Quiet Saturday Supper near Grand Central
We will be meeting a friend coming in from the burbs for an early dinner on Saturday evening near GCT. Looking for a suggestion of a civilized location for this meal - very good food, and a place where we will be able to sit and sip our wine and talk for at least a couple of hours without feeling pushed.
This is not my turf - thinking possibly Le Mangeoire (a little far away from GCT) or even Smorgaschef- we are catholic in our tastes so any place (other than Japanese or Thai, too iffy with our guest) that meets our quality and ambiance considerations would be a possible candidate.
re: jen kalb
Disclaimer: I've only ever eaten lunches but each over 10 times.
I like their PAPPARDELLE CON RAGÚ D’AGNELLO
The BF likes the SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE
At Ammos the grilled whole fish is the way to go.
There's also Benjamin's steakhouse. Petite Sirloin. I like their steak much more than Capital Grille.
I worked in Chrysler building and lunched out a lot in that area.
+1 for Osteria Laguna (which I prefer to da Ciro).
I don't know Andaz other than for brunch, where it excels.
My only additional suggestion -given your "catholic tastes" and the need not to feel pushed- is the Capital Grille, on 42nd btw. Lex & Third. Something for everyone on a menu of pretty straighforward cuisine, a very good wine list, a comfortable space neither more nor less 'corporate' than what's been suggested so far (for that neighbourhood, anyway), and certain to be mellow on a Saturday evening. Maybe a tad pricey, but reliable.
re: Phil Ogelos
thanks for weighing in -what do you like at Osteria Laguna? - the menu does not read all that Venetian.
Wondered how people would take my "catholic tastes" remark by which I intended to mean that we like all sorts of cuisines ! Ive been to a Capital Grille on a business trip a few years ago and was actually very favorably impressed - it did not have a chain feel. I recall a fried squid with cherry peppers that was pretty damn good, the equal of some chinatown versions.
But since our guess is a fairly light eater, and I recall a large serving size at Capital Grill,I think thats not a great fit this time round!
Are any of the "Little Brasil" places recommendable at this point? I wouldnt be a shame to pack up a doggy bag over there.
Here's a quick summary report on our dinner at Vitae, thanks again to all those who provided ideas!
Vitae is a stylish modern styled place on two levels with comfortable seating - we were easily able to talk without disturbance from loud music or other guests even when the place filled up.
Food quality was at a very good level - they started us with very nice quality traditional hot dinner rolls, brushed with duck fat and sprinkled with seasalt along with an amuse buche of pumpkin soup. This last was extremely creamy with sweet spices - while we liked, it reminded me a little too much of pumpkin ice cream - I think a bit more savory and salty flavors would have offset the bland sweetness.
Our appetizers were fried oysters garnished with diced fennel and viniagrette - these were very good - an order of sauteed broccoli rabe, and my delicate chestnut agnolotti garnished with tiny fragments of fried prosciutto. I was luckwarm about this dish which came without the advertised crispy spinach and broth, and to me tasted suspiciously of truffle oil, a bete noir of mine, but husband liked.
Mains were the strongest course - friend enjoyed her duck combo (which I did not sample) husband's brook trout with smoked fennel was the dish of the night with great flavor contrast and depth. My lamb, served with fragments of swiss chard on a base of orange colored puree (supposedly sweet potato curry) with a jus based sauce on top was perfectly cooked and very nice, but the presentation again was on the sweet side in both the jus and the curry - neither the flavor of the sweet potato or any liveliness from spices came forward in this fairly bland treatment,.
I very much liked my dessert -good value - the affogato which consisted of a double expresso with a scoop of chocolate/cinnamon gelato, a good sized stick of cinnamon scented puff pastry and a nice glass of amaro ciociaro - a really nice amaro, which we sampled and then poured into the affogato.
We were offered tiny coke bottles (with straws) filled with fresh hibiscus lemonade - tasted like simple pink lemonade- and a tray of tiny pastries - fresh and crisp but no fireworks flavorwise at the close of the meal
An interesting tho to us pricy wine list - we stayed mainly on the white side, finally settling, after a few glasses on one of the most inexxpensive bottles, a nice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($42). Most wines were in the $60 and up range.
Service quality was polished in physical execution, but a bit quirky and sometimes more obtrusive than need be. I like the classic french service style where things just happen!. While we were able to sit for almost three hours., there were moments, when the servers were aggressively clearing plates, that we felt a bit rushed, though, at the end of the meal we were able to sit and sit without interruption.
In summary, we had a polished meal with some high points in pleasant, comfortable surroundings, just what we were looking for..A very good not great restaurant that served the purpose admirably, but I didnt fall in love...