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Manhattan Trip Report

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We had a wonderful trip to Manhattan last week, and I wanted to share where we ate, since I pulled a lot of info from this forum when planning the trip. I wanted to keep dining casual and avoid making reservations, in order to keep our schedule flexible. I did try to make a res. at Betony three weeks out, but did not see any openings at all on the day I had available. dbModerne had openings, but I did not like having to give my credit card # in order to place the res. I’m from the Los Angeles area, which has a plethora of good Asian and Mexican food, so these cuisines were not included in the plan.

We are not breakfast people, but we thought we needed a little something to jump start our long days of sight seeing. A few of the non-bakery places close to our SoHo hotel we visited (it was really cold, so we did not want to stray far for this) were Little Italy Pizzeria & Deli, Jazzy’s, and Essen. We had mostly breakfast sandwiches, which seem popular at these places. There was definitely no skimp on bacon anywhere.

-John’s on Bleeker: Our first meal of the trip. We really enjoyed the crisp crust and the taste of the sauce on our pie.
-Rocco’s Pastry Shop: my first and only cannolli, so I have nothing to compare to. The crisp pastry was filled on order with a not too sweet filling and had dark chocolate chips sprinkled on it. SO enjoyed the chocolate mousse cup, which had a mocha kick.
-Lavain's Bakery: SO and I had the chocolate and peanut butter cookie for breakfast ; >. The cookie was good and was almost muffin like, however the peanut butter flavor came from just peanut butter chips and was pretty weak in peanut flavor. We wondered if we should have gotten the chocolate brioche instead, which looked really good. The hot chocolate was awful, it tasted like watered down instant.
-Katz’s Deli: I had a half pastrami Reuben and split pea soup and SO had the half brisket sandwich and chicken noodle soup. We both enjoyed our meals, however we did not feel they were ordinates better than other versions. I found the half sour pickles not brined enough and the sour pickles too sour. What was a real downer was the rude treatment by the counter guy who prepped our meals. It may have been just an act, since we observed him treating other customers just as badly, however it put a real downer on our meal.
-Grom on Bleeker: We found the hot chocolate tasty but too thick, more like a syrup.
-Luke’s Lobster in the Financial District: Tasty lobster rolls and clam chowder.
-Sullivan St. Bakery: Breakfast stop. We had a flat bread with olive oil that I can’t remember the name of and canottos. Both were very good.
-Ssam Bar: SO is very sensitive to hot flavors, so we were limited to menu choices. The waiter was very helpful in letting us know which items probably would not suit. I came across the pork belly bun recipe a few years back and have made it a few times, so I was eager to try the dish straight from the source. They were excellent and we were tempted to order a second round. The next best was a duck special.
-Jacques Torres Chocolate in SoHo: Breakfast stop, so we had tasty, flaky chocolate croissants. The hot chocolate was not quite as thick as Grom’s, which was a good thing. We liked it better than Grom’s.
-Sosa Borella: We had originally planned on going to Don Antonio for a pre-theater meal, however they were closed for a film shoot and were not sure when they would be open. We found Sosa Borella nearby. We both had the Parrillada, a simply prepared mixed grill, which was good. The tasty brownie dessert was served warm with ice cream.
-CraftBar: We had originally planned on the tavern room at Gramercy Tavern, however it was over an hour wait and I was hungry. The hostess recommended a few nearby restaurants including CraftBar. This was our best meat of the trip. We were sat fairly quickly at a shared table. SO had the veal roulade and declared it the best veal dish he has ever had. I had the very good Choucroute Garni. Dessert was excellent flourless chocolate cake, and the apple tartin – pretty good, but the pastry was soggy.
-Tri Tip Grill at Grand Central Terminal: We had originally tried the Oyster Bar, but the wait was too long, so we came here. We were surprised to see tri tip, since we thought it was pretty much a Calif. meat cut, more specifically central CA. It was really good, with a side of thin cut fried onions.
-Junior’s at GCT: We had a mini chocolate swirl cheesecake. Good, but not sure what the hype is about.
-Mercato: Made a reservation here, since we were sure about when we wanted to have our pre-theater dinner. SO inhaled an arugula salad and we shared the very good Trenette Al Pesto Trapanese. We both had the Porchetta. While good, the pork skin was not crisp and rather chewy. We ordered the dessert special, of which the waitress then shortly informed us they were out of, which seemed odd since it was fairly early. We had the pettole, which was good, however the strawberry sauce served with it tasted like it was just strawberry preserves.
-Mimi’s Pizza: We wanted one more pizza experience, so we found this place near the Metropolitan Museum on our last evening. The pizza was just OK, no way near as good as John’s. The fried calamari was nicely seasoned, not greasy. A bit of fun was our waitress that could have come out of a stereotypical NYC movie.

We had a splendid time. We definitely did not go hungry!

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  1. I am a huge fan of Katz's. The countermen are on stage and performing their act. I enjoy the banter. It is harmless and never mean.
    Junior's is famous for their cheesecake. I love their strawberry cheese pie. Their egg creams and ice cream sundaes are also amazing.
    John's pizza is one of my favorites.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Motosport

      To OP: thanks for the report. I'm surprised you didn't like Katzs pickles, usually they cover the spectrum of the sour chart, i like the sour tomatoes best.
      Motosport: Finally I found someone who shares the preference of the strawberry cheese pie at Juniors over the cheesecake. I love the cheese pie, it is so much better than the cheese cake. And their best kept secret I think

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        id pick langers over katz's any day...and im born and raised here.