Hello, patient readers, you few, you special. We just returned from two weeks in New York and several people have asked for suggestions for their upcoming trips and so I oblige:
OLD FAVORITES: Our trips do not seem complete with a visit to the bar at Keen's Steakhouse. On our last visit, we went to the main restaurant which was fabulous and had leftover mutton chop for another meal. The bar has a smaller cut, but the meat is perfect, juicy, pink, and loaded with flavor. Simply served with braised escarole, but all meals are accompanied by terrific small rolls and most splendid sweet butter (I asked about the brand--Grand President). The buvette steak salad had a perfectly cooked 5-6 oz. steak with a romaine salad. The added treat at the bar this time were plump chicken wings. Good wines by the glass.
The BBQ brisket sandwich at Mighty Quinn is mighty delicious and the baked beans with burnt ends is one the world's great dishes. The pulled pork is pretty good too. They now have several locations, including Battery Park City's Hudson Eats with a spectacular view of the Hudson. We love the croissants, pain au chocolat and small quiches at Patisserie Claude on W. 4th Street. Prices are amazingly low for such high quality-- each would be at least $1 more uptown. And the word is definitely out about the cookies at Levain on W. 74th St. They're still $4 per, which seemed a lot last year. Nice to see they're holding steady. The rustic baguette was also good.
Motorino on E. 10th is one of my favorite pizzas. We went for brunch and had the brunch pizza with pancetta and eggs on top and the always delicious sopresseta. Salads are great and a nice surprise was the octopus appetizer--tender and flavorful. If you can get there for lunch, they have a salad/pizza combo for $12. Always dependable is a slice from Joe's on Carmine, busy so right out of the oven. I also tried a slice from Bleecker Street Pizza down the block and it was quite good too. Crust was fair but toppings and sauce very good.
A wondrous 5-course lunch for $55 at Bouley was to me a very good deal. We got the wine pairings which were also a good deal but the total tab was quite wondrous too. The restaurant moved since our last visit and it is a beautiful French country room, but pretty formal. Reminded me of Taillevant in Paris, if I may drop a name. The coolest part was a bread cart with 10 different breads. Each of had a pile of brioche, levain, and savory loaves. Highlights: the porcini flan with crab and the forager's mushroom treasure, and the hot carmelized Anjou pear (one of the best desserts I have ever had and that's saying a lot). The highlight of the wines was a 1999 dry Vouvray, unctuous and rich almost like a sauterne.
Our deli choice this time was Carnegie Deli. Our trick is to get the food to go-- no wait and no split charges. One corned beef sandwich and one matza ball soup to go. Enough for dinner for 2 and lunch the next day. Both were incredible. It may be a tourist trap but easy to see why.
NEW FAVORITES: Russ and Daughters Cafe is a brilliant idea. A hip LES comfortable cafe featuring the great smoked meats from the mother ship. Our brunch consisted of a classic Gaspe lox on bagel with cream cheese and capers and a platter with the best potato latkes, Gaspe lox, and sunnyside up eggs.
A truly special dinner was happily consumed at NoMad, in-chef Daniel Humm's new and packed restaurant. Prices were reasonable for such great food. The chicken for 2 was the best chicken dish we've ever had. Stuffed with foie gras, truffle and brioche, every bite was heaven. The suckling pig was pretty wonderful too. The pear salad and beets first courses were perfect and the rooms are beautiful. Service was very helpful and good wines by the glass. Quite a schlep to the restrooms.
The Dutch is a fairly new Soho restaurant famous for the fried chicken which it turns out is not served at dinner. I settled for the skate wings which was perfectly cooked and adorned with crab. The foie gras terrine was scrumptious and the apple pie served 4 nicely (at $18 it should). Nice room and good service on a cold, snowy evening. All wines are American! I did get my fried chicken fix at Hill Country Chicken's branch in Brooklyn. Nicely fried but the crust is a little crackery.
Our new pizza experience was at Franny's in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I've read about it for years and the pizza is truly wonderful. A classic margherita is the test for me and it more than passed. Appetizers are very good and an interesting all-Italian wine list helps.
We chanced into 44&X for an after-theater meal. Food and wine were quite good, especially the scallops appetizer which made a good meal with a lovely arugula salad. Salmon tartare was delicious and a very fine wines by the glass selection made it a place worth a return visit. Another good find fairly close to the theater district is Taboon, a Mediterranean-Mid-eastern delight of a restaurant. Good cocktails, great bread, and an assortment of outstanding mezes made a really good meal. A standout was the teramasaleta.
I think that's it. So many more to try and so many to return to. Always hard to decide but all around a stomachful of delight. And, of course, I had to get my dozens of Ess-a-bagel pumpernickel bagels to bring home.