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Manhattan restaurants with great bar areas

+1 for Terroir Tribeca.

Also right nearby is The Brandy Library - great drinks, you can reserve the couches in the lounge area (party size limit is 6 on the weekends, though) and there's decent snacky food - great place to rendezvous before or after dinner. Fancier vibe than Terroir, but not, like, "jacket required" fancy - more of a comfortable upscale lounge.

about 19 hours ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Upscale Non-touristy Advice Needed

There's a $38 lunch prix fixe at Betony.

The NoMad is theoretically doable, only without drinks, or with maybe just a beer or two - if they don't drink (or have dessert) at lunch, they could make it work.

ACME is another one that just came to mind where a dinner with light drinking could be doable, especially if they were to share a bunch of smaller plates rather than go the typical app/entree/dessert path. Also, further South, Skal for something similar - though Skal (which I like) is still a bit spotty, where ACME has really found a solid groove. Either way, they probably don't have many Nordic restaurants in Arizona, I'm just guessing.

Personally, if I were here four nights, rather than set aside $100-$150 per night for dinner - let's say the four dinners must not exceed $600 total - go cheap eats for three nights (no more than $60 average, some nights could be even cheaper doing classics like Katz's and whatnot) and whatever's left over, could be $420+, can be the stash for one real big-ass splurge night.

1 day ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Upscale Non-touristy Advice Needed

As kathryn pointed out, drinks can REALLY eat up part of the tab. So it kind of depends more if you're the sort to have a couple of beers, a few cocktails, a bottle of wine, etc. A cheap but decent bottle of wine will run around $40 average, which puts the food budget around $42pp before tax/tip. Astounding how quickly $75/pp nearly halves itself.

A few thoughts -

For Italian, assuming your daughter likes it outside of pasta, Lupa is a great choice. Apps in the $11-14 range, secondi usually $21-$24. The wine list is VERY resonable - they say half the list is under $50 (it isn't, that must be outdated) but there are still a number of bottles in the $30s that are perfectly good, tasty table wines.

Also on the Italian tip, a few great lunch deals are Lincoln ($36 for two savory courses), Maialino ($35) and Del Posto's ($39 for two savory + dessert) - neither savory course need be pasta at any of them.

Speaking of lunch deals, which are oft-written about on Chowhound, other ones to note are Jean-Georges ($38 for two courses), and if you want to really splurge at lunch and balance it with a super-cheap-eats dinner, Bouley's $55 5-course extravaganza. You probably won't have room for much dinner after that lunch, anyway.

For downscale... most of our best options are Asian or, if not Mexican, Central/South American. Is Cuban / Dominican / Puerto Rican etc too close? Margon is touristy, but their Cubanos and Octopus Salad can be worth the wait. I also like Casa Adela (less crowded, but still very popular hole-in-the-wall in Alphabet City) for the same.

How about Middle Eastern? There are a lot of good cheap eats options there, especially if you want to take a day out in Queens. (There are good options in Manhattan as well, but "Little Eqypt" in Astoria has some of the better, more unique places)

We also have some great felafels here - mere mention of which can spark a debate over whose are best or, god help us, "most authentic" (yawn) - but many (self included) like Taim quite a lot. My nostalgic attachment is for Cafe Rakka, and I've also come to like The Felafel Shop on the LES. That said, if your daughter's pasta aversion is on account of wanting to go low-carb, felafels may not be the best call.

2 days ago
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Rico's Tamales... Sunset Park... Awesome Oaxaquenoes as always

There are a number of places along 5th Ave that have them... just gotta find the one you like best. Check Tulcingo and Las Conchitas.

Apr 11, 2014
sgordon in Outer Boroughs

Sales tax on food consumed at the bar

I know many bars - as in places that are primarily bars, not restaurants - the tax is included in the price. Makes it easier for bartenders doing high-volume to not have to deal with loose change and such. (When's the last time anyone ordered a beer and it was $5.44 or $3.26 or something?)

I've been in some bars where if you paid cash there'd be no tax, but as soon as you opened a CC tab it would magically appear - basically, they don't report most cash sales but had no choice as soon as the transaction had an electronic record.

I could see that discrepancy happening at a divey restaurant - have a beer while waiting on a table, settle the bar tab in cash, no tax - then wind up paying tax on food and drinks at the table. But at a higher-end place, where they print a bill / receipt for everything, that wouldn't happen.

Pretty much every mid-range and up restaurant I've ever been to does tab transferring, in fact most places it's the only option. In which case I'll often drop a little extra cash tip on the bar when I go to my table, if that bartender was particularly good.

Occasionally I'll encounter otherwise, at places where the bartenders aren't part of the general tip pool but are tipped individually - like at some bars, if you happen to overlap a shift change, sometimes they'll ask you to pay your current tab and then start afresh with the new bartender.

Apr 11, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Gentleman Farmer, Black Tree, North River

Glad it worked out. I personally wouldn't go for the pasta tasting either - it just seems like overkill to me. And I while I like the pastas there quite a lot, I find they work best as a shared "middle course" between antipasti and secondi, in the Italian tradition. Though invariably, every time I'm there at least one neighboring table is doing the tasting. And invariably, if they were seated before us, one of them leans over and suggests we order the same. So some people like it.

I think they allow one person to get the pasta tasting and the other to get the chef's tasting, since they're the same number of courses, but I'm not positive about that - and either way, too late.

Babbo doesn't claim to re-invent the wheel a la Dufresne - there are certainly some "wow" dishes on the menu (the octopus antipasti is deservedly lauded) but mostly they hew somewhat traditional - just executed really, really, really well.

I haven't been to Felidia in years, it kind of dropped off the radar for me. You should have had your parents call Lydia before you went last night - after all, her son is the co-owner. Maybe could have pulled some extra-special birthday treat for you.

Apr 08, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Gentleman Farmer, Black Tree, North River

Given it's a big ten, if I had to pick (and it's just my personal taste) I'd probably go for Babbo, or Aquavit if you want to give in and splurge for something that feels fancier. Been very into what Bouley's been doing the last year or so, but given how good their lunch deal is I almost can't imagine going there for dinner prices anymore.

What places WERE among the best you've (or more importantly, she's) had, food-wise? Might be easier to get a bead on a good choice starting from there.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Gentleman Farmer, Black Tree, North River

There is, surprisingly, a two-top available at 9:00 at Babbo tonight. It's nowhere near as expensive as an EMP but it's still high-end-ish and carries a bit of "wow, you scored a really tough reservation during prime dining hours" cache.

Of course, it might be gone by the time you read this.

Also seeing prime time tables at: Blue Hill (more romantic), Aquavit (a little more adventurous food), Bouley (again, more romantic), Brushstroke, Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernardin, Gato (again, surprising... figured on them being booked solid for the next month or so...)

Actually, lots of places on OT listed that are usually booked solid - is no one going out tonight? I know Mondays are traditionally slower, but certain places (like Babbo or Le Bern) very rarely have multiple same-day prime openings.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Gentleman Farmer, Black Tree, North River

Well, if she's become acclimated to Ko, EMP, etc for birthdays, you're potentially risking a let-down. If you're rollin' that high for birthdays (and not just big ten birthdays) that would make a place like Bako more of a "nice night out" sort of place. I dunno, maybe you should go high-end (if not quite EMP high-end)

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Gentleman Farmer, Black Tree, North River

Black Tree is a place to check out on a casual evening out, not for a birthday dinner. Actually, I wasn't terribly blown away by their sandwiches the couple times I tried them, even - I found them underseasoned, and with a pretty poor fillin's:bread ratio to boot. Also there was one time it took, like, twenty minutes to get our sandwiches even though there were a grand total of six people in the whole restaurant, three of whom were just drinking beers at the bar.

Gentleman Farmer is a little nicer. It's a cute, cozy place.

Looking over opentable, tables for two tonight in that general area, I'm seeing tables at Acme (great lately), Alder, Apiary, Degustation, Hearth, Skal (hip new Nordic-themed place), Pearl & Ash... all good options.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Looking for the Best Strawberry Shortcake in Manhattan

While I suppose technically what Lady M calls their "Strawberry Shortcake" qualifies, it isn't what I think of when I think of a shortcake - theirs is a sponge cake. To me, when I hear "shortcake" I think biscuits.

There was a really good one at The Harrison, with corn biscuits - not on the menu now but I think it comes back when the fancy tri-star strawberries are in season (June or so...)

Colicchio & Sons also does one in the Tap Room - but again, only during strawberry season.

I remember The Water Club having one that was biscuit-style as well, don't know if they do it year-round.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

French restaurants

I wouldn't personally call Le Philosophe "creative" - that's not a knock, mind you, sometimes old standbys are nice. But any place where the entree menu consists of Tournedos Rossini, Blanquette de Veau, Lobster Thermidor, etc... it's not "bistro" fare, but it's not really pushing the boundaries either.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

A NEW Ciano, Falai, Osteria Il Paiolo (Williamsburg)?

As to Falai, something with a more adventurous spirit, probably Roberta's. I don't know what the menu's like these days - been a little while since I've been. Did they move all the fun stuff to Blanca? Does Mirarchi still run the kitchen and do the menu development there? (The non-pizza menu, that is)

In Manhattan - I think maybe Lincoln is the closest we have to Falai at this point, although Benno isn't rooted in Florentine cuisine as Falai was, and he does his "region of the month" thing where he can skew a bit more traditional. And it doesn't have as personal/cozy an ambiance as Falai did, obviously.

I love Babbo as well, but, obviously, it's a different kind of thing than what Chef Falai was doing.

For something similar to *Cafe* Falai (as opposed to his flagship) some of his old employees opened Ciccio (on 6th between Prince & Spring) - cute little shoebox place, very solid pastas made in house.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Angel's Share Hours

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Where can I find REAL truffle oil

There are a couple brands on the market that use actual truffles, although there are a few different kinds of "white truffle" out there - if it doesn't specify which kind (i.e. for white truffles it should say "Truffle d'Alba" or "Tuber Magnatum" - which is not to be confused with the less-expensive "Tuber Magnatum Pico") then you can be sure it's one of the cheaper, less aromatic varieties.

That said, most of the aroma/flavor molecules of truffles aren't soluble in oil, so even if they have some kind of truffle in them, doesn't matter how long they steep it or what kind they use - they're not picking up the full spectrum of flavors. (That's why butters, which have some water content, fare -slightly- better)

On top of that, the flavor might be decent enough upon opening the bottle, but because the aromatics are so unstable it'll lose flavor rather quickly, no matter how tight you screw the cap back on. Those made with olive oil are particularly bad in that regard - not that I'd buy any of them, personally, but a sunflower or grapeseed base is far superior as they degrade slower.

Apr 07, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

two vegans and a picky eater

I thought about Kajitsu, too... but since it's tasting-menu-only, that could be an issue with a picky eater in tow...

Apr 04, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

two vegans and a picky eater

Hangawi is a good call, also check out Dirt Candy though they're a pretty tough reservation short notice. Both, actually, might already be booked solid for a Friday night.

Scarpetta has one app and two entrees which are or can be made vegan.

And the usual vegan options: Candle 79, Blossom, Angelica Kitchen. Even a picky eater will find something to eat at any of them.

Apr 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Liquid Nitrogen

You can got the thermos route (though I suspect some places might not sell it to you without a proper dewar, you never know...) but you'd need to buy it same day you're going to use it, as it'll evaporate fairly quickly if you keep the cap loose (which you have to, or... kaboom)

Check with Praxair about rentals. Pretty sure they do it. It's walking distance from the ferry (maybe 20 mins) and you can make an afternoon of it, grab some Sri Lankan food or hit Enoteca Maria before / after.

Apr 02, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Liquid Nitrogen

Where do you go to purchase your nitro, out of curiosity? What are their prices like?

Apr 01, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Liquid Nitrogen

It's not the kind of investment one makes for a one-time event. First you'd need to purchase a vacuum dewar (that's the special container for transporting it) which can run a few hundred bucks. Then filling it, which can vary in price. Praxair, a big national gas supplier has a location on Staten Island, you can check them out:

GTS-Welco / Praxair
600 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY

I think they might also rent the dewars,

Online, there's Chef Rubber:
http://www.shopchefrubber.com/Liquid-...

- Dewars run $300+ - I doubt they come filled, but you can go to a gas supplier to have it filled (the LN itself only costs a few bucks a gallon, generally)

Apr 01, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Best desserts in NYC

Ah, I never watch the pastry-themed shows on FN. They all seem to be fondant-sculpting competitions with nothing about cooking.

I forgot he also has the Qi Thai mini-empire, though it's a bit of a mish-mash as to whose dishes are whose there, and most of his contributions there are on the savory side. Desserts were solid from what I had though, if nothing like what he was doing at Spot in the early days, but the style there is simpler (and prices lower)

Mar 31, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Calibrating Yelp reviews for Manhattan/NYC

I remember a couple of years ago some hubbub over a five-star review where the reviewer - admittedly - hadn't tried the food either. She was just so over-the-moon about how nice the reservationist was she thought it deserved five stars.

It was that place that opened and closed really quickly a few years ago, where the chef was like a neurobiologist who was replacing all the fats with some kind of seaweed gelatin or something. What was that place? It was like the "Heaven's Gate" of NYC restaurants.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Calibrating Yelp reviews for Manhattan/NYC

I immediately discount every single five-star and one-star review, as 98% of them are complete overreactions. There are people who give five stars to a hot dog stand, and others who give one star to a restaurant because there was a line at the bathroom. If there was some way to filter out all of them and just get an average score from the 2-4 star lot, it would be lovely.

I also tend to ignore early reviews, as they're often full of shills and/or competitors dissing them.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Unusually great ethnic spot for 10 people?

Are you doing Chinese in Sunset Park? Or Mexican? If the latter, there are a number of good places in Chinatown to do big group meals (currently I'd rank Fuleen and Ping's my top choices for Manhattan C-Town)

What is the date of this dinner? Soon? There are good large-format meals at places like Momofuku or The Spotted Pig, but they fill up pretty quickly.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

dinner for picky & adventurous eaters alike?

Blue Ribbon is a good call (if not terribly adventurous, although I suppose the bone marrow counts as such to some)

Scarpetta - love 'em, but they're definitely not "affordable-ish" with "entrees in the $20s or so" - unless everybody orders the chicken.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

need rec for kid-friendly, foodie-friendly, beer-friendly downtown place

Hearth is in the EV, I was saying, not D'Alsace.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Four couples, reuniting, Need comfy dinner venue.

The Dovetail "Sunday Supper" is a great call. $58 for a three-course prix fixe, lots of menu options unlike many Sunday Suppers where it's a set menu and everyone gets the same thing.

Lupa - request a table in the back room where it's significantly quieter than up front. Very reasonable prices.

ABC Kitchen (or ABC Cocina) - very solid farm-to-table seasonal fare, the latter with a Mexican / South American theme. Apps average around $16, mains $29-$35 or so. Owned by Jean Georges.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Best desserts in NYC

Brooks Headly at Del Posto is amazing. But you need to be in for a $125 prix fixe meal to get to them - or you can do the cheaper prix fixe at lunch.

Malcolm Livingston at WD-50 is killing it, too. And if you get bar seats, you can order dishes from the tasting menu a la carte, do a make-your-own dessert tasting.

And Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk bar is, as usual, putting out great stuff - though some of hers I find a little over the top sweet (can't stand the "crack pie" personally) but when she nails it, she hits it out of the park. I could eat her cereal milk ice cream every day.

Is Pichet Ong up to anything these days? He always did great work.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

dinner for picky & adventurous eaters alike?

If you can score a rez at Babbo, it's very solid for the adventurous/not-so-much combination. Those of you game for it can get head cheese, tripe, lamb tongues, octopus, brains, etc. Those not-so-adventurous... lots of pasta and traditional entree items. Apps are in the teens, pastas tend to be in the mid-20s, entrees are mostly around $29 with a few higher or lower. And it's in the Village, so right where you want to be.

Also in that area is Empellon Taqueria - creative Mexican, great cocktails. Their East Village location (Empellon Cocina) has a more interesting menu, though.

Chinese would be another good option. Most of the better Cantonese restaurants serve dishes family-style, but at a place like Fuleen you could get a bunch of straightforward (but very good) dishes, and perhaps add something more esoteric for the rest of you - they're famous for their geoduck, though that particular dish is a bit of a splurge. But there are also dishes, with, say, "1,000 year" eggs and the like that might appeal.

Jehangir Mehta's two places - Graffiti and Mehtaphor - have very creative food, and nothing's over $20 at either of them. I prefer the former over the latter, but they're both good.

Wylie Dufresne's new place Alder could be fun - it's adventurous in presentation but working with familiar flavors (i.e. a pastrami sandwich reimagined as rye pasta with pastrami crumbs, clam chowder with "oyster crackers" made from actual oysters, stuff like that...) - prices are reasonable but they're kind of in the "small plates" style so they can add up. But it's a fun place to graze the menu and try a lot of different things. Same can be said for Pearl & Ash, young talented chef (who used to work for Dufresne, IIRC) doing fun small plates.

Speaking of small plates, I'd say another good option might be Toro - but, y'know, if you're coming from Boston, no point in that...

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

need rec for kid-friendly, foodie-friendly, beer-friendly downtown place

At most restaurants, 5:30 to 6:30 reservations are "family hour" - i.e. don't bring your might-start-screaming baby after that. For kids the ages of yours, though, I imagine none of them are potential problems along those lines.

And everything's relative, of course. Is it family-friendly like, say, LandMarc? No. But for the East Village? Sure.

Mar 28, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan