s

Simon's Profile

Title Last Reply

Help us decide on an Italian restaurant for early December girls trip...

all Batali restaurants, and esp Lupa, have been criticized for their nasty front-of-house and entitled 'you're so lucky to be eating our oversalted pasta so shut-up and wait' attitude...i've eaten in all of them over the years and will never again...

Sep 18, 2014
Simon in Manhattan
1

Help us decide on an Italian restaurant for early December girls trip...

i like OM too...pastas are all yummy...ditto seafood salad...it's a fun place w/ good location and w/o all the annoying nasty-vibe Batali BS of Lupa et al...

Sep 18, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Best place for suckling lamb & pig and paella in Barcelona/Madrid/Sevilla/Granada?

so happy that you enjoyed it...hope the rest of your Madrid dining was yummy as well...we especially loved Casa Rafa (seafood specialist) when we were there, so that's one to consider for future trips...cheers...

Sep 17, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Beijing Pop Kebab -- new nothern Chinese restaurant at 122 Mulberry

sounds good -- i shall try it :)

Sep 14, 2014
Simon in Manhattan
1

Kefi downhill alert?

when i went about 3 years ago, the salad was mostly shredded iceberg and the noise unbearbale and the service and other dishes mediocre and i've never had the desire to return...i've always been surprised by the good reports i've sometimes seen here...your review is pretty close to my first and only experience...

Sep 14, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

NYC Italian for non-meat eaters

i'd say take the Scarpetta suggestion and order the yellowtail crudo starter and the black cod signature dish main...

And, if you have a mellow/casual/cash-only afternoon meal available, consider going to Bar Pitti and getting a whole grilled fish off the specials chalkboard and chatted w/ charming owner Giovanni...

Sep 12, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Peasant Restaurant

the whole concept of the "cake charge" (on someone's birthday!) makes me not only want to never go to Peasant -- the fact that people consider it somehow acceptable makes me want to leave NYC altogether...i understand the economics of 21=less-than-several-overpriced-desserts, but it's something that would never ever happen in more civilized cities like those in Spain and Italy ("Oh, it's your birthday and you've already spent a lot of money here?? Sorry, but we're charging you for eating a few bites of your own cake on your bday! Tough luck!")...foul...

fwiw, the last time i went to Peasant was over 10 years ago: the food was mediocre and the service was snotty...i've never considered returning...

Sep 11, 2014
Simon in Manhattan
1

da Umberto

i remember having some tasty shrimp there, and enjoying the antipasti veggies and cheese...please report back...

Sep 03, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

da Umberto

i think i've been there twice in the last dozen years...food was very good both times...it's a middle-aged/older crowd, w/ soft schmaltzy music (greatest opera arias, etc) playing discreetly on the sound system...Carmela Soprano would consider it very 'classy'...and she'd be right: it's not tacky, and the food is good quality...it would be a somewhat odd choice for an under 40-something date, but beyond that it's fine...

Sep 03, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Tapas recommendation please?

Casa Mono snotty service and staff (and oversalting) make it, imo, vile and a strict no-go -- i say this despite loving Spanish food and wine so much that i wish i was living in Madrid...

re: other places...i like Txikito, but i dislike most of the others mentioned here...used to like El Quinto Pino for a snack but i had meh food the one time i tried it post-expansion...dislike Boqueria and find Tertulia inauthentic (lots of randomized ingredients and staff who are clueless on even basic Spanish wine)...but i'm spoiled: just spent 18 days in Portugal and Madrid, so i don't think any Iberian food will please me these days...

Actually: go to Despana in Nolita for afternoon tapas and buy-your-own-wine in their shop...that's the only Spanish place in Manhattan i recommend...cheers...

Sep 02, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Must eats near Atocha in Madrid? Plus dinner help.

I've never been to El Brillante -- sounds you're calamari'd out in any case...i'd say splurge at Rafa, or get some cod/cod liver and other yummy tapas at somewhere like Dolores or the original Taberna De La Daniela (the one near Arco Cuchilleros), or eat at Taberna Huevos Lucio...enjoy!

Aug 31, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Must eats near Atocha in Madrid? Plus dinner help.

Rafa and C.Cervantes are both fine choices but very different...Cervantes is bustling and casual...Rafa is elegant albeit in a casual understated way...we ate at both in August..

Two pictures: the grilled prawns are at Cervantes (and were more expensive -- 27 euros -- than i'd expected at such a casual place but were worth every penny)...the one-minute-cooked sliced sea bream w/ peppers is at Rafa...why not go to both? a snack one day at Cervantes (it's near the museums) and a 10pm dinner at Rafa...

Aug 31, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Notice the marked deterioration of East Village Cheese?

Went there today and the Kashkaval i just tried is oddly mushy...not sure i trust the place these days...

Aug 30, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Few days in Lisbon in Sept.?

hi...i don't know A Parte -- it was our first Lisbon trip and we stayed in Lapa area (at As Janelas Verdes) -- near Madragoa...Lisbon seems to close up earlier than Madrid (where we went for 8 days afterwards) but i'm sure there will be somewhere to at least get some snacks...Camponeza i guess is not so far from Saldhana so that might be an option but would have to check hours/map...

Aug 30, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Few days in Lisbon in Sept.?

Great...all three fit your criteria pretty well (Madragoa is pricier than the others but worth it imo)

Taberna Ruas Flores was our fav place in the whole city...we ate there twice in 4 days...i think two starters, two mains, bread, 2 glasses of wine, and a dessert came to something like 28 euros total...menu changes daily...we were there for late lunches, but supposedly nighttime offers lots of good tapas-like options...two pics here

Leiteria Camponeza had been recommended to me by a Swiss friend who'd been in Lisbon a couple weeks before me who had loved the hanging skewers of shrimp...when we happened upon it, very hungry, at around 4:30pm: they were closed and the staff were about to sit down to a delicious-looking giant salmon baked w/ onions...the sweet owner Sonia saw our faces and smiled ruefully and said: "Sit down, you can have my portion" -- and served us salmon/rice/potatoes/salad and a bottle of wine...

for Madragoa, make reservations as they book up quickly, and be prepared that the service will be very very slow (the owners are a couple: he waits tables, she cooks)...but the food is very much worth it...i esp liked the morcilla fried w/ onions as a starter...

Aug 30, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Few days in Lisbon in Sept.?

We were just there for four days - great food city...our three favs were
-- Taberna Rua Das Flores
-- Madragoa
-- Leiteria Camponeza

Aug 29, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Best place for suckling lamb & pig and paella in Barcelona/Madrid/Sevilla/Granada?

Suckling lamb in Madrid: El Senador

Aug 28, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

East Village Help!

Kafana -- rustic Serbian on Ave C...fairly meat-centric so might not be ideal but they have grilled sardines and salads in that's not too limiting...

Cafe Mogador...EV Moroccan classic...tons of veggies, hummus, etc...

Aug 27, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Madrid Trip Report -- hits and near-misses

We just came back from 8 days in Madrid (after 9 in Portugal -- will post that separately)...loved the city and food madly, even in sleepiest August...here are some impressions...

Favorites:

-- Rafa (seafood-focused somewhat upscale place, east of Retiro park)...wow...one of the best meals of my life...the outdoor patio was full, so we ate at the bar (and charming owner Rafael later offered us to move to a free outdoor table, but we were happily ensconced)...seafood salad so fresh and full of shrimp roe...the top dish was the "one-minute-cooked" sea bream slices w/ chili and garlic...simply amazing...(and even in August, all locals)

-- Casa Dani...opposite type of place: working man's diner in the back of the Mercado de la Paz in north part of Salamanca...yummy albondigas, chicken stew, and cauliflower...all washed down w/ white wine...great staff...

-- El Senador (got the rec from here)...lechazo (suckling lamb) and a bottle of Ribera Del Duero in old school room overlooking the Senate...fantastic asparagus too...

-- Taberna de Daniela (the one by Arco de Cuchilleros -- NOT the other one we tried)...we ate there on a late afternoon and the only other customers were 4 diff Spanish familes (parties of 8 or so, of all ages -- possibly from other parts of Spain? -- all feasting on tripe stew and calamares or lingering over brandies)...yummy cod liver and cod canapes, gazpacho, and more...surprisingly nice vibe for a zone w/ lots of sketchy-looking touristy places)

-- Cerveceria Cervantes...huge prawns, crowded, awesome, casual

-- Dolores...down the block from Cervantes...nice go-to tapas bar that's open earlier than most...

-- La Venencia...hallowed sherry bar...national treasure?...

-- Taberna de los Huevos Lucio...great namesake egg dish, fried eggplant, friendly bartenders, nice crowd, free chorizo: a great night!

Good:

-- Terra Mundi...Galician food in Las Letras...fine pulpo gallego...fine soup...

Fine But Wouldn't Rush Back:

-- Taberna Puerto in northeastern Salamanca...upscale-ish seafood place...decent but unmemorable...

-- Carmencita...in Chueca close to Salamanca...eh...maybe we ordered wrong...not a great rapport qualite-prix (i.e. a bit pricey for what we got)...bluefish meatballs tasty, but can't really recommend the place for a short visit with so many other outstanding options, but if i lived there maybe worth trying again...

Disappointing:

-- the Taberna de Daniela branch next to Cerveceria Cervantes...old-tasting and overpriced scallop empanada...empty of customers...a letdown after the great meal we had at the other branch...

I'm surely forgetting some places...loved Madrid so much...will be back again asap (hopefully not in August, and hopefully for an extended stay)...

Aug 26, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Weakest cuisines

Agreed...Manhattan is a great Jack of All Trades: it's the variety that makes it work as a food city, not the individual excellence...you can walk/subway/cab to 50 diff cuisines in a few minutes and you might a "B+" version of many...but unless you are shooting for NY-style pizza, bagels, and a few other things, you'll rarely get better than a B+ and much of the time it will be far below that...it's like a large island-shaped salad bar...

As to what i personally find most lacking: Indian, Mexican, French bistro...(and while we have 1001 tapas bars, having just returned from 18 days in Portugal and Madrid, i don't believe i will ever be able eat Spanish in NYC again without screaming in anger and taking the nearest cab to the airport and flying back to Spain)...

Sobakoh and Bar Pitti are about the only two NYC restaurants that i'm really looking forward to coming back to with relish...

Aug 26, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

One Night in Santiago de Compostela -- Food Plan?

alas, for medical reasons we had to reroute our trip back from Portugal to Madrid -- Galicia will have to wait for another time...thanks all for your suggestions and i'll file them for the future...

Aug 17, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Trip down Memory Lane: Nom Wah Tea Parlor

there is a long thread on Nom Wah...when i went a few months ago the food was dismal...

Aug 05, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

One Night in Santiago de Compostela -- Food Plan?

thanks for these ideas :)

We will prob eat at Rectoral the first evening, but the next day&eve we'll be exploring -- we won't have a car so we'll be getting a lift from a driver/guide and/or going for long hike in the countryside, so perhaps we can hit one of these...

Cheers...

Jul 30, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Africa Kine Restaurant -- Yummy Senegalese on 116th

i was there last weekend -- they said they don't know the specific move date and that the original is still open til further notice...

Chicken and fish and stewed lamb as delicious as ever, but i'll note a friend of mine ordered the grilled lamb and it was dry and grizzly so i'd avoid that dish)

Jul 30, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

One Night in Santiago de Compostela -- Food Plan?

thanks...staying at Costa Vella hotel in SdC...also staying two nights at Rectoral Anllo in Ribeira Sacra...cheers

Jul 29, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

One Night in Santiago de Compostela -- Food Plan?

thanks for the suggestion, but only interested in traditional places -- no foam, fusion, etc

Jul 29, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Best cochinillo/suckling pig in Madrid?

Thanks...Going to Madrid next month and plan on going to El Senador (assuming they are open in August)...

Jul 22, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

One Night in Santiago de Compostela -- Food Plan?

hi...we're NYC Hounds who will be in Portugal and Spain for 18 days in August...this is the first of many specific posts which will follow :)

Originally we'd planned on 10 days in Galicia but various reasons conspired to reroute the trip w/ 9 days Portugal followed 2 days at an inn in Ribeira Sacra, and only a single night in SdeC...we'll arrive there late afternoon and are staying in old town, then leave the next day for Madrid in late afternoon...

-- What would you recommend for dinner that first night?...we like rustic traditional food (nothing glossy-modern)...should we get a full dinner or do a tapas crawl?...what's a fun plan for that evening?

-- any lunch recs for the following day?...somewhere near the Cathedral/old-city as this will unfortunately be our only time to wander the city...

Thanks in advance...

Jul 19, 2014
Simon in Spain/Portugal

Where do you buy ground coffee in Manhattan to brew at home?

update for howdini (and others who have similar taste in coffee): while i still like the Monsoon Malabar from PortoRico coffee, i tried a new Bolivian from Toby Estate called "Amor de Dios": pretty great: nutty, mild, smooth...a little pricey (15 bucks for 12 oz -- i think the Malabar is 10/lb), but def good stuff...

Jul 15, 2014
Simon in Manhattan

Xi'an on St. Marks open again...

yikes...i hope it's the not the beginning of The Fall of Grand Sichuan Part Deux

Jul 14, 2014
Simon in Manhattan