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Please help fill in details for trip this week: chocolate, pretzels, Vietnamese and more

Thank you all so much for your responses. I'll try to respond individually later. I will forget about Vietnamese and concentrate on other things; the Ma Peche suggestion is genius (and a head-slapper once you mentioned it); I would love to eat at a David Chang restaurant and will definitely put it on the list. City Bakery was on my list anyway (pretzel croissants are intriguing) and now I know to check out their hot chocolate. I do like the thick, European kind so thanks, kathryn, for the feedback on that. My aunt worries about weather, but the forecast is warmer than Columbus, and now I know what sort of chocolate to entice her with.

Hope you're all enjoying better weather than Columbus, Ohio is today!

Feb 05, 2014
kyra1 in Manhattan

Please help fill in details for trip this week: chocolate, pretzels, Vietnamese and more

Thanking you all in advance for any advice and suggestions you are able to tender. This is long, so thanks for bearing with me.

My beloved aunt and I have decided, at the last minute, that we need a winter getaway. Warmth tempted us, but she chose culture instead, so we are New York bound!

My aunt (60-ish) and I (younger) will be arriving this Thursday for a five-night stay, departing next Tuesday. Our hotel is in the vicinity of 7th Ave and W 55th. Much of our time will be spent viewing art, mainly at the Met, but also MOMA and possibly some other museums. I have hopes of theatre but since I couldn't get tickets for Twelfth Night, we will probably take our chances at the booth, plus there is always Lincoln Center and basically too many good choices. We haven't decided on other activities yet.

I currently live in Columbus, Ohio, and my aunt in Cincinnati. I visit Manhattan about once a year but my aunt hasn't been at least five years, and this will be only her third trip there total. I made two trips last year but haven't been since April, 2013. We are both adventurous eaters. I'm looking for a mix of convenience and food I can't get at home. While I am willing to go anywhere for a meal, we will be spending a lot of time in Midtown and the Upper East Side and my aunt is not as comfortable with a long travel time combined with a long wait for dinner, so we need some options near our hotel, in the Theatre District/Hell's Kitchen, on the UES, and/or that are easy to get to. Public transit and/or taxis are fine. We are a bit limited with long walks outdoors, especially if it's cold and damp, due to health issues, but up to 15 minutes or so should be fine.

She has no budget limits, but alas, I do. An occasional splurge won't break the bank but mostly I'd prefer not to spend more than $75 per person for dinner, without alcohol and before tax and tip. In an ideal world, lunch would be $20 or less per person, without alcohol and before tax and tip, but I'm open to spending more. Neither of us is much of a breakfast person; she likes tea and maybe a pastry and I want eggs and toast or steel-cut oatmeal. I don't do sweet first thing in the morning, and dislike brunch menus that are all sweet.

Neither of us have huge appetites and sharing small plates is my favorite way to dine, so I can taste more without getting full. We have no food allergies or dietary restrictions. She loves chocolate. If I can't get a reservation, I'm happy to sit at the bar, unless I've got a curtain to make. My aunt does prefer a chair or a stool with a back on it (not comfortable for her to sit without support) and really loud locations are not pleasant either.

I hope that's enough information to get started and give you some ideas. On to specifics:

1) Meals near the Met. I have seen the threads that discuss this. My go-to for lunch is Le Pain Quotidien on Madison Ave and I think 84th, and also Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Gallerie (I love their Linzertorte). I would also consider Luke's Lobster, Untitled at the Whitney, the UES Shake Shack, maybe Payard, and the UES Salumeria Rosi (I enjoyed dinner at the other location). I'd take any advice or suggestions, especially about someplace new in the past ten months I may have missed.

2) My aunt loves chocolate, in whatever form. In cold weather she sometimes craves hot chocolate. Possibilities include: Jacques Torres, La Maison du Chocolate, Payard, Wafels & Dinges, and Grom. Feedback?

3) My aunt loves Vietnamese food. I'm not finding lots of recommendations but did locate a place called Cha Pa. Thoughts?

4) Afternoon tea might be on the schedule. I'm looking at the Mandarin Oriental, the Plaza, the Lowell, Lady Mendl, the St. Regis, and the Ritz-Carlton. The Mandarin Oriental may be able to combine a view with good food, if the reviews I've read are accurate. Price is not an issue here, but the food must be tasty.

5) I'm intrigued by regional Thai and Larb Ubol and Pure Thai pop up often. Thoughts?

6) I can get plenty of Korean food at home, but Danji looks different, like Korean meets small plates. Feedback?

7) I don't love brunch but we will be in town over a Saturday and Sunday and I know it's popular. Any thoughts? A brunch that will change my mind? Just forget it and eat lunch?

8) I love pretzels and my favorite to date is one I got from the Sigmund's pretzel cart in front of the Met, before the renovations started. I know they have a bricks-and-mortar location but don't know if I will get there. It looks like a place called The Jeffrey serves Sigmund's pretzels; anyone been there? I have an inquiry in to Sigmund's to see if there are other options, but does anyone have a pretzel they love that I should try?

9) I love food markets (the Boqueria!) and farmers' markets of all descriptions. If I can manage to get to the Union Square Greenmarket on this trip, I will. I'd enjoy trying the Union Square Cafe; do they serve food in the bar between lunch and dinner? Or is there someplace else nearby that would be worth a meal or a snack? (I haven't researched this, so apologies for not asking this more intelligently.)

10) I hope this isn't too off-topic but my aunt would enjoy someplace with a view of the city, but she would not enjoy the Empire State Building. The Top of the Rock was recommended to me; I've never been. Ideally I would combine a view with food or at least a drink. If we do tea or a drink in the Lobby Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, it might work. Another suggestion I garnered was a place called Robert in the Museum of Art and Design, although I feel unsure of the food there. Thoughts?

11) I'm considering a prix-fixe lunch menu at a place we won't otherwise visit for dinner. (This way I get to try a restaurant where I'd really like to dine, but without tying up an evening my aunt wants to do something else.) I was looking at Aquavit, maybe Seasonal, Jean-Georges, and Bouloud Sud. My aunt would be put off by a dress code and I can't quite decipher the Jean-Georges requirements; would jeans be okay at J-G or maybe Nougatine? Or maybe you have other suggestions? I'm not worried about price unless it's over $100 pp.

I realise that was long and thank anyone who had the patience to wade through it! Your feedback is appreciated.

Feb 04, 2014
kyra1 in Manhattan

Returning to Chicago for first time in 2 years; what's new?

Thanks to all for your replies, which I will read carefully and do my best to respond. I have been MIA due to a new pair of glasses which left me unable to read for several days (off-topic, I know, but I felt you deserved an explanation).

I am also expecting more information tonight or tomorrow about our itinerary which should help me to nail down some choices and/or eliminate some options. I will return with that as soon as I know.

Thank you all again for your help. I am really looking forward to my trip!

Jul 07, 2013
kyra1 in Chicago Area

Returning to Chicago for first time in 2 years; what's new?

I have made several trips to Chicago in the past five years or so, to visit family and friends there. However, I have not visited your lovely city for two years (long story). I am returning soon to see family and friends and an exhibit at the Art Institute. Normally I keep up on the Chicago food scene but have not done this as much lately.

I've had excellent advice from many board members in the past, and thank you in advance for your assistance.

One member of our travel party lives in Cincinnati, and the rest of us live in Columbus. We eat anything. The family member whom we are visiting in Chicago, who will be dining with us some of the time, is a vegetarian (no seafood but dairy and eggs okay). At any given time, there may be between two and eight people dining out. We will be in town from around July 12 to July 16 or 17. I understand it will be difficult/impossible to get reservations at short notice.

I prefer small plates so I can taste as much as possible without getting full. My SO and I love tasting menus, but we usually can't do this with other people along.

Places I have eaten at, and enjoyed, on previous visits include: Sable, Publican, the Girl and the Goat, Purple Pig, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, another regional Mexican place whose name I cannot recall, Mercat a la Planxa, and Miller's Pub (friendly service, good beer, and the best burger I ever ate at 1 am after a long day waiting for a U2 concert). There were more but I'm blanking on them right now.

I know we will be visiting the Art Institute. Our two go-to places for lunch nearby are Terzo Piano and The Gage. I have also put Henri on my list for this trip as well, unless you don't recommend it.

Otherwise, I am uncertain of our itinerary. We will be staying with friends in Elmhurst (any recommendations there?) and commuting into the city. So, I'm not sure about what neighborhoods we will be in at what times of the day; if our party is willing to travel for food; et cetera. I'm open to your suggestions.

I would like to know what is new in the past two years, as well as places I still haven't visited. Here is what I am considering:

-if just my SO and I go out for dinner, maybe Naha or Goosefoot
-Slurping Turtle
-Fat Rice
-Chez Moi
-a Bill Kim place, since I've not been to any of them
-I'm curious about EL Ideas, but uncertain
-anyone tried Little Goat? what did you think?
-for the members of our party with a sweet tooth, Floriole, Vanille Patisserie, Do-Rite, Glazed & Infused, Doughnut Vault
-French Market at the Ogilvie Transportation Center (if we're on the Metra, we might as well stop in)

I apologize; I am usually more organized. Thanks for any advice, help, and suggestions you can offer.

Jul 02, 2013
kyra1 in Chicago Area

Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton dining

If you need to eat lunch at Easton, I would suggest Northstar. They are a locally-owned mini-chain (three locations in Columbus) and the food is very good. I also think it's an excellent renovation of an old Smith and Hawken building. You order at the counter and they bring your food. If there's a long line, you can go directly to the bar. The house-made ginger ale is excellent, as is their veggie burger, their tomato soup with olive tapenade, and the cheeseburger with fries. I find the people-watching fun and the atmosphere as pleasant as the food. Most of the other restaurants in Easton and the area are fast food or national chains, alas.

For a happy hour with good food in Columbus, you might look into G. Michael's, as everything there is consistently excellent. It's in German Village but close to the highway. Barcelona, in the same area, might be another good choice but I will have to check and see what their happy hour situation is and get back to you.

I can't help with Dayton, sorry.

I don't know about happy hour specials in Cincinnati off the top of my head, but will look around and try to get back to you.

Dec 15, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Looking for the Pearson's Salted Caramel Nut Goodie...

It's been a while since I lived in Minneapolis, but I wonder if Lund's/Byerly's might be able to help you. My Byerly's store regularly carried the original flavor one. My other thought is the same as already suggested, to contact Pearson's directly. Good luck!

Dec 05, 2012
kyra1 in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Columbus, OH on Sunday Evening

I agree with all of Crockett67's recommendations, especially NorthStar. The one place close to campus I can recommend is a Korean restaurant called Diaspora. It even has a surprisingly pleasant atmosphere for a campus ethnic restaurant. But the best food in Columbus is not near campus. Hope you have a good visit.

Nov 02, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Columbus, OH: what shouldn't we miss?

Glad you're having a good trip and thanks for checking in. So sorry you had a bad experience at the Montgomery Inn up near Sawmill. I've never been to that location, but they're from Cincinnati, and although they're very popular, it's not my favorite restaurant. Ugh. I am glad you enjoyed Dirty Frank's and hope you make it to Jeni's while you're still here. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Oct 12, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Columbus, OH: what shouldn't we miss?

I love your story about the morel mushrooms and Rigsby's restaurant!

For breakfast, in the Short North, I recommend Tasi, which I think I mentioned above. Their house-smoked salmon is delicious. I also like Pistacia Vera in German Village. They are actually a bakery, and now that I know you have a car, I would recommend them for a visit also. They are known for their macarons but everything they make is good. They have a limited breakfast menu but it's very, very good. I love their croissants, especially the rye croissants. I believe they are open daily from 7 am to 7 pm.

I also enjoy Skillet for breakfast (again, German Village) but it's a tiny place and the wait can be long. Further, I think they only do brunch on the weekends. I would recommend all their food at any time of day, but again, it's small and there can be a wait. The menu changes seasonally and is not long.

NorthStar also does a good breakfast.

Dirty Frank's is a lot of fun and the food is good, as long as you're in the mood for hot dogs and tater tots. I do love several of their menu items and the whole menu/decor/vibe is fun.

The same restaurant group also owns Tip Top Kitchen, which is a favorite place of mine downtown. I am fond of their Ham and Slaw sandwich, which reminds me of a much better tasting version of the Buddy Boy sandwiches of my youth from Frisch's in Cincinnati. I upgrade to the pretzel bun and the sweet potato fries, which I think are the best I've ever had.

I will see if I can think of more breakfast options for you.

Oct 05, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

I'm glad you got to see the amazing dining room at the Netherlands; it's just so gorgeous. I am sure the food was just as good as the decor. I am glad to hear another positive report about the brunch there.

Glad you had a good time and come back to Ohio soon!

Sep 29, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Weekend/bday celebration in Columbus

I'm sorry for the delay in replying, and this is probably too late to help you, but let me give you some suggestions.

For breakfast/brunch, look up Tasi in the Short North, Pistacia Vera in German Village (it's actually a bakery and has only a couple of breakfast items but they are stellar, plus then you have an excuse to try their incredible baked goods), and Skillet in German Village if you don't mind a possible long wait. I would also recommend Tasi for lunch if you're in the Short North.

Also check out Northstar Cafe (3 locations, including Easton if you find yourselves there) for any meal. Locally owned, seasonal/organic food where possible, and very, very tasty. They make the best veggie burger I've ever eaten, and the Niman Ranch cheeseburger is also great (as are the fries). At the Easton location I love the Crispy Thai salad. My husband is very partial to their meatloaf.

If you're shopping at Easton, I would eat at Northstar or Flip Side (burgers and boozy shakes).

I am not so good with suggesting bars; sorry! Barcelona, in German Village, would have drinks for every taste and also has good food and a great patio, and they have a nice bar area, but it's a restaurant. Gallo's Tap Room is not only a great bar but also has fantastic food; it's ostensibly a sports bar but it's one that I, a non-bar and non-sports bar person who is older than 21 will happily go to. I love their coleslaw, panini sandwiches, and the muffaletta. Mouton on High Street in the Short North has great cocktails and the bacon sashimi appetizer is delicious. Brothers Drake Meadery, just off High Street, has a bar where you can taste their mead and some other local alcohol, but I am not sure if they serve food.

For something funky in Hilliard, try the Starliner Diner. The decor is kitsch and fun and the menu (American plus Cuban-inspired) is good and will please everyone. I am a big fan of their black beans and rice and their Cuban bread. The salads are good, the walleye (ask if it's not on the menu) is outstanding, and the chicken pot pie is a favorite also.

Your must-eat place is Jeni's ice cream (various locations around town). Trust me; just go, and sample lots of amazing flavors.

All of these places I've mentioned would work for a 21-year old and slightly older folks.

Sep 29, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Columbus, OH: what shouldn't we miss?

Sorry for the delay in replying. I hope I can be helpful. Will you have a car? Do you only want places in walking distance? Any budget concerns? Are you staying near the Convention Center or elsewhere? Let me go ahead and give you some suggestions I hope will help.

Alas, I am not a coffee person, but I do know there is a Cup o'JOe/MoJoe (local chain) near the convention center. There is also a coffee place inside the North Market (more on that soon) called A Touch of Earth and they are friendly and use local milk and cream. There is Cafe Brioso downtown, but that won't be convenient for your morning coffee. Oh, and Impero Coffee Roasters is also on High Street in the Short North. I hope a Columbus coffee person will chime in here and help you out. For what it's worth, I have always had good service at Cup O' Joe/MoJoe and A Touch of Earth, so if they are not the coffee you want, perhaps they could direct you.

The one Columbus food I would advise you NOT miss is Jeni's Ice Cream. There is one inside the North Market and one on High Street very close to the Convention Center. Please go early in your visit and sample many flavors, as there is sure to be something you like.

I am going to have to think about places with a limited menu. The first one that comes to mind that is in the Short North is Northstar Cafe. This is a locally owned small chain (3 locations) that serves good food, locally sourced and/or organic when possible. The architecture and atmosphere are as pleasant as the food. You order at the counter and then your food is brought to your table. They make the best veggie burger I've ever eaten, and my husband is very partial to their meatloaf, but I've never had bad food there. I also love the house-made ginger ale and the Shooting Star (carrot juice, orange juice, and ginger; I like mine with extra ginger). The menu is not as extensive as other restaurants.

For a can't miss meal, try Risgby's, on High Street in the Short North near the Convention Center. It's a white-linen setting with excellent service, but casual in that you're welcome to come in shorts and sneakers. The food is always, always impeccable. I believe they do lunch during the week as well as dinner, but check the website. Their proper name is Rigsby's Kitchen.

The same owner runs Tasi, which is a casual cafe tucked just a block or so off High Street. It is also order-at-the-counter, we-bring-your-food. It's a mix of counter, communal table, and small table seating. I think they do only breakfast and lunch. Their house-smoked salmon is very good. All the breads at Tasi and Rigsby's are baked at their own bakery, Eleni-Christina, which is also in the Short North and is open for retail sale to the public. Do not miss the raisin-walnut bread!

Across High Street from the Convention Center, and another short block, is the North Market. This is a covered indoor market that has been in business in Columbus since the late 1800s, I think. There is a farmers' market outdoors every Saturday morning. Many of the indoor merchants are closed on Mondays. There is a butcher, a fishmonger, a poultry and game seller, a florist, a greengrocer, a baker, a cheese guy, a beer and wine shop, and also purveyors of everything from candy to spices to hot sauce to popcorn. There is also a lot of prepared food for sale. It's a great place for coffee and a pastry, lunch, a snack, dessert, grazing, or dinner. Taste of Belgium sells fantastic waffles and also makes crepes. There is a Jeni's. I like the pretzels from Brezel. The chocolates from Pure Imagination are not to be missed; they are as tasty as they are beautiful. Prepared food ranges from pizza to Polish to Middle Eastern to Vietnamese and more. Don't miss the offerings from Kitchen Little (at the side of North Market Poultry and Game) as everything they make is good.

I will also mention DeepWood, on High Street near the Convention Center. I believe they offer lunch during the week, as well as dinner, but I would check their website. I have only eaten there once but it was a very good experience.

There are many more restaurants I can recommend in Columbus, but I am not sure exactly where you are staying, what sort of transportation you will have, how far you want to venture (if your schedule even permits), and what your budget is. I'm happy to supply more suggestions. With the exception of Northstar, all the places I've mentioned are within close walking distance of the Convention Center (and I personally would not hesitate to walk to Northstar, but that would depend on what you are able and willing to do). There is lots more to try in Columbus!

Sep 29, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Columbus, Ohio - suggestions for Tgiving dinner, need to accommodate vegan relative, please help!

Diane, I think Latitude 41 did a Thanksgiving dinner last year. Also, the Liz Lessner restaurants tend to be open on holidays (Jury Room, Tip Top, etc.) Northstar? The Refectory? G. Michael's? Barcelona? I have eaten on Thanksgiving Day the past two years at McCormick and Schmick's in Cincinnati, so I bet the one in Easton would be open as well (and we've had great food, although I don't know about vegan options there). I'll keep thinking.

Sep 24, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Help please with Road Trip: Milwaukee-Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Columbus (long)

Regarding Columbus: In Worthington, I have not yet been to Natalie's Coal Fired pizza, but I have heard good things about it and it's on my list to try. La Chatelaine is locally owned and has very good quality baked goods. Their food is also good; the Worthington location has an especially nice patio.

Elsewhere in Columbus, I love Northstar (several locations), Rigsby's, Tasi Cafe (owned by the same people as Rigsby's; their house smoked salmon is excellent). Pistacia Vera is an amazing bakery in German Village, famous for the macarons, but everything there is good. They do a limited but very tasty breakfast menu. Other places in German Village that I like are G. Michael's (a small but nice patio, Barcelona (one of the best patios in town), and Skillet. I am not a big fan of Katzinger's, although there is nothing wrong with the food. Oh, and Lindey's is supposed to be good but I have never eaten there.

Starliner Diner is good and the decor is amusing. I can't help you with Tommy's Diner or City BBQ. I can't recommend First Watch to you at all; I think the food is just OK and would never go there if I could help it. I also can't help with the German Village Coffee Shop. I have heard good things about the Angry Baker but haven't eaten there personally. Jeni's ice cream, yes, you should absolutely try (several locations). They are very good about samples so just taste everything before you order! If you plan to visit the North Market, there is lots to eat there, and that could be an entire thread to itself. My personal favorites at the North Market (besides Jeni's) are the pretzels from Brezel, the waffles from Taste of Belgium, and the chocolates from Pure Imagination. My husband is partial to Hubert's pierogi. Actually, all of Hubert's food that I've tried has been good. I hope some of that is helpful and not overwhelming!

Sep 10, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

I called Servatti's, and they were very helpful. Their cream puff filling is a half-and-half mixture of whipped cream and pastry cream (which they called "Bavarian cream"). So now you know about two of the cream puff fillings!

Sep 10, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

My source confirms that Schmidt's uses a pastry cream filling in their cream puffs, and thinks their mobile food services would offer the same stuff as their restaurant here in Columbus.

Sep 09, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

I am working on cream puff intelligence for you! Schmidt's is a German restaurant from Columbus and their food is generally pretty good. I've never eaten their cream puffs but will find out what the filling is. Servatti's is a bakery from Cincinnati and their stuff is very good. Ditto on their cream puffs. I will report back.

I hadn't thought about Jean-Robert's restaurant; good idea. I haven't been to Table but ate at his previous place (Jean-Ro's Bistro) a number of times and always found it to be very good. I hear the red snapper at Orchids is excellent.

Of course I would never dream of discussing non-food things here, but if you need other suggestions for Sunday afternoon activities, well, it is my hometown.

Sep 08, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

I hope you'll let me know what you think about the ice cream. Again, Jeni's salty caramel is not my favorite (I am not much of a caramel person in general) but it's very, very popular. I am sad you were not able to get the sweet corn and blackberry as I think it's really stellar; a nice balance of flavor and not too sweet. Her ice creams are generally not overly sweet.

I am a HUGE fan of the sweet corn creme brulee at Sable. And Sable in general! I think their pretzels are excellent.

Sep 08, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

The waffles are FANTASTIC. I have never been to Belgium, but these waffles are amazing. I actually prefer them at room temperature, although they are also fabulous warm. I hope that one of your trips to Columbus or Cincinnati, you get to sample them. Or that you'll let me ship some to you!

I would not say that the ice cream is a competition, although others might see it that way. Graeter's has been in business in Cincinnati for a number of years and is still owned by the Graeter's family, as far as I know. It is "French pot" method ice cream, made in small batches, and has a high fat content. It is what I ate as a kid as the "gold standard" of local ice cream, although Aglamesis is also very good (another story). The flavor to try is black raspberry chocolate chip, or any of the chocolate chip flavors. The liquid chocolate is poured into the frozen ice cream, and flakes off in small and large shards. It's very good ice cream, but it is rich and heavy.

Jeni's is more recently native to Columbus. Jeni's is more of an Italian gelato style ice cream, and while it's very smooth and rich-tasting, I am sure it's lower in fat. Her flavors are also a little more unusual. She's a stickler for local ingredients (Snowville Creamery cream and milk) and she's recently expanded to Nashville and Cleveland, but locations are concentrated in Columbus. If you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth a try. Oh, I see you said you can buy pints. They are crazy expensive. The flavor everyone (but me) loves is salty caramel. My favorites tend to be seasonal (strawberry; sweet corn and blackberry; some of her winter flavors; plus the one-offs) but you might try the Reisling poached pear to get an idea of what she can do.

That was probably more than you wanted to ever know about Ohio ice cream! I apologize.

Sep 07, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati – Late Saturday Afternoon, Findlay Market, Sunday Brunch, Downtown Dinner

You have helped me on a number of occasions, notably Chicago recommendations, so I would love to return the favor. I am originally from Cincinnati and still have family there. I am not as current on the restaurant scene there as I would like, but let me tell you what I know.

Oktoberfest: I have not been in years, but the information you've gotten from other posters seems sound. It is big and noisy and fun. I am not a cream puff person but many people love Schmidt's (from Columbus) and/or Servatti's (from Cincinnati). If you see mettwurst, you might try it, as I feel like it's harder to find outside of Cincinnati, although I don't know what vendor to steer you towards.

Dinner: I can't recommend the Montgomery Inn Boathouse, even though it's a family favorite, because I have never loved their ribs, and I haven't been in years so I can't tell you about the quality of the rest of the food. I know many people love the Montgomery Inn, and they are an institution, but you either love the ribs or you don't. From what I know about your food tastes, I fear you would not love them, and I'd hate for you to blow a meal in Cincinnati. However, I agree the location/view/atmosphere are good.

I agree with other posters that you may not be as impressed with Nada as we are, since you are coming from Chicago, but I do need to tell you I've dined there three times in the past year and really love the place, especially the patio. I think they have good food and drink and excellent service and think you'd get a good meal there. I love the oyster shooters, the ceviche, the queso with chorizo, the pork cazuela (with the egg), and was impressed with the barbacoa tacos, which I did not expect to like. I'm also a fan of the churros (always fresh, not greasy, not too sweet).

I also know Nada serves brunch, but know nothing about it. Maybe someone here can help?

For brunch, you might consider a place called Taste of Belgium, in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. This would be only a short drive, and I can strongly recommend their exceptional beer list and the goetta crepes. Goetta is a Cincinnati food that I ate reluctantly as a kid (don't tell my German ancestors) but I just LOVED this dish. The atmosphere was good; we sat at a communal table. The owner and servers were very friendly and went to a lot of trouble to make sure we would enjoy our food, and to help me select a beer I would like (they brought me tastes to be certain). They make killer waffles (available at Findlay Market in Cincinnati and the North Market in Columbus) but I dream about those goetta crepes.

I have also eaten at Via Vite, although not recently, and the food was solid. It didn't knock my socks off, but it was a good meal, and the space is nice. I would eat there over Rock Bottom for sure.

Sadly, I have not yet been to the Moerlein Lager House. I have heard mixed reviews but I plan to try it anyway.

Even if you don't eat at the Palm Court at the Hilton, do go have a drink there at the bar, or at least walk through it. Even non-architecture fans are amazed by this room. It used to be the hotel lobby and it's absolutely stunning. I know the chef there is good (Todd Kelly) and have also heard good things about brunch.

Oh, and Findlay Market. I've been two or three times in the past year or two and have mixed feelings about it. I want to love it, like I love the North Market in Columbus. The farmers' market is definitely good (and can draw a crowd). The permanent market is a bit mixed. It's not in a great neighborhood (I am not saying this is good or bad, just a fact), although I'm not personally bothered by that. There is a lot of empty space at the market, so be prepared for that. Having said that, I would recommend it, as there isn't anyplace else like it in Cincinnati. Dojo Gelato gets a lot of press and while I thought some of their flavors were very good (the Vietnamese coffee was a favorite with our group), others were, to me, just good. Definitely worth a try. (Madisono's also makes excellent ice cream, in my book. And maybe you know about Graeter's already? I ate that all the time growing up in Cincinnati, although I have to admit I'm now a Jeni's convert.) The spice place, Colonel De, definitely is worth a peek: very friendly and a good assortment. There's a Vietnamese place that gets good press that I can't think of the name of right this second. Pho Lang Thang, maybe? There are also good butchers and other vendors, although I don't know if you're looking to take food home? (If you are, that's another topic.)

I feel like this is a little disjointed, but I wanted to respond. Again, you've helped me often, so I wanted to try and help you out as well, especially on my home turf, so to speak. Please do report back and let us know what other questions you have.

Sep 07, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Chicago on a budget, please!

If your BF loves pretzels, I would suggest the pretzels at Sable. I could eat my weight in those!

Aug 17, 2012
kyra1 in Chicago Area

Please help with trip to Schuylkill County and theme parks in PA

We returned home from our trip today, and I wanted to check in and thank everyone again for their replies. We ended up eating most of our meals at home with family, so I do not have much to report about restaurants in the area. Nor were we able to fit in the brewery tour at either Yuengling or Troegs, but it will be on the list for another trip.

I can recommend Dunn's Produce Market in Tamaqua, PA. They had great produce, much of it locally grown, and were very friendly. They also had a cart/stand that was serving Leiby's ice cream, which is a favorite with my husband's family. I tasted the peach and the rum raisin and it was very good.

The only restaurant we went to was the Beacon Diner in Hometown. We went for breakfast and the food was good and the service fantastic. The menu was large and offered every possible combination of eggs, waffles, pancakes, etc. The regular menu was even larger and more varied. I ate scrapple for the first time and found it very tasty. I believe they've been in business since the 1940s. I noted that their bar opens at 7 am--a good thing to know!

This is not strictly food-related but we did go to Hershey Park. We had a great time and I thought all the employees were friendly and super helpful. Also I thought their soft pretzels were above average. And although it was expensive, the create-your-own-candy bar thing was really fun!

Oh, and I got to taste teaberry ice cream for the first time. I gather this is a local PA thing? I thought it was a pleasant, mild, minty sort of flavor. I assume the pink color was artificial and unfortunately it looked rather Pepto-Bismol pink to me, but I was still glad to taste it.

I will certainly hold on to your recommendations for pretzel and beer factories for another visit. Thank you all!

Aug 01, 2012
kyra1 in Pennsylvania

Please help with trip to Schuylkill County and theme parks in PA

I did not know about Troegs Brewery; thank you for the tip. I checked out the website and it looks like a good tour with lots of varieties to taste. The menu at the "snack bar" also sounds very good; in fact, I might plan to eat there if I am in the area. Thanks again for your help.

Jul 26, 2012
kyra1 in Pennsylvania

Please help with trip to Schuylkill County and theme parks in PA

Cleobeach, no, there is nothing in particular about Massers that appeals to me; I just found a reference to it somewhere and put it on my list. I am not born and raised PA Dutch but do know the cuisine and while it's fine, I don't know that I would go out of my way for it, although it's still better than McDonald's. Right?

Thanks for the specific info on the Hershey Hotel restaurants. I still don't know if we will be heading there, but I like to be prepared. And I do plan on stopping at Yuengling if at all possible.

Jul 24, 2012
kyra1 in Pennsylvania

Please help with trip to Schuylkill County and theme parks in PA

I want to thank everyone for their replies. I honestly didn't expect to hear from so many people (based on older threads asking for recommendations in the area) and really appreciate your help.

If anyone can chime in on Hazleton, please do. It sounds like the Dragonfly Cafe has good food, El Mariachi might be decent Mexican, and there is possibly a bagel place to try. Other than that, I am coming up empty handed. I know there have to be good taquerias or other Mexican places, but can't find recommendations.

Thanks again!

Jul 24, 2012
kyra1 in Pennsylvania

Please help with trip to Schuylkill County and theme parks in PA

My husband and I will be traveling to Pennsylvania at the end of July to visit family. He is from a small town in Schuylkill County near Tamaqua. We will be staying at a hotel in Hazleton and visiting with family in the Tamaqua area for part of the time. We will also be taking trips to one or more of the following amusement/theme parks: Hershey, Dorney, and Knoebel's (near Elysburg). We may or may not be staying near the parks. Other activities have not yet been decided but could include a visit to the Yuengling factory in Pottsville, parks, and maybe a pretzel factory if I can find one nearby (I love pretzels).

Thank you for helping with recommendations for food in this area. I would prefer to avoid chain restaurants if possible. Previous trips have not yielded many options, and I have not been in the area for several years. We eat anything and have no restrictions or allergies. We are open to any type of cuisine, atmosphere, and price range. We will have our own car and are willing to drive. I would especially like input on options in and or near the amusement parks, and the Hazleton area.

Anyplace that has birch beer on tap (my husband prefers the clear version) would be a bonus, food aside. I did turn up a reference to a place called Werts Cafe in Allentown that offers this, but think there must be others in the area.

Oh, and I am also having difficulty locating farmers' markets in the area (the one in Jim Thorpe seems to be defunct), so if anyone knows of a good one, with local produce, or even a reliable roadside stand or truck market or whatever, I'd appreciate the info.

Here is my current list from research. Please weigh in with opinions and advice on any or all of these, and tell me what I have missed.

in Jim Thorpe: Flow, Maya, and Black Bread

near Jim Thorpe: Trattoria 903

Nesquehoning: Macaluso's

Lansford: Kelly's Pub

Dorney Park area: Grille 3501, Pistachio's

Paxinos (near Elysburg and Knoebel's): Massers Restaurant

Hershey: restaurants in the Hershey Hotel

not a restaurant but Dietrich's Meats in Krumsville sounds good

Again, thank you so much for any help you are able to give. It would make my trip much more pleasant!

Jul 19, 2012
kyra1 in Pennsylvania

Any been to A Tavola (Cincy, OH) b/ Good Falafel?

I ate at A Tavola for the first time about two weeks ago. It is Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza (the oven is beautiful). We ate two pizzas, the sausage and panna and also the artichoke pizza. We had the roasted cauliflower as well (excellent). The pizzas were very good, although I don't know if they will meet your "CHAR" requirement. They were certainly not wimpy or limp. The service was friendly and we sat on the small patio, which was very nice. I would say that A Tavola offered excellent pizza and lived up to the hype.

I do not love Donato's but that's just a personal preference. I grew up in Cincinnati and my childhood pizza was LaRosa's, so that is what I like. I get the thin crust and tell them to cook it well done. I have never tried Dewey's so can't help you there.

Alas, I have no falafel information for you. I hope someone else can help.

Jun 23, 2012
kyra1 in Great Lakes

Please help me choose our 1 dinner in Chicago

During a visit to Chicago last summer, a friend and I ate at Publican and sat at one of the large communal tables. If you want a quiet, romantic dinner then this option is not for you. (Actually, I should warn you that when Publican was full, the noise level was high.) But my friend and I were there to eat and have fun and the large table did not detract from my enjoyment. She was seated directly across from me and we were able to converse and share food. We also enjoyed some pleasant conversation with some of our table mates. Others just ignored us; both approaches are fine with me, but I like communal tables. I do agree you should call them; we were late for our reservation, due to traffic, and the restaurant staff was very understanding and helpful. I hope you have a great time, wherever you go.

Jun 18, 2012
kyra1 in Chicago Area

Please help with last-minute Midtown and near-Met Museum recs

A friend and I are making an impromptu overnight trip to Manhattan this Friday, July 15. He lives in Delaware and I am visiting from Ohio. We are staying overnight at the Radisson Martinique at Broadway and 32nd. We will arrive around midday on Friday and stay until about 6 pm Saturday. One day we plan on the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the other day at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (and yes, I know I can't ask for Brooklyn info here in the Manhattan board).

I am looking for suggested restaurants for dinner for Friday night both near our hotel and also near the Met, should we happen to stay there late. No chain restaurants, please. One person will eat anything; the other is allergic to strawberries, does not love red meat, and does like seafood. Also, no Mexican, please, but any other type of ethnic is fine. No place where jackets and ties are required, and nothing fancier than Dockers and a decent shirt for the gentleman, please. We are hoping for a price range of up to $40 per person, not including drinks, taxes, and tip. Someplace we don't have to shout would be a plus; one of us has some hearing loss and loud restaurants are difficult. We do not need romantic, however! And of course, we probably will need a restaurant that will take walk-ins, since I am guessing we are much too late to make a reservation.

I know there have been other requests for lunch places near the Met and will seek out those threads, but any additional recommendations are very welcome. I have eaten at Le Pain Quotidien and would like something new; I looked at the menu for Le Paris and it's definitely possible; Cascabel Taqueria looks good but violates the "no Mexican" request.

I have not been to Manhattan for about two years and am not current on the restaurant scene. It is possible we'd be willing to go elsewhere for dinner Friday night if there is something just wonderful we need to try, or someplace that really fits the bill but is not in the locations I specified. I don't need a destination restaurant, but rather something solid and good value.

Please tell me if you need more information, and thank you in advance for your help!

Le Paris
1312 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10128

Jul 13, 2011
kyra1 in Manhattan

Please help with lunch for U2 concert GA line July 5

Nsxtasty, thank you for your prompt and helpful reply. I had not thought of Grubhub and will give that a shot if Panozzo's does not pan out--I looked at their menu and I think it sounds great. Thank you!

Jun 27, 2011
kyra1 in Chicago Area