HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

canadian cooks visiting nyc for the first time

hey new york chow hounders!

We are 2 professional cooks working in the restaurant industry in the west coast, and are planning a trip that would not be forgotten! we will be staying at the Mela hotel, in the time square area.

We would like to experience all that new york has to offer in just 7 days (oct 23-30) we've got a very limit list now due to the fact that we dont live there (mostly fine dining), and would like some suggestions on local hangouts and definitely not touristy places. Cheers and thanks in advance for the help!

Fine Dining:
Per Se
La Bernadin
Eleven Madison Park

(these 3 will be the main focus of our trip (crossing fingers on the reservations, any insiders tips on actually getting the reservation?)

Jean-georges for lunch (heard about the killer lunch prix fixe)

Drinking Establishments (are these the places to be?)
PDT
Employees only
Booker & Dax
Dead rabbit
ECC
Clover Club
Flat Iron

Non- Fine Dining:
Katz deli
Guss' pickles
John Dory oyster bar

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. This will be a great trip! Where exactly are you coming from? Your list is missing Japanese, Chinese and Italian, three cuisines that are very good here (although again it depends where you're coming from). Are you guys open to traveling out of Manhattan? Off the top of my head, I would suggest eating at Babbo for Italian as well as the sushi bar at Brushstroke. I actually prefer Shimizu for Sushi but I'm in the minority on this board! I would also suggest Txikito in Chelsea for Basque tapas and a fun atmosphere. I'll suggest more places after I know where you're coming from.
    JeremyEG
    HomeCookLocavore.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: JeremyEG

      hey! thanks alot for the quick reply! We're from Vancouver, Canada, so we have alot of cultural diversity here. Basque tapas sounds fun!

      1. > Fine Dining:
        > Per Se
        > La Bernadin
        > Eleven Madison Park

        Overall, if you are flexible on what day you wish to visit and perhaps doing lunch instead of dinner, that will increase your changes of success.

        At Per Se, my friends who have gone recently were successful at calling at 10am exactly one month in advance, as opposed to OpenTable.

        For Le Bernardin, they take reservations for ALL of October on the first business day of September. Do not rely on OpenTable. You must call. Given that Monday, Sep 2 is Labor Day, I would expect them to start booking all dates in October on September 3rd at 9am.

        For Eleven Madison Park, I would make sure that I am calling 28 days (4 weeks) in advance, including the current day, and on OpenTable at 9am simultaneously to calling. Perhaps enlist a friend to help, as well.

        > Jean-georges for lunch (heard about the killer lunch prix fixe)

        They do. There are also other excellent prix fixe lunches around town as well:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874731

        > Drinking Establishments (are these the places to be?
        )> PDT
        > Employees only
        > Booker & Dax
        > Dead rabbit
        > ECC
        > Clover Club
        > Flat Iron

        PDT is great but it is difficult to get into as it is so small. Your best bet is to show up right at 6pm on an off night. The bar is first come, first served. They only have a small number of booths and tables for larger groups.

        I love the art deco vibe and food at EO, but the drinks are freepoured and IMO not as good as other places.

        Booker & Dax is excellent and one of the few places doing molecular drinks in town. Turnover is fairly high since a lot of patrons are just waiting for a free table at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The B&D and Ssam Bar combo is one of my favorites ever; I'd definitely recommend it to you.

        Dead Rabbit is also great, and totally different from the other bars in terms of atmosphere. The only snag is that it's way downtown in the Financial District, so the neighborhood isn't chock full of great dining destinations.

        I also really like Experimental Cocktail Club, and its location on the LES makes it very convenient.

        I also like Clover Club & Flatiron Lounge but I am not sure it is necessary to do both on a short trip. You're also missing one of their sister bars, Pegu Club, a classic.

        You're also missing any of the Milk & Honey and related establishments: Raines Law Room, Lantern's Keep, Little Branch, Middle Branch, Silver Lining.

        As well as the rest of the Death & Co family, including Amor y Amargo, Gin Palace, Mayahuel.

        If I had to choose my tops for a short trip, I'd keep PDT, B&D, and Dead Rabbit, and add on, at a minimum, Death & Co and Milk & Honey. Maybe Pegu Club. You'll then get a mix of classics/new classics and more experimental with syrups, infusions, etc.

        > would like some suggestions on local hangouts and definitely not touristy places

        Given that you are chefs and likely spending a fair bit on Per Se, Le Bernardin, and EMP, I would recommend Empellon Cocina, Momofuku Ssam, Recette, Pearl & Ash, Tertulia, Louro, Montmartre, Acme. All of these are not formal but still ambitious places that blur the casual/haute cuisine lines.

        Also, this is Manhattan, there will likely be tourists no matter where you go. But there are a lot of places popular with both locals and tourists which are also very good.

        6 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          WOW! omg that is so thorough of you!! thankyou sooo much!

          as people working in the industry, we dont really have time to sit at a telephone and try to make that reservation right at 10am (7am vancouver time). that's the thing im most worried about. i was wondering if email works as well.

          as for the big 3 we're going to, we would like to stick to dinner to get the full experience (more expensive i know but.. ) other than that tho. i think we'll base our whole trip around the reservations and try to be as flexible for them as we can.

          i saw that you recommended the pickle guys over fuss, why?

          being from vancouver and of asian descent, im not sure about going to chinese restaurants, unless there are some that are distinctively new york (history, etc)
          and for the same reason, we often have bagel and lox, are there any places you would strongly suggest for people who are used to eating good bagels? and where to find amazing smoked salmon? (cold smoked or hot smoked?)

          thanks for the PDT tip! will definitely follow that advice!

          B&D Ssam combo sounds like the way to go!

          ECC is definitely something I'm personally interested in as it's something we dont have here in vancouver

          If dead rabbit is a must go, then i think we can make it work, maybe on 911 tribute day since it's close to the WTC memorial site.

          ive talked to my friend, milk & honey, acme and marc forgione are 2 places he'd like to add. I see they correspond to your suggestion so we'll definitely be doing that

          other non food places we'll also be visiting would be
          WTC memorial
          korin knives
          chelsea market
          time square

          we're from Vancouver, Canada and definitely know about touristy cities, i just voiced that i wanted to avoid serious tourist trap restaurants that charge exuberant prices for "famous nyc foods."

          thankyou soo much for all your help! look forward to hearing from you again soon

          1. re: noskcid

            > as people working in the industry, we dont really have time to sit at a telephone and try to make that reservation right at 10am (7am vancouver time). that's the thing im most worried about. i was wondering if email works as well.

            Unfortunately, Per Se, EMP, and Le Bernardin don't do email reservations.

            For EMP and Le Bernardin, that would actually be 9am Eastern/6am Pacific.

            Do you have friends that can help?

            Or perhaps call up the restaurants during an off time and mention that you are two visiting chefs, they may be able to work something out since you are in the industry.

            > i saw that you recommended the pickle guys over fuss, why?

            Guss' Pickles closed their LES location and moved to Brooklyn, 1470 39th St (bet. 14th and 15th Aves). They're now called Ess-a-Pickle. It's approx. 50 minutes from Times Square.

            > being from vancouver and of asian descent, im not sure about going to chinese restaurants, unless there are some that are distinctively new york (history, etc)

            Your original posting didn't indicate where you were coming from, if it was a big city or a small town... If you have a special interest in Chinese food, you might want to try Henan, Shaanxi, Fujian, Shandong, etc. food here. It really depends how into Chinese food you are, and what you can get at home. If you're super into Chinese food and want to compare, that's entirely valid.

            The other way to go is to try a more fusion/creative take on it, like Mission Chinese Food by Danny Bowien (sister to the SF restaurant of the same name). Actually, that one might be much more interesting to you, as a chef. And Mission Chinese is a good value for the amount of food you get.

            > and for the same reason, we often have bagel and lox, are there any places you would strongly suggest for people who are used to eating good bagels? and where to find amazing smoked salmon? (cold smoked or hot smoked?)

            See the end of my post below:

            Best bagels in NYC:
            http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
            Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!

            I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

            > ECC is definitely something I'm personally interested in as it's something we dont have here in vancouver

            Not sure what you mean by that, how is it different from PDT, Death & Co, Mayahuel, Pouring Ribbons? There are several NYC cocktails now that do unusual infusions, tinctures, and more.

            > other non food places we'll also be visiting would be
            WTC memorial
            korin knives
            chelsea market
            time square

            Here's a fairly recent thread on Chelsea Market:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844638

            Korin is in Tribeca, so you'll have lots of food options around there dependent upon when you go and how much you want to spend.

            See my post below on where to eat near the WTC Memorial and Times Square.

            1. re: noskcid

              You may enjoy a visit to kalustyan's market,
              http://www.kalustyans.com/
              They sell a huge variety of spices, including any kind of salt you could want and a dozen different saffrons as well as many other interesting "gourmet" foods.

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                Tack on Dual Speciality (1st Ave.) and SOS Chefs (Ave. B) to that too.

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  oh my god! i was just on their website and they sell ALOT of products! thanks for the suggestion!

                  1. re: noskcid

                    They wholesale to a lot of nyc restaurants, there is a cafe upstairs that is fine, not fabulous IMO but they do have an amazing chai that i get when its cold

            2. Here's a post I wrote for another out of towner, maybe it will help you.

              ---

              To make the best use of your time, you should try to find things to eat to/from the tourist destinations or near the tourist destinations. Our tourist destinations are spread out all around town.

              Where are you coming from?

              When are you coming? How long are you here? How many meals do you have available?

              We don't want to recommend food that you might do better at home, but we also may have some cuisines you can't find at home...

              I'd say we are pretty strong in a lot of different cuisines but not equally. Budget will makes big difference in where you can go.

              Are you willing to wait for a table at a no reservations restaurant? If so, for how long?

              What is your budget, per person, per meal, BEFORE tax, tip, wine/drinks/etc for your meals? It is much easier for us to help you if you give a pre-tax-and-tip figure.

              Feel free to break out your budget in terms of upscale/fancy meals (and number of them) and cheaper/everyday meals.

              Note that popular places tend to book about a month in advance. Most upscale restaurants serve weekday lunch (but not weekend lunch), and serve dinner Monday through Saturday, and are usually closed Sundays, though there are a few exceptions to the "closed Sundays" rule (ex: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges).

              What else are you doing while you are here? Planning around sightseeing, shopping, Broadway shows, etc?

              Check out some "Only in NY" type foods while you're here: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

              Russ & Daughters (takeout, busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and whites, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th after sunset), are all iconic "NY" sorts of places that are worth a look.

              If you're interested in some of the places I listed above, you could do a LES food crawl.

              I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

              Best NY style pizza:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890813

              We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few). scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8343...

              You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese, Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.

              My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8383...

              Some common tourist inquiries:

              Where to Eat Near Times Square:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833282

              Where to Eat Near MoMA (the museum cafe is actually pretty good, as is the Modern next door):
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771459
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767638

              Where to Eat Near Museum Mile (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc) on the UES:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906331
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/795435
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684

              Where to Eat Near the Museum of Natural History on the UWS:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793258
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/748686

              Where to Eat Near Macy's/Herald Square/Penn Station/Empire State Building:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725320
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7577...
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

              Where to Eat Near Grand Central/Midtown East:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

              Where to Eat in Soho:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701593
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7577...

              Where to Eat near 5th Avenue shopping / Bloomingdale's / Rockefeller Center:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/1...
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9064...

              Pre-theatre Dining (many of the same Times Square recs also apply):
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/671275
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755684
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715535
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788254

              Where to Eat Near the 9/11 Memorial:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8461...

              Notable food trucks/carts:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

              Prix fixe lunch deals:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8747...

              Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
              It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

              Best bagels in NYC:
              http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
              Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!

              I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

              If you like the idea of RGR's self-guided LES tour above, check these out, too.

              Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7116...

              A West Village food crawl
              https://foursquare.com/kathrynyu/list...

              East Village:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/882582

              1. Your trip should also put you in the city during white truffle season. Many restaurants will have special offerings (with "special pricing") in addition to their regular menus. The best single dish we had on our trip last year was a simple pasta dish with shaved white truffles at Babbo. Only one of us ordered the dish, but the rest of us wished we had.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cobpdx

                  thanks for the tip! i hadn't thought of that! I love white truffles, but they are too rich for my blood =(

                2. As a fellow Canadian (Toronto), I thought I'd add my two cents.

                  I generally do not include Chinese food on my trips to NY. I think that we (Toronto and Vancouver specifically) do Chinese better. We have such a large Chinese population that Chinese food is almost a national cuisine these days.

                  I do love the Japanese food though. We don't have Japanese food in Toronto on the same level. We finally got a decent yakitori place last year. Though I think you guys have always had great Japanese in Vancouver?

                  A few years ago, I did the 9-course tasting menu for lunch at Per Se. It was wonderful and lasted about 4 - 4 1/2 hours. So when we were done, we walked around Central Park to try and walk off lunch. We went back to the hotel to lie down and I cancelled our dinner reservations for that night.

                  Le Bernadin was great too. Not as extreme but very subtle and refined.

                  I haven't managed to score a reservation at EMP yet. Last year, my computer was ready to go and I got on OpenTable the exact minute the reservations opened. I saw a 5:30 spot for a split second and then it was gone. I didn't try for my upcoming trip next month. Maybe next trip. Though I might want to get into Atera instead.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: chefhound

                    thanks for the input!

                    i agree that vancouver has really good chinese and japanese food, world class even. that's why I decided against Nobu, which was originally on my list. same reason for chinese cusine, unless its something uniquely new york, there is no reason for me (as a person of chinese descent) to eat there for the food. (no offence, just trying to maximize my time in new york)

                    1. re: noskcid

                      Barney Greengrass is The Sturgeon King. Not much has changed over the last 100 years other than the prices. It doesn't get any more New York.

                      1. re: AubWah

                        yea i was just on youtube last night and saw bourdain at the sturgeon king. definitely sounds like classic new york!

                      2. re: noskcid

                        FYI the food I had at Nobu was spectacularly mediocre-awful. I'm assuming the restaurant was a good at one point but not in the past 6 years or so.

                        1. re: Pookipichu

                          thanks! i dont feel so bad about taking it off my list now!