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Serpico recommendations?

Hey, Philly folks. New Yorker here, going to be in Philly for the night next Sunday and have a rez at Serpico - was a big fan of his at Momofuku Ko, so looking forward to seeing what he's up to. Wondering if there's any must-orders on the current menu? Only dish I've had is the scallops (was part of the tasting at Ko) but otherwise I'm in the dark. Thanks!

about 17 hours ago
sgordon in Philadelphia

nomad or dirty french or carbone??

I would only do Carbone if you're going out with 4+ people. Portions tend to be on the larger side, it's just more fun to dine family-style there. I don't find it overly expensive to dine there when you take that into consideration - many entrees will feed two people just fine.

NoMad is great.

Haven't done DF yet, though the reviews have been decidedly mixed so far. Seems like they have a few kinks to work out yet, though the chicken-for-two appears to get high marks from everyone.

1 day ago
sgordon in Manhattan

new york city [near Lincoln Center, walker friendly]

I don't think it would be an issue. Brunch tends to turn over on the quicker side. If you're in the first seating and you're not lingering over dessert and coffee after your meal, you can certainly eat without feeling rushed in an hour. Just let them know. I'm sure that, being part of Lincoln Center and all, they have matinee-goers all the time and are well prepared for that.

Oct 16, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

?Best place to get steak in NYC?

To weigh in with a couple that haven't been mentioned yet...

For a combination of seafood and steak... you could do worse than Balthazar. Start with "Le Balthazar" (the gigantic raw and chilled seafood platter, I think the best raw bar platter in town) and then finish by splitting a steak, or the Cote de Bouef if you want to go all-out.

Another good call is American Cut - their seafood options are creative and delicious (the chili lobster is a classic they brought over from Chef Forgione's eponymous restaurant) and the Tomahawk steak is pretty great.

Oct 15, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

In Search Of: "Other" Solid Cantonese in Manhattan Chinatown

I'd add Ping's, with the caveat that the menu is a bit unwieldy, so not -everything- is great. There are a few absolute knockouts, though - his Jicama Siu-Chow is one of my favorite dishes in any Cantonese place. His Duck Tongues are great, if you're a fan of that weird little treat. Classic seafood dishes with the usual sauces - XO, ginger-scallion, etc - are always pretty solid. Recall a sea bass two-ways dish I really enjoyed as well, with good crunchy bones n' stuff. In general, I've found most things on the menu with his name (i.e. "Ping's Signature such-and-such") are -usually- among the better choices.

On the other hand, say, his E-Fu noodles - which I know are supposed to be soft - are SO soft they're practically a liquid. And his more fusiony flights... well, some work better than others, your mileage may vary. I remember one bizarre dish that we tried on a lark: shrimp in cream sauce next to chicken in tomato sauce over fried rice, like some kind of wackadoo HK interpretation of Little Italy. It didn't -quite- work, at least not for my palate (though let's be honest, it's not like some gloopy "Shrimp Alfredo" you'd find a couple blocks over would be any better...) but I have to say I appreciate that there's one Cantonese chef playing around, even if it doesn't always click. Though maybe it does for HK palates, I dunno. Or maybe if I still smoked pot it would seem most brilliant dish ever...

But, I mean, obviously if I'm going for fancier modernist Chinese I'll go to Fung Tu or Tuome or something.

Some have said the food is better when Chef Ping is in the house overseeing things, but he spends most of his week at the Elmhurst location. Don't know about that, and wouldn't know if he's there on a given night (with the exception of the one evening we closed the place and he was drunkenly caterwauling karaoke downstairs after the kitchen closed...)

Oct 15, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

In Search Of: "Other" Solid Cantonese in Manhattan Chinatown

My last couple trips to Oriental Garden have been less than enthralling. The seafood was still impeccably fresh, but it seemed the seasoning had dulled a bit. A couple dishes had sauces that basically tasted like corn starch slurry with no additional flavor. Don't know if there's been a chef change? But given their prices (easily the highest in Manhattan Chinatown) they kind of dropped off my "regulars" list.

Oct 15, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Manhattan Prix Fixe Dinners

Yeah, Babbo is definitely - unless you get an upstairs table - a bit on the "frenetic" side sometimes. Gramercy is great, one of those consistent stand-bys. I'd look into Marea and Lincoln as well, especially given that their prix fixes (as they tend to be at Italian places) are four courses rather than the usual three. If he prefers a bigger meal that could be the way to go, and they're both very solid. (I prefer Lincoln, personally, but YMMV)

If you can do lunch for your special meal, there are some great deals around town: Del Posto and Bouley both have spectacular lunch PFs.

Oct 13, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Manhattan Prix Fixe Dinners

+1 for Lincoln. The four-course for $75 is a great deal.

Some others prix fixes, off the top of my head:
Gramercy Tavern
Batard
Dovetail (weeknights $88 for four courses, Sundays $88 for a six-course tasting menu)
Marea
Ai Fiori
Mas (farmhouse)

Some tasting menus that fall under $100:
Junoon
Aquavit (fall tasting)
wd-50 ("Vault" menu)
Marc Forgione (I think - he annoyingly doesn't list prices or even up-to-date menus on his website, so you'd have to call, but last person I know who did it had a 5-course tour of his "greatest hits" for $95)
Babbo (two tastings under $100, one regular and one all-pasta, though I vastly prefer their a la carte menu)
Manzo
Colicchio & Sons
Maialino
Mas (la grillade)
Contra

...or get a third person to join you and order the whole rotisserie duck at Momofuku Ssam Bar?

Oct 13, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

70th birthday in November

Good score! Glad we could help... Don't miss the octopus antipasti!

Oct 08, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

70th birthday in November

A few months back my mother was in town with a friend on a Saturday night. I decided to try for Babbo, so this is how I did it:

At 9:58 I started calling, put my cell and office phones on speaker and just started hitting redial back and forth. At first I kept getting the recording, but at 10:00 on the nose it changed to a busy signal. Kept doing the redial juggle until, after about thirty tries (not as long as you'd think) I got through. Scored a prime time table for three. Keep in mind even if it's taking awhile, most people aren't trying to book 6-tops so even if it takes ten minutes or more to get through or you redial 100 times, you might still be the first person asking for one of those tables. It's a pain, yes, but if a weekend is your only option, that's the Babbo reservation game...

Oct 04, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Won't be returning to Per Se

True that. The new space should make that MUCH easier.

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Michelin New York 2015 results

I thought that would be Staten Island?

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Won't be returning to Per Se

Haha. If only I was so fancy. Plain black H&M up top and Earnest Sewn on the bottom. And I can say that with 100% assurance because that's what I've worn nearly every day for the last decade-plus...

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
2

70th birthday in November

I very much like Babbo, and they do have a few six-tops upstairs - your 70-year-old is ok with stairs?

If you do decide to go for Babbo, be ready to call the moment reservations open up. Start calling a minute before. And be ready to hit "redial" a lot. It's not AS hard to get a rez as it used to be, though weekends are still tough and there's only a few of those 6-tops available. I'd make sure to request an upstairs table, explain you've got a 70-year-old mom coming and it being less noisy up there would be better for her hearing. (Even if her hearing is fine, tell them that...)

Gato I was pleasantly surprised by. Not perfect, but nothing was -bad- by any stretch. And the tables are quite nicely spaced, which is rare in newer places these days - many joints seem to try to pack in as many as possible.

Bar Primi might be a bit too far to the casual side. It's vibe is more like a neighborhood joint than a "nice night out" place. I like 'em, mind you, they're just different than the rest of your list that way.

Lafayette is nice. Nothing really re-inventing the wheel. Overall I prefer Balthazar for that style of food in that part of town, but Lafayette is certainly an easier reservation, and there are some things they do really well. Their desserts are pretty solid.

Batard, Elan, and Narcissa I haven't checked out yet... Though I'm awful fond of Dovetail, the latter's fancier "older sister" restaurant uptown. A bit more expensive than Narcissa, I'm sure, but excellent.

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Won't be returning to Per Se

Vegetarian or not, Dirt Candy is fantastic. Worth going to even for us omni/carnivores.

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Won't be returning to Per Se

Last time I was there I was in a t-shirt and jeans and I got granola and chocolate. No kitchen tour, but I'm okay with that.

I recall a lunch at Del Posto once with my mother and girlfriend, and as we were leaving they presented "chocolates for the ladies" but left me out. I actually found that kind of cute. (Then I laughed and fake-pouted and they gave me a box, too...)

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Looking for good cumin lamb - Shu Han Ju?

+1 for Fu Run. They're justifiably famous for that dish in particular.

But for Manhattan, I agree with the consensus, Szechuan Gourmet is probably the best. I actually rather like them overall, though as others have pointed out it's best to stick to the Szechuan dishes.

Oct 03, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Chinese specialty and gourmet stores?

Sausages - Sun Ming Jan on Hester Street. They have a factory elsewhere which makes packaged goods they wholesale to supermarkets, but getting them directly at the source, hanging and dripping with fat, is always better. Little hole-in-the-wall storefront. Their duck liver lap cheong are among my favorites.

Tofu - Tung Woo, a/k/a the "Tofu Guys" (though more often Gals) on the North side of Grand St. just West of Bowery. They also make fresh rice noodles, but their tofu (and soy milk) is what they're famous for.

There's definitely more out in Flushing and Sunset Park where the Chinese communities primarily live. I've gotten (totally illegal) homemade red yeast rice wine out in Sunset Park a couple times. I've heard there are a couple places to get stinky tofu retail out in Flushing but you might need to speak the language to root them out...

In terms of innovators adapting to contemporary tastes, not so much in the way of stores but there are a couple restaurants - Fung Tu and Tuome would be worth checking out.

There's no store, but if you're looking into large purchases you might be able to talk with Momofuku Culinary Labs, where they're experimenting by making soy sauces and misos with different products than soy - chickpeas, pistachios, cashews, rye, etc.

Oct 02, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

New York Michelin

And I found the pastas at Morini pretty underwhelming, go figure. I recall one night where we had three pastas at our table and the sauces were all SO rich they all kind of tasted the same. There was, like, a pound of butter or pork fat (or both) on every plate. It became monotonous.

Oct 01, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

New York Michelin

Lincoln - like any restaurant where the menu is overhauled regularly - is going to vary from season to season. I've had some knockout pastas there, though - the aforementioned lobster coral, and there was a black pepper pappardelle with duck ragu and shaved foie that really stood out. Also, they make some damn fine Negronis.

As you probably know, I've been to Babbo pretty regularly over the years, and I think we may have even talked here before about the various reasons I think they're much better a la carte than the tasting menus, especially the pasta tasting.

Oct 01, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Italian Reccomendation for parents

Funny, my mother loved Lupa the couple times I've been with her. Maybe she has a more jaded salt palate. (Though lunch at Del Posto remains her favorite of her Batali-empire meals)

Oct 01, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Falai

Check out Ciccio if you've never been - like I said, it's very much in the Caffe Falai vein, reasonable prices, straightforward and fresh. You'll recognize some of the FOH crew.

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Michelin New York 2015 results

I know! A more apt restaurant name there never was, in retrospect.

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Michelin New York 2015 results

Has to be a bit bittersweet for Chef Jernmark, though - knowing those two Aquavit stars are for HIS work and now he's not there anymore...

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Falai

One of the saddest closings ever to me, personally. It started good, and developed into one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. We got to know each other a little bit after they closed.

Iacopo is mostly in Florence now. He still owns the little coffee shop (Bottega Falai) I believe, though he might have sold his share to his former business partner, not sure. He had an industrial bakery in Queens, and was doing breads and pastries for other businesses - at one point he redid the recipe and was supplying the apple strudel to Peter Luger's. He was going to supply the bread for Wylie Dufresne's father's sandwich shop, but that never opened, which was a bummer - they did a little popup at the San Gennaro fest one year and they were some damn fine sandwiches. He filled in at Le Cirque for a short time to lend them a hand when they were between chefs, but he didn't want to take it over permanently. He's been teaching seminars here and there, including at a school in Columbia.

Some of his former employees - a chef from Caffe Falai and a couple of his FOH crew - opened Bar Ciccio, which is a cute little place very much in the Caffe Falai vein. And Frederick Berselius (Aska) was a Falai graduate.

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

New York Michelin

I think maybe it's a trick. Keep the bread bland so diners don't fill up on it, then they order more food.

Lincoln has slowly, methodically, become one the best Italian restos in the city for my tastes. I was less than enthused about them when they first opened - the food was good but bah gawd they were overpriced (recall the infamous $22 single scallop dish...) - now the food is even better and the prices more than reasonable. $75 for a four-course prix fixe on that level makes it, I think, one of the better deals in town at the high end. (And the $36 lunch deal ain't bad at all...)

I'd say go try the lobster coral pasta with seafood sausage but sadly it's gone from the menu now... boo-hoo... hoping it returns next summer in one form or another...

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

New York Michelin

My one main complaint about Babbo has always been the bread. It's kind of lifeless (but Italian breads often are compared to French - one area I give the French the edge)

I'm not bananas about the pastas in general, either, though there are a couple I like when I'm in the mood. Overall, I like the pastas better at Lincoln. At Babbo we might split one order as a mid-course between antipasti and secondi, just for a little taste. Depends what secondi(s) we're getting.

Sep 30, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Spontaneity

I've found that it's fairly easy to eat well without a wait just by checking Opentable before going out. Usually there's -something- available near whatever else we're doing. Especially if you're cool with a later (10:00 or after) table, which is fine timing for a post-movie meal generally.

For example, were I hitting a movie this Friday night on the UWS I'm seeing a number of tables between 9:00 and 10:00 available at Dovetail, Telepan, Lincoln, Bar Boulud, The Leopard, and a number of others...

Sep 29, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Please Critique My (Heavily Researched) Food Crawl Itinerary

One of my favorite lunches (though not one I do regularly, since it's spectacularly unhealthy) is just grabbing a burrata from DiPalo's and a hunk of bread and taking it down to Columbus Park. Just sit there eating the burrata and dipping the bread in the cream amid the chaos of gambling games and pet birds and old folk musicians.

I love the Morcilla at Despaña - the best in town, I think. I usually get it packaged and cook it at home but they make a couple little tapas there with it to eat in-house as well. At the tapas cafe I've also dug the chorizo & chestnuts. Not crazy about their Bocadillos, though - I've found the bread:filling ratio skews a little too heavy in the bread direction.

Also a great places to get top-quality canned seafood for late-night snackin' back at the hotel / home. The Cabo de Peñas brand is excellent (love their razor clams especially) and Don Bocarte is really good too. Got some really excellent stuffed squid there as well, though can't remember the brand.

Sep 29, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Italian Reccomendation for parents

Babbo is no more expensive than Maialino - in fact, I'd say it's a little cheaper. By NYC standards they're both squarely mid-range restaurants.

It can be a little loud, though, if you're not upstairs, and depending who's running the iPod the music could be off-putting to the folks. You might get an innocuous REM mix one night that pleasantly hangs in the background, but the next night it might be Zeppelin or something. Fine by me either way, but the latter might be too aggressive for parents, depending their age.

Lupa can feel a little tight up front but if one requests the back room (and it's not already booked) it's a bit more serene back there.

For slightly higher-end, more comfortable but still casual, Lincoln has been great. You have your option of $60 or $75 prix fixes - and if you're doing a late lunch, theirs is a steal at $36, though it's only served until 2:00 PM so that might not be late enough.

Sep 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan