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need third choice to balance Annisa and Jung Sik

  • j

Client coming into town from London with mid-20's son. They are going to Annisa on Sunday, Jung Sik on Monday. Trying to coming up with a third night which will be different. Can be anywhere in the city - thinking maybe EV or LES. Maybe Mexican. Must take reservations. Brilliant thoughts appreciated.

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  1. Empellon Cocina? East Village, creative Mexican, great cocktails, fun vibe.

    1. Toloache is my favorite Mexican and has several locations. Yerba Buena, which is not Mexican but pan-Latin, is run by the same chef and has an East Village location.

      1. new input - downtown Italian. Thinking Peasant, Palma, Aroma or Perbacco. Thoughts?

        1 Reply
        1. re: JC2

          I went to Perbacco recently. Like the food better at Lavagna but the atmosphere is too dark for a business dinner. Too bad Falai is closed.

          What about Rayuela?


          Should work for business and a 20 year old.

        2. How about Seasonal or Skal?

          Yes, yes, I know, neither are Mexican. But you did qualify it with "maybe" and I think either Seasonal or Skal would be a good balance to Annisa and JungSik.

          1. Italian is, I think, a good call, as it would be sufficiently different than the first two. Babbo or Del Posto (certainly appears to be in your budget if you're doing Annisa and Jung Sik) and Scarpetta's always solid as well. Of the four you listed, I like Peasant the best, but they're not as fancy as some of the others.

            Other non-Italian Downtown thoughts:
            Marc Forgione
            WD-50 (if they're into tasting menus)
            Momofuku Ko (good luck with the reservation, though)
            Acme (had a spectacular meal there the other night, though the "vibe" will be quite different than the other places they're going)
            Skal, as ips suggested - but with the same caveat as for Acme. Though of the two, I find Acme a little more solid while Skal is still finding its groove. There's a bit more "high-endy" stuff to be found on the Acme menu, as well, if they're that kind of diner.

            Further North:
            Esca, Lincoln, or Marea for Italian
            Aquavit (knocking it out of the park lately)
            The NoMad

            What is the date - the Saturday preceding or the Tuesday after? Will it be only the client and son, or will you (and others) be dining with them as well? It can be easier if we can just search opentable, narrow down the options from there.

            Momofuku Ssam Bar will take a reservation if you order the duck or rib-eye in advance, minimum three people. There's an opening for the duck on 3/11 (Tuesday) if that's the day you're looking for.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              Thanks sgordon. The point is to do something a little less fancy - less white table cloths. More funk. that is why I came up with the restaurants I mentioned.

              1. re: sgordon

                If we're going funkier, yeah - Babbo (if you can get a rez) or Peasant for Italian. Acme, as I said, is great lately, and Momofuku always brings the funk. Lupa's a good call too, as rrems suggested.

              2. An Italian would certainly be a good counter balance...The Batali places, especially Babbo (that menu hasn't changed in 15 years), are dated and very tourist centric ...Carbone is where its at right now - tough reservation however...Less fancy, get on the subway on go to Roberta's, Franny's or Marco's in Brooklyn (perfect for someone in their 20's)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cpalms

                  Meh. I'd say Carbone was dated (but intentionally so) the moment they opened their doors.

                  Babbo has a fairly unchanging menu, but there are certain dishes that rotate seasonally and specials that change every week or two. I wouldn't call them dated. I've probably been there thirty or forty times and I'm not tired of them.

                  Franny's and Marco's are good neighborhood places to me, nothing I'd go out of my way for. Roberta's, on the other hand, is worth the side trip.

                  And there are tourists everywhere that's generally regarded to be good. Eleven Madison Park and Per Se are touristy, too, when you come right down to it.

                  Heck, Roberta's is touristy nowadays. It's full of tourists from Manhattan, mostly (harhar...)

                2. Meh. Babbo's specials have been on the same rotation for years. Batali has so long ago lost interest in that place - that is of course, other than picking up his paycheck.

                  Agreed, every well regarded place has folks from out of town but then there are places that were once great but now only exist to separate tourists from their money - Babbo defines that category.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: Cpalms

                    so which restaurant if any, Batali still has his interest on?
                    or is he just too busy for any of his restaurant now.

                    1. re: Monica

                      Depends how you define interest - I'm
                      sure he has a great interest in all of the restaurants in his empire - That is a great interest in how much income he can derive from them.

                      If by "interest" you mean food - I would say Del Posto - because there Bastianich hires the best back of the house people and lets them do what they do. I would bet he has little if any day to day input on anything that has to do with food at any of his places (by that I mean menu changes, specials, updated techniques, etc - clearly he has not actually cooked in years).

                      Babbo is a time capsule from 1999 - sad, because it was amazing. Lupa is actually still pretty good but has had many ups and downs over the years. Otto was never good - decent gelato. Have not been to Casa Mono in years. Esca was always his unappreciated gem - though that had nothing to do with Batali - David Pasternak is the man and is in the kitchen there several days a week. Eataly of course is absolutely wonderful.

                      His focus, I suspect, is on how his team can expand Eataly to every major US city, his Vegas restaurants and his monogrammed cooking paraphernalia/ books . I'll give big odds that he will never open another restaurant in NYC ever again...

                      1. re: Cpalms

                        It's odd that would say Babbo being a time capsule is a sad thing, but that Lupa is still good even though the menu -also- has barely changed there in years.

                        There's nothing wrong with a restaurant whose menu stays the same - they're not all going to be Gramercy Tavern. Many good places in town do what they do well and don't mess with it - Balthazar, Blue Ribbon... or, um... Lupa.

                        Have you been to Babbo recently? Yes, the menu is mostly the same as it was but it's being executed at a very high level. If you're just tired of the menu, that's one thing, although it's fairly extensive so unless you order the same things every time or just went there a LOT, I can't imagine getting tired of it that quickly.

                        1. re: sgordon

                          It's odd that you compared an apple to an orange. Lupa is an copy of Roman Trattoria, Balthazar a copy of French Bistro - almost by definition their menu's are practically set in stone. Where as Babbo is something entirely different - or at least was. When it opened Americans eyes were opened that great Italian food could be had in this country. Each dish was new and revelatory. Batali has said himself that Babbo is what a great Italian chef would CREATE if they lived in the Hudson Valley - Babbo's very nature is creative and should grow, change and evolve - instead of just pumping out the same old mint love letters to tourists from sioux city. I got tired of it years ago...

                          1. re: Cpalms

                            I never much cared for the mint love letters. But they're a popular menu item, so it's not like they're going to drop them.

                            "Batali has said himself that Babbo is what a great Italian chef would CREATE if they lived in the Hudson Valley - Babbo's very nature is creative and should grow, change and evolve "

                            It sounds like you're creating from whole cloth what you THINK their "nature" should be, and then holding it against them that they aren't doing that, when it was never intended to be such.

                            I find that the menu is extensive enough that it warrants return visits. Not, like, monthly, but I've probably been about three times a year for the last decade or so. And every time I've been with someone who hasn't been before - seasoned NYC diners all, who for whatever reason hadn't tried the place - they've become fans. So, to each their own, YMMV, as with any place.

                        2. re: Cpalms

                          I guess Eataly makes more money than all the restaurants combined.
                          Does anyone buy Mario Batali's cookwares?

                            1. re: Monica

                              @Monica: I actually have one Mario Batali pot - cast iron / enamel, four or five quart, kind of a hybrid saucier/risotto thing that I got for, like, $20 in a closeout sale somewhere. If something happened to it, I'd happily replace it at full price in a second. It's actually a great piece of cookware. Although I'd probably get in something less clownish than "Batali Orange" next time.

                            2. re: Cpalms

                              You seem bored with Babbo and that's certainly your prerogative. That said, the people the OP is entertaining are coming from London. My assumption is that they haven't been to Babbo and therefore aren't likely to be bored by a menu they've never eaten.

                              It a separate question as to whether Babbo has slipped. I haven't read any reports to that effect.

                              ETA - I see that Rrems said much the same thing earlier.

                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                I think the discussion has evolved since the OP posted Bob - as they have had many good suggestions to select from.

                                Nobody loved Babbo more than me, so bored is not the word - more like disappointed. Babbo raised the bar years ago - what made it unique (and great) is now no longer unique as the Italian food in the US has caught up and far surpassed them. In terms of the OP, I would venture a guess that for somebody that made reservations at Annisa and Junksik, they might find Babbo (especially with 25 year old in tow) a bit stale and would want something a little more progressive. I'm not saying you can't have an enjoyable meal there but if you have three dinners in NYC, I would skip Babbo...but wow, I'm amazed at the amount of group think on zagat er um chowhound these days...

                                1. re: Cpalms

                                  Clearly you like cutting edge creative places and that's fine. That came through loud and clear. Not every person is going to have those same priorities. A well executed meal might be just fine with them.

                                  It seems like Babbo's major crime is that it's 15 years old and the menu didn't change.

                                  BTW, I disagree with you about Otto. You said it was never good. True, the pizza is mediocre at best but the pastas are first rate, as is the salumi and the wine list is broad and fairly priced. It's certainly not fine dining cutting edge cuisine but it executes well and it's prices are gentle.

                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                    Otto's primary function is to serve pizza - their pizza is, was and will always be terrible (grilled pizza WTF?? still baffles me) and becomes more and more irrelevant as the pizza game in this city continues to rise. Their pasta is adequate for the price I guess ...The OP was not looking for something well executed they were looking for "brilliant thoughts"

                                    1. re: Cpalms

                                      "Brilliant thoughts" doesn't necessarily exclude "well executed". That said, I have to agree with you in regard to Otto. Tried it once and couldn't understand what anyone saw in it. Lousy pizza.

                                      1. re: Cpalms

                                        We don't disagree about the pizza at Otto - it's not good. But *you* were the one who brought the place up - I never recommended to the OP.

                                        You included it in your negative comments about all of the Batali places and I thought that was overly broad. I figured I'd set the record straight.

                                        I pointed out that if you stuck to the pasta and salumi you could have a pretty good meal. No one straps you into a chair and forces you to order the bad pizza so to call the place "bad" is inaccurate and an oversimplification.

                                        You've got an anti Batali bias.

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                          Bob, I apologize for being overly broad about why a restaurant totally sucks, I try to save my lengthy dissertations for places that are worthy.

                                          And thank you for setting the record straight Bob, the world is a better place. I'm sure Mario would be proud of you.

                                          Enjoy your "pretty good" meals - I strive for a bit better than that however...

                                          1. re: Cpalms

                                            You know what's funny? I hit a Batali place about once a year at most. I'm hardly a Batali fan boy.

                                            "Enjoy your "pretty good" meals - I strive for a bit better than that however..."



                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                Nothing like a good game of 'gotcha' on the Chowhound board. Good thing the sheriff is in town!

                                2. re: Cpalms

                                  Not having been to Babbo in years, I cannot speak for the quality today, but if the food is still good, someone who has never been there is not going to care if the menu doesn't change. Batali's involvement is irrelevant to me.

                                  Lupa's menu doesn't change, but the food is always delicious, and the choices are extensive so I don't get bored with it.

                                3. Being as you are coming from London I would say Mexican would be a good choice. I would agree with Kathryn based on your desired location, Empellon Cocina would be a good choice.

                                  1. I was entertained by how this posting got hijacked into a Batali fest. Interesting. We ended up at Osteria Morini and had a great time. thanks to all for your contributions.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: JC2

                                      Good choice. Love the ragu and that rice/egg thing.

                                      1. re: JC2

                                        Well, you're an experienced 'Hounder... threads tend to take on a life of their own sometimes... I couldn't tell you many many have veered off into what constitutes "authentic" pho or tacos or soup dumplings or the myth of MSG allergies or whatever...

                                        (but don't dare discuss a restaurant in Brooklyn or Queens on the Manhattan board, in which case the Chowhound Overlords shut it down faster than you can blink...)