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Help this newlywed plan a Chowhound-worthy NYC whirlwind honeymoon!

Suzie4399 Nov 16, 2012 03:29 PM

Hi all,

I have been lurking around Chowhound for months (maybe years?) taking the advice of all of you wonderful people... Now I am hoping to enlist some help of my own!

My new husband and I will be taking an impromptu "mini honeymoon" down to NYC from Dec 13-19th. We have made a number of reservations, and was hoping to get any opinions. I've spent hours scanning the Boards, and would appreciate any advice you can give!

We will probably eat free (phew!) breakfast at the hotel, and graze for lunch. We're focusing our tummies (and wallets) on our dinners.

Dec 13th- We get in around 8pm that evening, so will probably stick near our hotel (300 Block of West 39th Street). Any recommendations close to there?

Dec 14th- We secured reservations for Babbo (after hours on the phone!) Has anyone out there experienced the Pasta Tasting Menu? Would you recommend that or sticking with the menu? How is the Spicy Two Minute Calamari prepared?

Dec 15th- ? Open to suggestions!

Dec 16th- Reservations for Public... Has anyone tried the Sunday Dinner? Seems like a steal of a deal!

Dec 17th- Hoping for an EMP reservation... Would be the experience of a lifetime, and a birthday celebration for me :) If we can't secure that, we've got a back-up reservation for Jungsik. Thoughts?

Dec 18th- NYC Ballet Nutcracker performance, so probably a quick bite before... Anything worthwhile near by?

We are also looking for the best ramen, hot dogs (yay street meat!), and pizza... Seems like there are lots of opinions out there! I'm also dying to try cookies from Levain Bakery and Pastrami on Rye from Katz's.

I will make sure to return and report on our trip when we are back... I always love reading everyone else's reports! Many thanks in advance!

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  1. k
    kathryn RE: Suzie4399 Nov 16, 2012 06:29 PM

    > Dec 13th- We get in around 8pm that evening, so will probably stick near our hotel (300 Block of West 39th Street). Any recommendations close to there?

    300 West 39th is near 8th Avenue -- most NYers refer to something in terms of cross streets (avenue and street). What are you looking for on this night -- something casual like Shake Shack? Or something more upscale? How far away are you willing to go?

    Normally, I'd recommend Esca but you're doing Babbo the next night.

    > Dec 14th- We secured reservations for Babbo (after hours on the phone!) Has anyone out there experienced the Pasta Tasting Menu? Would you recommend that or sticking with the menu? How is the Spicy Two Minute Calamari prepared?

    I would advise you to order a la carte, and not the tasting.

    If you are interested in a specific dish, I'd ask them (perhaps via Twitter or on the phone).

    > Dec 15th- ? Open to suggestions!

    Hmm, this is a Saturday night and some restaurants will start booking this tomorrow morning or will start booking it soon.

    I think this would be a good night to slot in an Asian restaurant (maybe a casual one) if you don't end up at Jungsik. Maybe 15 East? Danji? Momofuku Ssam? Mission Chinese?

    Where do you live? What cuisines are not well-represented where you live?

    > Dec 18th- NYC Ballet Nutcracker performance, so probably a quick bite before... Anything worthwhile near by

    Check out Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. Both are very close to Lincoln Center, and excellent. And pick up some goodies from Epicurie Boulud, too.

    Boulud Sud's menu might be a nice change from the rest of your eating itinerary.

    There is also Lincoln, but you might not want more Italian.

    > We are also looking for the best ramen, hot dogs (yay street meat!), and pizza...

    For ramen, check out Ippudo. You can put your name down for dinner earlier on in the day, and skip the wait. Others here like Totto Ramen more.

    For hot dogs/street meat, I like the deep fried sans batter ones at Crif Dogs.

    You can't mention street meat without trying a halal cart!

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn
      NYJewboy RE: kathryn Nov 20, 2012 01:38 PM

      I agree about ordering ala carte rather than pasta tasing menu at Babbo. Don't tell my wife.

    2. boredough RE: Suzie4399 Nov 17, 2012 05:27 AM

      We went to Public in FEB for their Sunday Supper. When we booked we were told there was no need to 'reserve' the dinner (they offer their normal à la carte menu as well). However when we sat down at 7:15, we were informed they had run out of the Sunday Supper offerings. After a bit of a discussion with our waiter, they agreed to serve us 4 of the 5 dishes, with a main course selected (by us) from their regular menu. The meal was great, but I thought I'd warn you of this same possibility...although maybe they've changed their policy by now and do book specifically for the Sunday Supper. Be sure to ask.

      1. estufarian RE: Suzie4399 Nov 17, 2012 08:20 AM

        Re: EMP.
        Tough in evenings - call for an (attempted) reservation. HOWEVER lunch is MUCH easier - and it's now the identical menu (and price!). Can book through Open Table (on Monday for Dec 17th - still space available for 11-14 Dec for lunch, but nothing any day for dinner).

        1. c
          Chuck Lawrence RE: Suzie4399 Nov 17, 2012 09:10 AM

          Keen's for your first night.
          There is a PJ Clarke's across from Lincoln Center. While not scaling the foodie heights, and it's not the original on the East Side, it's a bit of a NY classic - great cocktails and good burgers.

          1. p
            Pan RE: Suzie4399 Nov 17, 2012 11:05 AM

            If you like Sichuan food, go to Szechuan Gourmet at 39 St. between 5th and 6th the night you get in. If you like Korean barbecue, go to Madangsui, 35 St. between 5th and 6th.

            On the 15th, if you want another Italian meal, and one that's not far from your hotel, consider Ai Fiori.

            Another place to consider that's not far from Lincoln Center is Salumeria Rosi. It's less heavy and more informal than some of the other meals you'll be having, and they serve an interesting salumi-based menu.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Pan
              arepo RE: Pan Nov 17, 2012 11:53 AM

              I will concentrate on the Lincoln Center venues.
              Lincoln is perfect and right across the "aisle" from the ballet.
              A people watching spot with an emphasis on seafood is directly across the street at Ed's Chowder House in the Empire Hotel.
              Dim sum can be had at Shun Lee Cafe a block away.
              Seafood restaurant Atlantic Grill is right across from Shun Lee.
              These are my favorite choices right in the area.
              Others will mention more choices for you.
              Have the BEST time!! It's a magical time to be in the Big Apple.
              Be ever happy!

              1. re: arepo
                Pan RE: arepo Nov 17, 2012 05:31 PM

                I don't recommend Shun Lee. Mediocre expensive food, unless they've changed radically from what they were.

                1. re: Pan
                  ellenost RE: Pan Nov 17, 2012 05:46 PM

                  Agree about Shun Lee; it's awful and expensive.

                  1. re: ellenost
                    arepo RE: ellenost Nov 17, 2012 07:00 PM

                    I agree that Shun Lee Cafe pales as an example of good dim sum (this isn't San Francisco you know) but for those who crave dim sum it suffices okay.

                    1. re: arepo
                      Pan RE: arepo Nov 18, 2012 12:42 AM

                      Totally disagree. There are many better places for dim sum in New York.

                      1. re: Pan
                        Suzie4399 RE: Pan Nov 18, 2012 04:02 PM

                        Wow, thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses! You've given me much to research and look forward to!

                        A couple other questions:

                        We love good coffee- especially deep, dark mochas! Any particular spots that aren't Starbucks that anyone would recommend? Especially close to where we're staying? (Times Square/Hell's Kitchen area)

                        Any bakery items that are must-haves? Bakeries are my weakness, and I'm not picky :)

                        We're still working on EMP reservations... But have WD-50 and Jungsik reservations as back-ups. Between WD-50 and Jungsik, which would people overall recommend? Looking for a unique, not stuffy, experience coupled with delicious food!

                        Last question... Grand Central Oyster Bar... Yay or Nay? Love me a good bowl of chowder, and would love opinions!

                        Thank you all!

                        1. re: Suzie4399
                          kyph0515 RE: Suzie4399 Nov 18, 2012 04:10 PM

                          I'm no coffee connoisseur, but since I work around Hell's Kitchen I've had the opportunity to snoop around. I think the die-hard coffee experts will tell you Times Square is a coffee wasteland, but I found Kahve (51st and 9th) and Blue Bottle (inside the Rock Center) to be quite good. Bouchon is pretty decent; Caffe Bene is terribly inconsistent, but if you get lucky they sometimes make a good cappuccino.

                          1. re: Suzie4399
                            Pan RE: Suzie4399 Nov 18, 2012 04:51 PM

                            Suzie, where are you living? That's an important question because if there are great American-style bakeries where you live, it might not be important for you to go to Two Little Red Hens and have some of their squares (lemon, lime/coconut, linzer, chocolate/pecan, etc.). However, if you are going to the Metropolitan Museum, it's worth a walk.

                            1. re: Suzie4399
                              kathryn RE: Suzie4399 Nov 18, 2012 06:41 PM

                              Best mocha I've had in Manhattan is from Stumptown, they use Mast Brothers chocolate (Brooklyn), but I don't know if I'd call it deep and dark.

                              Re: bakeries
                              Any type specifically? German (like Landbrot)? Italian? Bread? Are you interested in French pastry or American?

                              Off the top of my head, you might to look into:
                              Bouchon Bakery - bouchon, TKO
                              City Bakery - scones, muffins, bakers muffin, pretzel croissant
                              Two Little Red Hens - cupcakes, cake, pies, cheesecake
                              First Prize Pies - pies
                              Amy's Bread - sticky buns, cake, cupcakes, twists
                              Bosie Tea Parlor - macarons, scones, cookies
                              Dominique Ansel - DKA, Paris-New York
                              Mille-Feuille - great croissants
                              Doughnut Plant - cake doughnuts only
                              Balthazar Bakery - chocolate bread, fruit, focaccia, sticky buns, their croissants aren't great though
                              Butter Lane - cupcakes
                              Momofuku Milk Bar - cookies (chocolate chocolate, corn, or cornflake marshmallow), cake truffles, candy bar pie
                              Maison Kayser - new Parisian bakery - lots of discussion here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862772
                              Laduree - macarons imported from Paris as well

                              Best bread:

                              Best pastry and baked goods:

                              1. re: Suzie4399
                                ellenost RE: Suzie4399 Nov 19, 2012 03:37 AM

                                I've dined at both WD-50 and Jungsik in the past year. While the food at WD-50 was good, Jungsik was much better for food, service and decor. The tasting menu at Junsik is wonderful! Returning to Jungsik for my second visit in a few weeks.

                                1. re: Suzie4399
                                  Andy T. RE: Suzie4399 Nov 19, 2012 09:46 AM

                                  GCOB: Yay for the raw oysters, chowder, pan roast, architecture and atmosphere (sit at the counter). Nay for most everything else.

                                  1. re: Suzie4399
                                    plf515 RE: Suzie4399 Nov 21, 2012 06:41 AM

                                    GCOB - naaah. There are better spots. I haven't been in a long while and it apparently closed and re-opened, but Shaffer City was quite good years ago.

                                    1. re: plf515
                                      thegforceny RE: plf515 Nov 21, 2012 07:44 AM

                                      It might be helpful to tell the OP - a visitor to our city - those 'better spots'. And one that is open, maybe? Otherwise this post is not helpful, no?

                                      TO OP: For oysters try Balthazar, Aquagrill, Lure. For chowder, The John Dory, Pearl Oyster Bar, Mary's Fish Camp.

                            2. re: Pan
                              plf515 RE: Pan Nov 21, 2012 06:36 AM

                              I agree too. Not worth it.

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