Thanks for the info. Based on your response and others, we're going to go with Marc Forgione and Hearth. I'll report back after our trip.
We have also been to 4 of the Terroir locations on our visits and I'm sure we'll make it to at least one on this visit. We do love their funky, fun wine list. Last year, we had a good laugh while listening to the bartender try to explain to two young ladies at the bar that it was the Summer of Riesling and that they didn't have any Sancerre by the glass. Lots of folks still don't believe that there is anything but sweet Riesling.
Thanks for the responses so far. What do you think of the food at these three places and the overall experience? Having looked at the wine lists, I'm sure we can find wine at all three, so now we need to decide which 2 to go to based on food. Thanks!
My husband and I are headed to Manhattan (from Chicago) for what is now our 5th annual culinary visit during this upcoming week. We have most of our meals all set, but are doing a little debating of which two of these three to go to: Marc Forgione, Apiary and Hearth. We have reservations currently for Marc Forgione and, as of today, could get in at Apiary and Hearth for the dates we were looking at. Which 2 of the 3 would you choose and why?
To add some context, my husband is in the wine business and we love an interesting wine list with decent pricing (and he is good at finding the "values"). Hearth is part of the summer of Riesling, which is definitely a plus. Also, some of the other places we will visit on this trip include: Blue Hill Stone Barns, Louro, lunch at EMP, lunch at Ko and likely lunch at Kin Shop. Maybe a return trip to Motorino if we can fit it in. (And Victory Garden based on Kathryn's recommendation.)
Thanks for your thoughts. We're looking forward to another fun visit!
We went to Ko for lunch over Labor Day weekend and followed up with the pasta tasting dinner at Maialino that evening, so I do think it is possible. I would definitely try to move the Peter Lugers reservation a little later and do some walking around in between. And if you are choosing, I've never been to Peter Lugers, but I love Ko and I would definitely choose Ko.
Sorry for my delay in reporting back on my EMP at Alinea experience--I've been thinking about it all week. I won't go into detail on the food since there are many posts about the current menu, but more just give you my thoughts on how the experience translated as someone who has been to both Alinea and EMP.
The food itself was executed perfectly and our 5 hour experience flew by--I couldn't believe it was 1:30 am when I walked out the door! As Kathryn mentions above, Alinea is more modular than EMP, so you might expect fewer spoilers, but that did not turn out to be the case. We were seated after the two other tables in the room and could tell what would be heading our way; maybe even more so than I've sometimes found at EMP. You didn't get all the details though and we were mostly focused on what was happening at our own table, so it wasn't an issue.
The most difficult part of our evening was that the room we were in was fairly loud (due mostly to the 6 top) which made it difficult to hear what all the ingredients in a dish were. And, unless prompted, the staff at our table didn't repeat anything. And, while I think our service was good, I don't think it was as good as the service that I've typically had at EMP. Of course, most of the people serving us were not from EMP and Alinea has a slightly different style of service.
They definitely did think of details, including music, tablecloths and some changes to the lighting to give it more of the EMP feel. The best part was a little bar that they set up outside the kitchen which was your first stop on the journey. Since Alinea doesn't have a bar area, this was a really nice way to try to give you a little bit of the feel of EMP within the confines of the space. And the bartender was from EMP and really helped start the evening off right.
Overall, I prefer the grand room at EMP, but my food experience definitely didn't suffer from being in the more intimate space. Our friends that came with us had not been to either place and they were thrilled with the whole evening. If I were given the opportunity to make the decision again about whether to attend (and spend the money!), I would definitely still make the same decision.
I'm going to the EMP at Alinea dinner this evening and will report back. I've been to both Alinea and EMP, so I am interested to see how the EMP experience differs here in the Alinea space. I just had lunch at EMP while visiting Manhattan right before Labor Day, but couldn't pass up this opportunity to go in my own back yard.
I think if the manager had offered us a glass of sparkling or something in the lounge instead of just asking us to please call him if we want to return, it would have been a nice gesture. It didn't even need to be Château d'Yquem caliber. I would also agree it was a very fine meal.
Sounds really great, but we live in Chicago, so we won't be to join you for the duck lunch--you'll definitely have to report back as it is one of the things we haven't done yet. Sounds like you have at least a couple of great meals ahead of you and I'm guessing you may have a few others planned as well.
See this link for some of our other stops from our recent trip: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869448
I love good corn and I love pizza, but I would agree that I don't think I'd need corn on my pizza, so I'm glad you kept reading to learn that they didn't mix the two!
kathryn, thanks for all of your great suggestions on this board. I always know you'll steer us in the right direction!
My husband and I spent a long Labor Day weekend in Manhattan to celebrate our 15th anniversary with multiple great meals. Since I always get a lot of great information from Chowhound, I thought I’d share our experiences to hopefully help someone else. To make it a little easier, this post is a summary of the weekend and there are links to longer reviews for some of the places we visited.
We arrived late Thursday night, but did manage to sneak in some Riesling at Terrior Murray Hill to start out the trip. I love all of the Terrior locations and their amazing Riesling selections for the summer of Riesling.
Friday lunch: Eleven Madison Park for the tasting menu. We’ve been to EMP for dinner on a couple of occasions and weren’t originally planning to visit on this trip, but when we read about the changes that are coming, we decided to add lunch to our agenda to check it out before the format changed. As usual, we were not disappointed and I’ll look forward to checking out the next version as well. (And, if I can get in, I would love to attend when EMP invades Alinea this fall!) More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869442
Friday dinner: Txikito. While they apparently don’t take reservations for 2 anymore, they did make an exception for us since we were coming from out of town, which was great. We had to wait a little bit for our table, but found seats at the bar to have a drink while we waited. We would have considered eating at the bar, but I must admit the bartender didn’t exude much personality, so we did wait for the table where our server was quite friendly. We had the Gernika peppers with sea salt, which were really good and reminded me of our Barcelona visits. We also had the white asparagus with celery truffle vinaigrette and chopped egg, which I enjoyed, but I felt like the egg didn’t really do much for the dish. We also had a special heirloom tomato salad and the chorizo hash sandwich—I could have eaten several of these little sandwiches! We had read everywhere that we had to try the suckling pig and we did. It is definitely as good as everyone says; our only question was whether it was really worth $32. Finally, instead of desert, we tried the Kroketas, which were like beautiful pillows of potato in a crunchy case—I would have eaten a whole bowlful! Overall, it was a nice evening and I enjoyed all the food—I would go back and I think it would be even more fun if you had a group.
Saturday lunch: Motorino. I really liked this place. We had a really lovely heirloom tomato salad with a big scoop of fresh mozzarella and some nice olive oil—simple, but delicious. We also had the corn special, which was grilled on the cob with butter, oregano and romano. This was good, but not great. Then came the pizzas. I had a special meatball pizza that had meatball sauce and mozzarella. I had considered their soppressata piccante from the regular menu since I had read good things about it, but I’m really glad I tried this special—the meatballs were fantastic and the overall pizza worked really well. My husband had the pizza al’uovo with the egg, pancetta, pecorino and chili flake. We commented that it would be a great hangover pizza and it was great without one too! We arrived around 12:30 on a Saturday and were able to sit right down. The host/manager was very welcoming and if I lived in NYC, I’d probably stop in on a regular basis.
Saturday dinner: Le Bernardin. We’ve had Le Bernardin on our list for a while, so we finally decided it was time to make the reservation. We had read some mixed comments, but figured we would see how our observations compared. Generally, we had a lovely evening and the food was beautifully prepared. A service lapse at the end marred the evening somewhat, but we still have more positive than negative comments on the experience. More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869443
Sunday lunch: Momofuku Ko. We had been here two years ago for lunch and really enjoyed it, so we wanted to try it again. Almost all the dishes were new and the chefs are really hitting some home runs. A very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon! More details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869444
Sunday dinner: Maialino. I know it seems like lunch at Momofuku Ko would be enough food for one day, but we always try to fit in as many places as we can when we visit, so we couldn’t skip dinner. I liked the décor/atmosphere at Maialino and we had a really great server, which also made it a nice experience. We decided to do the Sunday night pasta tasting menu, which was four pasta dishes and desert. We also added a cheese course because we were still drinking a really lovely Barolo. The pasta course portions were good sized without being too big and were very fitting for the season, with ingredients like corn, sungold tomato, summer squash, etc. This was a comfortable spot and I could definitely see it being a once a month kind of restaurant if I lived in NYC.
Monday lunch/snack: Xi’an Famous Foods for spicy cumin lamb burgers—these are SO tasty we had to have them again this year. Then we went to SobaKoh in the East Village for some soba noodles. My husband had some simple cold noodles and I had a lunch special that included warm noodles in broth, shrimp tempura over rice and three little pickled side items. It was an inexpensive way to fill up for an afternoon of a lot of walking. Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Pommes Frites for some yummy Belgian fries with rosemary garlic mayo.
Monday dinner: The NoMad. It only seemed fitting to end our weekend at Daniel Humm’s newer restaurant since we started at EMP. We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal in a lively atmosphere amongst a diverse crowd of fellow diners. More thoughts here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869446
Overall, the weekend was fantastic. While we had debated about whether to go back to a couple of places since there are so many choices in NYC and we typically only visit once a year, we were very pleased that we did revisit EMP, X’ian, Pommes Frites and Ko this year. Some favorite dishes of the weekend were: the couscous and corn dishes at EMP, the chorizo hash sandwiches at Txikito, the meatball pizza at Motorino, the mackerel and beef carpaccio dishes at Ko and the incredibly well priced 1996 Rocche dei Manzoni Barolo at Maialino.
We’ll have to start planning now for next year’s visit!
As my husband and I were planning our 15th anniversary dining trip, we had already booked lunch at Eleven Madison Park and dinner at Le Bernardin and The NoMad. So, we didn’t really need to go back to Momofuku Ko, but we had really enjoyed our lunch there a couple of years ago and decided we’d go if we could get a lunch reservation on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. We’re very happy that it worked out—I really recommend it if you are willing to put yourself totally in the hands of the chefs since you won’t see a menu or have any choices.
As with our last experience, we were greeted warmly by the front of house folks and settled into our seats with a wine list and asked about our choice of water. There were 4 chefs behind the counter and only one, chef de cuisine Sean Gray, was the same as when we were here two years ago. I really enjoy the ability to watch them as they go through the intricate process of prepping and cooking a 17-course meal for 12 people. We chose our own wines to go with the food and had the following during the course of our meal: NV Bisson Glera, 2005 Foureau Vouvray Demi Sec, and 2011 Domaine Renardiere Arbois Blanc.
Since we had been here before, we settled ourselves in for an enjoyable three hours and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s what we had (please note that I may not have caught all of the ingredients in each dish):
Pastries: cheese Danish and orange financier—it is brunch time technically, so it is fun to start out with pastries.
Kushi oyster with chili oil
Asparagus with miso butter
Potato puff filled with cold potato: this had a perfect amount of salt
Raw scallop with pickled tomatillo, chipotle and puffed rice: I don’t always like raw fish, but I must admit that this had nice texture and the pickled tomatillo was fantastic!
Spanish mackerel, shaved fennel, pickled watermelon, soy: I love pickled watermelon and fennel and they were a spectacular match to the richness of the mackerel.
Fluke, radish, soy, toasted fennel seed
Sea urchin, shaved apple, mustard seed, puffed rice: I don’t really like sea urchin, but I always give things a try—Ko hasn’t made me a convert, but my husband loved it and finished mine. I could tell that the apple was a nice addition to the dish.
Beef carpaccio, horseradish, pickled strawberry, feta cream: This dish was fantastic! The flavors went so well together; it was amazing. And I had mentioned at the beginning that I wasn’t a big fan of olives, so they left the black olive powder off of mine, but my husband said it added a nice hint of salt.
Grilled octopus, turnip salad, celery leaf, sweet potato vinegar: Another good combination.
Melon soup, steelhead roe, nasturtium leaf, chervil, trumpet mushroom: This was a dynamite match of sweet, salty and earthy.
Puffed egg and bacon dashi: This was a dish that we had the last time we were at Ko—seemingly simple, yet really tasty. My husband has tried to make bacon dashi and it turned out quite well, but not as good as this. He got a couple tips from the chefs, so we’ll see how it works out the next time!
Bento box: 1) grilled romaine with ranch like dressing; 2) corn and hearts of palm soup; 3) chicken finger with honey mustard; and 4) popover with cherry compote: If only tv dinners were this good! The corn and hearts of palm soup was really great.
Grilled squid, grilled rice, grilled pepper, chervil: this had a little kick and the grilled rice really made the dish.
Grilled lobster, variations on orange, lobster mushrooms, mint: We had lobster dishes at Eleven Madison Park and at Le Bernardin before we got to this one and this was definitely the best of the three. Just a lovely combination and the lobster was cooked perfectly.
Chicken paté, smoked chicken and mushroom sausage, apple butter, pickled onion
Quail/quail leg, sunchoke puree, barley mix, grape
Foie gras: the only other dish that was a repeat from the last time; one of their signature dishes.
Carrot cake, pickled carrots, rye sesame crumbs, buttermilk sorbet: the best version of carrot cake that I’ve ever had.
Donut with huckleberry jam with maple syrup ice cream and huckleberries: this was really lovely and the combination worked well.
Ice cream cone (waffle cone made with rice) with sticky rice and white miso ice cream
We got a chance to talk to the chefs throughout—you just have to know when it is appropriate to ask them a question since they are busy cooking you lunch. I’m really glad that we added this to our itinerary and I’ll definitely plan to go back on a future visit to NYC.
For our 15th anniversary dining trip, our final night would be the Monday night of Labor Day weekend. As we were planning, we found that in addition to the usual Monday closures, there were some additional restaurants that would not be open on Labor Day. Ultimately, we thought that going to The NoMad would be a perfect ending to the weekend, which started with lunch at Eleven Madison Park on Friday. Fortunately, we were able to get a reservation and our plans for the weekend were set. When we made our reservations, they noted that the Parlour would be closed, so we would be seated in the Atrium, which sounded fine to me.
When we arrived at 8:00, the Atrium was relatively full, but we were directed to our table immediately. The music is fairly loud, although we very much enjoyed the mix. We were approached relatively quickly to see if we wanted a cocktail and did decide to start with champagne (for me) and a cocktail (for my husband). Then we received a complimentary amuse of the radishes dipped in butter with sea salt. It took us a little while to realize that this was not something that people generally receive (we did wonder why people would order it from the menu if they received it as an amuse). I think we probably received it because we had been to EMP on Friday for lunch and they knew we would be at The NoMad to end our weekend. I must say that the radishes are really good and I would definitely enjoy them again. It was really nice of them to send them out with the compliments of the chef.
To start, we ordered the steak tartare w/horseradish served with nicely toasted brioche and a bottle of 1995 Von Schubert Maximum Grauhauser qba. The tartare was really good and I liked the presentation in a little glass mason jar. I would note that while our waiter was perfectly helpful as far as deciding how many dishes to have and describing dishes when requested, he didn’t exude much warmth or personality. Our sommelier was really great, though. And, at the end of the evening we mentioned to our waiter that we knew they had some other rooms and he took us on a little tour and really perked up, sharing some fun facts about the space.
For our next course, we had a salad of snow pea chiffonade with pancetta and pecorino, which was very refreshing and the egg with corn, crispy prosciutto and tarragon. The egg was perfectly cooked and both of these dishes were excellent combinations of ingredients. We then also had the tagliatelle with king crab, meyer lemon and cracked black pepper. This is another relatively simple dish, but was executed very well and I would definitely order it again (although there are so many things that I want to try.)
We had a little trouble trying to get our second bottle of wine as the sommelier got tied up with some other tables. We ordered the 1990 Robert Ampeau Volnay Santenots Premier Cru, which was lovely, but we received our main courses before our wine, which was a little disappointing.
For our main courses, our staff from EMP (and other Chowhounds) had highly suggested the roasted chicken for two. I am not always the biggest fan of foie gras and we queried our waiter about how strong the foie gras flavor was; he noted it was pretty strong, so we ended up opting for other dishes.
I had the lobster which they described as minestrone with fava beans, lemon verbena and garganelli pasta. This was a nice dish, but definitely not as good as others we had that evening. My husband had the duck with fennel, peaches and pickled juniper. It was some of the best duck either one of us has had in a long while. Perfectly cooked and beautiful.
At this point, I was stuffed (it was the end of a long weekend of eating and I think it started to catch up to me), so we weren’t sure if we were going to have desert. Ultimately, we decided to share one desert: the peanut butter palette with milk chocolate and peanut butter sorbet with a couple pieces of caramel corn. Even though I was full, it was a nice finish to the meal.
Le Bernardin has been on our list for the last couple of years and we finally made our reservations for this trip to NYC. We had been perusing the menu online before we came and were interested in different tasting menus and weren’t sure if that would be possible. Thanks to a comment from RGR, we decided to ask and they were willing to accommodate the request. I did add a course to my menu so that my husband and I would have the same number of courses, although I don’t think that they would have required me to do so. My husband had also requested a copy of the wine list in advance so I wouldn’t have to sit and watch him peruse the list for a half hour. He discussed a couple of items with our sommelier and we started with the 2005 Michele Bregeon Muscadet.
We had read that many people find Le Bernardin too corporate and not romantic and I can see how they might feel that way. The dining room is very simple and modern and understated. I found it to be quite nice and I probably focus a little more on the food and the service than the décor, so it worked for me as part of our anniversary dining weekend. And, I felt that our sommelier and our captain definitely had personality, which was another thing I had read that people thought Le Bernardin lacked.
My husband had the Chef’s Tasting Menu and I had the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu plus the langoustine dish to even out our dishes. I didn’t take detailed notes, so I’ll just go over some highlights here based on my memory from two weeks ago.
On an overall basis, I’d have to say that everything we had was really perfectly cooked (with one exception where my husband thought his sole was just a touch overcooked). The dishes may appear to just be simple fish dishes, but I can really appreciate the skill that it takes to make sure that the fish is cooked just right and that some of those “simple” broths or sauces can take hours to prepare. One of my dishes that comes to mind is the poached halibut with the bergamot-basil emulsion—it was really fabulous. I also love all the simple white plates of various shapes and sizes so that the food is the star. My husband noted that the octopus a la plancha was his favorite, followed by the lobster carpaccio. We were very much enjoying ourselves as we made our way through our savory courses. I also got a kick out of the purse footstool that a young lady at a neighboring table received for her purse.
For the first desert, they brought us both the same raspberry desert from the Chef’s Tasting even though mine was supposed to be a strawberry desert. Our captain did come out to acknowledge the error and for the next desert course, I got the strawberry desert and my husband got utensils to share. We then got back on course for the final desert course. During our meal, we had also had a bottle of 2005 William Fevre Chablis Valmur and a half bottle of NV Pierre Gimmonnet Blanc de Blanc Premier Cru. We had also discussed with our sommelier that we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. So, while I did not expect for them to provide us anything complimentary (after all, I’m sure many diners at Le Bernardin are celebrating something), we were very disappointed that at this point in our meal no one even came to ask us if we wanted coffee or an after dinner drink. We have dined in France quite a bit and we know that you have to ask for your check, so that part was not an issue, but the fact that we seemed all of sudden to just drop off the radar and not be offered any final items was not how we expected the evening to end. Unfortunately, that did taint the overall experience since it was our final impression. We did talk to a manager who gave us his card and told us to call him the next time we are in, but we live in Chicago and it will not likely be at the top of the list the next time we are in town. Bottom line, it was a very enjoyable evening until we got to the end, so I’m glad that we dined there, but it may not be on my list of places to return to immediately since I can only fit in so many restaurants on my visits to NYC.
My husband and I made our third visit to Eleven Madison Park in four years on August 31, but this was our first time visiting for lunch. We were warmly escorted to the lounge area for a few moments before being led to our table where we would be for approximately the next four hours. It was very interesting to enjoy the room in the daytime after always being there in the evening—it is a beautiful, elegant place and it was a lovely sunny day.
We decided on the full tasting menu since it would be our last chance to have the current version of the lunch tasting. My husband had talked to the wine director before we arrived because he was interested in a particular champagne from the list since we had served the same producer’s champagne at our wedding reception and were now here to celebrate our 15th anniversary. He was able to make sure it would be available and so we started by enjoying the NV Jacques Selosses Les Carelles as they brought our savory black and white cookies to begin the amuses.
We then progressed to the tomato tea with lemon thyme, which was as good as I remember from our dinner last year. Other than the egg cream, this was the only repeat dish that we had. We did request that we not have the “clam bake” again even though it was really great last year; we just wanted to experience as many new dishes as possible.
The tomato tea was followed by yogurt and chickpea lollipops, which were even better than last year’s goat cheese lollipops (and I love goat cheese). Then some small chickpea flour fritters that had a pinch of lemon zest that packed a wonderful amount of flavor. Finally, a little bit of smoked sturgeon with chive oil and sabayon in an eggshell that had really lovely flavors.
We then had the EMP take on smoked fish and bagels. They first brought out the glass dome with smoke under it. Then they brought each of us a plate with romaine topped with everything bagel dust, quail egg and pickled onion; a caviar tin with cream cheese and caviar on top; a jar of pickle sticks; and some toasts. Once we were all set with the mise en place, they removed the dome to reveal the smoked fish and let us know there was no specific way to eat the dish—it was up to us. I really enjoyed this dish, which I believe is one of the dishes that will still be on the new menu.
Our next course was couscous cooked in smoked tomato broth with melon, fennel, mint and olive dust. I had noted that did not particularly care for olives, so they left the olive dust off my dish. This dish was like summer on a plate. It was about this time that we also started our white wine, a 1991 Francois Jobard Mersault Poruzots 1er Cru.
For our next course, my husband and I received different dishes because I had also mentioned that I’m not a big fan of offal and although I noted that I do eat foie gras, I think they noticed that it isn’t necessarily a favorite of mine. My husband had a torchon of foie gras with beet and berry. He noted that the foie gras was spectacular and that the flavors all worked together very well. He was, however, jealous of my dish, which included snapper, geoduck clam, white nectarine and sea cress. It was a beautiful dish and very well executed.
Next was a very delicious corn dish. The corn was smoked with blueberry and served with blueberries, dried corn and chanterelle mushrooms with a lapsang souchong tea mousse and yogurt. It is amazing how great the vegetable dishes at EMP are!
Next we had a lobster dish with lemon verbena, squash blossom, and amaranth. This was a simple dish that had vibrant flavors, but we felt the lobster was slightly overcooked.
Our final main course was veal, which was perfectly cooked (sous vide, then roasted, we believe). Again, making sure to cater to my dislikes, my husband’s dish also had beef tongue and sweetbreads while mine did not. There were also various types of summer beans with the dish.
For the cheese course, there were two different Rainbow Ridge chévres: one fresh and one aged for 2-3 weeks. These were served with pistachio butter and green garlic. The aged chévre was amazing.
On to desert: We had the traditional egg cream made tableside; I like the orange flavor. Next, we had what I would call deconstructed cheesecake, which I thought was really good and cheesecake is not my favorite desert. Finally, chocolate ganache, apricot sorbet and cardamom mousse, which was lovely.
We were then guided into the kitchen for a cocktail called The Colony, which included cherries, cherry syrup, gin and grapefruit. It is always interesting to see the activity in the kitchen and how organized they are.
As a bookend to the first amuse, we finished off with the black and white cookies.
This is one of the best ways I can think of to spend a Friday afternoon and Eleven Madison Park still has the best service that I know of in the U.S. It certainly is not a place you can go to all the time, but it was a lovely way to celebrate our anniversary a few days early.
I'd try e-mailing Txikito and telling them you are going to be there from out of town. We are visiting over Labor Day weekend and did get an e-mail back saying they'd make an exception to their "no reservations for 2" policy since we were coming from out of town. I'm looking forward to trying it since we've also done well with Kathryn's suggestions in the past. We are also making our 4th annual trip and celebrating our anniversary while we are there.
We went to Ko for lunch a couple of years ago and have it on the list to return this year if we can get reservations--we really enjoyed it and had one of the favorite dishes of the trip there. I haven't been for dinner but I'm sure it is great too.
Last time I went, they had the fabulous corn ravioli that I know you had a chance to enjoy too. That is still one of the dishes I remember the most out of many great meals so I hope to find another favorite or two to add to the list. I'll be poised at the reservation page next Monday at 9:00 am Central time to try to make it happen and I'll be sure to report back.
Ellen--thanks for the update! We are hoping to get in for lunch at Ko when we visit over Labor Day weekend. We really enjoyed it a couple of years ago and didn't have an issue with the seats, but it certainly will be nice to have some padding.
This menu does look completely different that what we had, so I'll look forward to whatever is on the lunch menu (and keep my fingers crossed that I get a reservation!)
Thanks for the responses. Maybe I'll have my husband call and try again before we're in town just to see if we get a different answer. I'll think we'll try it either way since it has been on the list for a while and this is our annual visit.
I called today to make a reservation for a Friday night at Txikito since my husband and I will be visiting from Chicago and wanted to make sure we could get in. I was told that they didn't take reservations for 2 people since you could just come in and be seated with 2 people.
We want to go around 9:30 on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Should I try again to make a reservation or do you think we can really just walk in and not have an issue? I don't mind waiting a little while, but everything I read made me think that they took reservations. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks. Still working on the order of things, but I'll keep this in mind. I think we're finally also going to try to make it to Txikito this time around. I know its one of your recommended locations as well. We're staying not too far away and I see that you can e-mail or call them for reservations which might help. So many restaurants, so little time...
We were there over Labor Day last year and it did seem relatively empty which works for me. I'm always torn between trying to be well planned (with reservations) since I'm there for a limited time and wanting to just go where the day takes me.
Doing some research for a long weekend visit over Labor Day and we were considering Kin Shop and I think we'll definitely add it to the list thanks to your notes. I've always had good luck with your recommendations, Kathryn, thanks. I see that Kin Shop takes reservations--are they needed or could we just try our luck? A part of me thinks I should go ahead and make the reservation, but I don't want the whole long weekend to be too programmed.
By now, ellenost, you should have been for your lunch--did they still have the ravioli? I was just describing our meal there again and it got me dreaming of the ravioli along with all the other great dishes. Guess I'll just have to go get my usual salad or other not so exciting workday lunch and make due!
I should also note that in reviewing all our food from the weekend, my husband and I tried to determine the single best dish and narrowed it down to two: the Farm Egg at Blue Hill and the pasta course at Momofuku Ko.
Go to know for future reference!
And I need to amend my food above for a couple of courses--this is what I get for not writing it down right away and trying to remember after several other big meals.
When my husband had the short rib, I actually had a piece of toasted mozzarella on a bed of grape tomatoes. A play on the traditional mozzarella sticks with marinara. The tomatoes added excellent flavor, but the dish overall was kind of average (must be why I forgot.)
It was my last dish that was a fish dish (not duck).
Sorry for any confusion. Next time I'll take better notes!
My husband and I spent a long weekend in Manhattan last weekend and since I always get so much help from the Chowhound board, I wanted to post some of my thoughts on our experiences to hopefully help future diners.
This time around, I wrote separate, longer reviews on our "main" restaurants so this one wouldn't get too overwhelming. Hopefully I can manage to get the links to those reviews embedded here so you can see the details.
Thursday night: Scarpetta. We flew in on Thursday and luckily, even with a delay, still made it for our reservation at Scarpetta. We'd heard good things about it and were staying in Chelsea, so it made for a perfect match. We very much enjoyed our meal and the wine list is really interesting. Only complaint was that it was a little warm in the restaurant despite the fact that we got lucky to be there when it wasn't quite as hot as it had been outside.
Friday lunch: Keste for pizza. We had the Pizza del Re, which is so rich with the truffle spread--I'd definitely have it again when I return! We also had a special pizza with burrata, basil and grape tomatoes, which was nice and fresh. I loved the crust that had a little chew to it and couldn't believe how quick it was from ordering to eating.
Friday night: Blue Hill. We really enjoyed our evening here. As you'll see in the review, we were lucky enough to just have the chef cook for us and the freshness of flavor and lovely plating along with the comfortable room and friendly staff really made for a nice evening.
Saturday lunch: Luke's Lobster. We each had a lobster roll and then also split a crab roll. While the crab roll was good, the lobster roll was great. My husband's family lives on Cape Cod, so I've had lobster rolls from several different places, but I really liked the not to mayonaise-y flavor along with a really nice amount of lobster and the toasty lobster roll.
Saturday afternoon snack: Casa Mono. We had walked around for quite a while since lunch so decided we deserved a snack. We had some rose cava along with a watermelon, goat cheese salad, bacalao with orange alioli, duck heart pinxtos and pork croquetas with green tomatoes. It was a perfect time of the day for them and the restaurant had some patrons, but wasn't packed, so it really felt like a nice European snack. I don't know that I'd go for dinner or wait to be seated, but it was great for our purposes.
Saturday night: Cafe Boulud. For some reason, choosing our Saturday night restaurant was our biggest challenge. We changed our mind several times, but ultimately decided we wanted to go to a Daniel Boulud restaurant and chose Cafe Boulud. It was a nice evening.
Saturday later night: Terrior Tribeca. We hadn't managed to fit this wine bar in yet on our visit, so decided another bottle of wine was in order. And it was the Summer of Riesling, so we had a bottle of riesling, of course. Next time, I want to come back when I'm hungry and try out some of their food, too.
Sunday lunch: Momofuku Ko. Despite hearing some grumbling about the service, we decided to keep our reservation and check out Ko. We were really glad we did and I would go back in a different season to see what was new on the menu.
Looking forward to our next trip--still so many restaurants to try! Thanks again to everyone who helped with input.
This is one in a series of reviews from places my husband and I visited on a long weekend trip to Manhattan in late July.
We managed to get a reservation for Momofuku Ko for lunch on the Sunday of our long weekend. We were flying out a little later on Sunday evening, so we figured since we wouldn't be having dinner in Manhattan before we left, what better than a three hour lunch? But then, I read a few of the comments about how the service was really unfriendly and standoffish, so we started to wonder if we should cancel. Ultimately, we had enjoyed our meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar when we visited last September and remembered their had been similar comments about service there, which we didn't find to be the case. So, we kept our reservation and we're really glad we did.
We arrived a few minutes early, but we were greeted warmly by the two front of house folks, our backpack stored away and we were promptly seated at the counter. We were part of the last group of four seated, so the other two groups had already started into their experience. There is no printed menu and no pictures, and we didn't write down our courses as we went along (we were too busy enjoying the food and watching the prep), so the below is from memory after we finished. We may be out of order in some cases, but you'll get the idea.
There are three chefs working right in front of you, in a very small space, which is a large part of the experience. For anyone who cooks, you can really appreciate the importance of prep work for this multi-course meal. Without it, this meal could be a disaster. In this case, it was really precise over approximately 17 courses. The front of house staff kept us filled with water, the appropriate silverware and our wine. (We just ordered our own choices--3 different bottles of white wine: a cremant di jura and 2 rieslings that really seemed to work well with the food.)
Okay, here we go:
Tomato gazpacho: this dish looked a little like an egg yolk; it was tomato water within that skin. great flavor.
Kushi oyster: just an oyster, but served with an oyster porter beer that was a great complement
pumpkin bread with ricotta and tri star strawberry
"french fry": their take on caviar: potato souffle with caviar and creme fraiche and chili piped into a french fry like skin. Some might consider this a salty dish, but we found it salty in a good way--that's what you get with caviar.
crudo plate: 4 different raw fish tastes: scallop with hearts of palm and dehydrated bacon, fluke with celery leaf and black rice puffs, madara with a really fabulous vinaigrette and another fish with beet and dehydrated soy. I'm not a huge sushi fan, but it was amazing to taste the fluke with and without the celery leaf. Who knew how much it could totally transform the flavors? And the third fish (sorry, I'm not sure what it was), was fantastic. I wasn't a fan of the scallop mostly because of the texture, but again, I'm not a sushi person.
tartar plate: That's what we called it. A quail egg half, beef tartar with caviar and red miso, another tartar (with sriracha?) and a piece of waygu with a little onion. A very rich plate with nice presentation on a banana leaf type leaf.
Multiple mushroom salad: lobster, black trumpet, white cauliflower and chantarelle mushrooms with pickled red onion (fabulous!), jalapeno and other flavors. I don't always like mushroom upon mushroom, but I think the red onion and jalapeno really played well here.
Ravioli: with corn, chorizo, sour cream, pickled tomato. I'm sure I'm missing some ingredients, but this was probably the best dish we had for the entire weekend! I'm still dreaming about another bowl full.
Lamb rib: This had four separate little dishes to make up the one course. One had the lamb rib which was braised and sauteed and was sitting on a bed of kohlrabi salad which we're hoping to recreate at home (because despite all the write ups to the contrary, the chefs were very willing to answer questions--you just have to know you shouldn't ask while they are right in the middle of intense prep work.) The second dish was a little rice roll that had been rolled in bacon fat and grilled--so good! Third dish was wax beans in a sambal sauce, also really good. Fourth was a cold dashi with uni and peas. I'd have to say the last one wasn't my favorite, but my husband finished mine, so I think it just wasn't to my taste.
Halibut: with charred mustard greens, kohlrabi/radish salad and another dashi. The fish was coated with a light flour that helped to make it nicely crispy. (This I think is one of the dishes that I have out of order.)
Puffed egg: Like a puffy scrambled egg, with chive, kombu, in a bacon dashi and served with an "english muffin" with bay butter. If only I could have this for breakfast every morning!
Foie gras: This dish has been around for a while with Ko: shaved foie gras with peanut brittle and riesling gelee. It is a super rich, decadent dish. I really liked the crunch of the peanut brittle.
Short rib: a perfectly cooked, deep fried short rib (really perfectly cooked) with eggplant two ways (one which was wrapped in nori with red miso). Also with some pickled watermelon.
Onion sorbet with onion seltzer and sea salt. This dish wouldn't be for everyone, but we thought it made a nice bridge between the main courses and desert.
Coconut custard in a crispy shell with a lemon? curd and toasted coconut. This was really great!
Orange granita with dehydrated almond cake and thai basil. I didn't think this was quite as successful as the other dishes. I think there the dehydrated almond cake and thai basil was a little overwhelming and lumpy.
When you are getting ready to leave, they give you a little jar of homemade pickles and a nori wrapped rice and veggie "sandwich". Both were quite good (we ate them after we got home).
Almost everything I had read said that the chefs really were standoffish and made it seem like it was a bother to answer questions or repeat an ingredient. We absolutely did not have this experience. Of course, they are not going to chat with you the entire time; it does take some concentration to make sure that you are preparing the multiple courses with the right timing and, when it comes down to it, that is what they are really there for. While we were there, they answered questions and talked with everyone. And a great part of being there was sitting and watching them work.
Overall, we had a really great experience and the only thing that really detracted from it didn't have anything to do with the restaurant or staff, but rather that two of the other diners could not go five minutes without some pretty major public displays of affection. That gets a little distracting over a three hour meal and unfortunately, they were in a spot where everyone had to watch. Without them, it would have been a perfect Sunday afternoon and even with them, it was pretty close.
This is another in a series of reviews from a long weekend visit my husband and I had to Manhattan at the end of July.
We went to Cafe Boulud on a Saturday night at 8:00 pm. We had really been back and forth about where to go for our Saturday night dinner, and considered Daniel, The Modern, Hearth, Prune and others (I know, a pretty diverse list). Ultimately, for this visit we chose Cafe Boulud and we were not disappointed.
We were seated side by side at the banquette along one wall, allowing us to look out into the room, which I always enjoy. There was a pretty diverse crowd as far as age range as well as attire, which is good to see. Our waiter for the evening was fine and informative although perhaps a little "professionally detached". Our back waiter and the sommelier, however, really helped make the meal more personal.
We ordered from the menu, making our own 4 course meal.
To start, my husband had the charred octopus salad and I had the Thai Lobster salad. I really enjoyed my dish, which had a nice amount of lobster and nice Thai flavors with mango, green papaya and coconut (not a spicy dish). My husband thought his dish was perfectly cooked and tasted fantastic although was originally surprised at the large size of the octopus tentacles.
We decided to insert a pasta course since there were a couple of dishes that really sounded good to us. We added the appetizer portion to our meal. My husband had the Jersey Corn Agnolotti that had zucchini, mushroom, pecorino and onion broth. He was kind enough to share a little with me so I can say that it was very fresh and had fabulous flavor. I had the house made chitarra pasta with roasted tomato sauce with aged parmesan. As much as I liked my husband's pasta, this was even better. We had been to Scarpetta two nights before and had their spaghetti with tomato and basil, but to me, this was even better!
For our main course, my husband had the Vermont Lamb special, which included some loin meat and leg meat. It was perfectly cooked and he very much enjoyed it (we were a little surprised that the waiter asked if he wanted it cooked medium, when medium rare might be more usual and is how my husband requested it.) I had the special fish, which was a halibut with gnocchi a la parisienne and fennel and tomato. The fish was spectacular and I'd have to say the portion was very generous.
For desert, my husband had the strawberry tartelette with marscapone mousse, basil foam and strawberry ice cream. It was nice and fresh and the strawberry ice cream was really tasty. I had the bittersweet brownie with pistachio cream, dark chocolate mousse and goat's milk sorbet. It was fabulous and next time, I'd have a whole bowl of the goat's milk sorbet.
My husband is in the wine business and loves to look at the wine list (usually leaving me to amuse myself with people watching). This time, he had looked at the wine list on line so that he had a head start with the wines he might want. The sommelier helped him narrow them down based on the foods we were having as well as what he thought was really showing well right now.
And, of course, you can't forget the warm madelines that they bring at the end of the evening. So light and flavorful!
Overall, we had a very comfortable experience with good service and good food. I think it was a good choice for us among the Daniel Boulud restaurants and a good Saturday evening in Manhattan.
Here is another review in a series of the places that my husband and I dined at in late July on a long weekend visit to Manhattan.
We went to Blue Hill on a Friday evening at 9:00 pm. My husband is in the wine business and had received several restaurant suggestions from one of his New York wine colleagues; Blue Hill was at the top of the list. We also separately mentioned we were travelling to NYC to some friends that live here in Chicago now and a chef friend that used to work in Manhattan and they also really recommended Blue Hill. We participate in a community supported farm here in Chicago, so love eating based on what is in season and fresh from the farm.
So, to provide full disclosure, a couple of our friends/colleagues let Blue Hill know we'd be there, and we did receive some complimentary items. I did, however, also keep a close eye on the service that other tables received and it seemed to me that everyone was treated as if they were a special guest (in particular, I noticed two different occasions where they accommodated diners with seating requests). Staff were friendly and spent time with each table.
We were fortunate enough to have the chef cook for us, so we never looked at the menu. I know that this doesn't happen for everyone, but hope that my comments on dishes that I had might be helpful. I thought everything was beautifully plated: simple, but colorful and letting the vegetables and meats speak for themselves.
We had a round of initial amuse bouche that included: 1) simple fresh crudite with salt: a carrot, a cherry tomato, a gooseberry, snap pea and romaine--yes this was simple, but all the flavors were so refreshingly good. 2) a crispy bacon swirl 3) mini tomato and ricotta "burgers" on an almond bun (an intense burst of flavor) and 4) house cured salamis
Next we had a fabulous summer dish: tomato gazpacho with melon and peppers with a yogurt sorbet. I love gazpacho and this was a different take with the melon and pepper tastes.
Next a simple summer salad with greens, tomato, cucumber, grilled peach and herbs. It was a beautiful dish and the grilled peach was fantastic!
Next was one of the dishes that we'd been told to make sure to try. I believe they make it a little differently depending on the season. It was the "Today's Farm Egg" and this one was on top of corn, potato and bacon. Looking back on our weekend, this was one of the standout dishes (and we had a lot of tasty food.)
Next was a pork course: it included pork belly, shoulder, and loin. To me the loin was one of the best cooked and flavored pork dishes I've had in a while. The shoulder was accompanied by a mustard/pistachio sauce that is sat on and there was also radicchio and cherry sauce on the plate.
The final savory course was grilled duck breast with eggplant puree, eggplant and chili. This was not my favorite of the courses as I'm not much of an eggplant fan, but I'd had my chance to voice my allergies and/or dislikes and didn't put anything on the list, so they wouldn't have know that. My husband very much enjoyed it.
At this point, we were still drinking our red wine and the sommelier was nice enough to add a little cheese course to go along with it.
Finally, we ended with a watermelon dish that was a watermelon disk/soup with melon sorbet. It was a nice, light way to end the evening.
The wine list is diverse and focuses on organic or biodynamic producers that create wines which complement the style of the cuisine.
Overall, I thought the room was very comfortable, the staff was very warm and friendly, the food really let the fresh flavors shine through and was beautifully plated and I look forward to returning.
My husband and I ate at Scarpetta at the end of July as part of a long weekend of visiting Manhattan. We were there on a Thursday night at about 9:30 pm after flying in from Chicago.
After checking to make sure that the signature spaghetti dish would be included, we decided to have the chef's tasting menu to enjoy several of their old and new favorites. We were seated near the back of the main dining room, which gave us a nice view of the entire restaurant. We did find that it was a little warm in the room, perhaps because it was quite a full house when we arrived. It is also pretty dark, which was fine except for the fact that my forty something eyes aren't as good as they used to be so looking through the menu is challenging. Even our waiter was chuckling about it with us and holding our candle up to help.
The bread basket arrived and I had heard that you shouldn't miss the stromboli and I must say I wasn't disappointed. It was like a little meal all by itself and it was probably a good thing there was only one slice for each of us since there was plenty more food in store for us.
Our first course was two different crudos: yellowtail with Hawaiian sea salt and a tuna roll with carrot and truffle. Also, a fritto misto to share. I'm not the type to head out in search of sushi, but both of these were were a nice way to start. The sea salt really enhanced the yellowtail and the mix of ingredients with the tuna also really worked. We also enjoyed the fritto misto--it was not greasy and the breading wasn't overbearing.
For the next course, my husband received the short rib with farro, I got a fish dish and we got creamy polenta with truffled mushroom sauce to share. The short rib and farro were perfectly cooked. I am not usually a polenta fan, but I helped eat every last bit of this polenta dish. I think the texture is what usually gets to me, but this was so creamy and the truffled mushroom sauce was divine. It was so good, that I've forgotten how my fish was prepared and what was served with it (I do know it wasn't the black cod, which I've read is a must try).
Next was the pasta course. I received the duck and foie gras ravioli with a marsala reduction, my husband had a fusilli with rabbit and peas and we had the spaghetti with tomato and basil to share. I expected the spaghetti to be my favorite after all the things I'd read about it (and there had been a gentleman at the bar eating it when I came in). It was quite good and perfectly cooked, but I'd have to say I think the rabbit pasta was better. For me, the ravioli had a little bit of a burnt flavor from the wine reduction, but my husband didn't get that as much as I did. I was glad I'd had the tasting menu so that I got to try all three of these pastas.
For our main savory course, I received a duck dish and my husband received a cabreto with pickled red onion. Because I didn't write the courses down right after dinner, I once again can't tell you about my dish. I remember it tasting fine, but as you can see, it was not what I remembered most (and if you'd told me before I went that the polenta and crudo might be the most memorable items to me, I wouldn't have believed it.)
For desert, I received the more chocolate oriented desert, that was a budino, I believe. The top layer of it was a frozen coffee ice, and I don't like coffee at all, so I traded this away to my husband. In return, I had a cantaloupe soup with melon sorbet that was quite good. The only downfall was that I didn't finish my red wine first and the wine definitely tasted different after the desert (but that was my own fault!)
My husband is in the wine business and he liked the intelligent, slightly ecclectic wine list. We had ordered a little known white wine, but they had sold the last bottle earlier that evening. The sommelier recommended another lesser known wine from Emilio Romagna that paired wonderfully with the food. We also had an obscure red wine from Friuli.
Overall, the service was quite nice; the sommelier very helpful (he sent us an after dinner drink) and the food was good and plentiful for a very reasonable (I thought) $80 per person for the tasting menu. Next time, maybe I'll get some stromboli to go to have for breakfast the next day! :-)