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Dec 11, 2012 11:26 AM

One Day in this a reasonable schedule?

Hi all:

My partner and I visit NYC once or twice a year and I always enjoy planning our trips (usually based on info I glean lurking on this site). However, we just decided to make a last minute trip to the city next week (Thursday) and only for the day, so I'm scrambling a bit to come up with an itinerary. Since everything is so last minute, I'm willing to play things by ear, but was hoping I could get some feedback on the general plan and help with a few questions.

About us: Late 20's grad students who only splurge when traveling (and read the word 'splurge' as a grad student might; we're not too hung up on a budget for this trip as it's our Christmas gift to each other, but were not talking Per Se here). We are both adventurous eaters, but I am a vegetarian, so that limits things a little. We both love cocktails as well, so that's going to figure into the plan.

Anyway, here's what I've come up with, which I'm calling "The Big Loop":

--Arrive at Penn Station 8:30 am

--Breakfast at Doughnut Plant in Chelsea--we have a soft spot for this place after a stay at the Hotel Chelsea a few years ago. I know the cake doughnuts are the way to go here and I love the blackout, but are there any recs for seasonal varieties? Panettone intrigues me.

--Meet up with friends mid-morning to walk the High Line. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I lived in the city, but I can't get enough of the High Line.

--Lunch at Babbo (Reserved). My top choice for lunch would have been EMP (where we have been a handful of times and loved it each time more than the last), but the all tasting, all the time concept takes it out of our price range. We've done the lunch deal at Del Posto and enjoyed it in the past (although it's a little stuffy), but I've never been to Babbo and wanted to check it out now that they are serving lunch. This leads me to several questions: 1) Is this place worth the praise? Or should I dump the res for The NoMad, which I also would like to try, but am afraid that it will just make me wish we could go to EMP? 2) Can someone who has had lunch at Babbo give me a guesstimate of how much time we should budget? 3) I've heard that a la carte is the way to go at Babbo and have seen lists of recommended dishes, but they all seem meat-y. Are there any veggie dishes that stand out?

--After lunch, we'll probably go window shopping in SoHo and then loop our way back up to the East Village.

--Looking to get a cocktail in EV. We've been to all the usual suspects and my favorites are Amor Y Amargo (for the intimate space, awesome staff, and bitters focus) and Death and Company (every drink I've had here has been a hit). I think I value uniqueness a little more than my partner who is a "classics well done" kind of guy, but even I can appreciate the Old Fashioned at Amor Y Amargo. Right now my plan is to hit Amor Y Amargo for a drink right when they open and then head to Booker and Dax afterwards for another cocktail and maybe some buns if we need a snack. I saw Dave Arnold give a talk about the techniques he's been using and I really want to see his ideas in action (in their natural setting). Any recs from the drink menu? Or alternative bar suggestions for something different? I was also considering wd-50, but cut it out because of timing/distance concerns, but if there is a strong consensus that some cocktails and a couple of plates at the bar is superior to Booker and Dax, I may change my tune.

--Stop by Union Square Holiday Market for snacks (Arancini Bros?) and goodies to take home (Stollen from Momfuku Milk Bar. I had it last year and it was awesome!) If there are any other can't miss items, please give a head's up!

--Pop in for a drink in the Library at The NoMad. How crowded should we expect it to be on a Thursday evening?

--Back to Penn Station to catch an evening train at 9.

If you've managed to make it this far, thank you! I appreciate any recommendations you may have and I promise to report back!

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  1. The schedule sounds doable, and you're smart not to assume you'll want a full dinner after lunch at Babbo. I'll let others comment on the specifics - for example, I've had a couple of cocktails at NoMad but have yet to eat anything there.

    1. --Meet up with friends mid-morning to walk the High Line. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I lived in the city, but I can't get enough of the High Line.

      I live in the city and I also can't get enough of the High Line! No shame here!

      --Lunch at Babbo (Reserved).

      Do you eat seafood at all? Looking at the current lunch menu, I think the seafood linguine might be a good choice. I wasn't super impressed with the gnocchi on the dinner menu, but the lunch prep is different. But you're right, a lot of the really great dishes do involve meat.

      --Looking to get a cocktail in EV.

      Joaquin from Death & Co has opened Pouring Ribbons, with some guys from the Violet Hour in Chicago. It is definitely worth a look. They literally just changed their menu last night so I can't make a current recommendation (I think it's the old menu on the web site right now), but everything I've tried there has been great. The menu has two sections: originals and classics. And they've put a lot of thought into the classics as well.

      From the B&D menu, you can't go wrong with the Chartruth, even if you don't really love chartreuse. The Bangkok Daiquiri is pretty awesome if you love herbal drinks, and the Mustachi-ode seems pretty "seasonal" to me. We also love the Three Amigos, Son of a Peach, and red hot poker drinks. The red hot poker drinks also provide the best "show" and I'm always worried the FDNY is going to shut them down.

      --Pop in for a drink in the Library at The NoMad. How crowded should we expect it to be on a Thursday evening?

      It's the holidays and it's popular spot and there's not a lot else interesting in the immediate neighborhood, so I'd assume pretty crowded.

      If you end up hitting another spot in the EV (including B&D and A&A) and also want to do the NoMad, I think that's a bit ambitious.

      10 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Do the black spaghetti, because it comes with bottarga.
        The gnocchi at lunch is ethereal, and eye-opening as a cheese-topping pasta.

        The seafood linguini at lunch was not special enough to warrant ordering. This feedback is the consensus of 4 people. Nothing wrong with it, it's just too regular for a special occasion.

        Agnolotti was a miss (perhaps that day), which was surprising because Lupa's agnolotti was one of the best put-together pastas I've had.

        1. re: calf

          Also, to follow up on the Babbo recs, I don't eat fish, but I bet my boyfriend will be interested in the black spaghetti. The gnocchi looks like a possibility!

        2. re: kathryn

          Thanks for the recommendations, especially Pouring Ribbons! I hadn't heard of them and really liked menu posted on their website. And some web research notes that they have lots of Chartreuse! Chartreuse has been a recent mini-obsession of mine. I may have asked for a bottle for Christmas...

          I'm beginning to thinking the NoMad may have to be saved for another trip. One where I can plan a little further in advance and get a dinner res.

          1. re: Megbeck

            If Troy is there, he will talk your ear off about Chartreuse, their extensive collection is basically because of him. :)


            1. re: Megbeck

              The new winter drinks are online now.

              Glad that the Lust for Life stayed on the menu! The Haberdasher with chartreuse cream sounds intriguing.

              1. re: kathryn

                If you know the guys at Pouring Ribbons, you might tell them to correct the spelling of "curated" on their menu. Looks even dumber when it's misspelled.

              2. re: Megbeck

                I think Death & Co. is worlds apart from Pouring Ribbons in execution. Great menu, but I don't think it's on the level. Also, the noise level when this place is crowded, is unbearable, and makes sipping a $14 cocktail difficult.

                If you're that far East, I would say try The Summit.

                When shopping in Soho, you have Pegu nearby. It's nice early in the night before it gets crowded, and you'll find a good menu of classics, and inventive new classics they helped pioneer.

                As for Booker and Dax, make sure to ask which drinks involve gastronomy. The night I was there, we saw one drink come out smoking of a dry ice effect, otherwise, the drinks were just standard. They were fine, but I prefer Amor Y

                1. re: sugartoof

                  The dry ice at B&D is only really used to chill coupes for drinks served up.

                  Many of the techniques are not visible at service time, such as the centrifuged or distilled ingredients.

                  If you want a show, order a red hot poker drink.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Okay, but my point was to say it's possible to get in and out of the door without noticing any science techniques at play. Best to ask when ordering if that's the big draw.

                    As far a what ends up in the glass, they're nice drinks, but nothing that I still dream about.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Totally aware that the drinks at B&D aren't exactly 'showy.' The talk I went to had Arnold explaining the science behind it, which I found fascinating and would like to taste for myself!

            2. Re: Doughnut Plant holiday varieties - I had a the cranberry cake doughnut when I was in NYC a couple weeks ago and it was pretty wonderful.

              1. You could do EMP at the bar where you can order from an abbreviated menu and avoid the extended tasting.

                At Babbo, the tasting menu often features vegetarian dishes that are not on the regular menu and the restaurant will let you order a la carte portions upon request.

                While I like Babbo, I'd recommend Felidia for lunch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Riverman500

                  Thanks for the tip on being able to take dishes off the tasting menu at Babbo, I was eyeing those dishes!

                2. A good schedule. I'd stop at N on Crosby & Grand for drinks, have a caipirinha, best in the city, imho.