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Best Wednesday pre-theater dinner near W. 45th St.?

thanks so much! seafood is so-so in kentucky.

Jul 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best Wednesday pre-theater dinner near W. 45th St.?

yes, thanks - looking forward to seeing it!

Jul 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best contemporary Mexican for Sat. night dinner for 4?

For the record, we went to Toloache Midtown. I loved it (had shrimp on crispy tortilla) and loved the smoky guac, but my companions weren't as crazy about it (chiptole chicken - two ordered it and deemed it bland.) The chicken enchiladas another friend ordered was a win, however. Had the peach margarita with thai basil. Liked it.

Jul 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best Wednesday pre-theater dinner near W. 45th St.?

Ended up with last-minute tickets to Bernard B Jacobs Theatre for tomorrow night. Showtime is 8 p.m. Where is the best pre-theater dinner and what time should I reserve for? Would have to be a place with day-before reservations an option. We like everything foodwise. Price isn't important. We're visiting from out-of-town. Thanks!

Jul 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best contemporary Mexican for Sat. night dinner for 4?

Thanks! I'll check out Empellon. I would love to try ABC Cocina, have heard great things, but the risk of a long wait makes me wary.

What about El Toro Blanco or Toloache Midtown? Or Hecho en Dumbo? They have times between 7 and 8 p.m. available.

Jul 17, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best contemporary Mexican for Sat. night dinner for 4?

I'm visiting NYC for the first time since 2009. Looking very forward to it. We just scheduled dinner with two NJ friends who are coming in to meet us at our Midtown West hotel (the W on Lexington). Where would you recommend we go for contemporary (or even sit-down traditional) Mexican food? I used to live in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the great Mexican food in those cities spoiled me. I live in Kentucky now, and there is absolutely no decent Mexican food. Where would you guys suggest, where we could still get reservations or at least have either a fun wait, with margaritas, or a minimal wait, for a non-reserved table for this Saturday night? We want to dine around 7:30. Thanks!

Jul 17, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Half-price wine bottles on Mon-Wed nights?

I've seen a couple of restaurants mentioned that do half-price wine bottles on Mon, Tues or Wed nights. Does anyone have any suggestions of good places to go with such an option? Any part of Manhattan is fine. Any type of food. Any price. Just want the food to be good.

Jun 27, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best summertime rooftop bars in Manhattan?

thanks so much! Love the idea of visiting all three!

Jun 23, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best summertime rooftop bars in Manhattan?

thanks!

Jun 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best summertime rooftop bars in Manhattan?

Thanks. What about the rooftop bar at Upstairs at the Kimberley Hotel? It looks like it has a gorgeous view.

Jun 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best summertime rooftop bars in Manhattan?

Curious what the best rooftop bars are in Manhattan. I'm visiting in July and staying in Midtown East.

Jun 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best weekend brunch/lunch spot around Central Park south?

ew! Another friend recommended Robert as well. looks nice.

Jun 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Dinner spot after day touring statue liberty and 9/11 memorial

thanks for the suggestions. after booking our tickets for the memorial and the statue of liberty, I had to flip things around. We'll be visiting the memorial in the morning, and then the statue of liberty in the afternoon, so we'll be in battery park at dinner time. I know it's very close to the memorial, but wanted to mention it in case there was somewhere else you felt we should go in that immediate area.

Jun 22, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Dinner spot after day touring statue liberty and 9/11 memorial

On a Monday, we'll be visiting the statue of liberty and 9/11 memorial. what's a good place for dinner in the area surrounding the memorial? It's for two people, we'll be dressed casually from our day of sightseeing. We like all types of food and we won't want to have to wait more than 20 minutes for a table, reservations preferred.

Jun 21, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Best weekend brunch/lunch spot around Central Park south?

I'll be visiting Manhattan in July. Where would be the best place for a Saturday brunch or lunch for two people? I prefer a spot with al fresco dining or at least a gorgeous view of the park. Price doesn't matter. It should take reservations, however. I don't like to wait for tables. Thanks!

Jun 19, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

no, there's not any decent chinese, thai or mexican food in this town. surprisingly, there are a couple of good sushi restaurants.

(I live in los angeles for ten years, and I've written about restaurants and food for a range of magazines, so I'm not a total kentucky food noob, for whatever that's worth!)

Jun 11, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

okay, that's fine, kathryn. we'll just plan on that per person, pre-tip/tax/drinks. I didn't realize my pricing was so out of sync with Manhattan. I haven't visited since 2009.

Jun 07, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

okay, thanks elisa!

Jun 07, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

thanks, that sounds like a perfect lunch.

Jun 07, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

I'm fine with increasing my dinner budget. I posted above with more details on how I broke down that budget estimate, so please let me know what you suggest as more reasonable. I was basing it on the prices we paid in San Francisco and Napa, and by looking at menus online for NYC.

Jun 06, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

That might work out. What restaurant were you suggesting?

Jun 06, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

Thanks, I can up our dinner budget if needed. I thought that $40-$60 per person before tax/tip/drinks would cover a range of places, after my initial reviews, since entrees were about $30-$40 for most of the places I looked at in the mid range.

We always share an appetizer ($15-$20 at the places I saw), and get individual entrees ($30-$40 at the places I saw) and share dessert, or skip it, more likely, to be healthier. Then we order a bottle of wine, and tip 20%. Our bill for a place with $35 entrees, in that instance, is $70 for entrees, $15 for appetizer, $60 for wine, and then a 20% tip, for a total of $135 plus the tip.

Generally our total bill is around $160 to $180 by the time we leave a restaurant with $35 entrees.

Do I need to significantly up this, and if so, by how much, to accommodate midtown prices?

Thanks!

Jun 06, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Visiting Manhattan in July, seeking restaurant suggestions

I'm visiting Manhattan in July, staying at the W hotel on Lexington Ave. and then moving to the Algonquin. First three days are pleasure, second three days are business. So I'm seeking restaurant suggestions for five nights - breakfast for six days, lunches for four days and dinners for six nights.

I saw a previously thread where a longtime poster had put down questions that a visitor should answer before getting suggestions, so let me answer those.

But please know that I'm open to any type of food, other than "southern" cooking or BBQ.

I'm coming from Kentucky, and I'll be in town in mid-July. I'm willing to spend $25 per person before tax/tips/drinks for one dinner, $40 per person for two of the dinners, and $60 per person for two of the dinners. I'd also like one late-night suggestion that would be good for cocktails and appetizers since we'll be arriving late. The price doesn't matter for that location, but I'd like it to be fairly close to the W Hotel at 541 Lexington Ave.

For breakfast, I'd like to spend $10-$20 per person on each of the six meals, and would like to keep a couple in the lower range, bagels, for instance, etc.

For lunch, $20-$25 before drinks/tip is the cap for each of the four meals.

We will be all over town the first three days, doing the tourist thing, so I'm open to suggestions anywhere, since I will set our schedule to accommodate our chosen restaurants as much as possible. But we will be visiting Staten Island, the 9/11 museum, the NY Library, the museums on Park Avenue, Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. We also plan to take a short cruise on the Hudson and do the gondolas in Central Park.

The second three days we will be stationed in midtown, at the Algonquin, with less flexibility to move around because I'll be at a conference each day. I'm willing to take a taxi to a restaurant within a 15-minute ride but no farther.

I prefer restaurants that take reservations, or that won't have more than a 15-20 minute wait for a table. We dislike waiting for tables. We'd rather spend more, above our budget, and not have to wait.

I will check restaurant websites daily to try to book a hard-to-snag table.

So please let me know your suggestions. Thanks.

Jun 05, 2014
taz99 in Manhattan

Update post-trip - S.F./Napa/Sonoma reviews

makes sense, Carrie.

If I could do my trip again, I would go for three days, and visit 3-4 wineries, MAX, each day, and allow for a two-hour nap between the last tour and dinner so that I could fully enjoy and appreciate a wonderful dinner experience. doing 5-6 each day was too much. I guess if I was spitting instead of drinking. but I drank.

Nov 19, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

Update post-trip - S.F./Napa/Sonoma reviews

So, I’m back from my long-awaited trip. I thought I’d share my thoughts on how the trip worked out, and what we liked and disliked. Hopefully this will help future travelers.

First, the hotel. It was horrific. Horrible. Awful. (Did I mention how bad it was?) We stayed at Hotel Metropolis in S.F. because I had to stay in a budget for the work portion of my trip and I booked via Priceline. It was absolutely the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Horrible rooms, the tub was peeling, the room was shabby, the décor was appalling, but those were the highlights. The worst was the nightly drug deals I witnessed taking place outside the hotel’s front door.

But as for food, we went to A.Q. the first night. It was everything I’d expected. Wonderful service, charming ambiance, wonderful sommelier who went out of his way to give us tastings of other wines to explain the difference to us between earthy and fruit-forward wines. He really took care of us. I was highly impressed. The food was delicious. We had an appetizer of lamb tartare with wheat berries. Yum. Then brussel sprouts with bits of ham. I had the petrale sole. It was incredibly fresh and delicate and savory all at the same time. My boyfriend had the beef tenderloin poached in mushroom tea with a bit of horseradish in the potato dumplings. He loved it. For dessert we shared a deconstructed sweet potato pie. Again, incredible stuff.

The next morning we had brunch at Prospect and, again, we were very content. I had huevos rancheros and my boyfriend had a spinach omelet. We had pumpkin-filled beignets to start with. The food was well-prepared, but the service made it over the top. We had to wait a bit for our food, so the server brought us warm zucchini nut bread to soothe our tummies. The cappuccino was incredible, the coffee freshly roasted. Mmmmm.

We nibbled our way through the city and Sausalito that day, starting with wine at a little spot in Sausalito. Didn’t eat anything other than bread, so no review needed. But then went to Betelnut on a whim (I hadn’t been there in 14 years), for a bourbon cocktail and shrimp and pork dumplings as an appetizer. We enjoyed that, then walked over to A16 for a shared salad and thin-crust pizza. More deliciousness. We enjoyed the setting, altho A16 was quite noisy.

The next night we were in Monterey and so we ate at a place our friends wanted to go – The Fishwife. Ugh. I didn’t like it. But we went for them. And they liked it. So that’s all that mattered.
Then we were back in San Francisco and started with breakfast at Sears’ Fine Foods, which hasn’t changed in the 20 years since my last visit. It’s historic and was close to our hotel, so we went. And it was good. Nothing out of the ordinary. Corned beef hash and an omelette.

Dinner that night was at the Slanted Door. It blew us away. I know this restaurant has been around a while, but it lived up to our expectations. Wonderful service and one of the best meals I think I’ve had. We started with a bourbon cocktail that was just incredible, then switched to a white Spanish wine that our sommelier helped us choose that was the perfect complement to our food. We had two half orders of appetizers – pork belly that we rolled up in lettuce with a ginger tamarind sauce and spring rolls in peanut sauce. Then we shared two entrees – one of the best scallop dishes ever – pan seared day boat scallops in a chili lime butter sauce – and the shaking beef. And brussel sprouts with chanterelles. We ended with apple upside down cake with ginger ice cream. That was the only thing that left us shrugging and saying “eh.” We didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t up to par with the rest of the food.

We went into Chinatown for dinner the next night, opting for Great Eastern. We were drawn in by the pictures of Obama eating there earlier this year. We enjoyed it. Nothing outstanding, but it was the Chinatown experience we’d sought.

We settled in at Harry Denton’s Starlight Lounge for a cocktail with a view. Outstanding romantic scene, looking down upon Union Square and the ice rink and the X-mas tree and the holiday lights in Macy’s windows.

Oh, and one morning when I had to work, I went to Blue Bottle Coffee. Amazing latte. Perfect pumpkin muffin. Happiness in a cup.

We went off our plans our last evening in San Francisco and looked up a Mexican restaurant on Yelp. We chose wisely. We ended up at Tropisueno. It’s a tacqueria by day, a sit-down restaurant by night. The food was exactly right. We stuck with basics – tamales and tacos and enchiladas and experienced great salsas and red sauces. I particularly enjoyed the violet margarita with vanilla salt.

After that, we headed to Napa and Sonoma. It was a rainy, cold weekend, so that affected our choices. Plus, we left out smaller places that might expect big wine purchases. We were interested in putting together a case to take home, from all our wineries, but no big single purchases.

First of all, the hotel, the Napa Marriott, was much better than our S.F. place. Yay.

The first day, at our driver’s suggestion, we went to Etude. It was our least favorite. Nice service, but a sterile environment and we weren’t tempted to buy any wines. Then we went to Buena Vista, where I had one of the most delicious chards I’ve ever tasted. Spicy, for lack of a better word. We bought some. The setting was charming, the hosts were friendly, and the other guests were fun to talk to. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then we headed to VJB so that we could get a bit of lunch with our tasting. We enjoyed the tasting, bought a bottle of a cabernet sauvignon, and had a nice, quick lunch on our busy first day on our wine tour. Then we headed to Chateau St. Jean. Again, nice wines, but since we’re not wine experts, we bought only one bottle. Then to Ravenswood. I wasn’t particularly impressed. The service was tentative. We bought one bottle of, again, a cabernet sauvignon.

We were, by then, quite tipsy. We rested in our room an hour, then cancelled our fancier dinner reservations and opted for Uva in downtown Napa. Decent linguine with white clam sauce, everything else was blah. Mediocre overall. Bad service. Eh.

The next morning we had breakfast at our hotel, the Marriott. It was fine. Then out for another full day of tasting. We did the cave tour at Del Dotto’s Napa location. We enjoyed the tour, and some of the wines (bought a bottle of Ca’nani cab/merlot blend from their new vineyard) but there was a bit of a hard sell at the end to encourage us to buy more, more, more. We declined. The salami and chocolate and cheese tasting at the end was nice. We did enjoy seeing the historic caves. $50 for the tour. We felt it was worth it.

We stopped in briefly at Mumm, where we shared a tasting. I particularly liked the Santana sparkling wine, so grabbed a take-home bottle. We were only here 20 minutes. Fast stop before our 1 p.m. appt at Duckhorn. We had thought we could get lunch at Duckhorn but, alas, there was only more cheese and salami and almonds. Our mistake. And our driver’s. He didn’t realize. The setting was nice and we liked the relaxing atmosphere, tho.

Next up was Pride on Spring Mountain. Oh, how we loved this place. We bought five bottles of merlot and cab. Wonderful. The hostess took us back to the caves for a second tasting when we asked about a particular type of red. She really took care of us. We were the only two on our tasting tour.

Then we stopped in at Frank Family. Honestly, we were inebriated by this point. We didn’t really know what we were tasting, but we were happy and the host was nice and we bought two bottles. Then, we still weren’t done. My boyfriend had always wanted to see the castle. So we went to Castello di Amorosa. Despite having everyone here say don’t go. We had three friends who recommended it. (Yes, we’re touristy sometimes.) So we went. And it was fine. We bought one bottle. But again, we were inebriated so who knows how we would have felt had it been earlier in the day. The cheesy factor was strong, but it was a cool looking castle. We didn’t do a tour, just a fast tasting.

So yes, we did five wineries on our first day, and six wineries on our second day. Thank goodness we had a driver!

By that point on Saturday night, going out to dinner was a lost cause. We were far too tipsy. (Okay, drunk.) So we ordered in room service and fell fast asleep. And woke up and had breakfast at Gott’s at the Oxbow market. It was a fast stop on the way to the airport and it was just right for what we needed.

Thanks again for all the suggestions, etc, on our vacation. If we had to pick one winery to revisit, it would be Pride. We loved it.

Nov 19, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

stick to napa, or add sonoma? opinions on wineries?

thanks, maria and carrie and goldang.

the list mostly came from me. I'd sent those names to him and he gave opinions. the only one he threw in was the caves at rutherford.

I will go back to making up my own list and doing it that way. my boyfriend knew nothing about this thread (until I told him), when he said, "Taz, why are you going with the driver's recommendations when you've spent weeks researching on your own? the driver is surely getting a kickback from some of those wineries. go to where we want to go - not to where he suggests, unless we already think we will like it!"

then I told him what you guys had said and that he was probably dead on.

back to the drawing board...I think I just really liked the idea of not having to work so hard to come up with a list of wineries. it's so complicated, for me, and trying to figure out the timing and when we should go where and still have time to get everywhere else.

because while the view and ambiance mean more to me than the actual wine, I still want to avoid the super touristy places. I don't like big crowds. I like intimate, boutique type places with a nice overall feel.

Nov 01, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

stick to napa, or add sonoma? opinions on wineries?

ack. it's all so complicated. sigh.

it's in his best interest to ensure that my boyfriend and I have a fantastic time. we'll tip him generously if we have a great time.

I had given him a list of wineries I was considering and this was his response. I'd told him we want two days, maybe one in somona, one in napa, maybe a mtn winery and one sparkling producer. and one overall big picture tour at one big producer.

I said that we want a relaxing, romantic time and we like reds, such as merlot, cabs and zins. and white is good but not what we like best. that we want some to take home but not more than $30 a bottle, we spend 10-15 a bottle at home, and can't tell difference between $10 bottle and $50 bottle, to be frank.

I guess what this says to him, and to me, is that we're more in it for the romantic, scenic aspect with wine being secondary to our overall experience. we're happy with just about anything wine-wise.

here is what he said, edited:

Benzinger - good tour

he said cave tour at Rutherford Hill is very good option

I had suggested Domain Chandon. He suggested Domain Carneros instead

Howell Mtn, he said, is closer than Spring Mtn, so he will add that to the list but didnt' name a winery there

Frog’s Leap – he said not happy with the pouring side of hospitality lately, his clients have left without feeling satisfied

Duckhorn – he agreed with me on this, said romantic and great place

Far Niente – he said hard to get in, reservations required three weeks out. Expensive and tasting takes 90 minutes.

Cakebread – nothing great, but his clients usually leave satisfied and buy wine. But nothing over the top great.

Beringer – nothing stands out except the rhine house and beautiful historic grounds

Peju – one of his faves, with a great highly professional pouring staff

Robert Sinskey – great place, esp for light food paired with wine

Clos Pegase – eclectic art, not convinced about wines, doesn’t like pouring staff, not engaging, could use as filler if needed, since boyfriend still wants to tour Castello and it's nearby. he said since Castello is open til 6 and most others close at 5 we do have time to add that to the end of the day since my boyfriend has specifically asked for it.

Oct 31, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

stick to napa, or add sonoma? opinions on wineries?

thanks. the driver I hired said he really liked Peju. he's been suggesting wineries to me so he's very helpful.

Oct 31, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

stick to napa, or add sonoma? opinions on wineries?

thanks, carrie.

I will skip castello di amorosa if it's that bad. no point in wasting time.

Oct 29, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area

stick to napa, or add sonoma? opinions on wineries?

we've decided to hire a driver both days we're in wine country later this month. that was a big decision, since paying approx. $500 for two days of driving is expensive. but we decided it was worth it to not have to worry about DUI's and watching how much we drink.

we want to get our drink on. :)

okay, not really. but we do want to have a fun, romantic trip with lots of yummy wine and relaxation. I've asked our driver to help us plan a picnic lunch on Saturday.

My questions to you experts are as follows. Our hotel is near downtown Napa. Should we stick to Napa, or do Napa one day and Sonoma or another area the next day? We will be in Napa by Friday late morning and will have all day Friday and then all day Saturday, flying out Sunday.

Here are the Napa wineries I'm considering. Decisions based in part on the fact that we love red wine, particularly cabernet, merlot and zinfandel, and we don't want to visit wineries where the only bottles they sell are out of our budget. We enjoy wine, but can't tell the difference between a $15 bottle and a $50 bottle. So we tend to stick to $10-$15 bottles when buying at home and $30 is a splurge for us, but reasonable in Napa to spend when taking yummy bottles home. But places with $100-plus bottles? Pointless for us. Unless the tour is soooo awesome it's worth it just to see it and experience it without any take-home wine.

I'd like to do one cave tour with barrel tastings, too. not sure where to do that.

Frog’s Leap - looks fun
Domain Chandon - want one bubbly producer and this is conveniently located
Castello di Amorosa - looks cheesy touristy but two friends recommended it and my boyfriend loves castles and all things medieval and has specifically asked for this one.
Duckhorn - a dear friend recommended and insists I will love it
Far Niente - heard that its grounds are gorgeous
Cakebread - like that it's a good tour and affordable and I can easily buy the wines at home
Beringer - want one big winery tour
Peju - heard it's a great place
Robert Sinskey - love their small bites menu with their wine
Clos Pegase - heard the architecture is worth seeing

I need to pair down, especially if we only do Napa one day.

And if we add in one area, would you recommend Howell Mountain or Spring Mountain or Sonoma or somewhere else entirely?

Thanks so much!!!!!

Oct 29, 2012
taz99 in San Francisco Bay Area