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Just got back from my honeymoon...

And realized I completely forgot to make a reservation for my (now) husbands birthday that's now just 2 1/2 weeks away before I left. He's been reading the Omnivores Dilemma and has been hinting that he'd like to go somewhere that serves local produce.

His birthday falls on a Saturday, which makes this especially difficult. First choice was Blue Hill Stone Barns, but that's booked (we're on the wait list though), Blue Hill in Manhattan is booked too. Gramercy Tavern for the back area is booked (would consider the tavern room, but we go there often so it doesn't have that "special occasion" feel). Made a reservation at Hearth, but haven't been in over 2 years and haven't heard much about how it is recently. Any insight there would be appreciated!

And here's where I turn to you. I've had a one-track mind with wedding planning for so long I feel out of touch with other restaurants that fall into this category. Any other suggestions are very much appreciated!

TIA

Nov 20, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Ice Cream Sodas

Ice cream sodas were one of my family's favorite treats when I was young, but as I got older and mom and pop ice cream places were replaced by Stone Cold Creameries and Haagen Daaz franchises, ice cream sodas were soon forgotten, overshadowed by the easier to make milkshake. If you aren't familiar it's similar to a milkshake but w/ soda water... but like baking, everything has to be just the right measurement.

Anyways, my sister is coming to visit me and she's considering finally making the jump to NYC. Of all the possible options I've offered the one thing she's requested is a proper ice cream soda. I've tried to stay fit and have purposely kept myself out of the many ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt that I'm sure are around, but now I'm on a mission... so I'm seeking your advice.

Can anyone recommend a ice cream shop that makes an excellent ice cream soda. And preferably somewhere where we don't get a blank stare when we make our request? Just somewhere that appreciates ice cream in it's many various forms. Manhattan or outer boroughs, I'll travel wherever.

TIA

Oct 18, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Devistation -- Best Indian Restaurant in the US has closed

Oh No!!!! Is this really true? Definitely one of my favorite restaurants. This really is very sad. Why did they close?

Aug 28, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

I'm disappointed and need some help in the UES

I'm in charge of planning date night with my SO tomorrow... thanks to some great recommendations from my post last week for a group sushi night last week I found out about UES sleeper Inase... (thanks MMRuth) and since have been planning to make this the place for a much-needed night out. I called up to make a reservation and the recording says they're closed until July 16th for holiday.

I'd rather wait till Inase is back in action to satiate my sushi craving, unless there's something else out there in the UES... Sasabune? I asked about it last week with few responses. But I thought I'd reach out to y'all again... I'm looking for some place in the UES, with good wine/sake, of course good food and probably most important where we can just relax and enjoy the night (i.e. not feel pressure from the staff to order, be upsold, etc). Also, somewhere where we could get out for $150, including a few glasses of wine; any cuisine is welcome. Are there any other sleeper restaurants in this area (i.e. fav places of yours that don't get much attention)?

After surviving a hellish past few weeks at work I'm in desperately need of a great night

TIA

Jul 05, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

In-laws in town, need great atmosphere + food?

Eleven Madison or Gramercy Tavern? I had brunch at Eleven Madison where my parents met my future MIL for the first time and I couldn't have asked for a better place.

My future hubby and I also took my parents to Gramercy Tavern when they visited NYC for the first time and they loved it. We sat in the tavern area and they were fine with it, but if you want something more intimate I would suggest the back rooms. Both places seemed to provide professional, unobtrusive service with excellent food and the perfect atmosphere for everyone to talk and get to know each other.

Jul 02, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Sasabune or Tenzan in the UES

Well, despite good intentions of going to Inase, one member of the party had to work late and as Inase was only open til 10 we figured it was probably better to go to Tenzan (which was open til 1130). This ended up working out, as 3 extra friends joined us, one of whom was a bit picky when it came to their fish and generally preferred the rolls to sushi/sashimi. Before I get into the meal let me preface by saying we (the SO and I) had already been drinking for a while waiting to meet up our friends, so while I'll try to describe everything as accurately as possible, please keep in mind that by the time we ate we were a bit tipsy.

Their sake selection wasn't spectacular, they had 4 bottles, one daiginjo, I believe but it was decent and they served in the glasses a small sliver of cucumber round, which made the sake generally more refreshing, imo.

We ordered a number of rolls, toro/scallion, spicy scallop, sweet potato, a tuna naruto, and a number of the usual gimicky-named rolls: spicy girl, dallas roll, etc. I thought the spicy girl was the best, but cut in pieces which were way too large... a general problems I noticed with most of the rolls. The spicy scallop was ok.. definitely had better. The uni was decent, not spectacluar, but definitely not bad. The one disaster was the toro/scallion, which we all agreed had too mushy a texture, otherwise everything else was good. Basically the kind of place we were looking for... good sushi, nice atmosphere, and reasonably priced. We were also able to walk in around 930 with a party of 7 and were seated right away.

We ordered 10-12 rolls (there were 3 guys with pretty healthy appetites), a few pieces of sushi, 2-3 people had salads, 1 bottle of sake and a beer or 2 and the total per person included tip was $40. I think by far, the rolls were better than the sushi. Its the kind of place I'd go to again when looking to have a generally good time for a reasonable amount of money, nothing special but definitly nothing bad.

Now I can't wait try Inase.

Also killing some time before our friends could meet us we stopped by Sake Hana, 78th & 2nd. A good sake bar, especially for the UES, which seems generally deprived in that area. Atmosphere was great, comfortable and laid back and the bartender was pleasant. The sake selection was good, and the menu included a description of each sake and a map showing where they all come from, which I thought was nice, considering I'm still learning about various sakes. Are there other sake bars around the UES that I don't know about?

Jun 30, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Trendy Hors D'oeuvres

I attend lots of cocktail parties in NYC and have seen lots of variations of tuna tartare... on chips, spoons, etc. Along the same lines the Moma recently had a flat layered philadelphia roll (no seaweed, just cucumber, cream cheese and salmon, stacked in bitesized layers). Meatballs with various sauces I noticed a lot this year.

The mini spring roll is a given at most parties, as are other various asian-inspired hor d'oeuveres. One that I clearly remember as a disaster was the fried vermicelli wrapped prawn, a mess that ended up all over my face and down the front of my suit.

I'm also getting married in Texas in a few months (the culinary theme is nuevo latino), and this inspired me to look up my catering contract to see what we're serving for the cocktail hour: chilled gazpacho and shrimp shooters in a shot glass, argentine spiced sirloin brochette, roasted poblano stuffed with scallops and gouda, and (what no cocktail hour would be complete without) crab cake with smokey bacon aioli.

We said no to: soft-shell crab on tequila jicama slaw, shrimp on black bean pancake, mini gorditas, mini tamales, mini empanadas; all with various non-traditional stuffings (quail, bacon, etc).

Jun 29, 2007
mikka in General Topics

Sasabune or Tenzan in the UES

Thanks MMRuth! Inase sounds like just the place I'm looking to find. And yes, I debated back and forth about posting my experience about Poke... it just seemed like such a bizarre experience, like the waiter was not only new but had no idea what serving a table actually entailed.

BTW I've always liked your posts, very clear and concise without the hard and fast opinions you often find on these boards. I believe you've helped us more than once navigate our way around restaurants on the UES.

Jun 29, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Sasabune or Tenzan in the UES

We have actually been to Poke based off recommendations here and a glowing review from my boss. The sushi was good, we liked the fact it was byob, but the service was actually abysmal, almost like a bad joke. We sat at the sushi bar, which may be different from table service, but the waiter ignored us (and other sushi bar patrons.. even though it was clear we ordered through him), served us the wrong items, didn't ask if we wanted more and presented us with the check, and even walked away from my SO when he was in the middle of ordering (which my SO called him on, his excuse was that another table needed help).

Others (boss included) still maintain it's a great place, so maybe it was just us, but after that experience there are so many other places to try that we don't want to waste our time there again. People do seem to like the place, so I was hesitant to post anything about it, thinking maybe the waiter was having a very bad night.

Jun 29, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Sasabune or Tenzan in the UES

We live in the UES but usually don't go out for sushi in that area. A couple that we're friends with (from LA I might add) have suggested we go out for sushi, since they just moved to our neighborhood. I think the occasion calls for something a little more exciting then just visiting our local takeout place (Hokkaido, Isohama), but we don't really want to spend like we're at Gari or Seki. Basically we want something special enough for a double date, but not on the price level of "special occasion". I also have a special request for Uni, which would probably make the natural choice Sasabune, but I haven't heard anything recently about this place, almost like it's dropped off the radar or closed. Has anyone been recently? We meant to go when it opened, but with our short restaurant attantion span just never had a good opportunity until now.

And Tenzan is also a contender, mainly from the reviews I've read here. Is it just a good neighborhood takeout place, or does it warrant a visit? I'd really like an affordable omakase, but wouldn't mind ordering a la carte.

It's sad how clueless we are when given the opportunity for a casual sushi night out. We aren't sushi experts by any means but have a hard time finding a happy medium between the top places and weeknight takeout spots. And if anyone has any other recs please let us know.

Jun 29, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Tex-Mex in the City

Try the one on 103rd and Lex. And let me again preface by saying I only order delivery... I've never stepped foot in the restaurant so I couldn't speak towards ambiance.

Jun 21, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

good upper eastside Italian?

We like Uva and Vespa, especially in the summer months when we can enjoy their gardens. Not exactly the best Italian I've had, but always solid and both can be reasonable, depending on your definition of resonable.

Jun 19, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Tex-Mex in the City

Which one did you go to?

Jun 19, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Tex-Mex in the City

I like El Paso Taqueria, but it's up in Spanish Harlem, so not sure if that's any better than making the trek out to Brooklyn (I guess depending on where you are, I'm only a few blocks away). Loved their mole, tortas and enchiladas. Have only had delivery so can't speak to the atmosphere, but it by far bets anything else I've had (and I'm a South Texas ex-pat, if that carries any weight).

Also been to Hill Country and they do it right.

Jun 18, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Pongsri Chelsea Review with Photos

I work in the area and frequent this Pongsri location quite a bit. I'm not an unadventerous person but have found the best way to for me to enjoy a lunch there is to stick with favorites, like the curries, especially. It's a great lunch spot or somewhere to go for when you're in the neighborhood, but I wouldn't go out of the way for it.

Jun 18, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Rub or Hill Country????

Being from Texas myself, I agree with your opinion of Hill Country. The meats, esp the brisket was tender and juicy. The atmosphere was great and the bartenders in the downstairs bar were friendly and talkative.

My only issues were the confusion with ordering and running out of items. I've been twice and both times they were out of the corn pudding and some other sides, second time they had run out of brisket and it took 30 minutes for more to be ready. I thought the greenbean casserole needed salt and was generally underwhelming. I liked the other sides I tried... esp the mac n cheese. Hopefully these are just part of the opening kinks they need to work out. I'll definitely be back because all in its still better than most BBQ places in the city, IMHO.

Jun 18, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Double Date Downtown

2nd Crispo. Had a nice double date last Friday and we were able to snag a garden seat. We didn't have problems making a reservation the day before but the garden I believe is first come, first serve fyi.

May 31, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

East Village cool spots??

Definitely second Momofuku Ssam, Kasadela, & Caracas. Degustation is a great rec too, but not as laid back as the others, IMHO.

Along the lines of Ukranian food there's Veselka, open 24 hrs. Also recommend Otafuku on 9th btw. 2 & 3. Not a sit down place but definitely cool and interesting. Decibel, also on 9th btw 2nd & 3rd is great, but I've only gone for the sake.

May 31, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

UES Birthday Dinner Tonight

The garden area of Uva or Vespa might be nice if she likes Italian, both are my favorite places in the summer months.

For sushi I'd second Gari or perhaps Sushi Seki if you can get a place at the bar. Seki omekase at the bar is my personal favorite though. You can expect some pretty creative sushi there without a lot of frills. Seki is in the 60s, though, so a little out of your requirements.

May 31, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Best Dim Sum OUTSIDE of Chinatown?

I moved from the village over a year ago to the UES, and it was basically your story. When I don't feel like trekking downtown or out to Queens, Cafe Evergreen on 1st & 69th can satisify any dim sum craving. The dim sum is good, the restaurant is nice, smaller tables then in Chinatown, and they have the carts.

May 30, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

best beet salad

The beet salad at Tabla is also pretty phenominal; fresh beets, goat cheese, all topped with a cripsy pancetta "sheet"... hard to describe, but the flavors all melded perfectly. Had it in the upstairs dining room a little over a month ago.

May 29, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Where to go for best selection of sake

While I've never been, I've heard from many sources that Sakagura has an excellent selection. I've been wanting to go for a while, so if you go let us know how it is.

For something a little more low key I had an excellent time at the tiny bar at Kasadela. The bartender/manager was very helpful and talkative about their selection. There's another little izakaya in the e. village on 9th btw. 2nd & 3rd (name esacpes me but it was right near Otafuku and underground). They had a good selection in an interesting atomosphere.

There are lots of other izakaya-type places in the city that others can point out to you. A lot are in midtown but I'm only familiar with the ones I listed above.

May 26, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Latin brunch spot right off Knox-Henderson- Dallas

Thank you. I remember Fireside Pies and had eaten there often before I left the city. Old Monk was one of my favorite bars next to the Gingerman, if only there were places like that in NYC. I just wish I had more time in Dallas to enjoy my old haunts and explore some new ones.

May 24, 2007
mikka in Texas

Latin brunch spot right off Knox-Henderson- Dallas

I remember Lola's, had a nice dinner there shortly before I left for NYC. Do they have a brunch? I probably wasn't clear but that's what I'm looking for. I remember loving Lola's, so thank you very much for the suggestion.

May 24, 2007
mikka in Texas

Latin brunch spot right off Knox-Henderson- Dallas

I'm a NYC chowhound that used to live in Dallas 2+ years ago. I'm making my very first return visit to Dallas next weekend and want to visit some of my favorite food spots. #1 is this restaurant that was right off Knox-Henderson, latin type food that made wonderful pasteries and had a great brunch. I remember it was on the west side of 75 on a side street between Z Gallery and a car wash, but can't think of the name for the life of me. Can you let me know if it's still around and still any good?

If it's long gone some other recommendations would be greatly appreciated in the Highland Park/SMU to Uptown area. I'm no longer the starving college student I was in my Dallas days and am treating my sister (the starving college student), so food and service reign over price.

TIA

May 24, 2007
mikka in Texas

Garden seating in W. Village for engagement celebration dinner

Our good friends just got engaged and we want to take them out to a nice dinner on Friday, something reasonably priced ($20-low $30 entree range), with a good wine list and I want to add that they're not terribly adventerous so we're looking for something American, Italian, Spanish, French. We aren't very familiar with the W. Village but that's where they want to go. We would also really like somewhere with a garden so we can enjoy the nice weather also.

Hopefully this is not too much to ask, especially given that wonderful neighborhood, but I want to be as specific as possible. TIA!

May 23, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Restaurant help for a group in Sobe

What about Prime 112? Someone suggested it for a Bachelor party in an earlier thread and I've heard some buzz about it here in NYC. Is it something to consider or more of a guys place?

May 03, 2007
mikka in Florida

Restaurant help for a group in Sobe

I'm sure you're sick of posts like this, so I apologize in advance, but I've been reading the previous posts similar to my situation and would like some input. I'm having my bachelorette party in Sobe and we're mostly NYC girls who are looking for something we can't find in NYC, but also a place that's able to accomodate approx. 12 without it being a hassel. I'm a fairly regular CH in NY, so good food is my top priority.

We're staying in the Sagamore which has the Social... reviews sound good but for a group of that size would it work and what would you suggest if not? How about Talula, OLA, or Nemo?

Any good brunch/lunch places? I've been to Sobe before and had a great mid-beach break at a sub stand, any other great hidden places like that?

And finally, my 19 year old sister will be with us... does anyone know of any clubs/bars where she could get in the door or places we could eat at and skip the bouncer at the door? She won't drink of course, but I don't want to exclude her.

TIA!!!!

May 01, 2007
mikka in Florida

sapa, tao, buddakan or ?....28th BD celebration

Been to Sapa and Buddakan, but not Tao. Went to Sapa and had a good meal of lobster. I liked the space and recognized it as a great place to meet some friends for some drinks and munchies. It was deserted on a Sunday, went back just for a drink on a Friday and it was packed. The space was fun. I didn't pay but the dinner was not terribly expensive... I'd guess maybe $50 w/ drinks per person.

Buddakan probably hits the nail on the head for trendy much more than Sapa, I went for a business dinner and we stuck strickly with the dim sum and small plates for the entire meal, the edamame dumplings were probably the only memorable dish. The space was impressive, packed on a Thursday. I personally would never return on my own but it would definitely fit your requirements. I didn't see the bill but we ordered basically every small dish and some twice over with multiple bottles of wine/sake. I'd guess maybe $125+ w/ drinks per person, but depending on your appetite and amount you drink could vary greatly.

Apr 24, 2007
mikka in Manhattan

Rosa Mexicano-Union Square Review

I work near union sq. and like Rosa Mexicana as a business lunch locale, nothing more. Their fish tacos are good, the mole was passable and I've had most of the apps which were good but nothing mind blowing. Being from south Texas I think it's decent, but it doesn't hold a candle to true Mexican.

Apr 23, 2007
mikka in Manhattan