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New York itinerary - stand out dishes?

I am traveling to New York early May with my wife and have finally decided on where to have our lunches and dinners. Both of us have been to New York several times in the past and have decided this time only to visit restaurants we haven't been to before and this is the list of restaurants we have chosen for this trip:

Ma Peche (dinner)
Momofuku Ko (lunch)
Empellon Cocina (dinner)
Momofuku Ssäm (Saturday brunch)
Annisa (dinner)
Le Benardin (lunch)
Bouley (lunch)
NoMad (dinner)
Marea (lunch)
Minetta Tavern (dinner)
Momofuku Noodle Bar (Saturday lunch)

Also, some friends are taking us out one evening and I'm not certain where they will take us, but they did mention Brushstroke so please include this restaurant as well.

I have made reservations in all places, except where they only take walk ins. I would appreciate if you could give me some ideas on what dishes that shouldn't be missed in these places. For Marea I know that I will definitely have the Fusilli with bone marrow and octopus and the black label burger at Minetta Tavern and tasting menus at Ko and Annisa.

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  1. The NoMad - absolutely no question; you need to share the chicken.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      I returned to NoMad a couple nights ago and thought that chicken was not close to what it was a few months ago. They stuffed heavily herbed bread crumbs under the skin which prevented tasting the truffles and kept the skin from crisping (or staying crip), they overcooked the breast, they put some kind of white sauce or cream on the chopped thighs which totally masked the fois gras. I had love this dish on previous dishes and now I am worried.

      +1 on Marea, LB, Empillon Cocina

    2. At Empellon Cocina, the queso fundido with lobster and tomato is delicious:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

      At NoMad, the Milk and Honey dessert:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/8276502...

      And I would skip Le Bernardin; I found it to be a joyless dining experience.

      1. All four D Chang restos? You must be quite a fan. Personally I would skip Noodle Bar if you are planning on having ramen there. Much better ramen at Ippudo or Totto or Hide-chan, etc.

        Have not been back to Ma Peche since they changed the menu format so I can't help you there.

        At Ssam Bar, I always like to order the pork buns. Some say they're over-rated but I like them and you really should try them. The spicy sausage and rice cake dish is a favorite of mine. Apple kimchi is different. I often get whatever whole roasted fish is on the menu plus oysters and ham. But I see you will be there at brunch, so the menu will be different so have the duck.

        I like LeB. I think they do a great job with fish. No its not some tiny intimate dark romantic space, but to my eye its fine. The food is great and service is top notch.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Bkeats

            I agree to swap out noodle bar- or the OP does go don't order ramen....

          2. I love your list of restaurants since you have some of my favorites: Ma Peche, Momfuku Ko, Bouley, The NoMad, and Momofuku Noodle Bar

            I've had dinner at Ma Peche since the change to the dim sum format, and I think it works very well. There are still some dishes that the kitchen will prepare for you. Of the prepared dishes, I highly recommend the fried chicken (I like the habanero) and the fried Brussels sprouts. Of the dim sum dishes, I liked all of them (especially the lobster tail; black bass and foie gras; cod fritters; roasted rack of lamb; trout roe with potato pancakes; and uni). There are several carts that are brought around continuously so if you're not ready for another dish, don't worry, the cart will reappear later.

            I'm a big fan of Momofuku Ko, and am trying to get a lunch reservation (haven't been to lunch at Ko in a year and a half, but go fairly regularly for dinner). Lunch is a three hour extravaganza with a set menu (they will adjust for allergies/dietary restrictions with prior notice).

            I also love Bouley, and now that I've gone to lunch at Bouley for the 5 course $55 tasting, I think it is the best value. Although the luxury items (lobster and foie gras) aren't on the lunch menu, everything else is delicious. Love the egg dish; the duck; the pear dessert.

            At The NoMad, I highly recommend the roast chicken for 2; the chicken liver mousse; the milk & honey dessert. Also love the beef main dish.

            I happen to love the Momofuku Noodle Bar ramen. Adore the pretzel cake truffles (these are my favorites of all of the cake truffles).

            Have a wonderful time, and please report back.

            1. Since Ma Peche serve the same menu all day, I'd move Ssam to dinner and do Ma Peche for lunch or brunch - the dinner menu at Ssam is much more varied and exciting.

              As to what to order at each...

              Ssam: If you go for dinner, start with the uni, however they're preparing it, and maybe one other raw bar item. There's often some kind of liver mousse on the menu that's great, and they kill it with octopus pretty regularly. Those are great mid-courses. For mains, there are always a number of good options, but nothing I'm currently married to.

              Marea: I'm still not bonkers for the secondi, but I find it hard to imagine paying their lunch prix fixe and getting a pasta as my main - at $45 for only two courses, their prix fixe is a little higher than most. Compare that to Del Posto which is three courses for $39 or four for $49, or Lincoln which is two for $36. That said, the lobster with burrata and the octopus fusilli are pretty great at Marea.

              I'm not as big a fan of Annisa as some others are, but you won't hear me knocking the foie gras dumplings.

              The Bouley lunch is hard to go wrong with, the only thing I'd say is plan for a lighter dinner that night. I can't really say what to order right now, as Bouley's never been good about updating their website menu - I mean, they have Copper River salmon listed, and the season doesn't even start until mid-May. In fact, the whole menu looks like it should be the menu for, like, a month from now - it seems still a bit early for strawberries and rhubarb and some other things on there, too.

              1. Risotto or gnocchi at Marea.

                1. If you drink be sure to order a cocktail at NoMad, they are very well made and creative.

                  Did you read the NYT review of Annisa already? Several specific dishes mentioned here:
                  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/...

                  1. I second Bkeats' Noodle Bar omission. Had it on good Friday and was disappointed that the broth had a rather artificial smoke flavour to it. I hadn't had a chance to hit Ippudo, but the pork broth at this kitschy isakaya on St. Mark's Place was more authentically earthy.

                    We also went to Yuba for sushi on 9th St. The waiter, George, urged us to avoid the omakase and leave our sushi tasting to his personal choices. And boy, were they ever good choices! We started with Maritime scallops prepared three ways: sashimi, roe broth, and muscle tempura. The nigiri tasting included amberjack, Japanese mackeral, toro, and a kind of sardine that they had just imported. The yuba roll was lively and sensational. But the best feature was probably the Scottish salmon tataki, which he served on the house. With soups, some more sashimi and an extra roll, and one bottle of smooth sake, our bill for 4 people came to $450 before tips. It was definitely worth the experience.

                    1. Many thanks for all the recommendations, it's going to be very useful and I will get back with a trip report.
                      Bkeats - actually never been to any of David Changs restaurants, but we are very interested and thought we'd go all in this time. The one that seems to have the lowest reputation is of course Noodle Bar and I thought about skipping it, but I like the idea of trying all of them in one trip. There has however been a change and I will not visit Brushstroke so I have moved Ssam to a dinner experience rather than a brunch, which opens op for another lunch/brunch. If we stay on Manhattan I'm thinking of Red Farm (it's a Saturday), does anyone have any good brunch dishes to recommend there or another option that is still possible to get a reservation or walk in for? It's next Saturday.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: JosefK

                        If you don't have The NoMad scheduled for dinner, I highly recommend it for next Saturday brunch. Love the chicken sandwich. OpenTable is showing availability.

                        1. re: ellenost

                          Thanks, NoMad booked for dinner however, but will keep it in mind for next visit.

                        2. re: JosefK

                          At RedFarm stick mostly to the dim sum dishes. Or for other brunch options, try Public, the Breslin, Maialino, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., ...
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Thanks. Lots of interesting options. We haven't decided yet what to do with the day, but if we stay on Manhattan all choices seems reasonable. Only one we've been to is Clinton St Baking Co, but that was for breakfast. I have also put down Maialino and Locanda Verde as possible stops for breakfast.

                        3. I love the food and service at Le Bernardin. Best fish and seafood I've ever had. It's perfectly prepared. You could slip in for a $45 lunch at the bar to check it out, especially if you're close by.