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A Weekend in Manhattan, No Fine Dining, Nothing Trendy, Good and Honest Food

Weekend in Manhattan No Fine Dining Nothing Trendy Good Cooking

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#1 porcupine

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:17 PM

I'm utterly unfamiliar with the NY dining scene and will be there an upcoming Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon. Need recommendations. Not fine dining. Not any place with a dozen seats and a two hour wait. Nothing hipster or happening. Just good, honest food.

Elizabeth Miller
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#2 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:30 PM

I'm utterly unfamiliar with the NY dining scene and will be there an upcoming Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon. Need recommendations. Not fine dining. Not any place with a dozen seats and a two hour wait. Nothing hipster or happening. Just good, honest food.


Neighborhoods?

#3 ktmoomau

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:52 PM

I'm utterly unfamiliar with the NY dining scene and will be there an upcoming Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon. Need recommendations. Not fine dining. Not any place with a dozen seats and a two hour wait. Nothing hipster or happening. Just good, honest food.


As a caveat I haven't been to any of these places, but when I made a similar request on Chowhound here are some of the recommendations: Hearth, Hundred Acres, Market Table. I would also add Locanda Verde and Catch to the list.

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#4 DonRocks

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

I'm utterly unfamiliar with the NY dining scene and will be there an upcoming Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon. Need recommendations. Not fine dining. Not any place with a dozen seats and a two hour wait. Nothing hipster or happening. Just good, honest food.


I really think you'll like Fatty Crab.

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#5 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 01:42 PM

I second the love for Hearth. I haven't been in ages but it was always perfect.

I don't know how hard it is to get in to but tops on my wish list right now is Talde in Park Slope/Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn.

#6 bettyjoan

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 06:46 PM

I second the Locanda Verde recommendation, but they do get pretty busy at peak times - but they have well more than a dozen seats. :)

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#7 porcupine

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 12:58 PM

Neighborhoods?


We're staying in midtown, and probably spending much of one day in Chelsea, but we don't mind traveling a bit for a great meal.

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#8 goodeats

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 03:39 PM

I had a wonderful meal at Bar Boulud a few years back, and also at Perilla - both were relaxing, slow paced meals, although Bar Boulud was a bit louder...

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#9 DonRocks

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 12:58 PM

We're staying in midtown, and probably spending much of one day in Chelsea, but we don't mind traveling a bit for a great meal.


You don't like over fussed food, so you might enjoy Mas (la grillade) the day you're in Chelsea - I'd definitely call if you plan to go.

Hmm, then again you said you didn't want anything hipster or happening, and I think this place is a semi- hot spot.

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#10 sheldman

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:02 PM

I recently had very good ramen for lunch at Menchanko-Tei 55, 43 W. 55th St. (if you go, it's the street-level door to the right, not the upstairs restaurant to the left). Not swanky, just really good. I had the "black ramen," of which the secret ingredient (if I am understanding correctly) is charred garlic oil. Mmmmm.

#11 porcupine

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:49 AM

Thanks for all the recommendations! I'll report back after the trip.

Elizabeth Miller
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#12 Steve R.

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:13 PM

Don't know you (or your tastes) so this may not be too helpful but, based on what you've said, here are a couple of places that may not be on the radar but are good (check web sites for more info.) & that we go to:

-Trestle
-Barbutto

Several good, interesting ethnic places are in both Chelsea and Midtown areas as well if you're interested: for example, Lan Sheng is Szechuan in the 30s, Tulsi is a high end innovative Indian.

Use Opentable.com for easy reservations but, if they don't have openings when you want, call the restaurant directly as well and don't just assume no availability. Welcome to NYC.

#13 weinoo

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:19 PM

Co. for pizza.

El Quinto Pino for tapas or Txikito for Basque.

My neighborhood (lower east side) fave for Austrian at ridiculously low prices...Cafe Katja.

Corsino - for good, moderately priced Italian.

Lupa - if you can get in.

East Village - lots of stuff...we particularly like Sobaya for housemade soba noodles (great shrimp dumplings, too) - nothing like it in DC.

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#14 porcupine

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:45 PM

So many good recommendations, so little time. Will have to go back. Soon.

We started the trip with a late afternoon snack of baked and steamed cha siu bao and bubble tea at Mei Li Wah Bakery, which is the kind of little hidden skanky looking place that you just love to find.

SteveR, you may not know me or my tastes, but you got it absolutely right with the recommendation for Trestle on Tenth (http://www.trestleontenth.com/). It was exactly what I wanted: comfortable without being too casual or informal, good food without pretense. I started with steak tartar with quail egg and toasted baguette, followed by taglietelle with braised lamb, olives, celery, and parmesan. Mr P got the butter lettuce, bacon, blue cheese salad and scallops with flageolets. It was all great. Warm pear tart with orange cardamom sabayon and pomegranate ice cream was tasty but the pastry was tough from being undercooked. Other than a misadventure in getting there, which involved trying to hail a taxi at 7:15 on a rainy Friday, it was an excellent evening.

I would recommend breakfast at The Breslin (http://thebreslin.com/ ), an English style pub with an English breakfast, though we didn't get that; I got ricotta pancakes with orange marmalade and almonds, and Mr P had baked eggs with tomato and chorizo. These were great, but the coffee wasn't, which is strange because the pub is next to (and the hotel surrounds) Stumptown Coffee.

We were beginning to think you can't go wrong in NYC, but you can. We snacked our way through the afternoon. A napoleon from some random French cafe in Chelsea (suggested by a gallery owner) was a bummer. Tough puff and grainy pastry cream. I can make better napoleons than that. And then I forgot that Joe the Art of Coffee was nearby. damn.

The next stop was Vanessa's Dumplings. Not realizing there are two locations, we ended up at the one not mentioned in the guidebook that steered us to pork buns the day before. Tasty wontons in hot chili oil, but weak bubble tea, and tough dough around the rather dry pork and cabbage fried buns.

Later, though, we tripped across a great little coffee shop on Orchard St in the Lower East Side, and then we found Rice to Riches. Where else but NYC could you find a restaurant devoted to rice pudding?

This carried us through to a really late dinner at The Fat Radish (http://thefatradishnyc.com/ ), a place the came across as too hip for words, but they serve the kind of food I love: "simple, healthy, delicious dishes created with well-sourced, seasonal ingredients" (quoted from the menu). Re-reading that sentence, I realize that it sounds almost boilerplate. But the menu offers a lot of vegetable-intensive dishes in various sizes (snacks, apps, small plates, main courses). The deviled brussels sprouts (bacon-wrapped, roasted, sweet chili sauce) were the best thing I'd eaten yet, until I got to the peeky toe crab gratin (with cheddar and fried leeks). And finally! decent pastry: the puff on the celery root pot pie was awesome: light, airy, crispy, buttery... exactly what it should be. The filling wasn't half bad, either. Mr P had some sort of fried to order doughnut for dessert, while I had a trifle of pear, whiskey-soaked sponge cake, and, um, I forget what else. Custard or pastry cream or something. Delicious, though.

Fried dough was how we started the next morning, with brunch at Artisinal. Excellent beignets and one of the best mac and cheeses anywhere ("macaroni gratin"). The only other disappointment of the trip: bland crepes Suzette. I actually thought they had forgotten the sauce, because all I could taste was plain crepe. No sauce, no orange flavor except a few slivers of candied orange on top. So I asked. The waiter checked, then told me "that's how they're supposed to be", which is bullshit, but he was kind enough to take them off the bill without me asking, and I appreciate that.

I felt a need to stroll over to Eataly, which is over the top but kind of fun, and on the way Mr P was pulled off course by the lure of a chocolate milkshake at Shake Shack. A decent shake, nothing special. What I liked most about the place was being able to see both the Empire State building and the Flatiron building while standing in one place.

Thanks, everyone, for all the ideas. I have a good base to work from for next time, which I hope will be soon.

pork buns at Mei Li Wah

Attached File  pork buns copy.jpg   34.05KB   19 downloads

steak tartar at Trestle

Attached File  steak tartare at trestle copy.jpg   26.2KB   12 downloads

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#15 Steve R.

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:49 AM

Glad you liked Trestle. And now that I know you also liked Mei Li Wah Bakery and Vanessa's, I can easily recommend more little places like this for your next visit (as I'm sure Weinoo can as well). Just say when.

#16 weinoo

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 07:59 AM

Nothing hipster or happening. Just good, honest food.


Interesting that you ended up at The Fat Radish; good, honest food in a hipster, happening place, with a quite lovely staff. And a neighborhood favorite.

The coffee shop you found on Orchard Street might've been Lost Weekend, where they pull and brew Blue Bottle Coffee.

My favorite dumplings come from Prosperity Dumplings on lower Eldridge St., which kinda makes Vanessa's look like the 4 Seasons, if you get my drift, but the dumplings are great. At Vanessa's (the original one on Eldridge St.) I lean towards the sandwiches made on sesame pancakes...they rock.

#17 porcupine

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 08:21 AM

Interesting that you ended up at The Fat Radish; good, honest food in a hipster, happening place, with a quite lovely staff. And a neighborhood favorite.

The coffee shop you found on Orchard Street might've been Lost Weekend, where they pull and brew Blue Bottle Coffee.

My favorite dumplings come from Prosperity Dumplings on lower Eldridge St., which kinda makes Vanessa's look like the 4 Seasons, if you get my drift, but the dumplings are great. At Vanessa's (the original one on Eldridge St.) I lean towards the sandwiches made on sesame pancakes...they rock.


Yeah, "too hip for words", but loved it anyway. Could have done without the soundtrack, though. Spent most of my teen years trying to avoid that noise.

And yeah, Lost Weekend was the coffee shop.

Weinoo and Steve R, a friend recommended buns from Shanghai Cafe, but we didn't get there. How do you feel about those?

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#18 weinoo

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:29 AM

Weinoo and Steve R, a friend recommended buns from Shanghai Cafe, but we didn't get there. How do you feel about those?


Good question, I don't think I've ever had them.

I limit my Chinatown excursions (well, as limited as they can be, since I practically live in Chinatown) to Peking Duck House, Xi-an Famous Foods for their goodies, other hand-pulled noodle joints, one of my new faves, A-Wah, for their rice casserole dishes and Great NY Noodletown for their (to my taste) exemplary roasted meats, wontons and noodle soups.

I much prefer hipster places where everyone is wearing plaid, bad music is playing, but the service is nice and the food is good.

#19 Steve R.

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:49 AM

I don't think that I've never been to Shanghai Cafe either, although I'm never sure since I tend not to pay attention to names of the places, only the addresses, in C'town. A lot of them change names too frequently and sometimes are known by several different names at the same time. Do you happen to know the address?

Most of the time that I eat Chinese food, in all its varieties, I do it in Flushing Queens. The small stalls in the malls there (which make Weinoo's places seem like Per Se, if you get my drift) are usually pretty great. So are some of the mom and pop storefront restaurants. If you ever have time to go exploring....

#20 weinoo

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:35 AM

(which make Weinoo's places seem like Per Se, if you get my drift)


I do, I do...

I think Shanghai Cafe is at 100 Mott St.

#21 porcupine

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 08:29 AM

I think Shanghai Cafe is at 100 Mott St.


Correct.

Elizabeth Miller
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#22 DonRocks

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 01:37 PM

[I wanted to thank Elizabeth (and everyone who helped her) for what was pretty much a perfect thread:

1. A request for help
2. Help arrived
3. A full report after the fact

So often, people don't take the time to let us know what happened, but when they do, it really makes for a great read. I loved this thread.]

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