Special dinner for one, tomorrow night - ideas?
wd~50 [if so I would be happy with the shorter Vault menu]
Gwynette St [12 min. via L train, I'm okay with that]
Gramercy Tavern Bar Room
I seem to have developed a weakness for "fancy" food. But most of ones I had in mind are not interested in taking a single diner on a prime evening. So I'm just thinking about what to try next.
all great suggestions and a frequent solo diner as well. Of the recent places I have been Del Posto at the bar is one of the more notable ones i had lately, all of the sushi places listed are great, i personally like 15 East though all this talk of Sugiyama i think i need to check that out. Ive done WD and Gramercy @ the bar and have recived great service at both regardless being a solo diner.
re: H Manning
So I had no luck with Ichimura or wd~50 (the bar area was a controlled chaos)—not surprising, since this is a long weekend.
Eventually I showed up as a walk-in at Sugiyama. Oh my gosh, this was a really nice meal. The cooking, overall, was just very good. The style is more classic, "midtown"-Japanese and in that way, accessible and captivating. I enjoyed this more than the set menus at Kyo Ya and 15 East, with one chance to try each thus far.
It was 9 courses, but beyond that I was most impressed by the variety of items. A few highlights:
#1b. •• Soft octopus appetizer - picture-perfect texture, two different cuts. I've been trying octopus on menus, and I feel Sugiyama, 15 East, and Momofuku Ko have the best and most sensible preparations, yet each distinct from one another.
#2. ••(•) Zensai box - so simple but fantastic, looks to be a signature course of the chef's. It includes a piece of fragrant persimmon gel. The combination of items reminds me of Corton—or should I be saying Corton reminds me of this.
#4. ••(•) A clear soup: dashi with two fish cakes and mitsuba - so classic and simple. I thought the red snapper fishball was better than Kyo Ya's fluke mousse, but 15 East's maple-leaf-shaped kamaboko had a more luxurious texture. The wild Japanese parsley, mitsuba, was really fresh; I've only seen this in Kajitsu two years ago. Overall this dish
#6a. ••• Baby sea eel noodles - in a way this beats Atera's "squid" dish. It's so simple. This came part of an assorted dishes platter, which was quite terrific.
#6b. •• Lobes of fresh fish (cod, bass?) liver (roe?) in dashi - No idea what this is, and I didn't ask Chef to clarify. It was tender, smooth, very mild tasting—very fresh. The dashi makes it perfect.
#6d. • Compressed herring roe with a sliver of seaweed. This is like seafood gummy bears. Amazing and cute.
Only two details were slightly off (the temperature of the rare beef, and the consistency of the magnolia sticky rice), but since I was a late walk-in, I guess that's how it is sometimes.
Would I go back? Bring family? YES, YES. And I didn't feel this way with Kyo Ya or 15 East's long format menus, and this is despite their much higher quality seafood. Discovering a good meal can be so arbitrary sometimes. I think there is some tendency to underestimate certain restaurants—having been around for longer, the older restaurants may not be trendy, but their chefs exhibit a maturity to the cuisine that only comes through time and dedication to their craft and business.
Oh yeah, and the ambience is so cozy. Feels like a bit of Japan.
Since I have eaten solo so often, I have eaten at "fancy' places and not so fancy, at tables, bars and chef counters. I think what I like best is chef counters and sushi bars. Of course it depends on what kind of food you're in the mood for.
I ate solo tonite at a table and had some Vietnamese soup.
The other night I tried to go to Ichimura but couldn't get in and ended up at Sushi of Gari, which was quite good, and took care of my sushi craving . I am happy it is one block from Ichimura. If i can't get into Ichimura Gari always has seats. ( i know I panned Sushi Gari for being too "unauthentic" and unacceptable. But the fish was very fresh, the head chef was very skilled, and it took care of my craving).
Places I recommend for solo:
Sushi: you know the spots, 15 East, Ichimura, Kanoyama , Gari in case of emergency.
Italian: Osteria Morini at the bar, Pepolino at a table
Fancy: Jungsik ( bar or table) i've done both, Brushstroke at chef counter, Kyo Ya chef counter, Corton at table, Da Silvano at table, Recette (bar or table)
Asian: Pig and Khao at bar, Kori at bar, Wong, KinShop at bar, Rouge et Blanc ( more French now), Maharlika, Jeepney,Pok Pok ( Manhattan, Bklyn is temporarily closed), Misoya or Ippudo for ramen. Viet Cafe
Spanish or Latin: Casa Mono, Degustation, Flor de Sol, Cafe Sito, Superlinda
Jewish: Kutshers (bar or table), Katz's
Frenchish: Pastis at bar, Lucien, Paradou