, I guess, despite its being down the block from me). If you do go, the Jardinera is the best arepa, in my opinion.

      What do you want to spend on your breakfast on Saturday? You can get really simple breakfasts at places like Stage Restaurant. I haven't had pancakes there, but I believe they make them, and they certainly would make French toast for you. But that's my local Polish/simple comfort food place. Tell us more exactly where you're staying, as there may be a decent diner right near you.

      Why don't you go to Ssam Bar for lunch on Sunday?

      1. Northern Spy is not evern sort-of fancy - it's good, but it's basically a casual neighborhood joint, the food is fairly simple.

        WD-50 is tasting menus only now.
        Babbo and Public are both great - consider Public as a brunch option as well, theirs is one of the most creative in the city.
        Craft is great, but it's less "cheffy" (creative) than the other options - the food is more straightforward, if exquisite quality.

        For Momofuku Ssam, you could do them Friday for dinner - depending what time you showed up, there could be a wait, but they take your cell# and call you when your seats are ready. For a two-top, the wait probably wouldn't be toooo long. They'd certainly be more interesting/fun than any of the Friday options you've listed already.
        Another option would be to do them for lunch on Sunday - the menu is MUCH more limited at lunch, but the lunch duck-over-rice is already justifiably famous...

        2 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          thanks so far! so, it sounds like Ssam bar is a definite, we just need to decide whether for lunch or dinner. I was showing the menu to my husband and we looked at the Ko, does that sound amazing. maybe not for this trip, but i am going to keep it in mind!

          I wish there were more meals in the day (and my wallet was much bigger), because i could eat my way through this city!!!

          1. re: saintp

            I would vote SSam bar for lunch - it is significantly less crowded and hectic, even on a Saturday. Just try to get there right around noon and you'll be fine. The duck lunch is fab.

        2. Well, it's 3 months later and we returned yesterday from our 48 hour trip to NYC. We ate a lot and it was great!!!!

          Arrived at 1:00 Friday. Checked into hotel, parked car and started out with Kathryn's (or is it Katherine? found it on another thread) West Side food tour. We walked about 10 blocks to Taim on Waverly Place. We each got the "green" falafel sandwich (flavored with cilantro and parsley) and were in heaven. I honestly haven't had such a fresh tasting falafel sandwich since my last visit to Amsterdam 10 years ago. It was a great way to start.
          We walked around a bit, then had 2 slices at Joe's pizza. Nice, simple slice, good crust. Perfect.
          Walked some more and shared a lovely goat's milk soft serve (Salted Caramel) at Victory Garden on Carmine. Wow!! Never would have found this place or even wandered in, but it was spot on. So tasty.
          Finished up the afternoon with a pint at Blind Tiger. What a great atmosphere, full of happy people, with a bartender who was willing to provide samples and talk beer. If we hadn't already eaten all of the above, I would have loved to try to some of the time.

          Back to hotel to rest and shower. We went to Momofuku Ssam for dinner, arriving at about 6:45. We were seated immediately at the long counter, across from one another. The place was full. We had the steamed pork buns, striped bass from the raw bar (i could have eaten several more servings of that), the apple kimchi (fabulous), the charred octopus (amazing) and the spicy sausage rice cakes (very good, but the spice overwhelmed it...). Service was great, lots of good loud music, great people on either side of us. It was a truly unique experience and I would highly recommend it.

          Saturday morning we walked to Cafe Habana for breakfast. I got the Huevos Rancheros, which were great. Eggs on corn tortillas with red salsa, black beans and home fries. Mixed all together, it was wonderful. My husband go the pancakes and was pleased (and he is picky about pancakes). Great start to the day and affordable.

          Next 3 hours at the Met. Feet tired. Hungry. Made it to Cafe Sebarksy nearby. Absolutely lovely. We split the frisee salad with bacon and soft boiled egg. I got the smoked salmon on wheat with cream cheese. At first I thought it was a bit overpriced ($15 or 16), but it was perfect. 2 pieces of really good wheat, spread with a bit of cream cheese and 2 layers of excellent smoked salmon. it was open face, with each piece cut in half. Came with a small salad of mixed greens. Combined with the ambiance of the beautiful setting, it was a great lunch. We finished with a perfect apple strudel. Yum.

          After that, we made our way to the Grand Central Oyster Bar. We made a mistake by not asking about the Happy Hour (from 1-5) and instead we sat at the actual oyster bar where they shuck the oysters. Turns out that Happy Hour is only in the "saloon" and the "lounge". Oops. Still, we shared a pint and about 10 oysters and some clams. Great setting and now we know better!!

          Dinner that night was at Northern Spy. We met friends there and were seated in one of the nooks in the back, which was secluded and perfect. We were all very pleased with the food there. Started with the smoked bluefish rillettes, simple and could have been boring, but I really liked the pickled onions that came with it. Then my husband and I shared the kale salad, which was wonderful....finely chopped kale, small chunks of cheddar, almonds and grated pecorino. It all came together beautifully. My husband got lamb, which almost looked like sushi, it was so pink and lovely. He devoured it. I got the rainbow trout with potatoes and spinach and dill. It all came together quite nicely and I didn't leave a bite.

          Breakfast the next day was at 12 Chairs, which was by far the most underwhelming food experience. But it filled us up.

          On the way out of town we headed back to Taim to get 2 more sandwiches for the road.

          All in all, a fantastic trip to NYC. Thanks to all for the recommendations (not just on this thread). Can't wait to come back and eat some more!

          2 Replies
          1. re: saintp

            great report! glad you enjoyed (almost) everything!

            1. re: saintp

              You're welcome, glad you enjoyed your stay!