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Critique my plan (mostly Manhattan)

  • melpy Feb 10, 2014 09:27 AM
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Have been to NYC many times. Going to visit a friend but main attraction for us is eating out. We have decided on 4/5 of our meals.

2 lunches: Ippudo and Toloache (have not been to either)
2 dinners: Traif (in Brooklyn, have been once before) and Acapella (never been)
1 Saturday brunch/lunch: TBD

My friend has been to all of these places and recommends them but I get the final say.

Also any food items not to miss at any of the new places?

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  1. Nothing wrong with Toloache, but look at Mission Cantina and Empellon Taqueria for other Mexican options. There's also ABC Cocina and Salvation Taco which I've been wanting to try.

    At Ippudo, the pork bun is a definite, but also look at the spicy octopus starter.

    Saturday brunch maybe at the new Laduree. There's info on reservations in another top thread right now.

    1. If you go to Ippudo order the Akumaru Modern Ramen.. it's what they're famous for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: silencespeak

        Ippudo review
        2/13/2014

        Due to the inclement weather, Ippudo was not even half full when we arrived at quarter to twelve. Having walked yo the West side location from Central Park, I was too warm for the brown rice tea my friend had and stuck with water. The tea was good though. We started with the Yamitsuki Goma Kyuri,
        Japanese cucumber seasoned with Ippudo’s sesame-oil sauce. Very tasty but very salty as well. We shared this between the two of us. I think a third person would have been helpful because it was a lot of the same flavor.

        Next we shared an order of the Hirata Buns With chicken served with Ippudo's original spicy sauce and mayo. There was also a piece of iceberg lettuce on each bun. Overall this was one of my top items, just the right amount of spice, steamed perfectly. Just a delightful handful of goodness. The chicken seemed to mimic the style and even texture of the pork beautifully.

        My friend said she could swim in the dressing so we had to each order our own Ippudo Salad, which was Mixed greens served with wasabi goma shoyu dressing. Cucumber, tomato and fried lotus chips were nice additions. The salad is really quite large and under other circumstances I would have wanted to share it since we were also going to have ramen. The dressing was as good as she said though. Just spicy enough to be interesting. The amount doesn't seem like enough at first but being so flavorful, it is easy to use just a small bit.

        Per all the suggestions we both ordered the Akamaru Modern, I had mine with
        with extra pork chashu, but it was heavy enough without it (I also had the Kakuni braised pork belly and then my friend didn't like her chashu even though she has been before so I ended up with too much pork. She added a soft boiled egg to hers. Then she ordered more bakudan paste which we shared. I didn't finish my ramen and had trouble not getting it all over my shirt, which I knew would be a problem. The ramen was delicious but after everything else, I almost felt it was a let down because the apps had been so fabulous. By the time we left it was packed and there was a wait.

      2. Why Acapella? Solid neighborhood place, but wouldn't choose it on a visit to NYC with so few meals and so many options? Are you looking for that neighborhood or northern Italian?

        1 Reply
        1. re: thegforceny

          My friend picked it and typically we are both on the same page in what we like for Italian food. I cook and eat Italian often (in addition to the Italian American heritage) and I think we might be doing this on V-day and so I think as one of their "go-to" restaurants they are expecting better service.

          She is a little less adventurous than I am. In the past we/I had done Nino's (next door to her apt, knew the staff, let in after hours with her cat), Da Andrea, Basso 39, Il Melograno, Becco, Il Nido, Marea, Aria, and L'asso. We have rarely had a bad meal so I typically trust her. We aren't tied down to neighborhood (I honestly don't know where anything is until I sit down to research and I let her do all the navegating).

          As for cuisine, I like pretty much anything. When we get together Italian is usually one of our favorites because we can have several courses and linger over wine (I especially like Italian reds).

        2. I went to Acapella last December (and two times before that) and was never 100% satisfied with the food there.

          Instead of going to Acapella, try il Mulino or Marea. Both are Italian.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RogueFoodie

            We have been to Marea.

            Got more info last night. She is a regular at Acapella and gets preferential treatment. Friends have said the same as you about not being 100% going alone but apparently going with her is like night and day. She pulled strings to get a reservation on V-Day even though they said they were booked.

            I guess we won't be changing that one.

          2. I've been to Traif, it was wonderful

            For ramen, I prefer Jin to Ippudo, but it may be out of your way (and others disagree).

            Saturday brunch: What do you want?

            4 Replies
            1. re: plf515

              I have done brunch at Rue 57, Sarabeth's, Bubby's, Brasserie 8 1/2, Juniors. ETA: Marea, many of the Persian restaurants.

              My friend doesn't really love the whole egg/breakfasty thing anymore so really it's about the bloody marys for us, although I like a good eggs benedict. I am not into starchy breakfast foods like pancakes, french toast, waffles and the like.

              Ethnic is good, doesn't have to be brunch but my train leave around 3 pm so I want to make sure we can have a decently leisurely meal and still make it to Penn Station.

              1. re: melpy

                If you can get into the Nomad for brunch they have several different wonderful bloody marys and a more lunchy than breakfasty brunch menu. Just a quick xtown cab ride to penn.

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  For out of towners: it's spelled NoMad-don't confuse with another place called Nomad!!!

              2. re: plf515

                Traif review
                2/13/2014

                This was my second visit to Traif. Besides braving the weather again after going to the Knave in the Parker Meridian for coffee and hot chocolate, we were also venturing into Brooklyn. We took the M train and walked around the corner, which in nice weather seems very fast but the rivers that the streets had become really made this more like fording creeks on the Oregon trail.

                After walking by Shiksa and realizing their favorite waitress was working there that night, we made our way to Traif. We started the evening with cocktails. I had a Red Pearl (or 3), which is chili infused vodka muddled with Thai basil, kiwi and citrus sour. One of the best drinks I have ever had. My friend had the Rude Little Pig which is lapsang infused tequila with orange liqueur, pomegranate and a bacon rim. I have had this before and for me the bacon rims tastes a little too much like artificial liquid smoke. Her boyfriend had the Dacker Adirondack Ale which was great.

                Becca, our waitress was phenomenal, letting us order our plates a little at a time because we prefer having only 1-2 at a time. While we were waiting the staff greeted us with an amuse of the bacon broth. I don't quite remember the order of dishes but we started with a few salads. The Macintosh, pomegranate, cranberries, greens with bacon and blue cheese was light and delicate. The cheese was grated into a fine dust instead of hunky which my friend's boyfriend enjoyed. We also has the tricolore salad with grapefruit, clementines, currants, carbs al vino, and sunflower seeds, this was very bright and fresh but I think I preferred the first. The burrata with roasted beets, raspberries, pomegranate yogurt and mint was my least favorite dish of the evening. Way too sweet, it was like eating dessert. Burrata doesn't have enough salt to stand up to the sweetness of both beets and fruit. Eternally on the menu, we had two orders of the spicy big eyed tuna tartare on top of little tempura Japanese eggplant rounds with kecap manis. Still one of my favorites.

                It warrants saying that my friend is picky about meat products due to animal rights so many of the dishes are off limits. We did get to have the braised escargot with pork sausage, roasted wine mushrooms in a red wine sauce that came with two thick toasts for sopping up the sauce. She did not try the snail but it was her boyfriend's first time so I bullied them into ordering it. Could have been a little more flavorful but it was nice and light which escargot don't have s a tendency to be due to the butter that people use with them.

                The salt and pepper shrimp with pineapple, roasted yam, snow peas and sweet spicy Thai vin were another highlight of the meal. So much better than the shrimp at ABC cocina. Sadly most of the other pork, duck, foie gras, beef, sweetbreads dishes were off limits for ordering but I saw them all go by and I really wanted one of everything. Supposedly the last menu at Traif was even better.

                Although I wasn't a proponent of ordering it, the baked muenster cheese with smoked chorizo, golden apples and crostini was another stand out dish of the evening. Perhaps another bite of apple or crostino would have helped the amount of cheese but it was not excessive, being served only in a small ramekin. Our final two dishes included the sautéed broccoli rabe with portobello mushrooms, truffle toast, fried egg and aged asiago and skate cheeks "New England chowder" braised bacon, spinach, potato and leeks. The egg on the broccoli rabe would have been better if we had eaten it right away but it over cooked and became hard boiled. I partially blame my friend who turned it over so it would drain into the bread but didn't pierce it enough. Not at good as I remember. The skate cheeks were like a chowder but large pieces instead of incorporated. Buttery texture and a nice light taste, they were another highlight for me.

                We decided to order the bacon doughnuts because we thought they only came two to an order. They brought us four, along with panda cotta on the house and sweet vermouth after dinner drinks. Another fabulous meal. I specifically complemented Becca on her impeccable service, aside from the little freebies (they also bring a piece of pineapple to refresh you at the end), they were wonderful and attentive, water always in the glass and the drinks just kept coming (by request of course).

              3. Something tells me your friend lives in Hell's Kitchen?
                I agree with Coasts about Toloache. The food was fine but its just hard for me to get excited about it. Fairly touristy, upstairs feels like eating at Chilis, and I've had better tacos at bodegas nearby like guelaguetza

                Love the Akamaru Modern at Ippudo, and the pork buns, Shishito Pepper, but not a fan of that octopus. Totto and Ivan Ramen (tho not really for the ramen) are interesting options as well

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ziggy41

                  I spoke to her last night and it sounds like the modern and the apps are high on the list at Ippudo.

                  She has been talking about going to Toloache with me for seven years and since she will be moving away in November, I figured I would indulge her. She took my parents and they enjoyed it so hopefully we can "order correctly".

                  My friend lives on Central Park South between 6th and 7th.

                  1. re: melpy

                    While I probably wouldn't go out of my way for Toloache if I lived in Manhattan, Toloache is my favourite restaurant within a 10 minute walk of Times Square and the Broadway theaters. I like the fish tacos, shrimp tacos and guac trio the best.

                2. Update:
                  Switched train to Wednesday night so we added late dinner at ABC Cocina.

                  Still up in the air on Brunch...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: melpy

                    How bout some Shakshooka at Taboon

                    1. re: melpy

                      Abc cocina review

                      2/12/2014
                      Went to ABC Cocina last night. Arrived 15-20 minutes early and still had to wait until 9:15 for a 9 pm reservation on a Wednesday night. Coat check was very gracious about the large roller bag I had on person. The bar is accommodating with transferring your tab to a cars that has the reservation name with no hassle. Order two basil jalapeño margaritas. They were probably the low point of the evening. The basil rim tasted old and rancid. They would have done better muddling the basil into the drink and then doing a different kind of rim. Apparently this is their most popular drink.

                      Once seated at the banquette we ordered a 31 dollar bottle of Rioja which was very light. Perfect since we ended up ordering a light meal of vegetables mad seafood. The table was set uniquely with a small dark pic flower ( perhaps a carnation ), dish rag style napkins (which would have been perfect had we ordered the tacos), depression glass bread plates ( which seemed to serve no purpose since I neither saw bread and most things were tapa style in which we had another small dish to use for the food.

                      We started with an order of the guacamole which came with a citrus salsa that my companion found bitter, I was hoping the would have had the spring pea guacamole but it is obviously out of season for that. For the most part we took recommendations from our server who had excellent taste. It was a little difficult to hear her because the notice level is quite high. There was definitely a scene sort of atmosphere, average age of the patrons was probably between 25-35. Not as many couples as two women or large groups.

                      After the guacamole we had the shaved Brussels sprouts salad with Shepard basket cheese and Marconi almonds. The was tasty but could have used a little dressing or fat (oil or pork product maybe) just a little too bright within not enough depth. Even some citrus would have been welcome. Next came my second favorite dish of the evening, the roasted cauliflower with raisins, cilantro and chilies. Not greasy with just the hint of a spicy cheese or aioli (not like on the menu) the cauliflower had a wonderful texture between creamy and crisp. Next came the shrimp with sizzling garlic and chili oil. Much better than the traditional gambas al aljillo you typically get. Much less grease but lightly breaded. I didn't love the flavor but my companion really enjoyed them.

                      The last two dishes were also in the top three, roasted beets with pimeton, sherry and herbs and maitake mushrooms with goat cheese and Fresno pepper vinaigrette. The beets would have been a little better had they not been chilled. My favorite of the evening though were the mushrooms. Meaty and savory with a tart finish from the pepper sauce and the goat cheese. I could have eaten a whole dish myself but it was the most generous dish apart from the guacamole. If I can find some of these mushrooms this will be high on my recreate list.

                      We ended the evening with a glass of sherry and a glass of port. It is unlikely we would return but it was a pleasant meal.