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    Post #1 - April 25th, 2006, 8:58 pm
    Post #1 - April 25th, 2006, 8:58 pm Post #1 - April 25th, 2006, 8:58 pm
    Petit pois (who now, inexplicably, goes by "cookie") and I were pleased to meet up with a group of enthusiastic LTHers recently for a long weekend in New York (the city and the state). The mission was simultaneously simple and complex. The simplicity came from singularity of purpose: eat. The complexity came from the array of options. Where do you eat when you have a few days in New York? How do you narrow it down?

    For me, New York is primarily about Jewish-American soul food: pastrami, smoked fish, bialys, knishes. For others, it's about pizza. For all of us, it's about the horn (or island) of plenty.

    This is my account of my visit.

    Day One

    Cookie and I devoted the afternoon of our arrival to art at MoMA, so a quick lunch near the hotel was in order. We ate at Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, a trendy "Chipotle-meets-Chinatown" kinda place. A lot of brushed metal, gleaming lights, and a simple menu. The theme here is dumplings, six different kinds; steamed or fried; solo, in a soup, or on a salad. We got six duck dumplings and six pork dumplings. All were very good, tasting just as you'd hope they would. But at almost $1 a piece, there's no reason as a tourist to go here when Chinatown is less than two miles away. I do like the concept. The world needs more dumplings.

    Image
    Rickshaw Dumpling Bar

    After martinis at Park Bistro with Pigmon & Trixie Pea, we wound up at the magnificently named "Pig Heaven" a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side. We took a good tour of the menu, the shining star being the BBQ Spare Ribs. This place would be basically forgettable to me, if not for the name and the sections on the menu labeled "Hot Pig" and "Cold Pig".

    Day one passed without highlights, except for maybe the martinis at Park Bistro.

    Day Two

    The morning started off with a bang, staving off a mild hangover to dine at possibly the best breakfast joint in the world, Barney Greengrass. Smoked sturgeon, nova, gravlax, bagels, bialys. Walking into this historic spot (and getting a table without fuss), and eating the buttery soft, lightly smoked sturgeon and nova; there is no better cure for a hangover.

    Image
    Pigmon's Perfect Sturgeon Sandwich

    Image
    My breakfast

    The fish here is top-notch, and you pay for it (in cash on the weekends). But you're paying for more than the fish. You're renting your own spot at one of the most historic places in town.

    Image
    The Sturgeon King

    After Greengrass, a shopping trip to Zabar's, and pdaane makes a quick stop at H&H Bagels. Zabar's remains a true testament to fine food shopping. It was all the restraint I could manage to only buy a few jars of mustard and preserves (I had to carry the stuff all day, after all).

    A walk south through the park brought us to Columbus Circle where we visited Keller's Bouchon Bakery, specifically for the Valrhona chocolate "bouchons". I found these to be tasty, but the chocolate had almost too much personality to really enjoy it so prominently in a baked good. It would be much better as a supporting player.

    Keller's bakery is one of about a billion bakeries in NY. Since my last visit two years ago, there has been a bakery explosion in Manhattan, with nearly everyone churning out dozens of ultra-sweet cupcakes, organic cookies, and fudgy brownies. When you walk through the West Village and Soho, it seems like there's two on every block. Someone needs to plan a Manhattan-bakery-a-thon.

    After Bouchon, we headed down to Pommes Frites, a tiny closet of a place in the East Village that makes nothing but Belgian-style frites and dozens of options for dipping. From ketchup to garlic aioli to Vietnamese pineapple sauce, they've got a sauce for you. I chose the horseradish mayo, which I enjoyed immensely due to it's similarity to the horseradish sauce that you get at a $12.99 prime rib joint. As much as I loved the sauce, I loved the frites even more. Crispy on the outside, hot and soft in the center, gently salted with a potato-forward flavor, this was a memorable treat and the highlight of the trip up to this point.

    Image
    Pommes Frites' Frites

    Image
    Making the Frites

    Image
    Trixie-pea Approves

    I have a certain soft spot in my heart for places like Pommes Frites. These are the places that open up in a small, narrow storefront and only offer one product. They stake their entire investment of time and money into their ability to show you how they can do one thing better than anyone else in town. When places like this fail, they fail quickly, but when the succeed, the become legendary.

    Since we were not entirely sick from over-eating at this point, we stopped a few blocks away for another snack at Luzzo's, one of NY's few remaining coal-fired pizza places. Luzzo's serves Neapolitan-style pizza. I enjoyed the pizza. Good bread, nice ingredients, and a nice place overall, but I have no reason to return. For some strange reason, I get nervous when I discuss pizza so I'll move on ;)

    Image
    Luzzo's Pizza with Arugula, prosciutto, Mozz. and Parm.

    After a nap, dinner produced probably the brightest star of the entire trip: Sushi Yasuda. GAF already gave his strong impressions of SY, much of which I find to be completely accurate. Aside from a few service mis-steps and some underwhelming appetizers, this was among the most enlightening sushi meals I've had. The array of fish choices is impressive and the freshness is second to none. Yasuda practices the "less-is-more" school of nigiri, almost the opposite of Katsu's wide slices. These pieces are about the marriage of fish and rice, and it is a happy, perfect wedding. If there is one piece I will remember months from now, it's the uni from Maine, a flavor and texture that I cannot put into words. Go to Sushi Yasuda when you are next in NY and order nothing but sushi.

    ImageImageImage

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    Sushi Yasuda's Sushi

    Some more drinking in a smokeless NY dive-bar and then....

    Day 3

    Cookie and I explored lower Manhattan by ourselves in the rain on day three. Chelsea Market has some nice places, but is mostly underwhleming (bakeries again, a nice fish market, and a nice Italian deli). A bit south was Jacques Torres' Manhattan outpost of his Chocolate Haven. This is a significant chocolate shop/factory, with a ton of offerings. We took home a few bars that we have yet to taste.

    Image
    Jacques' Bark

    "Taste of Chinatown" was happening this day and it was an odd scene. Most restaurants had a table out front and were serving small tasting portions of food for $1 or $2. The tables were dominated by mobs of people yelling, pushing, elbowing, snapping photos. You would have thought that they were handing out free money or something. We ducked into New Wonton Garden and ordered way too much food: an excellent bowl of soup with roast pork, big wontons, and fresh shanghai noodles; some doughy pan-fried dumplings, shi-mai, and a plate of soy sauce tofu. I love NY Chinatown, not only for the open-air shopping, but for the fresh dumplings and noodles that seem to be constantly being made.

    Image
    Lunch at New Wonton Garden

    The rain really put a damper on this day for us and we polished of a couple perfect plates of steak frites at Les Halles. Hanger steak for me, flat iron steak for cookie--both cooked perfectly with excellent, if not over-salted frites.

    Day 4

    The Lower East Side beckoned, so pdaane joined us for a trip to Kossar's bialys and a walk through the rain where we met up with Pigmon and Trixie-Pea at Katz's. Normally, Katz's on a Sunday is an insane sea of humanity, but the torrential downpours kept most people away. I had my obligatory pastrami sandwich, new pickles, and a Cel-Ray. We also managed to get some potato pancakes fresh from the oil. These are not my style of latkes, but they were quite good.

    (By referring to the pastrami sandwich as "obligatory", I do not mean to disparage it. It remains, in my humble opinion, the finest pastrami sandwich I've ever had).

    Image
    Kossar's in Action

    Image
    Kossar's Bialys

    Image
    Who the hell put that bottle of ketchup there?

    Just up the street from Katz's is Russ & Daughters, and I really need to start going there before Katz's so I have a bit of an appetite. The array of smoked fish at R&D is outrageous, and surprisingly so is their selection of dried fruit. This place serves perfection in everything from salmon belly strips to sturgeon to caviar to dried plums. The array of smoked salmon is literally dizzying. Russ & Daughters may well be the most perfect little deli in the world.

    Image
    Russ & Daughters

    Image
    R&D Fish

    Image
    R&D Fruit

    How do you follow that up? A walking tour of the West Village with the esteemed and controversial Ed Levine. We were only around for part of the tour before our taxi left for the airport, but we popped into a lot of spots, the most interesting of which was Sullivan Street Bakery, who's perfect zucchini flatbread I enjoyed on the plane ride home.

    There are probably half a dozen other quick stops we made that I didn't mention here. No matter where you're heading in this town, you'll pass by five or six other doorways that you want to poke your head in. New York is a food-lover's dream and it's almost painful to try and enjoy it in just a few days.

    Special thanks to Pigmon and Trixie-Pea for planning this trip and inviting us along. Their research, spirit, and good cheer were a boon to everyone. Also thanks to the other LTHers who made the trip memorable: pdaane, geli (and Mark), GAF, Hammer (and Mr. Hammer). Finally, thanks to cookie, my wife, who took such great photos.

    You can view the entire, complete photoset here. I recommend the slideshow option in the top-right corner.

    Rickshaw Dumpling Bar
    61 West 23rd Street
    (BTW 5th & 6th Aves.)
    New York, NY
    212.924.9220
    http://www.rickshawdumplings.com/

    Park Bistro
    414 Park Avenue South
    New York, NY
    212 689 1360
    http://www.parkbistrorestaurant.com/

    Pig Heaven
    1540 Second Avenue
    (Between 80th and 81st Streets)
    New York, NY
    212-PIG IT UP
    http://www.pigheaven.biz/

    Barney Greengrass
    541 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street
    New York, NY
    212 724 4707
    http://www.barneygreengrass.com/

    Zabar's
    2245 Broadway (@ 80th Street)
    New York, NY
    212-787-2000
    http://www.zabars.com/

    H&H Bagels
    2239 Broadway
    New York, New York
    (212) 595-8003
    http://www.handhbagel.com/

    Bouchon Bakery
    Time Warner Center
    10 Columbus Circle, at 59th Street
    third floor
    (212-823-9366).

    Pommes Frites
    23 2nd Ave.
    (2nd Ave. between 7 & 8 St.)
    212-674-1234
    http://www.pommesfrites.ws/

    Luzzo's
    211 1st Ave
    New York, NY
    (212) 473-7447

    Sushi Yasuda
    204 East 43rd Street
    New York, NY
    212.972.1001
    http://www.sushiyasuda.com/

    Jacques Torres' Chocolate Haven
    350 Hudson Street
    New York, NY
    212.414.2462
    and
    66 Water Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11201
    718/875-9772
    http://www.mrchocolate.com/

    New Wonton Garden
    56 Mott St
    New York
    212-966-4886

    Brasserie Les Halles
    411 Park Avenue South
    212-679-4111
    http://www.leshalles.net/

    Kossar's Bialys
    367 Grand Street
    New York, NY
    877-4-BIALYS
    http://www.kossarsbialys.com/

    Katz's
    205 East Houston
    212-254-2246
    http://www.katzdeli.com/

    Russ & Daughters
    179 East Houston
    212-475-4880
    http://www.russanddaughters.com/

    Sullivan Street Bakery
    73 Sulllivan Street
    New York, NY
    212-265-5580
    http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #2 - April 25th, 2006, 9:42 pm
    Post #2 - April 25th, 2006, 9:42 pm Post #2 - April 25th, 2006, 9:42 pm
    eatchicago, and um, cookie(?), thanks for taking us along on a great trip to NYC!

    I understand your hesitation in expounding on pizza, but did you go to places other than the one you mentioned?
  • Post #3 - April 25th, 2006, 9:54 pm
    Post #3 - April 25th, 2006, 9:54 pm Post #3 - April 25th, 2006, 9:54 pm
    EC,

    A fabulous post.

    The pizza looked quite good, and my intention is to eat more arugula (or do you call it rocket?) this coming season -- I find it very complementary with prosciutto and brasceola.

    Cookie is definitely showing her chops with the camera (though, based on your pic in front of The Sturgeon King, I am concerned that you do not seem to be wearing any headgear on this trip :wink: ).

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #4 - April 25th, 2006, 11:20 pm
    Post #4 - April 25th, 2006, 11:20 pm Post #4 - April 25th, 2006, 11:20 pm
    David Hammond wrote:A fabulous post.

    Michael,

    I'm agree with Hammond on all counts, fabulous post and Cookie really shines with the camera.

    Appears to have been a delicious, interesting and fun packed trip.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - April 26th, 2006, 5:25 am
    Post #5 - April 26th, 2006, 5:25 am Post #5 - April 26th, 2006, 5:25 am
    sazerac wrote:I understand your hesitation in expounding on pizza, but did you go to places other than the one you mentioned?


    This was the only place that we ate pizza, but I believe Pigmon & Trixie-pea hit a few of their favorites.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - April 26th, 2006, 8:15 am
    Post #6 - April 26th, 2006, 8:15 am Post #6 - April 26th, 2006, 8:15 am
    Great pics, really nice.

    I'm with you, New York has some fine restaurants I'd love to go try but the area where it blows anywhere else in America-- or probably in the world-- away is those delis and food shops, not just because some of them are best in their class but because they just keep comin', they got bench strength when it comes to bagels and lox, third and fourth tier would be a prize even in Chicago, let alone Pocatello.

    I'm glad you tried the pommes frites place, too, I looked at his site before making them for my Belgian party. Could you tell what he fries in from the taste?
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #7 - April 26th, 2006, 8:44 am
    Post #7 - April 26th, 2006, 8:44 am Post #7 - April 26th, 2006, 8:44 am
    Mike G wrote:I'm glad you tried the pommes frites place, too, I looked at his site before making them for my Belgian party. Could you tell what he fries in from the taste?


    I was unable to determine the type of oil by taste, but it would not surprise me if it was peanut oil. I know that Les Halles uses peanut oil in their excellent, similar frites.

    I was a bit remiss in my duties of chatting up the PF proprietors (they were quite busy).
  • Post #8 - April 26th, 2006, 9:05 am
    Post #8 - April 26th, 2006, 9:05 am Post #8 - April 26th, 2006, 9:05 am
    I suppose goose lard would be too much to ask in modern America.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #9 - April 26th, 2006, 9:10 am
    Post #9 - April 26th, 2006, 9:10 am Post #9 - April 26th, 2006, 9:10 am
    Mike G wrote:I suppose goose lard would be too much to ask in modern America.


    What I'd really like to taste are the frites that Steingarted described in "The Man Who Ate Everything": fried in the fat that surrounds the kidneys of a horse.

    I have a feeling this wouldn't fly, even on the liberal streets of Greenwich Village.
  • Post #10 - April 26th, 2006, 9:17 am
    Post #10 - April 26th, 2006, 9:17 am Post #10 - April 26th, 2006, 9:17 am
    Leaf lard would also be expensive for cooking up fries in huge volume, but my guess is that this extraordinary-looking fry place is also bombarded with questions like, "Do you fry in 100% vegetable oil?" because people want their big bag o' fries to be, you know, "healthy."

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #11 - April 26th, 2006, 10:42 am
    Post #11 - April 26th, 2006, 10:42 am Post #11 - April 26th, 2006, 10:42 am
    Suzanne Levinson, the owner of Pommes Frites, was in an episode of The Secret Life Of... a few seasons back. When we ate there last December, it tasted like they were fried in regular ol' vegetable oil to me. I hope you visited Toy Tokyo, which is right next door to Pommes Frites!

    Image
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #12 - April 26th, 2006, 11:20 am
    Post #12 - April 26th, 2006, 11:20 am Post #12 - April 26th, 2006, 11:20 am
    Fujisan wrote:When we ate there last December, it tasted like they were fried in regular ol' vegetable oil to me. I hope you visited Toy Tokyo, which is right next door to Pommes Frites!


    Doesn't surprise me. It really is a testament to proper cooking methods when someone can take simple ingredients like vegetable oil and Idaho potatoes and completely shine.

    We did not visit Toy Tokyo. What is it?
  • Post #13 - April 26th, 2006, 1:57 pm
    Post #13 - April 26th, 2006, 1:57 pm Post #13 - April 26th, 2006, 1:57 pm
    eatchicago wrote:We did not visit Toy Tokyo. What is it?


    Toy Tokyo specializes in hip Japanese toy imports, along with a lot of rare and vintage toys/collectables.
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #14 - April 26th, 2006, 2:11 pm
    Post #14 - April 26th, 2006, 2:11 pm Post #14 - April 26th, 2006, 2:11 pm
    Fujisan wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:We did not visit Toy Tokyo. What is it?


    Toy Tokyo specializes in hip Japanese toy imports, along with a lot of rare and vintage toys/collectables.


    Ah. Toys. Things you can't eat. That's probably why we didn't notice it. :D
  • Post #15 - April 30th, 2006, 6:21 am
    Post #15 - April 30th, 2006, 6:21 am Post #15 - April 30th, 2006, 6:21 am
    What is remarkable here is that these are all Manhattan restaurants. Four more boroughs to go.
  • Post #16 - May 29th, 2006, 3:12 pm
    Post #16 - May 29th, 2006, 3:12 pm Post #16 - May 29th, 2006, 3:12 pm
    Jenny and I just got back from a 3 day conference in Manhattan, and once again, LTH did us right.

    The first day we had a pastrami at Katz's. WOW!! It was truly amazing, with a tender texture that just fell apart. The texture was more like corned beef than any pastrami I have had (yes I'm sure it wasn't corned beef) and the cure flavor was not as strong as Manny's. I got the first sandwich of a fresh slab and he cut from the small end, so there was a high ratio of that blackened crust you see in others pics. I really cannot compare it to Manny's directly because they are so different, but I would say each is the best of its type that I 've had.

    The next day around noon we headed to Barney Greengrass. The Sturgeon sandwich was exceptional and if we would have thought of it at the time, capers would have been a great addition. Our Veggie friend found the Everything Bagel with Veggie cream cheese to be the best she's ever had. Another friend was quite happy with his Sturgeon and fried eggs. The waiter was kind enough to reccommend the just fried potato pancakes that were wonderfully crispy and specked with onions and probably parsley. The only dissapointment was the Smoked salmon and egg sandwich. I was imagining a fried egg on top of chilled salmon, but the salmon was added to srambled eggs. The eggs were overdone and dry and the salmon was very fishy smelling, which I find happens when smoked salmon is overheated. I make my smoked salmon omlettes by adding the salmon right before I take it off the heat.

    Afterwards, we had a lovely 3 hour hike criss-crossing the park and making our way from 86th all the way to the bottom at 59th, then down 7th to our hotel at times square where we cleaned up before heading down to Lombardi's.

    After a half hour wait (at 6:00 on a Sat) we ordered a sausage, and a clam pie. The crust was truly amazing with burnt bits and an amazing chew. We got mislead by the photos in the place showing what looked to be large chunks of sausage, but which we realized was probably meatball when our pizza arrived with thin slices of sausages that looked alot like gyro meat. The sausage was very tasty but rather sparse with maybe only 35% of bites including any sausage.
    This was in sharp contrast to the clam which had probably close to 3 cups of clams on a small pizza. The menu claimed there was romano on it and fresh garlic, but it pretty much tasted like "nothing more than" a pile of tasty clams on on a wonderfully textured dough. Now that was still quite excellent, but I could have done with some more fresh garlic and maybe a drizzel of good olive oil on top. I'm a big fan of clam and bacon pizza in New Haven and make this myself alot. This was our first clam-only pie. We saw they had pancetta as a possible topping and asked if we could add it to the clam pie. The waiter said "I can bring you pancetta to put on yourselves, but they won't cook it with pancetta on it.
    We all thought it would benefit from the moistening fats and flavor of come cured pork product, but it was still quite good.

    For all 3 of us the crust was clearly the highlight, but as for the overall flavor experience, I was not as blown away as I expected to be.

    Our only other food experience worth mentioning was an unexpected meal at B-Bar and Grill near 4th street and Bowery. We stopped there on a walk because it had a wonderful and large outdoor patio.
    They specialize in seafood. We had some very good calamari. My entree was a softshell crabs with a grapefruit hollandaise and it was extremely tasty. There were 2 crabs with 3" wide bodies with a light, greaseless cornmeal coating, and the lightly drizzled sauce went perfectly.
    At $15 this dish seemed like a great deal.
    I wasn't yet in the mood for a cocktail, but the hot weather made their "Watermelon Martini" appetizing. So I asked our waiter if he could just make me a Watermelon soda by adding the purreed fresh watermelon to Ginger Ale. He didn't hesitate and executed it nicely.

    I did try a hotdog from a street vender in Times Square. It was a horrible skinless mush log, but I won't slander NYC dogs in general based on this experience.

    Overall, it was a great NYC experience thanks to the info we gathered from LTH. Besides the great food reported here we hit numerous great beer bars in our 3 days (using info from the great beer site Beeradvocate), which I will detail in another thread. In fact, our late night drinking adventures are what prevented us from any notable breakfast experiences, like Dim Sum or that Shopin place with the huge and crazy sounding breakfast menu that Eatchicago linked to.


    B Bar & Grill a.k.a. Bowery Bar Restaurant
    358 Bowery
    (at 40 East 4th Street; Bowery and Lafayette Streets)
    212 475 2220

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