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Soft shell crab season!

I've grilled them. Can't recall if I've seen them in a restaurant that way, but I imagine some place must.

I recall them being sauteed at The National, and probably a lot of other places I'm not remembering as well, but that's basically pan-frying if not deep-frying.

1 day ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Soft shell crab season!

Walking in to Babbo on a Friday night could prove difficult - on weeknights (depending on the time) it can be a little easier.

If you're not dining solo and you're okay with dining late, there are sometimes late two-tops available on the weekend - check opentable for 10:00 - 11:00, might be something there.

The last time I had SSC there (last summer) it was unfortunately a little over-fired, but that was a fluke. Or, it was a crab, but, y'know...

1 day ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Cherche Midi or Osteria Morini?

They're about even. I'd say CM has better cocktails and OM a more interesting wine list, FWIW.

Other places to consider: Marc Forgione, Costata, Minetta Tavern, Balthazar, Babbo, Marea, Carbone. In some cases the best steaks are "for two" though.

Apr 19, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Oh, Marcus, Why?

Nils Noren, but close enough. He's still at FCI (or it's called ICC now) and is in charge of the "high-tech" department of funky new culinary whiz-bang modernist stuff, as I recall. He also runs the great Cooking Issues blog with Dave Arnold.

Apr 17, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Dinner at Chaulk Point Kitchen tonight. Suggestions?

I've heard similar stories from a number of people. Shuffling people to the bar to get more $$ out of them, pretending they're busy when the dining room is clearly half empty, etc...

Apr 16, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Soft shell crab season!

On the prix fixe menu you get your choice of crudo or antipasti for the first course. But it would be listed under antipasti (apps) - "crudo" is just raw dishes.

Not that it much matters, I suppose, unless you have some rare condition that allows you to only read the first half of menus.

Apr 16, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Oh, Marcus, Why?

True that.

I mean, credit where it's due - he was one of the more creative, forward-thinking chefs back in the pre-Wylie days. But there was definitely a point at which he just kind of lost his mojo. The last couple years he was at Aquavit the menu barely changed a blip, was just kind of a greatest hits collection, and prepared without much flair - I remember my last visit under his regime was, one dish aside, one of the most disappointing meals I can recall. Everyone from FOH to the kitchen seemed to be on auto-pilot. And he was in the house that night. He'd probably checked out, mentally, already - his interests were going in directions that just didn't fit with Aquavit, which is fine. It's just that nothing he's done since has been terribly exciting.

Apr 16, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Oh, Marcus, Why?

Samuelsson has disappointed me for well over a decade. He started strong at Aquavit but his last years there he was coasting and uninspired. Red Rooster was disappointing both times I tried it. American Table is as generic a sandwich soup n' salad joint as you'll find. Both Riingo and Merkato 55 were failures. Not sure why anyone would get excited about anything he does at this point.

He might be a good TV personality but as a chef/restaurateur he's been a snooze for years.

Apr 15, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Bite Of Hong Kong Opens On Chrystie in Chinatown

Quick research shows it's owned by Tan Hung Lee, who also owns 83 Chrystie and that Karaoke parlor around the corner on Bowery. Will walk by on my way home, though, see if there's a menu out.

Apr 09, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Need two suggestions for 'Parents meet the in-laws to-be' dinner

Balade's on our regular delivery rotation. For that style Middle Eastern, I find them pretty good - better than any of the other places in our delivery zone, at least. I dig their Kebbe Kras, the Hummus Beiruté, and the Mouhmara a lot. Falafel is workable. I'm not sure I've actually dined -in- the restaurant, though, now that I think of it - always takeout or delivery.

As I said though, they're not as refined or creative as, say, Einat Admony's places. They're also not as expensive.

Apr 09, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Need two suggestions for 'Parents meet the in-laws to-be' dinner

I would definitely have a rez for a group that size.

What night of the week is it? Do you have a date set already? If it's the weekend your options for a group that size could already be limited - some restaurants only have a couple of 6-tops (it's six people, correct?) and they can be booked quick.

I wouldn't rule out Italian - it's not like your mother HAS to order pasta. A place like Babbo - non-pasta entrees are mostly in the 20s, and there's quite a lot to choose from. And surprisingly, I picked a random date a few weeks from now (the 30th) and there were actually a couple six-tops available.

Acme is fun, with a varied menu, and though it can be pretty bustling (especially on the weekends) as long as you've got one of the booths you'll all be able to hear each other just fine.

Estela could be good - hey, Barack & Michelle had date night there last time they were in the city. If it's good enough for the Prez, it's good enough for the in-laws.

Middle Eastern could work - there may a couple dishes that have bulgur wheat like tabbolueh and kibbeh, but easily avoided. For something a little more modern & refined, Balaboosta or Bar Bolonat are both great choices. For more traditional, Balade and Ilili are good.

Mexican - easy to avoid gluten - Empellon Cocina or Cosme, maybe.

Indian, the same - rice tends to be the starch of choice aside from the naan and such. Any of Hemant Mathur's places would be good, price-wise - Haldi and Malai Marke are probably the most refined of the bunch currently. Also Mathur's old place, Tulsi.

Where in Brooklyn are you? Hard to make recommendations there without knowing what part you're in - it's a big borough, after all. If you're in Williamsburg I wouldn't want to suggest a place in Park Slope or vice-versa. Just guessing you're South of Flatbush (from the reference to Prime Meats) - off the top of my head you might want to check out Convivium Osteria. Yes, it's Italian, but it's Italian/Iberian so it's not so pasta-focused. Really cute room, hearty but refined food. Aside from the main dining room there's outdoor seating if the weather's nice and a wine cellar with tables that's super-cozy. A couple of the entrees hit $30, but probably 2/3rds are below. Rose Water is another great option in that part of town, reasonably priced New American fare. (FWIW, those are probably -my- parents' two favorite places in Brooklyn when they visit) - also Palo Santo, adorable little South American place in a brownstone on Union.

Apr 08, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

best bagel in new york city

Yonah Schimmel gets their bagels from Davidovich Bakery - they used to be just wholesale, quite a number of cafes and restaurants use them, but they have a little Manhattan outpost now in Essex Street Market. (Northeast corner, behind Luca & Bosco Ice Cream)

Their bagels are good - the lox they use, fine if nothing exciting. You'll get better fish over at Nordic Preserves (and I'm pretty sure NP uses Davidovich bagels for their sandwiches - vaguely recall seeing them restocking once)

Apr 07, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Sushi Omakase with 5 month old baby

BR Izakaya (at a table) would be fine, I don't even think a private booth would be necessary. It tends towards bustling / noisy anyway so no big deal, and being a hotel restaurant I suspect they deal with families fairly frequently. Tell them you have a baby, ask they seat you close-ish to the exit in case there's a sudden crying jag so you can be out in the lobby / to the bathroom quick if need be.

Dojo would probably be fine, I think, but it never hurts to ask if they have high chairs - actually, that's a pretty good way to tell if it's okay for any restaurant. If they don't, they're probably not really a place for a baby, even if out of politeness they say it's all right.

Most places prefer if you're dining with kids (of any age) for it to be an earlier hour - lunch is generally fine, and up to a 6:30 or 7:00 rez for dinner.

And though I won't be as blunt as loratliff, a sitter night be an option. If you're staying at one of the bigger hotels, many have child care services available fairly cheap (at least cheap compared to hiring a private sitter, and without having to do the work to find one in a town you're not familiar with...)

Apr 06, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Where can i buy gribenes?

There's lots of chicken skin yakitori (a/k/a Japanese Gribenes) to be found around town. Pretty much any yakitori joint will have it.

Dead Drop (a bar in the East Village) had it as a bar snack with chicken liver mousse for schmearing. Dunno if they still do.

The Gorbals in Williamsburg makes a "GLT" (Gribenes, Lettuce, & Tomato) sandwich.

Apr 03, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Cantonese Chinese?

+1 for Fuleen. Best in Manhattan I think. If you're game to go to Sunset Park or Flushing, there are more excellent options.

Are you dining solo or have a group? Many Cantonese places serve more "family-style" and are best experienced with 4+ people, I've found.

Apr 03, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Revised NYC list for April

Good list. I'll skip over the pastry stuff since that's not really my forte... So in between all the oysters you'll be eating:

Nordic Preserves > Ess-a-Bagel. But they're different styles. If you're doing R&D one day already, Nordic would be more interesting for your other lox (and herring!) fix.

For Blue Ribbon Sushi, I vastly prefer the BR Sushi Izakaya over the other one.

Kyo Ya could be fun for a la carte sushi/sashimi - their bozushi (boxed pressed sushi) is pretty famous - I've attached a picture of the "salmon trout" (char) we had last time, which comes wrapped in a paper-thin seaweed with a stunning marbled pattern. And there's always a very interesting, esoteric selection of seasonal sashimi/sushi. We also had what were easily the greatest bamboo shoots I've ever had in my life - I mean, revelatory good. Well-curated sake selection as well. (No menus online for Kyo Ya are up to date, mind you - they don't even have a website)

Brunch at Public is always a good idea. I'm also a big fan of the brunch at Recette.

You can probably ditch Spice Market - I mean, they're fine, but it's nothing you need to go out of your way for.

Apr 03, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

where to find pomfret?

If you have any reason to be uptown, check out Dorian's Seafood Market. But yeah, should be around Chinatown somewhere. Aqua Best was a good call, though they tend to be pricier than the other places nearby their quality is usually better, or at least they take better care of the fish once they hit the store.

Apr 02, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

where to find pomfret?

Oh, that's totally a butterfish - but, yeah, sometimes billed as "silver pomfret" - Atlantic Pomfret are a little more elongated, thicker around the middle.

They're really similar, though. I never ordered it in SP but for all I know that might be what they were calling "pomfret" (or in one case, "pamphlet") out there.

Apr 02, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

where to find pomfret?

They are in season, through the winter until about May if I recall. Some shops will carry it as "Brama Brama" and occasionally you'll see it as "Ray's Bream" (or I would in New England, dunno if that name is common here) - I remember seeing it on a couple menus in Sunset Park, so maybe check the 8th Ave fish vendors out there? Closer than Flushing. (Well, depends where you're starting from I guess...)

If you can't find it I suspect there are other firm-fleshed white fishes that would substitute well if you're really hankering for it. Butterfish is similar enough that some varieties are actually (mistakenly) called "Silver Pomfret" - depends how zhenshi you wanna be.

Apr 02, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

?Best place to get steak in NYC?

Minetta Tavern is probably the most well-liked, many consider the Cote de Bouef (for 2) to be the best steak in town, regardless of venue.

Their sister restaurant, Balthazar - as I mention below - also puts out some damn fine steer.

I've always liked the steak-for-two at Babbo as well. They finish it with a drizzle of top-notch balsamic (and, in season, beautiful charred ramps) but if you want the steak "pure" you can ask for the balsamic on the side.

Another good Italian option is Costata. Ostensibly it -is- a steakhouse, but the rest of the menu is so varied it might as well not be. I probably prefer the steak itself at Costata - the Tomahawk ribeye specifically, the other cuts aren't dry-aged as long - but I like the rest of the menu more at Babbo, between the two. Not like you'd eat badly at either, though.

Apr 02, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

babbo past its prime???

Skip the pastas, move on to the rest of the menu. I think a meal of only pasta is bound to be a bit underwhelming.

Are you going for lunch or dinner? The dinner octopus antipasti is their best-selling (and arguably most famous) dish. I find the lamb's tongue vinaigrette spectacular, as well as the testa. Some are crazy about the tripe parmigiana, even people who don't otherwise like tripe. The sweetbreads agrodolce (secondi) I think are consistently dynamite.

They're not a restaurant that's trying to reinvent the ruota. But there's some creativity to be found, if that's what you're looking for.

Mar 31, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Updated Itinerary Due to Chowhound Input

I've learned not to get too worked up in advance over a meal / the planning - if it goes downhill, I'm left lamenting I should have gone with whatever my other choice was instead...

Mar 26, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Best Monday Night Omakase

Yeah, just realized that - Sono needs a night off, I guess.

I'm not enough of a straight-sushi guy to ever do the $400 omakase stuff. Would be wasted on me. I vastly prefer a kaiseki with a couple exquisite sushi / sashimi courses along the way.

Everyone's been going bananas over Shuko, though - should be a good meal, for sure. Though after taqx, tip, and sake it might be creeping close to the $400 number...

I got no issue with fusions. Heck, 90% of the world's cuisines are inherently fusions to begin with...

Mar 26, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

good bluefish in nyc

Palo Santo in Park Slope has it - simple, pan roasted with a salsa verde. Also in the Slope I've seen it on the menu at Applewood, not on the current menu but might be when you're here.

Ed's Lobster Bar has it, though I've never ordered it - it has some faux-truffle something-or-other on it, can't stand the taste of that stuff. But I like Ed's okay overall.

El Quijote offered (offers?) it simply broiled, but who knows with the management changeover what the menu will look like. Not sure if they're temporarily closed / still open serving the old menu / when the new version is opening - anyone hear?

You'll find smoked bluefish here and there as pates and whatnot - a favorite is Momofuku Ssam Bar's broccoli salad with smoked bluefish vinaigrette, though it's only available weekday lunch.

All that aside, I find it hard to believe you can't find good fish in the Bay Area aside from sushi! Even putting aside the uber-$$$ places like TFL, Manresa, etc... maybe Piperade or Prospect or a place in that price range?

But that conversation's for the SF board, the NYC Chowhound Cops can be trigger-happy with the deletions if you stray from topic too much. (Probably get deleted just for mentioning a couple Brooklyn restaurants...)

Mar 26, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Best Monday Night Omakase

If doing Kaiseki, I suspect you've read the love on the board for Kyo Ya. It has to be booked in advance, though - best if it's a few days, at least. You can also put together an amazing a la carte meal at the bar for around the same price, and go heavy on the sushi / sashimi if you like. Lately people have said good things about Hirohisa and Rosanjin as well. Rosanjin also does an omakase, as I recall. And I'm sure Sono at Kyo Ya would, though it's not mentioned on the menu - never asked, his kitchen dishes are too good to skip.

And Shuko, which has been getting excellent reviews, has omakase / kaiseki options (though everyone who's been seems to say go for the kaiseki, since it comes with a lot of sushi/sashimi anyway)

Mar 26, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Updated Itinerary Due to Chowhound Input

Never had the quail. They're in our regular delivery rotation - pretty much always get the kebbe kras, their hummus (we always get the "Hummus Beiruté") and the Mouhmara is great. Good shankleesh and labneh, and the falafels are decent, if not, like, Taim-level. We might round it out with a Shawarma or Kebab or whatever the daily special is.

I like their tabouleh but sometimes it's a little overdressed and I'll actually throw it in a colander before dumping it back in the container.

Their thin-style pitas I'm not crazy about, but that's just a regional style I guess.

Mar 26, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Viable Italian Options LES/EV/WV for this Saturday

Seems the OP is looking for Italian-American (red sauce, parm) not so much Italian-Italian, which some of the suggestions seem to be leaning towards.

I see tables at:
Carbone
Both Gallis (Soho & LES)
Gelso & Grand (new place, haven't been yet)
La Mela (classic family-style Little Italy joint - pay a set price for AYCE)
The various Franks (Frank's, Li'l Frankie's, Sauce, Supper)

There's also Parm - no reservations, though, bound to be busy on a Saturday night.

Mar 25, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Consistently good food in Chinatown?

I like Ping's a lot, too, but it's definitely one of the "know what to order" places for me. Some of his fusiony flights of fancy fall flat, while others are fantastic. The more traditional dishes, though, they do pretty solid renditions.

For Cantonese, I've found Fuleen to be pretty consistently the best in Manhattan over the last few years. They're not trying to reinvent the wheel, but what they do they do very well.

There are also any number of smaller places with streamlined menus - Xi'an, Vanessa's, etc.

Mar 25, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Pat La Frieda vs NYC steak houses

Costata delivers via Caviar. Maybe the OP could just add the delivery instruction "don't cook" to the order.

Mar 24, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan

Bar Dining at Carbone

A bigger question might be, can a solo eat at Carbone?

Again, physically possible, but given the generous portion sizes you might tap out after one dish. I find it's a great place for group dining, but I'm not sure it's the best place for a solo. And I'm not a dainty eater by any stretch.

Mar 24, 2015
sgordon in Manhattan