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5 nights in NYC (from San Francisco!) - Feedback please

I grew up in Montreal and like most East Coasters, spent extended weekends and vacations in NYC for much of my life. My wife lived in the city for 3 years. We're both living in San Francisco now and neither of us have been back for a visit in a couple of years. We're celebrating (belatedly) our marriage, and will be staying at the St. Regis for 5 nights from 06/26 until the 1st, then driving through the Hudson Valley to Mohonk to spend a few more nights over the 4th of July week.

As we haven't been in town for a couple of years and there are surely many new places that aren't on our radars, I'd greatly appreciate some advice and feedback re. our dining itin. No plans during the days, as we'll be visiting our favorite lowkey spots, delis and ethnic joints - it's just the evening reservations that I'd love to get feedback on.

We only have 5 nights in town so it's a small window to squeeze in some really top-notch meals that we hopefully can't get back on the West Coast...

First question: is Tamarind in Tribeca still relevant? My wife was asking about it as it's been a favorite and I've always enjoyed it too. We don't really have modern Indian on the high end scale in San Francisco. Is the kitchen still inspired and would this be worthy of adding to our limited timeline?

Second question: Degustation - same as above! Is there anything nee and better in town? My wife's never been but I love it and would like to introduce her to the restaurant, assuming it's still just as great.

Third: Japanese on the high end. My pick is 15 East for sushi (I love UshiWakamaru too). We have pretty good sushi in the Bay Area compared to most American cities, but nothing like LA, Vancouver, Seattle or even New York. Sakae in Burlingame is great and both Ino and Aka Tombo in SF Japantown are OK but nothing compared to what you can get at top end New York sushi bars. My wife isn't necessarily set on sushi though (she's open to the possibility) but would like to include one Japanese meal. We've been to Coi and Benu in town, but for my money Kyo Ya is unbeatable. The missus isn't sold on it however. Aburiya Kinnosuke has been on both of our lists for a while, but neither of us have ever been. Could anyone offer feedback on it, and would you suggest that it's destination worthy coming from San Francisco and with a limited number of meals? Could you please offer other suggestions and possibilities as well? If we do decide to go for sushi, is 15 East still on top of their game? I'm looking over my notepade list and see that I've eaten at Ebisu, Sushi Of Gari, Kirara, Kanoyama, Yasuda, Masa, Kuruma Zushi, Shimizu and several others, but the only ones that really made a memorable impact (in Manhattan proper) were 15 East and UshiWakamaru.

Fourth: Italian. Is Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca still as great as ever? It's long been a favorite of mine (along with Maialino in the Grammercy Park Hotel) and my wife has surprisingly never been, as her favorite food is Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Fifth: Eleven Madison Park or Gotham Bar and Grill? Or any other suggestions/recommendations? I've never been to Gotham but have dined at EMP. I'm also thinking of doing Eleven Madison for a special weekend lunch one afternoon and possibly Gotham for dinner. Are there any newer places that we should consider as well?

How does the above look for a quick cross-coastal week long trip? Is Tamarind kind of a boring choice for NYC considering there's really good Indian on the West Coast? Had I no requisites, budget or otherwise - what would you suggest are not-to-be-missed?

Lastly, while I mentioned that we didn't need to cover lunches as NYC is a second home to us, I would love a few suggestions for really great brunch spots that might have opened in the past 2 years which we wouldn't be familiar with and would come highly recommended.

Thanks so much!!

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  1. UPDATE: Re. Gotham versus EMP... I've booked Eleven Madison for Saturday lunch so the new questions is:

    Gotham versus Park Avenue??

    1. The chef at Degustation departed some time ago, and no-one thinks it's as good as it used to be. Why don't you go to Txikito for some Basque tapas and wine? It's not a quiet counter like Degustation and is less innovative, I think, but it's great.

      What's your wife's issue with Kyo Ya? Did she previously eat there?

      I won't personally comment on the rest of your questions (I've never been to 15 East, liked my one meal at Babbo several years ago, and was underwhelmed by a meal at 11 Madison Park several years ago), but I already know what the answers from others are going to be: Yes on 15 East, 11 Madison Park over Gotham, and probably, whoever previously liked Babbo still likes it and whoever disliked it still dislikes it. I take no responsibility for the accuracy of any of these standard board opinions.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Pan

        I think the OP means the Kyo Ya in SF?

        1. re: kathryn

          No, I meant Kyo Ya in the East Village.

          I didn't realize there was even a restaurant called Kyo Ya in the Bay Area. Interesting... are they affiliated?

          1. re: OliverB

            No relation, I believe. Kyo Ya in SF is all that Google used to show when looking them up--I literally couldn't find anything about the EV one right after it opened. It was all the SF one.

            Anyway, the SF one closed.

        2. re: Pan

          Thanks Pan!

          I'm not really sure why my wife isn't sold on Kyo Ya but that's how she feels... women! ;)

          I have a reservation for 11 Madison on Saturday the 29th however I just went to try for a res at Park Ave as well and they only have 11am lunch on the very same day left.

          I can always adjust our 11 Madison res to another day or night but would you consider Park Ave Summer a good choice for lunch? Should we strike Gotham from the list altogether?

          That's a major bummer about Degustation... I really wanted to take my wife there. Oh well. I'll look into Txikito as an option, although we're honestly not basing the meal on Spanish/tapas. I just really liked Degustation. Is there anywhere else in the city (new or otherwise) that we should know about or perhaps consider? Something fairly special and with great atmosphere but not Michelin* priced. In the same ballpark (price-range) as the others mentioned above, I suppose.

          Do you know anything or have any opinions about Aburiya Kinnosuke? I'm leaning towards something other than sushi, because we'll be in LA next month and can always have great sushi there.

          What about Tamarind in Tri? Is that still relevant?

          Thanks as always Pan (you've been a big help before on past trips to NYC!)


          1. re: OliverB

            Hi, Oliver. I'm glad you found my suggestions helpful on other occasions. :-)

            I haven't been to Park Ave Summer,Tamarind, or Aburiya Kinnosuke. I have been to Kyo Ya twice. As an a la carte meal, it's good, but as a 10-course kaiseki, it was a life-changing experience for me and my girlfriend. It was our first kaiseki, but we more recently had a kaiseki dinner at a respected restaurant my Japanese sister-in-law picked in Asakasa in Tokyo, and we both felt Kyo Ya was much better. And the entire experience was so relaxing and civilized. We found it romantic and special.

            I understand your point about Degustation. I haven't been to Momofuku Ko, but maybe that would be a comparable experience of eating creative cuisine at a kitchen counter. I do like David Chang's cuisine at Momofuku Ssam Bar a lot, so I think you should consider Ko.

            1. re: Pan

              I've enjoyed Momofuku Ko but both my wife and I have eaten there several times before (together) so I want to try and visit places that are at least new to one of us, or old and meaningful favorites. I think Kyo Ya will be enough Japanese for the short time we're visiting. I am curious about Aburiya Kinnosuke though; at least for a future trip...

              1. re: OliverB

                There's a new chef's counter tasting at Ma Peche called Kappo, BTW. And it can customized to your likes and dislikes (no beef, lamb, pork).

          2. re: Pan

            I disagree a bit about degustation. I think wesley was great and he had a spanish focus ( he is from mallorca). The new chef now is nick (they went through two others who were just ok.). who cooked for a couple of years at jack's luxury oyster bar and is terrific. Still small plates but not really spanish...i think it is again excellent... Not sure it is better or worse than with wesley. Fairly quite place, corkage policy, good prices and they are quite friendly...bar seating only.

            1. re: Polisax

              So where is Wesley now?

              That's where I want to go.

              Had several delicious meals at Degustation.

              The Chef at Falai is in Italy now and I really miss his foie gras three ways. . . memorable. Spending this weekend in Montreal was a good thing.

                1. re: kathryn

                  I went up to try his food at solo farm and table when it first opened. At that point it was very good but not at all the same small plates concept as Wesley practiced at Degustation. pretty location and he and his wife are just as welcoming as ever...but it really Vermont not NY and Wesley thinks that a different kind of restaurant is required (a bit more comfort food, etc).

                  I do wonder what happened to the Chef at Falai (on Clinton).. I think his name was Marco and he was always aching to get out from under Falai...I loved his food and hope he has succeeded. I think he went to a ski resort near Brentano Pass but I have not been there and have no idea if he is still there. He was a restless and ambitious soul and I am not sure he can work for other people for very long. He needs to become eponymous.

          3. Is it too late to change your post title? It's a little misleading as you are all over town, not just Midtown.

            1. The Tamarind in TriBeCa is a second branch of the one near the Flatiron Building, not sure what you mean by still relevant? Some here prefer Junoon / Tulsi, though I can't personally compare the three.

            2. What appeals about Degustation? The format with the open kitchen?

            The original chef left around spring of 2011. They have a new chef around, not a lot of reports just yet.

            If it's Spanish you want, Txikito still going strong, Tertulia will be new to you as will Salinas.

            3. Ichimura at Brushstroke is possibly not on your radar, nor is Neta.

            And our Kyo Ya in the East Village for kaiseki. Totally separate from the SF one.

            Overall this thread for an SF may also help:

            For brunch, Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., Minetta Tavern, Public, Spotted Pig all still going strong.

            I'm thinking the Little Wisco empire was pretty small when you were last here? Might want to try out Joseph Leonard, Perla, Montmartre, etc.

            5 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              Thank you,

              I meant still relevant as in it's been around for a long time and I haven't visited in several years - I was asking about quality and consistency. I think we'll give it a go for one of our meals though!

              I've just had some really great meals and past experiences at Degustation and I enjoyed the layout of the dining room and open kitchen. If the chef has split though, we won't chance it. I'll look into and consider Txikito but we may opt for something else altogether. My wife has a more restricted palette than I do (she rarely eats red meats for instance, unless cured for some reason which neither of us understand) and so tapas might not be the best choice for the two of us afterall.

              Thank you for the tips on Ichimura and Neta also - I'll look into both now. I love Kyo Ya, but as mentioned, my wife doesn't want to do it for some reason. I have no clue why she's not into it, but she isn't so it's off the list, ha.

              Checking into the thread that you linked to now - thanks again!

              1. re: OliverB

                I usually associate tapas with pork (white meat) and seafood. Not red meat (beef/lamb/etc). Unless she doesn't eat pork either?

                I love Kyo Ya. Serene. Charming staff. Spacious room. Well spaced tables, too. The menu doesn't read all that well (most of what's online is probably way out of date) as they don't really have a web presence.

                1. re: kathryn

                  I know but she doesn't eat pork either... believe me, I've pointed out the "other white meat" thing to her many times, ha! She's funny like that. She ordered a mushroom quiche with bacon for brunch today and will dig into a plate of charcuterie and salame (as long as it's free range) or pick sausages off my pizza before taking a bite, yet she claims not to eat pork or read meat. Who knows! :)

                  I love Kyo Ya too and would love to visit, but my wife shot it down and this trip is really all about her. We had to cancel a wedding reception in Montreal this month because I'm awaiting my greencard and wasn't allowed to fly home, so this short trip is making up for that. I may try to push it on her again though!

                2. re: OliverB

                  The trouble with txikito is that it is loud and chaotic... Ichimura is fantastic... A bit pricey but very very good. Neta can be good if you sit at the bar... Otherwise i think they tend to mail it in sometimes. Also really loud for sushi.... Though they do more than sushi... That is what is best there....

                3. re: kathryn

                  PS - Title changed!

                  I meant that we're staying in Midtown, but I guess that's irelevant and I could see how it might be confusing. Thanks for clueing me in!

                4. Okay, the missus gave the green light for Kyo Ya, but I just called for a 06/28 reservation and caught the answering machine which was totally indecipherable. I didn't get a word of the message. Could anyone please tell me how and when to call to get a reservation in?


                  PS - We've got the following so far:

                  06/26 - Dinner at Tamarind
                  06/27 - ???
                  06/28 - Hopefully Dinner at Kyo Ya (trying for a res)
                  06/29 - Lunch at Eleven Madison Park / ??? for Dinner
                  06/30 - ??? for Dinner (Considering Gotham)

                  Could someone please advise re. Park Avenue Summer for Saturday 11am lunch - is it worth it? And what about Gotham for dinner on the 27th; too similar to EMP?

                  Babbo for lunch or dinner; any difference? Similar opinions or general concencus shared with Pan (meh?)

                  Thanks again!

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: OliverB

                    It's 12:30am here! They're at home, call back tomorrow near 4-5pm NYC time. I've also been stumped by their answering machine in the past. Just keep trying until you get a human.

                    Park Ave Summer serves weekend brunch Sat and Sun. Is that what you want? Brunch or lunch?

                    Do Babbo for dinner, the menus are fairly different and many signature dishes aren't available for lunch. Though you're already past when their books open (one month in advance to the numerical day), so you'll need to grab whatever times are left for your dates.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Oops, how silly - forgot about the time difference!

                      Thanks for the tip on Babbo btw, I was able to squeeze in a late 10:30 PM dinner for the Sunday night (06/30) and they were pretty much booked solid through the rest of the week.

                      Re. Park Summer weekend brunch -- what's to be expected and is it worth it? I'd rather do EMP lunch on the Saturday, though I'd be willing to adjust the res and push it to another day if Park Summer is absolutely worth doing for brunch. Eleven Madison seems pretty easy to get a booking for lunch this far in advance.

                      Assuming that we're good for dinner at Kyo Ya on Fri. 06/28 (will call tomorrow to confirm) we still need 2 more evening meals to fill for Thu. 27th and Sat. 29th.

                      Any suggestions?

                      Something lighter for the Saturday since we're doing EMP for lunch...

                      1. re: OliverB

                        One thing about Kyo Ya: When you speak with them, mention if you want kaiseki, because that has to be requested in advance. You can get 8, 9, or 10 courses. I highly recommend the 10-course kaiseki.

                        1. re: Pan

                          Thanks Pan and will do!

                          What kind of price range am I looking at for the full-on kaiseki per person?

                          We'll be taking our honeymoon throughout Japan Oct. 2014 so it will be wonderful to compare! Does the chef discuss the kaiseki with you over the phone or is it entirely his discretion? I doubt it'll be an issue, but my wife doesn't eat red meat. She's less adventurous when it comes to fish liver, uni, etc but I'm sure she'll try just about anything and I better prep her for our honetmoon anyway!

                          1. re: OliverB

                            When you book the reservation, explain your wife's dietary restrictions. I don't actually recall there being any red meat course, anyway, but I told them my girlfriend and I hate raw clams and oysters, and they forgot and brought out beautiful raw oysters. I knew they'd be wasted on us, so I called over the waitress and said I had specifically mentioned our hating raw oysters when I made the reservation. She took away the oysters and substituted a wonderful course of just-hatched squid the chef had just gotten in.

                            They will give you a menu of the courses when you're there, from what I remember, but I am sure they would discuss them over the phone.

                            Kyo Ya has no website, but according to their menupages.com menu, the 10-course kaiseki is $150, 9-course is $120, and 8-course is $95. Add a significant amount of money if you plan on having some of their great sake. When I went, I believe the 10-course kaiseki was $125, and including sake, tax and tip, I paid just about $300 even for two people. We got the sake we liked 2nd-best and 3rd-best because our favorite just cost more than I was willing to spend. You may well make a different decision, and if you've got the cash, it will be worth it.

                            1. re: Pan

                              Hmmm...Actually, I think the 10-course kaiseki may have been less than that. This was in 2010. I'm thinking it had to have been less because there's no way we had 2 sakes shared between us, tax, and tip for $300 if our kaiseki dinners already amounted to $250. But whatever - that's not really relevant to you, anyway. :-)

                              1. re: Pan

                                Perfect, thanks so much!!

                                The last time I ate at Kyo Ya I ordered off the a la carte menu and ended up spending about the same and leaving quite disappointed but I realized that it was entirely my fault and I've been looking forward to returning.

                          2. re: OliverB

                            What are you doing for lunches on other days?

                            Maybe a lobster roll at Luke's after EMP?

                            1. re: kathryn

                              We're not certain yet but we have many favorites in the city and will likely just wing it. I have Pearl and Mary's down for one day for sure! We were supposed to drive down the coast to Maine originally (from Montreal) but since that's been scratched, I need to have my lobster roll fix, so depending on how we feel and how busy both places are, at least one of them is a definite!

                              My wife has a few favorite Turkish and Middle Eastern places and I have my favorite delis and lunch counters. I think it will just depend on what we end up doing each day and what neighborhood we find ourselves in.

                              I would appreciate some great new brunch/lunch options though, if you have any to suggest. We'll probably find ourselves at Blue Ribbon Bakery, Minetta or Balthazar at least one day.

                              1. re: OliverB

                                Don't forget that Pearl is closed Sundays and only serves weekday Lunch. Mary's is also closed Sundays, but does serve lunch Monday through Saturday.

                                Lafayette is brand new and similar to Balthazar, in the old Chinatown Brasserie space. Same chef as Locanda Verde & the Dutch. The Dutch also does a nice brunch.

                                Also look at the Little Wisco restaurants for brunch. Joseph Leonard, Perla, Montmartre. Perla's brunch in particular has some interesting items.

                                Not sure if Union Square Cafe was serving brunch before you left, it's a relatively new addition.

                                See also:

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Thanks Kathryn!

                                  Sunday will be our last day in the city, and I certainly won't wait that long for lobster rolls and steamers, so no worries with regards to that but thanks for the heads up nonetheless!

                                  Lafayette looks lovely but has some pretty poor reviews on Yelp; not that I necessarily take Yelp reviews seriously. Have you actually eaten there? It seems to be harshly criticized from all ends - food, cost, value. The Dutch looks fantastic though; I don't think I've ever been! I'm going to add it to our short list. We'll definitely be having brunch at either Locanda Verde or Joseph Leonard as well - thank you so much!!

                                  Is Perla traditional Italian or more of a modern Mediterranean restaurant? We're already doing Babbo for dinner one night, so I wouldn't want to add a second Italian restaurant to our itinerary. How is Montmarte as a dinner option btw?

                                  Thanks again for the great suggestions!!

                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    Did Lafayette for lunch last weekend, and my review is here:

                                    It's new, so I kind of expect some aspects to be a work in progress. Really enjoyed the space, atmosphere, noise level, food, and service.

                                    Perla's chef is ex-Babbo and ex-Manzo (both Batali), so that's kind of an indicator of philosophy. I was going to point out the foie gras pancakes on the brunch/lunch menu but (d'oh) they are now gone. Argh!

                                    Had an excellent dinner at Montmartre a few weeks ago. Loved the hamachi with kaffir lime. The wax bean salad is awesome, as well, has sort of a Thai peanut dressing. Also liked the blood sausage. And we adored a smoked chicken dish with ratatouille, though it looks like the preparation has now changed.

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      Thank you so much, we'll probably add Montmarte to our dinner line-up!

                                      Would you say that Perla is stronger than Babbo these days?

                                    2. re: OliverB

                                      I just looked up cheap restaurants in my neighborhood (East Village and environs) by Yelp rating today, and I wouldn't pay any attention to good Yelp ratings, as there are a bunch of places that I think suck or are at best mediocre that get 4 or 4 1/2 stars. It's really absurd.

                                      I would pay more attention to bad Yelp ratings, though, I think.

                                    3. re: kathryn

                                      Could you also tell me how Locanda Verde and Perla compare to say, Babbo, Maialino, Scarpetta, etc? Do they turn out more rustic Italian fare; less pasta focused?

                                      Also does Salumeria Rosi offer a sit-down area for proper (casual) dining or is it more of a counter order place? It's also been on my short list for lunches. My wife eats salami, despite not doing red meat.

                                      1. re: OliverB

                                        It's my impression that pasta is a big deal at all of the ones you noted.

                                        Yes, Rosi does have a sit down part. Make a reservation, it's not very big. I believe they also offer outdoor dining, if you wish to dine on the sidewalk.

                                        1. re: OliverB

                                          Like Kathryn says, Salumeria Rosi is small, but it does have the feel of a genuine restaurant, not just a meat counter with a couple of tables, in my opinion. I definitely recommend it.

                            2. So far...

                              Wed. 06/26 - Dinner @ Tamarind in Flatiron.

                              Thu. 06/27 - Dinner @ ???

                              Fri. 06/28 - Dinner @ Kyo Ya - (need to call for res. tomorrow)

                              Sat. 06/29 - Lunch @ Eleven Madison Park / Dinner @ ???

                              Sun. 06/30 - Dinner @ Babbo

                              ** Still need to fill Thursday and Saturday dinners **

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: OliverB

                                You will love Michael White's new Italian-Costata-esp if you like steak and great pasta dishes!!!

                                1. re: UES Mayor

                                  The OP's wife does not eat beef.

                                2. I was never much of a Tamarind fan, but people who like it still seem to enjoy it as much as ever and revisiting food you like sounds better than worrying about what's relevant. You're right there isn't anything like it in SF, but in terms of newer places, I'll second Junoon and add Dhaba.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Thanks sugartoof, I'm considering switching to Junoon based on the hype in this thread. The photos of the dining room that I've seen on Yelp look terrific and much more interesting than Tamarind.

                                    What didn't you like about Tamarind btw and is Junoon a similar approach to Indian cuisine better realized (in your opinion)? We definitely are going for a more refined (I hate the term "fine dining") upscale experience. Is there any difference in quality and consistency between the Triceca and Flatiron locations with re. to Tamarind btw? The original Flatiron location is the one with the private curtained booths in the back of the room, right?

                                    1. re: OliverB

                                      Junoon is more masala based and closer in flavor to what you can find in the Bay Area, but it's certainly an upscale approach/presentation with more influence from New American/French modern on some dishes.

                                      I never really understood Tamarind to be honest. I've always found it bland, or lacking in the signatures for my taste.

                                      I've only been to the Flatiron location, so hopefully someone else has the answers you need.

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        Thanks, I've read that Tamarind could be inconsistent so perhaps you're experiences were on off nights. That's still not acceptable for any restaurant at this level (or any!) imo, but I've been lucky enough to have always had really great meals there. I've been about 3 times in the past 10 years, but have always left feeling great. I never order the 'signatures' though, because I can get really great masalas and stuff like that elsewhere. I prefer to try stuff that I normally wouldn't order (or wouldn't find on the menu) at other Indian restaurants, which perhaps might be why we've had different experiences.

                                        1. re: OliverB

                                          Exactly, it could be that my standard order didn't translate well to what they do best, or it's just a preference thing. I haven't noticed Tamarind fans griping about inconsistency as much as just the usual polarized opinions in general. Just wanted to be up front about what camp I'm in while suggesting alternatives.

                                  2. just went to 15 East for the first time last week-HUGE dissappointment and sooooooooo pricey-Was over $700 for 3 of us w food that was so mediocre!!!! Brushstoke was far superior!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: UES Mayor

                                      I love dinner at The Modern with a table facing the sculpture garden. I like the kitchen, the ambience and the service. And it's a romantic stop.

                                      1. re: UES Mayor

                                        Thanks, we've decided that we're skipping sushi on this trip - we'll do it in LA next month. The kaiseki at Kyo Ya is more unqiue and we don't need to do 2 Japanese meals in 5 days.

                                      2. Any suggestions for the remaining two nights that differ from the places we're eating at? Something more "fun" and less formal, with great ambiance and excellent food?

                                        Still wondering if Gotham is worthwhile for one of the two remaining nights, or if it's too similar to Eleven Madison?

                                        Open to any and all suggestions for 06/27 and 06/29

                                        Thanks everyone for all of your help!!

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: OliverB

                                          Momofuku Ssam? Louro? Ma Peche? Montmartre?

                                          You could still do Tertulia. Most of the dishes that have pork utilize bacon and jamon iberico. You could have the anchovy toast, jamon croquettes, jamon iberico, pan con tomate, padron peppers, grilled artichoke, their paella is chicken as well.

                                          What about Kappo at Ma Peche, as I posted about earlier?

                                          Or the suggestions from the other SF thread?

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            I see that Montmarte doesn't take reservations... what would be the best time to show up for dinner on a Thursday to ensure a table?

                                            1. re: OliverB

                                              They take them 13-14 days in advance. You might have better luck calling than using the web site once the window of opportunity opens.

                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                Thanks again Kathryn!

                                                Do you know if we'd need breakfast/lunch reservations for Lafayette? Would definitely recommend the Sunday brunch menu, or would we do just as well having breakfast/lunch around 11:00 AM before leaving the city and driving through the Hudson Valley?

                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                  It's a big space but there looked to be a short wait as we left (5-10 minutes). This was Memorial Day weekend though, so not sure if it truly counts as representative.

                                                  We ate more from the lunch side of the breakfast menu so I can't comment on the breakfast dishes. They do have a nice bakery in front, could be a good place to grab some snacks for the road.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Perfect, so we should be fine to just walk-in without reservations on a Monday around brunch time (11-ish) - if so, that's great!

                                                    Am I making the right choise at Babbo over Locanada/Perla or other favorites like Maialino and Scarpetta?

                                                    We may try to squeeze Locanda or Perla in for lunch but I really want to prioritize Joseph Leonard over these as it looks really fantastic!

                                                    1. re: OliverB

                                                      Babbo is a clear better choice than Locanda. Perla is a closer call -- but I'd say Babbo is still the better choice.

                                                      1. re: OliverB

                                                        NB: Lafayette serves breakfast until 11:30am and start lunch at noon.

                                                        1. re: kathryn

                                                          Thanks, we'll swing by for lunch on our last day before leaving the city!

                                            2. re: OliverB

                                              I was just in NYC (from SF) last week, with reservations at Atera and EMP, and a chowhound recommended Aska in Brooklyn. It was excellent, so I forward the restaurant rec to you. :)

                                              Aska is the first Brooklyn stop on the L line, so easy to get to. Insanely delicious, experimental Scandinavian comfort food. Extremely laid-back, and a nice counterpoint to our lunch at EMP earlier the same day. Would highly recommend it for your Saturday dinner after EMP, as nothing fancy will stand up well in comparison to EMP.

                                              1. re: canida

                                                Thanks so much Canida, I appreciate it!

                                                We were both in Brooklyn last year (we never ventured into Manhattan believe it or not!) as most of our friends live in the outter burroughs. I dined at Aska and several of my other favorites like Applewood, etc. It was absolutely perfect and a memorable experience, although I think we're gonna plant ourselves entirely in Manhattan for this short trip.

                                            3. I just booked the 10-course kaiseki at Kyo Ya and was wondering if there's any preferance to the chef's table versus private table? Is the "chef's table" the equivalent of sitting at the bar looking into the open kitchen, or is it a proper "chef's table" inside the kitchen?


                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                  Chef's table is a bit of a misnomer, I thought the chef only had a counter. IIRC it's really more like a sushi counter with 6 seats, maybe more.

                                                  I don't really recall being able to see into the kitchen (seeing cooking) though.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Thanks, we'll stick with a table then!

                                                2. Does Raine's Law Room take reservations for Saturday night btw? If not, what are the chances of squeezing in at 11pm?

                                                  We're going to see Roy Haynes at the Blue Note at 8pm followed by dinner at Minetta at 10pm and then I'd like to have cocktails at RLR at 11-ish.

                                                  How long is the wait usually?

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: OliverB

                                                    The Raines Law Room only accepts reservations for Sun, Mon, and Tues only, per their web site. Otherwise I'd assume you'll be in for a long wait. At any classic cocktail lounge here, the wait really is variable. It depends on the weather, how fast people are drinking or leaving...

                                                    It is very difficult to give an accurate estimate of how long a wait will be at a bar like Raines as some people have one round, but some people have many rounds. Sometimes the door person never gets all that far down the list of names and they never text or call you in.

                                                    Since you're staying in Midtown, make a reservation at Lantern's Keep instead.

                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                      We definitely want to go to Raines though and it's near Minetta and The Blue Note. Would it make sense to swing by RLR before dinner at Minetta just to leave our number with the doorman and then go eat and return? How long of a line do you think we should expect just to leave our number if we pass by around 10pm on a Saturday?

                                                      1. re: OliverB

                                                        Raines is a 15-20 minute walk from Minetta, not really super close. Not sure they'll even let you put your name down for later on in the night.

                                                        It's probably better to do it before or after Montmartre.

                                                        1. re: kathryn

                                                          We're having a party at Flatiron Lounge before Montmartre, then dinner at 8:30 and I suppose we could head over afterwards... but I would MUCH rather have drinks at Raines after Minetta on Saturday if possible. We were thinking of catching a show/play/ballet/etc after Montmartre on Thursday anyhow.

                                                          To clarify, what I meant about putting our names down beforehand is that we could then cab back to Minetta to eat dinner and return an hour later when there's hopefully availability for us, or whenever we're notified that it's our turn. Is that too chancey? I just assumed we'd probably be looking at 45 min to an hour-and-a-half wait time, which would be the perfect timeslot to fill for dinner. Do you have to show up at the door within 5 mins. of the text/call from Raines or is there a but of leeway? I wish they would just take reservations online like Bourbon & Branch does here in SF. It's so inconvenient and frustrating, it really doesn't make much sense...

                                                          1. re: OliverB

                                                            Any tips for Raines?

                                                            Would it be possible to leave a cell number before dinner at Minetta on a Saturday night at 10ish or is it that too chancey that we wouldn't have enough time to eat and cab back?

                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                              I think the wait might be more like 2+ hours, it's not a big place. You should maybe contact them and ask.

                                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                                Thank you Kathryn, I'll send an email and see what they say...

                                                            2. re: OliverB

                                                              Sure it makes sense. Why would a place take reservations when they have no trouble filling up without them? When people make reservations, they can flake on showing up and/or be frustrated when they can't get in on time simply because there's a lot of variability for when people leave.

                                                              Now, it may be frustrating for you, but that doesn't mean it's a problem for the venue. :)

                                                              1. re: Elisa515

                                                                Because it's a pretentious aspect of the New York bar scene that's ungracious towards patrons of these establishments. It's very simple to introduce online reservations for tables in increments of 30 min to 2 hours. Many NYC bars do this, as do many of the best cocktail destinations in the country like Bourbon & Branch. Anyone who would wait around for 2 hours to have a drink is clueless in my opinion. PDT and Mayahuel make the best cocktails in the city, without the snootiness of places like Raines. I like the ambience and my wife has never been so I was looking forward to squeezing in after dinner, but at this point I've resigned myself that good cocktails are everywhere so it's a waste of time to deal with that kind of BS for a good drink. I appreciate the reservations-only bars. The atmosphere is nice but the way they do it in NY is pretentious (in some places) and puts me off. It's not about the bar having no problem filling up, it's about courtesy and consideration for their customers.

                                                    2. THE FINAL ITINERARY... THANKS EVERYONE!

                                                      (Bummer that I booked the MET Opera House before realizing that I couldn't push the Kyo Ya kaiseki dinner back past 9pm though... we'll have to split early!)

                                                      WED, JUNE 26

                                                      • 03:35 PM - Arrival at JFK Int'l Airport

                                                      • 05:00 PM - Check-in at St. Regis Hotel

                                                      • 05:45 PM - Antipasti and Wine at Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto

                                                      • 09:30 PM - Dinner at Tamarind in the Flatiron - (House Car)

                                                      • 11:15 PM - Cocktails at Lantern's Keep

                                                      • 12:30 PM - Nightcap at The Blue Bar at The Algonquin Hotel

                                                      THU, JUNE 27

                                                      • 12:30 PM - Lunch at Pearl Oyster Bar (or) Mary's Fish Camp

                                                      • 01:30 PM - Walk around Greenwich Village and the Chelsea High Line

                                                      • 03:15 PM - CitiShoes at 445 Park Ave. for Sanders Snuff Suede Playboys

                                                      • 03:45 PM - Relax and Shower at Hotel

                                                      • 06:00 PM - Wedding Bash at Flatiron Lounge

                                                      • 08:30 PM - Dinner at Montmartre with Charles and Masha

                                                      • 10:00 PM - ???

                                                      FRI, JUNE 28

                                                      • 11:45 AM - Lunch at Joseph Leonard (or) Locanda Verde (or) Perla

                                                      • 01:00 PM - Walk along St. Marks to the East Village

                                                      • 04:30 PM - Afternoon Cocktails at King Cole Bar

                                                      • 05:00 PM - Relax and Shower at Hotel

                                                      • 07:30 PM - Sylvia at the Metropolitan Opera House - [Center Parterre: Box 17, Seats 4,5]

                                                      • 09:00 PM - 10-Course Kaiseki Dinner at Kyo Ya

                                                      • 11:45 PM - Cocktails and Jazz at Bemelman's Bar at The Carlyle - (Closes at 12:30 AM!)


                                                      • 11:45 PM - 'Round Midnight with The Lew Tabackin Trio at Smalls Jazz Club - (10:30 PM - 01:00 AM)

                                                      SAT, JUNE 29

                                                      • 12:00 PM - Lunch at Eleven Madison Park - (House Car)

                                                      • 02:00 PM - Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes + Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light at the MoMA

                                                      • 04:00 PM - Wine and Cocktails at Terrace 5 - (Closes at 5:00 PM!)

                                                      • 05:00 PM - Relax and Shower at Hotel

                                                      • 07:30 PM - Roy Haynes Live at the Blue Note - (Showtime at 08:00 PM!)

                                                      • 10:00 PM - Dinner at Minetta Tavern

                                                      • 11:00 PM - Cocktails at Raines Law Room (or) Angel's Share (or) Mayahuel (or) PDT (or) Death & Co. - (Subject to Wait!)

                                                      • 01:00 AM - Nightcap at The Campbell Apartment

                                                      SUN, JUNE 30

                                                      • 10:45 AM - Brunch at Balthazar (or) Blue Ribbon Bakery - (Opens at 11:30 AM!)

                                                      • 12:15 AM - Stroll through Central Park and Zoo

                                                      • 02:00 PM - New Harmony: Abstraction Between the Wars, 1919–1939 + Thannhauser Collection at the Guggenheim / Neue Galerie / Journey to the Stars at AMNH

                                                      • 04:30 PM - Afternoon Tea in The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel

                                                      • 07:00 PM - Relax and Shower at Hotel

                                                      • 10:00 PM - Dinner at Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca - (House Car)

                                                      • 11:45 PM - Nightcap at Bemelman's Bar at The Carlyle

                                                      MON, JULY 01

                                                      • 11:00 AM - Check-out of St. Regis Hotel

                                                      • 11:30 AM - Hertz Rental Car Pick-Up on West 43rd St.

                                                      • 12:00 PM - Lunch at Lafayette

                                                      29 Replies
                                                      1. re: OliverB

                                                        Pretty tight scheduling on some of those.

                                                        Your Sunday Brunch to the Central Park Zoo strikes me as especially ambitious.

                                                        An hour for Dinner at Minetta is a little compressed if you're hoping to make it for drinks across town by 11. Raines is at least on the West side, but I'll also suggest Pegu Lounge which is a close walk.

                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                          Thanks, I realized the Sunday brunch didn't make much sense but my lady wants a bit of nostalgia and the only good food within walking distance of the Upper East Side are delis and lunch coutners (my favorite!) but we're classin' it up on this trip. We were just in San Diego and ate at nothing but dimly-lit, mid century two-fisted red meat & martini joints, so we're refining ourselves a bit since we were initially planning and expecting to be celebrating our wedding reception in Montreal; eating nothing but rich French terroir cuisine for 2 weeks!

                                                          Anyhow, we want to try mainly new places with a few old favorites sprinkled in. Apart from the Sunday brunch, our rule of thumb is that each restaurant on the list has to be a new discovery for one of us (mostly her!)

                                                          I love Pegu but we've both been so many times before that we'd rather explore new cocktail bars (witht he exception of the old grand dames, which I make a point of visiting on every trip!).

                                                          Btw, we'd cab to-and-from Lower Manhattan/Greenwich back uptown to spend a few hours walking through the Park/Zoo and checking out the Guggenheim and Neue, etc.

                                                          1. re: OliverB

                                                            Oh, I wasn't weighing in about the choices, just suggesting you loosen up your scheduling a tad.

                                                            If you're looking for new cocktail experiences, you might check out the new crop in Alphabet City as backups.

                                                          2. re: sugartoof

                                                            Also, we can spend more than an hour on dinner at Minetta... we don't necessarily have to rush out for drinks afterward. You're right that it seems a bit tight and I should give ourselves an extra 30 mins. at least.

                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                              You are leaving the opera early in order to eat a meal?

                                                              Please do leave during an intermission. Or, maybe you should simply give up the opera tickets.

                                                              1. re: Elisa515

                                                                We'll probably leave at intermission... I don't want to miss the kaiseki at Kyo Ya! I'll probably give our seats away to the first nice looking couple we see on the street. Not ideal, but the culinary arts prevail over classic arts! :)

                                                                Nancy, why must I eat fast with at least 1+ hrs. set for every meal?

                                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                                  I like your priorities -- dinner > opera.

                                                              2. re: OliverB

                                                                > • 08:30 PM - Dinner at Montmartre with Charles and Masha

                                                                • 10:00 PM - ???

                                                                You could try Raines then, or go to Bathtub Gin or the Tippler. Or if the weather is nice, you could go for a little walk & reserve for Gallow Green (hopefully Dave Wondrich's punches are back on the menu by then).

                                                                I also tried the cocktails at Manon in the Meatpacking District a few weekends ago. They were good but a little strange.

                                                                > • 12:00 PM - Lunch at Eleven Madison Park - (House Car


                                                                • 02:00 PM - Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes + Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light at the MoMA

                                                                I seriously doubt you'll be able to get from EMP to MoMA by 2pm. Maybe 4pm, if your tasting goes by very quickly. This is a four hour experience.

                                                                > • 11:00 PM - Cocktails at Raines Law Room (or) Angel's Share (or) Mayahuel (or) PDT (or) Death & Co. - (Subject to Wait!)

                                                                Saturday night, 11pm-12am, you may not be able to get into any of these bars. My friends who work at PDT tell me that this is actually when the second "rush" of the night is.

                                                                Mayahuel does take reservations now, though. And if they're full, you may be able to walk in at Gin Palace or Amor y Amargo. Booker & Dax may be a little quieter, too, as people wrap up dinner at Ssam Bar, next door. Possibly Prima, or the 2nd floor bar at Peels? But any cocktail lounge in the East Village on a Saturday night is going to be pretty busy. If you enjoy Mayahuel, the tequila and mezcal cocktails at Empellon Cocina are also excellent. It's very close by to Mayahuel.

                                                                > • 10:45 AM - Brunch at Balthazar (or) Blue Ribbon Bakery - (Opens at 11:30 AM!)

                                                                I'd make a reservation to avoid a wait at Balthazar.

                                                                1. re: kathryn

                                                                  Thanks SO much Kathryn, I really appreciate your feedback and it's a huge help!

                                                                  I'll look into all of your suggestions for Thursday night, and I guess I'll have to rearrange our Saturday plans as I didn't realize EMP was a 4hr experience. I suppose there's no way of cabbing to MoMA by 3:15-ish w/o rushing the tasting?

                                                                  Do you know how far in advance Mayahuel accepts reservations, and is it by phone or email? I think I'll put in an 11:30/45 pm reservation just to be safe! I've never been to Booker & Dax, Prima or Empellon either, so I'll look them all up. I really like Mayahuel a lot and think it's one of the best cocktail spots in the city.

                                                                  Good advice on Balthazar too - I'll reserve now just to be safe!

                                                                  Thanks again for all of your excellent and really helpful suggestions; it's greatly appreciated!

                                                                  1. re: OliverB

                                                                    Some people end up spending 5 hrs at Eleven Madison Park, BTW. Said Pete Wells:

                                                                    "When I was disgorged to the sidewalk at 5 p.m., dinner was unthinkable, and I ate nothing else before collapsing into sleep later that night."

                                                                2. re: OliverB

                                                                  I feel exhausted just looking at your scheduling.

                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                    That's what I was thinking. Guarantee a couple of things are going to have to get the kibosh - too many things are too close together.

                                                                    EMP: when we did the tasting menu last year, we had a 9:00 PM reservation. We left the restaurant at 2:00 AM. So, forewarned.

                                                                    Brunch: Balthazar and BRB are both good, if not terribly creative / exciting. I'd look into Public's brunch (a couple blocks from Balthazar) for something a bit more adventurous and fun. They're no-rez, but that early getting a table wouldn't be an issue at all. Most New Yorkers aren't even awake that early on a Sunday.

                                                                    Saturday night, the four bars you listed as potential cocktail options... you're probably not going to get to any of them by 11PM if your Minetta rez is at 10PM - more likely around midnight, if that even. And at that point... you're probably not going to be drinking at any of them that night. The waits on Saturday night are ridiculous in the East Village to begin with, and midnight is prime time. The other suggestions above are worth noting - especially bars in restaurants, which tend to thin out around that time.

                                                                    Also consider The Brandy Library in Tribeca - it's about a five minute cab ride from Minetta, or a fifteen to twenty minute walk if you want to walk off dinner a bit. Their specialty is the ridiculously large selection of straight brown liquors, but they make some damn fine cocktails as well. Real relaxed "old-school money" kind of vibe, AND they take reservations. They could also be a good option for after Montmarte - they're both near 1 Trains, it'd be maybe a 10 minute subway ride.

                                                                    Similar issue with Babbo - I'd expect to be leaving the restaurant about two hours after you walk in, minimum. Depends how many courses you go with, obviously - if you go the full four courses (antipasti, pasta, secondi, dolci) you could easily be there a bit longer. (Granted, 90% of the time we've intended to go the four we've tapped out and skipped dessert - which is fine by us, because while the desserts are good it's the savory dishes we're really about...)

                                                                    ...point being, it'd probably be 12:30 at the absolute earliest (given it's a half-hour car ride, IF there's no traffic) before you'd be at Bemelman's. Which is when they close, IIRC. Actually, most of the places to get a fancier cocktail closer to your hotel (there aren't many - 21 Club, the bar at Aquavit, bar at The Modern) will be closed at that point. If it's a nice cocktail you want, I'd say get your drink on in the Village before heading back uptown.

                                                                    1. re: sgordon

                                                                      Thanks for all the tips... I've adjusted the schedule to give ourselves 4 hrs for EMP though I'm hoping to get out a bit sooner if possible. We'll just scratch the wine flights upstairs at MoMA, check out the Corbusier exhibit and head back to our hotel to get ready for the night.

                                                                      I've been to BRB and Balthazar before, so I made reservations at Locanda Verde for Sunday brunch (10:45). I'm hoping to get back uptown by 12:30 so that we can spend some time in Central Park and check out the Guggenheim and Neue.

                                                                      As for dinner at Minetta, would an hour and forty-five minutes be safe? My wife's not the biggest eater and while I don't want to rush too much (it should be enjoyable!) I would like to be out by midnight. I've adjusted the itin to fit in dinner btwn 10:00-11:45 ideally, but if it takes another 30 minutes, that's fine. There's no big rush, though I would like to try for some of the cocktail spots in the East Village. PDT and Mayahuel take reservations, so I'll probably book both for midnight just to be safe (as a backup in case we can't get into Raines or Angel Share). I know The Brandy Library well and have been many times before, so that's always a safe last option too. We'll probably stop into the Campbell Library in Grand Central for a quick nightcap before heading back uptown to the hotel.

                                                                      Perhaps we'll swing by Brandy after Babbo if it's too late for Bemelman's, and just pop into the Carlyle for a drink on Friday night if we don't end up at Smalls... or maybe for a quick afternoon drink over the weekend.

                                                                      Thanks for the feedback!

                                                                      1. re: OliverB

                                                                        If on the UES, check out J Bird for cocktails.

                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                          BTW, I think you've answered your question about why a cocktails place wouldn't take reservations on the weekend. You're planning to reserve at two places, at least one of which you'll skip out on. Your reservations might mean that the bar will be turning people away while keeping your reservation available.

                                                                          MOMA admissions is, I think, $20 a person. Will you be there long enough to make that worthwhile? (or maybe you have a membership at your disposal)

                                                                          1. re: Elisa515

                                                                            I have a MoMA membership.

                                                                            I'm not going to skip out on any reservation btw, I'll be courteous and call ahead but the point that I was trying to make is that I wouldn't need to do any of this if all of these places got over themselves and just took reservations out of convenience and accessibility for their customers.

                                                                        2. re: sgordon

                                                                          Is there any point in even passing by Raine's or Angel's Share after (or around) midnight on a Saturday, or is it a guaranteed waste of time? Mayahuel is usually a safe walk-in, right?

                                                                          If we can't get in anywhere, we'll just go straight over to Campbell... I thought some of these places took reservations, though their websites state otherwise.

                                                                          1. re: OliverB

                                                                            The earlier or later you go for a cocktail, the better.

                                                                            Running up to Raines, then cabbing from Raines to the EV, and finding crowds wherever you go is a good recipe to feeling like it's New Years Eve. Plan for a couple nearby backups within walking distance.

                                                                            Since you've been to Brandy Library, you might try Ward III nearby.

                                                                            There's also a lot of other more practical options near Minetta, like Silver Lining, B Flat (there's an Angels Share connection), Little Branch (maybe you've already been?), Dove Parlour, Spotted Pig West, The Tippler, or the bars at The Lion, and Fedora.

                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                              What's the B Flat connection and is it a new bar?
                                                                              How are the drinks and what's the ambience like on nights w/o the live music?

                                                                              Silver Lining looks fantastic; thanks for hipping me to it!

                                                                              Do you know if they take reservations and if it's needed?

                                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                                B flat's actually been around a good while.
                                                                                Same owners as Angel Share.
                                                                                Here's the drink menu:

                                                                                I don't know Angel Share's drink menu that well, but I think they're similar with some crossover. I think it's less datey, and a little more under the radar, but I haven't been during weekends, so maybe someone else can jump in and answer your questions.

                                                                                Don't know about reservations policy at these places.

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                  Thanks! Is Silver Lining difficult to get into?

                                                                                  I'd like to pass by SL and/or B Flat on Thursday night since we don't have any after dinner plans yet and I haven't been to either. Both places look great!

                                                                                  1. re: OliverB

                                                                                    Honestly, the crowds are hard to predict in NY most anywhere you go right now. Even dive bars can get packed at Midnight. It can be as puzzling as it is frustrating and it can be difficult to find a calm, tranquil oasis for cocktails....where you'll even be able to get a seat. Unless someone's been in the last couple weeks, it would be hard to give you a guess. It mostly depends on the hour you go, and a lot of intangible factors. If your request had been "Where can I go for a great cocktail at midnight on popular nights", I'm not sure any of the bars that have come up would be suggested as sure thing options.

                                                                                    Just to mention it - B Flat is not too far from Ward III which has more of a reputation, and should be kept in mind for a backup.

                                                                              2. re: sugartoof

                                                                                Is The Lion equally good for dinner?

                                                                                My wife is really against leaving the ballet at the Met early so as much as I don't want to do it, I've been thinking about switching Kyo Ya out for another option to please my little lady. How does The Lion fare for dinner?

                                                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                                                  have you considered Sushi Seki? Not traditional sushi but it is open quite late (til at least 2 AM I think... maybe later) and I think it is very good post opera or ballet.

                                                                                  1. re: Polisax

                                                                                    If we don't end up doing Kyo Ya (which I think we will do - I gave my wife the night to consider!) then we'll probably forfeit Japanese altogether because that's really the place I've been set on. I'm curious how The Lion is though. I made a backup reservation for 10:15pm.


                                                                                  2. re: OliverB

                                                                                    Stick to drinks at The Lion, and maybe a small plate at the bar, if you're considering it.

                                                                                    Dinners there are nothing you're going to want to swap out any of your current dinner choices for.

                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                      Thanks we'll pop in for a cocktail right before our dinner at Babbo since it's up the street!

                                                                                2. re: OliverB

                                                                                  I'd skip Raines and go straight to the East Village, where a lot of these cocktail lounges are a short walk apart. If you get shut out of Raines, you don't have a lot of options nearby.

                                                                                  Mayahuel announced on their Facebook something about reservations.

                                                                                  EDIT: Looks like only on off nights.

                                                                                  Takes reservations:
                                                                                  PDT - day of only
                                                                                  Raines Law Room - Sun-Tues only
                                                                                  Experimental Cocktail Club
                                                                                  Mayahuel - Sun-Weds, 6-8pm
                                                                                  Lantern's Keep

                                                                          2. Is it tough to get a table at Joseph Leonard for Friday lunch btw? We've decided to do JL over Perla (good choice?) on Friday but they don't take reservations and I'm just wondering what the wait will be like around or right before noon?

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. I also can't seem to find hours anywhere for The Nomad Library; does anyone know?

                                                                              And just out of curiosity, how's their restaurant?


                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                                Call to confirm but NY Mag says noon to midnight.

                                                                                About NoMad the restaurant:

                                                                                Make sure you capitalize the M. NoMad. There is another, unrelated East Village restaurant called Nomad.

                                                                                It might be overkill for you to dine there as you are already doing EMP.

                                                                                1. re: kathryn


                                                                                  We won't be eating there but I was just curious about The Library Bar. I would like to try the restaurant at NoMad on a future trip. Is it the old chef from EMP; what's the connection?

                                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                                    Just read an interview with Humm and got the connection now. We won't be eating there; perhaps a drink at The Library Bar one night though.

                                                                                    1. re: OliverB

                                                                                      Just to clarify, the Library is a separate room, just off of the main bar. While it looks like two floors, it is actually only one floor of couches and chairs and tables. Patrons cannot go up to the inside balcony. Also they will reserve about half of the tables for hotel guests. It is seated like a restaurant, no standing allowed. However, in the main bar, there is standing.

                                                                                2. I like Tamarind (original Gramercy) and view it as the best fine dining Indian in NYC. The Tribeca location can be spotty service (it may have gotten better, I just haven't gone back since shortly after opening). Certainly Tribeca over Junoon (I was at a horror show of a celebration dinner there, although the food isn't bad and I really liked the cocktails and wine list). As a memo, I'm ethnically North Indian.

                                                                                  For tapas, perhaps ABC Cocina?

                                                                                  Nobu would be worth the time. The money is a separate question.

                                                                                  Normally I'd say Gotham over Park Avenue but the current greatest hits Summer menu may tip the scales in favor of Park Avenue.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: eastofthemississippi

                                                                                    Thanks so much!

                                                                                    Did you mean to write Tamarind (instead of Tribeca) over Junoon? We have reservations at the original location on E 22nd St. in the Flatiron for Wed. night. I've never been to the one in Tribeca (I got the two restaurants confused) but have always had a really enjoyable and memorable meal at this location, so I'm looking forward to it!

                                                                                  2. Bringing this back up once again because I've been second guessing one of our dinner choices...

                                                                                    I've been coming across many mediocre to flat out bad reviews of Montmartre online and was wondering if this is not in fact reflective of most CH'ers experience?

                                                                                    Would you consider this a destination restaurant or a decent neighborhood bistro? Should I switch this one out for Perla instead? We're eating at Babbo on our last night, so I was avoiding another Itialian restaurant but they seem to be quite different.

                                                                                    The location of Montmartre is ideal with regards to our evening plans (we'll be at the Flatiron Lounge prior) but I'm uncertain about all of the "meh" reviews I've been reading. I'll be with another couple who normally don't spend a lot on eating at restaurants so I'd hate to disappoint as this would be considered in the pricey range for them.

                                                                                    Is it a good choice, could we do better elsewhere... any thoughts on this one?

                                                                                    Thanks everyone!

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: OliverB

                                                                                      Did you also read the NYT "most improved restaurant" review this week?


                                                                                      1. re: kathryn

                                                                                        I'm not so sure that it's necessarily a big thumbs up though... an improvement over the picture painted by the former review doesn't say that much, does it?

                                                                                        I'm just curious what others on this forum think... is this truly a "we're visiting from San Francisco and eating incredibly well all other nights of the trip" destination worthy restaurant?

                                                                                        I love fresh, seasonal and well executed French bistro & terroir and would welcome this considering we were really supposed to be eating nothing but in Montreal over this particular week before our plans got rearranged, but I just want to be certain!


                                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                                          I don't believe in the star system, and I don't think Pete Wells is very reliable, BUT if he gave both Montmartre and Perla the same number of stars, that would imply to me that he, at least, thinks they're roughly equivalent in quality.

                                                                                          1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                            You're right - thank you for pointing this out!

                                                                                            I'll be sure to post my feedback afterward. :)

                                                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                                                              i haven't eaten at montmarte, but from what i have read/heard is that they didn't get great initial reviews but then changed the menu to include a more vietnamese/asian influence, playing to the strengths of chef tien ho. since then, the reviews have been mostly positive.

                                                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                To the extent this is helpful, I'd also say that I'd recommend Montrmartre over Perla to a visitor because, good as Perla is, Tien Ho's food at Montrmartre is just more distinctive than Michael Toscana's food at Perla. Perla is more like things you can get elsewhere (especially SF).

                                                                                                1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                  Thanks, you've convinced me to stick with Montmartre and try it out!

                                                                                                  1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                    Glad to hear you're keeping Montmartre. Had dinner there a few weeks ago, and all of the dishes were delicious! Service was friendly and attentive.

                                                                                      2. When eating dinner at Babbo (Sunday 10:00 PM reservation) is The Lion a safe walk-in bet for a quick cocktail beforehand?

                                                                                        It's a 3min. walk up 6th Ave. and I was wondering if it's worth showing up 35 min. before our Babbo res to have one quick drink at the bar, assuming they accommodate walk-in at the bar?

                                                                                        Do you need to have a dinner reservation or is there standing room, and if so, is there generally a wait just for drinks? Would 30-40 mins. be a safe amount of time for a fast pre-dinner cocktail before running back down 6th to Babbo to eat?

                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                                          Pre-Babbo cocktails, if the Lion is full, I'd try Whitehall or Louro.

                                                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                                                            Thanks so much Kathryn!

                                                                                            Is 30-40 min. for pre-dinner drinks at The Lion generally a safe bet for a Sunday evening?

                                                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                                                              I have no experience with the Lion, sorry.

                                                                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                You should know, Oliver, that The Lion isn't actually considered good by NYC locals. It's strictly a scene place -- which has its attractions, I guess, if that's what you're looking for. (For a pre-Babbo cocktail, I'd go to Pegu Club myself.)

                                                                                                1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                  I love Pegu Lounge. It got suggested earlier, but it's farther away, and I believe the OP said they're familiar with it.

                                                                                                  When Lion opened, it was a scene, and the food was mediocre. That's not exactly apt these days and the bar is in the entrance off to the side, with just classic barstool seating, separate from the dining room. They'll know if they want to stay or not shortly after they walk in. I think 30 minutes is plenty of time.

                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                    Are the drinks any good though?

                                                                                                    I've been googling around and pulling up some really nauseating articles about the place and moreover, the crowd. I just don't think it's for us, although the interior decor looks great... If the bar is not even inside the restaurant and the food/drinks mediocre, then I think we'll just have a cocktail at The King Cole Bar in our hotel before cabbing to Babbo.

                                                                                                    1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                      I wouldn't lobby hard for the place, it was just one of many suggestions, and the room is nice.

                                                                                                      I've had worse experiences with the crowd at ABC Kitchen, Beauty and Essex, and other CH favorites. My experiences at The Lion were always quiet nights with well made drinks.

                                                                                                    2. re: sugartoof



                                                                                                      I suppose the bar looks nice enough and is probably the closest to Babbo. If the drinks are worth anything, then it won't hurt to pass by... if anyone tells me that the cocktails are not very good though, we'll skip it altogether.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        I am absolutely not saying this to be argumentative. Like sugartoof, I'm not lobbying. I only checked this because, as somebody who walks around New York a lot, when I hear something that doesn't sound right, I begin to doubt myself and have to check to see if I'm really so wrong.

                                                                                                        In this case, it sounded wrong to me that The Lion is a lot closer to Babbo than Pegu is. So I just checked Google Maps, and it has them both as 4-minute walks.

                                                                                                        I THOUGHT so.

                                                                                                        1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                          Isn't The Lion is 2-3 blocks away?

                                                                                                          Google shows 10 minutes walking from Pegu.

                                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                            That's weird. I just redid it and got the same 10 minutes you did. A half hour ago, I got 4 minutes. Sorry. Weird.

                                                                                                            ETA -- You know what I did? I accidentally hit the cycling button instead of the walking button last time. Embarrassing!

                                                                                                            1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                              Thanks, it's still about 6 blocks from Babbo (on W Houston St.) as opposed to 2, which is why I had initially selected The Lion as a potential spot. We'll be rushing over and may not even have time for a drink at all, but I figured that if we're within very short walking distance of a new place that we haven't yet been, we could try to show up 30 mins. early for a fast cocktail to try it out. We'll probably swing by Pegu before the Blue Note on Sat. night instead, since it's right around the corner.

                                                                                                      2. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                        Thanks, I didn't know that and only had it on my radar because someone else in this thread had recommended it earlier... so I assumed it was good. I looked up photos and the interior looked nice but I hadn't delved deeper. Crossing it off the list based on what you've told me though because I can't stand those kind of places!

                                                                                                        1. re: Sneakeater

                                                                                                          And I love Pegu too, it's one of my favorites in the city!

                                                                                                          We'll probably stop in at another time though because it's not that nearby and we won't have enough time for a destination drink... I just picked The Lion based on another recommendation in this forum and the proximity to the restaurant as a convenient cocktail spot.

                                                                                                2. So after this loooooong thread with so many opinions, plans, changes of plans...where the heck did you end up going? And how were your meals and various cocktails forays?

                                                                                                  And did you go to the ballet? Leave early?

                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: prima

                                                                                                        Sorry for the late response everyone!!!

                                                                                                        I actually began posting feedback from our hotel room at the St. Regis a couple of days into the trip, but apparently it never loaded properly to the site, so I will repost from the saved entry on my iPhone (titled "Quick update from our hotel room") and then follow-up with details for the remainder of our trip - here goes:

                                                                                                        "First stop in town was Salumeria (straight from the airport!) and it was wonderful. We shared a charcuterie and cheese plate with a wine flight a couple of hours before our dinner reservation, though I wish we'd eaten a full meal here instead! Everyone seemed to order the gnocchi which I assume is a house specialty. I would've liked to have sampled more of the small plates. We shared a side of snap peas in a fresh tomato sauce which was kind of boring, though it complemented our wine flight and charcuterie nicely. I wouldn't order it again though, despite the somewhat surprisingly austere recommendation from our waiter.

                                                                                                        After settling into our room and freshening up a bit following our 6 hour flight (and a rather long and unpleasant check-in experience, which we soon found to be an unfortunate and recurrent problem with regards to the service at the hotel; one that put a significant damper on our stay throughout the week) we cabbed down to Tamarind in TriBeca for the one disappointing and regrettable meal of our trip.

                                                                                                        Overall experience, proficiency of the kitchen (or lack of!) and service aside, the two words to best describe our meal = rip-off!

                                                                                                        We should have known better when we walked into a near empty dining room. Gone were the wafting aromas of far east spices, tasteful decor and attentive service that I recalled from distant memory. The restaurant looked badly renovated since my last visit several years ago, and we were the only table seated on a Wed. evening at 9:30 PM. Not a good sign! The service was abrupt and disjointed from the start. I started with an overly sweet and disgustingly syrupy libation from the cocktail menu, that was immediately sent back to the bar. Rather than apologize and graciously offer to replace the drink, our waiter instead proposed, in a rather displeased and somewhat condescending fashion, to have the bartender pour lime juice in to water down the drink and reduce the artificial candy-coated flavors of cheap liqueur! I knew we had made a mistake at this point. Despite our waiters initial contention, we ended up swapping it out for a couple of glasses of white wine.

                                                                                                        We were then offered an incredibly dried out bland amuse; some sort of spinach pastry that tasted like cardboard with a generic yogurt dip that could just as well have been store-bought.

                                                                                                        Next came an over cooked plate of scallops; perhaps the toughest and chewiest I've ever had. The coconut mint curry based sauce it was served in was as equally forgettable as the dish it followed, and all others to come.

                                                                                                        My wife ordered a very plain and uninteresting halibut, apparently an award winning dish... 10 years ago! They actually printed and left this on the menu with the original date that it was awarded it's status, which should have been another red flag, but I'll pass blame for our poor decisions on equal parts hunger, exhaustion and jet lag!

                                                                                                        For my main, I had received some extremely tough and dried out prawns, contrasted by a fairly tasteful coconut tomato based sauce. Had they been properly cooked by a competent kitchen staff, it would have likely been the most acceptable dish of the evening, however as they were, the prawns were tough, chewy and flavorless. Were it not for the dressing of the coconut based rosé, this dish would have been altogether inedible.

                                                                                                        We determined that for the most part, the sauces at Tamarind were quite well done. This is not unsurprising as it's an easy 'by the books' formula once initially crafted, however the heart and soul of the fare (as I favorably seem to recall -perhaps mistakenly so- from the restaurant's heydey) has plunged so far below acceptable standards. This is clearly no longer a chef driven restaurant. They have the recipes but utterly lack dexterity let alone any inspiration, and for the prices they charge, there was very little thought, if any at all, injected into the whole lifeless and tiresome procedural. Everything tasted very cursory and mechanical, and whoever was running the kitchen on this particular night, really should have been elsewhere.

                                                                                                        The service was extremely awkward too. Waiters were stabding around and watching the clock at 10 PM since we were the only table in the restaurant, making us feel very unwelcomed and uncomfortable. They kept poking their heads around the corner to "check up on us" though not the least out of concern for our meal or dining experience. The waiststaff even began to close down and the restaurant well before time, cleaning and moving chairs and furniture around while we ate desert. Very unprofessional.

                                                                                                        Total bill came to $160 which is entirely unacceptable for food that was not even properly cooked.

                                                                                                        I once enjoyed Tamarind but it's apparent that it's best years are behind and based on Wednesday night, I won't ever return. We'll try the other place that was recommended to us the next time we visit!

                                                                                                        Anyway, off to dinner at Babbo now so I'll add more thoughts and feedback soon -- thank you all for the many suggestions though, as we've had an amazing past few days and shared some terrific meals!"

                                                                                                      2. re: kathryn

                                                                                                        We skipped Lantern's Keep after Tamarind as we were too tired that night and wanted to get an early start the next day. We did make it there later in the week, and I'll post my feedback when I get to that point although not to leave you hanging in suspenbse - I loved it! :)

                                                                                                        We slept in the next morning and made it to Pearl's just after noon. Both my wife and I ordered a lobster roll each with shoestring fries and a clam chowder to share. After having repositioned myself on the West Coast over a year ago, narrowly missing the last two East Coast summers and my annual trips down to Maine, this much anticipated lunch was an overly long and impatient pay-off of the utmost sensory pleasure! I have been to Pearl's before of course, but it almost seems to get better each time. The lobster rolls here are as good as any down the coast, and the blueberry crumble pie that we shared for dessert was quite possibly the best either of us have ever tasted.

                                                                                                        Following this sublime lunch, we spent several hours walking around Greenwich and Chelsea, eventually hiking up the high line (or torture march as I called it on this day) until the heat and humidity became overbearing and forced us back to our air conditioned suite uptown! Later that evening we met friends at the Flatiron Lounge, where we had reserved the downstairs portion for a private party. While it turned out to be the perfect venue in terms of space and intimacy, the drinks were poorly mixed and not very good, and the main appeal of the bar's art deco interior was lost to us in the large room downstairs. Nonetheless, we had a great time and it was within short walking distance to our next destination: Montmartre.

                                                                                                        Before I get to dinner, I should mention that this particular night was an off-and-on torrential downpour, and while we had reservations booked for courtyard seating, there was no possible way that they could accommodate us outside on this evening. We made our way to the restaurant for our 9:30 reservation, and arrived to a very cramped and uncomfortable entrance with a line of wet and hungry looking patrons in the foyer, or the extremely restricted space where one might be had there been enough room. We were told by the maitre'd that they were working on our table asap and it should not be more than a 10-15 minute wait; although I had phoned ahead to inform the restaurant that we were running a few minutes late to ensure our table would be held. Nonetheless, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the cramped reception space by the front door, waiting for our table to be received. The temperature outside was in the low 80s and inside, easily pushing 90 degrees with zero air circulation in the packed, overcrowded restaurant. It became absolutely unbearable.

                                                                                                        While the food looked and smelled fantastic (we were all hungry and eager to be seated) I just couldn't take the temperature and tight space any longer, it was beginning to feel too claustrophobic and by the time that our table was ready (positioned right in the middle of the room and bumping elbows with servers and patrons squeezing past) I made the executive decision to retreat and head elsewhere! The combination of the heatwave and extreme humididty with the choking tightness of the dining room was just too much and made for such an insufferable wait, that despite having left our hotel room freshly showered and groomed in summer weight cotton pincord and seersucker only hours earlier, I stepped back out onto the street completely drenched after only ten minutes of suffering inside Montmartre. The summer rainstorm that night could not have left me looking more run-down and soaked! How any restaurant in New York could survive without air conditioning in June/July is beyond me. Regardless of our decision, the restaurant was as accommodating as possible and very apologetic about the situation. It's definitely at the top of my list of places to return to on our next trip - I only wish we'd started there instead of Tamarind!

                                                                                                        So instead, we opted to jump ahead on our evening's itinerary to the Silver Lining lounge, hoping to get some sustenance with our mixed drinks, served medium rare. I had pulled out my phone to verify the menu - lambchops-check! spinach salad, stuffed endives, charcuterie, cheese selection and pate - does the job! We split amongst two cabs and made it to bar just before 11pm, only to find that the kitchen was closed and they had stopped serving most of their dishes. We were starving and so disappointed. That said, we loved the atmosphere of the bar and the great young bop combo that was swingin' away in the back of the room so much that we decided to stick around and see if maybe there was something that they could find for us to munch on.

                                                                                                        Sadly, what could have been an A1 experience was unfortunately brought way down by the bad attitude and snobbery of the staff. As mentioned, we decided to stay and ordered a first round of drinks, but as none of us had eaten dinner (several had skipped out on lunch too and were beginning to feel lightheaded), I asked if despite the kitchen being closed, we could at least order a cheese plate since there was little prep involved and required nothing more than placing some cheese and nuts on a platter.

                                                                                                        Our waiter, barely making eye contact, repeated that the kitchen was closed. I very politely explained our situation and asked if there was *anything at all* that the kitchen might still have to offer; even just a bread basket or some crackers. Our waiter again responded in a very abrupt and unfriendly/antisocial manner, that they didn't serve bread or crackers, despite the offering of an artichoke dip with toast(?) on their menu.

                                                                                                        I pleaded with him, to please just check in with the kitchen, as perhaps they'd be willing to pull out something accessible and simple, and explained that we would be so very grateful and appreciative for any considerations they could offer. He finally relented and retreated into the back for a good 10 minutes, then returned to say that they could offer us the charcuterie and cheese plate.

                                                                                                        Bear in mind, that the kitchen had *just* closed only 15 minutes or so before we'd arrived, so the cheese plate and charcuterie was really no surprise or effort, and we were all relieved that food would soon be on the way. Not wanting to push our luck though, I had asked if the artichoke dip would be possible as well, since we had 2 vegans in our party. I was told that it might be doable if we ordered it right away, but our waiter then left to retrieve our cocktails and upon returning less than 3 min. later with the drinks and to take our full order including the dip, I was rudely told that the prospect of the dip "was ten minutes ago".

                                                                                                        I have never encountered such a hostile server before and it was entirely unprovoked. Had he simply said something along the lines of "I'm sorry, we can't ----" with even a degree of empathy or just plain old fashioned good manners in regards to the availability of food, rather than muttering "that was ten minutes ago" in response to my inquiry, I would have been entirely satisfied. This server was just a total jerk though, and he seemed to be the only one on the floor who even (barely) took notice of us, which isn't saying a lot.

                                                                                                        The cheese plate btw, took a full 50 minutes to appear. I thought they might have been milking the cows. It was really absurd. Our waiter also never came around once to offer us water or update us on the status of the order. He really just couldn't be bothered in the least as he was too busy tending to the, um, well... every other empty table in the lounge perhaps? We were literally the only customers there that evening, probably as a result of the storm. I don't know what his problem was but it took a good 20 minutes before we were even served glasses of water and I had to get up and retrieve cocktail menus for the table myself. We never complained once and putting all of that attitude aside, we still loved Silver Lining. The drinks were excellent; well made and with good quality alcohol, and the atmosphere is superb! The live jazz music is great too. I would return at an earlier hour and give them a second chance just because the room itself is so great (good cocktails in all fairness, are a dime a dozen in NYC) but the staff really knocked a few points off this one. Luckily, we were among good company and it didn't put too much of a damper on our experience.

                                                                                                        More to come soon...

                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                          Thanks for the detailed report, and TIA for the reports to come. :)

                                                                                                            1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                              Silver Lining is scheduled to close, or move locations, so that might account in part for the horrible service you received:

                                                                                                              Hope the rest of your trip makes up for the snags so far.

                                                                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                Read thru all the posts - surprised that each time poster requested referral for Gotham he didn't receive it! I am going this weekend - after having it on my wish list for quite some time. Hoping to enjoy it!
                                                                                                                Any suggestions?
                                                                                                                Also, any place remarkable for a drink around there?

                                                                                                                1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                  Within a ten minute walk, give or take, probably the best options for something "remarkable" would be Booker & Dax, or for something more traditional Raines' Law Room. Both will be mobbed, more than likely, depending on the night / time.

                                                                                                                  Cocktails at the bar at Gramercy Tavern are always quite good as well, could be an option.

                                                                                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                    My SO has been to Gotham several times and always enjoyed it. If you want to do a search I may have posted a report . . .

                                                                                                                    1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                      We had such a wonderful evening at Gotham. Loved the bar and the creative friendly bartender! I had a drink(well, ok, two) - comprised of 4 or 5 things - where nothing was overpowering - so smooth and well mixed - the sign of a great bartender! Dinner was superb -- rack of lamb - and the corn tortellinni with mushrooms -- memorable, Loved it....and dare I admit that both of us enjoyed it more than EMP!

                                                                                                                    2. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                      Still interested in the "more coming soon" (and what happened with the opera?).