Manhattan Trip Report - May 10-15, 2024

Hold on tight - another one of my epic spillage of words and pics coming at you…!
My sister and I just got back from what felt like a whirlwind of eating/drinking/drinking/eating, etc. And museums. But mostly food. I did do some searching here, on many other sites, got tips from friends, etc., had places we definitely wanted to revisit, but as usual, my Eatinerary was far more ambitious than what we were able to accomplish in 5.5 days. Still, i think we did pretty goddamned good.

We had a red-eye from SFO and arrived early, so before we checked into the Grand Central Hyatt, after dropping our bags, we had bfast at Sarge’s Deli - 548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016. Recommended by a dear friend (ex-CH) who lives in Manhattan, as her favorite deli, we now concur. We split a half pastrami on rye and the slaw that came with it, a bowl of chicken broth with kreplach, a couple of pickles, and a chocolate egg cream, the latter because we’d only ever had bad ones and didn’t get the allure. The pastrami was the best we’d ever had, incredibly melty, fatty, not too salty, just perfect, and barely needed a squeeze of brown mustard. The slaw was nice & crispy, not too sweet. the broth was lovely, deeply flavored, but the kreplach was a revelation. Our first - it had a beef stew-like filling, sweetened by what seemed to be caramelized onion and maybe sherry? - we just loved it. Very delectable. The chocolate egg cream was great! actually creamy, yet refreshing. I now “get it.”

That kept us full until dinnertime, after some museum-hopping (Guggenheim, Neue Gallery) and a nap when we could finally check-in. Dinner was at Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster in Harlem - 310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027. we split the special berbere-rubbed lamb chops, a yardbird thigh apiece, with hot (habanero?) sauce and hot honey, the deviled eggs, and fat roasted asparagus. Chops were fantastic, super tender, cut like butter, over a lemony creamy sauce. The deviled eggs came with crispy onions, chives, caper berries and sweet relish, on a bed of smokey, po-boy hummus. The eggs themselves were served a little too cold, a bit dense, could have been creamier, but that hummus was divine. The bird was SO crispy, almost TOO crispy? Like chicharron crispy! yet the meat inside was extra juicy, if a tad under-seasoned for us (needed salt). But don’t get me wrong, we’d have it again. there were a number of dishes I’d like to try, so I’d definitely go back. Had a good black Manhattan too.


after catching some live music (dive bar Otto’s Shrunken Head - a divvy tiki bar with live bands; that night’s offering was ska - we loved it!), after dancing around like fools (well, me anyway), we had a craving for late-night sushi, and my sister googled and found Kaoru - 306 E 46th St., New York, NY 10017 - on our cab ride to the hotel. Open until 3 a.m., dinner part 2 was perfectly cooked, light shrimp tempura, kampachi carpaccio, and a miso pork rice bowl (a special on the board which was good but not mind-blowing.) The kampachi was, though. A couple of beers, and off to bed. Atmosphere at that place was legit - a lot of Japanese men getting bottle service and popping outside every few minutes for smoke breaks.

Next morning, Russ & Daughters - 127 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 - always a must do. We sat at the counter, which I would do again, and I had a hair-of-the-dog Fershniket egg cream with chocolate whiskey (very good though not quite as good as Sarge’s). We split the Shtetl board - sable and a sesame bagel with goat cream cheese (my sister asked for their chive cream cheese, which i also really love.) But oh that sable! We also shared a bowl of dreamy, creamy salmon chowdah with matzoh and dill. Soul-saving.

After the tenement museum and some bopping around, we had a late afternoon snack at Jose Andres’ Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards - 10 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001. A little cava, some pimenton oysters (sadly tiny and way too heavy-handed with the pimenton, i think Jose would have roared), some fabulous boquerones and a gorgeous cup of salmorejo (they were calling it gazpacho but just look at it), two Gildas - with raw onion! I’d never seen that before and brushed mine off - but they were otherwise delightful and took us right back to San Sebastian.


Dinner that night was with old/current Chowhound friends that live in NY & NJ - they took us to an old favorite of theirs, Sevilla - 62 Charles St, New York, NY 10014. On a Saturday night this old-school place was absolutely hopping. So much so that it was very difficult to hear ourselves and more difficult to get the servers to bring us things even after many requests. Not what they were used to! Six of us had, variously, the lobster specials (broiled with garlic & breadcrumbs, or steamed), paella, mussels, gambas al ajillo, and I can’t even remember all the apps. Oh and the highly sought-after potatoes, like thick, delicious potato chips, but we only managed to snag one plate. There were just too many laughs, cocktails and vino going on, and though some of the food was a bit garlic-heavy for my sister & me (if you can believe it), we had a blast. Four of us kept the party going afterwards at Marie’s Crisis - a gay piano bar around the corner afterwards - paying the price for it the next day, but totally worth it. Too much fun.

The next morning cried out for a hearty Veselka breakfast - 144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003: big bowl of meat borscht, which we split, eggs and latkes for me, and we shared 2 cheese and 2 potato pierogis. Couldn’t finish my eggs and latkes (not because they weren’t delicious), but oh that borsht! Of course, we knew that there was a Veselka outpost in Grand Central Station, right under our hotel, so borscht was literally breakfast every morning thereafter.

more museum hopping, followed by some hotel rest time, and our first (real) splurge-y meal of the trip: Dan Barber’s Family Meal at Blue Hill - 75 Washington Pl, New York, NY 10011. Let me just say that it was $$$$, great service (we sat at the small bar, so it was very intimate service), a lovely space, but about half the meal was a salt lick. Started out fantastic, but after the bread course, it went downhill, except for the asparagus. The fresh veggies with just a little olive oil and salt were lovely, with a lemon yogurt dip, the oysters, tuna, fluke, and trout were fucking outstanding, each truly better than the last. Bread was great; if the meal had just ended there I would have gone home happy (even with the $$$$ price tag). Fat asparagus were good! But the tilefish dumplings and monkfish, the chicken, and the barley/mushroom were waaaay over-salted. The salad was fine, and then there was an odd - palate cleanser? first dessert? - of little trumpet-like flowers filled with very sour rhubarb sorbet and unripe - not green - just unripe, bland strawberries. The chocolate “dirt” pie was too heavy a dessert at that point (it was a lot of food), and the “worms” were sour rhubarb. Weird and too much. Too bad because the bartender/servers were lovely, super warm, and friendly, and we had great cocktails. And they gave my sister a really scrumptious birthday carrot cake with salted caramel. (Oh yeah, this trip was for my sister’s bday weekend, but this meal wasn’t her “bday dinner.” Good thing!) We left a bit bummed - it was a LOT of money to spend on something so disappointing - but hey, you can’t win 'em all. We probably should have said something, but… we didn’t.

full menu for reference:




We hightailed it over to Dante - 79-81 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012 - a bar/restaurant that had been touted by 3 separate friends. We loved the cocktails, ambience, and service so much (yet another bday treat was thrown at my sister - really yummy homemade tiramisu!) that we made a reservation on the spot for dinner the next night. Complimentary little spritzes, a fiery chocolate negroni for me, and a salty dog (WTF) for my sister, for our first round, then a Cosmojito for her, and an espresso martini for me for our second.





And now, the star of the show - Le Bernardin for the big bday lunch! - 155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019. Can we say enough good things about Eric Ripert’s beautiful baby? No! Was it the culinary highlight of the trip? Yes!! Service of course was impeccable, but the food was just brilliant.

Beautiful salmon rillettes to start, tender, barely cooked salmon with lemon and chives, on baguette toast points. We had three courses; we each got a choice from the almost raw and then one each from the lightly cooked sections.

1st course: My yellowfin tuna is a classic, never goes off the menu. To die for, subtly rich, like butter, with a very light film of foie under the delicately pounded tuna, which sits on an incredible thin baguette cracker. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten, just heavenly. My sister’s scallops were light and lovely and gingery. She was very happy with them.

2nd course: I got the black bass - just gorgeous! Crispy skin, smoky, delicate flesh, a slight sweetness from caramelized onions and smoked paprika. The pinwheels were delicate, charred ribbons of squash. Wonderful. My sister had the barely cooked salmon, sooooo buttery and light, ethereal, with little poached veggies in a leek/truffle marinière. She adored it.

Desserts: she had a citrus madeleine, with a vanilla genoise sponge, lemon mousseline, berry medley, with some kind of light and crispy shell. I had 4 quenelles of ice cream: caramelized honey, Sicilian pistachio, Peruvian dark chocolate, and Tahitian vanilla. Also mignardises and a little bday chocolate caramel cupcake we had them wrap up to go. A 1/2 bottle of Veuve to celebrate the occasion, and sigh… could only have been better if Eric himself had brought out the cupcake. :star_struck:


(the bday girl with her Veuve.)

We went to the hotel, changed clothes, went for a looong walk, then had a late afternoon snack of oysters at Daniel Boulud’s Epicerie - by Rockefeller Center. Big fat Wellfleets and a glass of cava each.


Late dinner that night was back at Dante. Started out with the Dante Martini for me, and yet another shared plate of lamb chops - touted by our server the night before as being made with a 3-day jus, and chimichurri, they were fabulous (tho not quite as perfect as Red Rooster’s). With lovely meaty mushrooms. Also, scallop crudo over jicama slaw. Crudo was slightly overpowered by the chili powder, but still very tasty. We are loving all the scallop crudo on this trip! And a fantastic salad I just wolfed down - spinach, asparagus tips, sunflower seeds, grilled haloumi, mint pesto. Service was so great here - they’d sat us at the bar for dinner and we were freezing because they had the door open, and even though it was jam-packed on a Monday night, they moved us to a little warm corner table immediately at my request.


After dinner we found a little bar nearby called ArtBar that I only recommend for its extreme cuteness, coziness, and a fireplace we got to sit next to. Very young crowd (for us), and the drinks were not great. But if you wanted a beer or something very basic, it’s a sweet, very casual little place.


Don’t forget your daily Veselka borscht dose!

Next day was finally, FINALLY, Grand Central Oyster! Met up with an old friend of my sister’s, and my fabulous CH Manhattan buddy for lunch. We had a selection of oysters, two orders of fried clam bellies (holy crap were those good), broiled oysters with anchovy butter, my sister had clam chowder, I and my friend each had a bowl of oyster stew (essentially warmed oysters floating in a sea of heavy butter and cream - what is there not to love?) (but both really hard to photograph), my sister’s friend had a lobster roll (the weakest order, i thought), and a piece of cheesecake we all split. Oh, and martinis, Muscadet, and a bottle of bubbly. The perfect meal.

We will never not come here. But that required a 4 hour nap.

But wait, there’s more… Late night dinner at old school, red sauce place we’d smelled as we walked by in the Village the night before, and just had to try. Arthur & Sons - 38 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014. My friend’s sister joined us, and I have to admit, I mostly nibbled, but it was still all pretty good. We split artichokes ala picatta (very lemony, but a little gloopy for me), a ginormous bowl of Sunday Gravy with WONDERFUL meatballs with ricotta, and sausage, rigatoni, basil, and pecorino romano. Also, a humongous dish of jumbo shrimp in an alfredo sauce, also with rigatoni and basil (shrimp were cooked perfectly), and an enormous pile of wonderfully bittery/bitey broccoli rabe. We finished off with a scoop of house-made pistachio ice cream, and took the leftovers to go. Best Italian ever? No. Do I need to go back? No. But was it just right for the moment? Yes.


Since it was our last night in NYC, we hit Death & Co., famed speakeasy that I’d heard so much about - 433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 - we got there 1/2 an hour before last call and got right in. We had two cocktails each, which was really, finally one too many. I liked my first - a coconut gin, aquavit, coconut and vermouth martini-like thing. My second was too sweet and I didn’t finish it. Who the hell knows what my sister & her friend ordered?

Liked the vibe, though, and I’d go back when we weren’t so full and tired. And old! Oops.

Our last day, another museum - the Met, finally - LOVED the Harlem Renaissance exhibit - and then lunch was in Chelsea Market, at one of the few quieter sit-down places, Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar (they get all their seafood from the Lobster Place next door). Great! I had a glass of Picpoul, our friend had an Albarino, my sister had some type of Bloody Mary, and we split oysters (of course), yet another dish of scallop crudo with a yuzo/lemon drizzle (to die for), a fun and really delicious crispy rice boat thingy topped with yellow-fin tuna in spicy mayo - crunchy and creamy all in one bite - buttery Parker rolls (fab), some good asparagus with salsa verde and garlic breadcrumbs I forgot to take a pic of, and maybe the best dish - Pistols on Horseback: fried oysters, wrapped in jamón Ibérico, herb crepe, pickled onion, smoked aioli. SO FUCKING GOOD. Perfect last bite. I’d definitely come back here.

And that is that! Thanks for hanging in there, if you’ve made it this far… Fortunately, we got a LOT of art time in between meals (at least 2-3 other museums I’m forgetting), a little music, Central Park time, just sucking up that NY atmo and attitude, and loving it. Can’t wait to go back and do it all again!



I need a cigarette.

Thanks for sharing.


I remember a meal with the same crowd at Sevilla many years ago. It was nice, but nothing really stood out for me that night ('cept the company).

You did done good, kid, eating all the things! Glad we’ll be a lil closer to the city this fall & planning on a few visits.


Wow! Now, that’s a trip!


Pretty good? I would say amazing! Thank you for sharing your “eatinerary”—my new favorite word. Belated happy birthday to your sister, too.


The only thing missing was Gray’s Papaya.


And pizza. And Chinese. But it’s still a great selection!


Wow! Y’all ate and drank like champs!!! Brava!


What a wonderful and delicious trip. I’m so impressed by your stamina - it must be a family thing. A belated happy birthday to your sister! :wine_glass: :bouquet:

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Nicely done!

I’m glad Le Bernardin was a positive experience. I’ve wondered how it’s held up since my last meal there was a few years ago and it’s often dinged around these parts



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Those fried clams do look tops! Could go for some pastrami and rye with mustard in this nape of the woods (Bangkok).

As for that Death & Co. menu … tax and tip makes that (at least) a $30 cocktail?

Anyway, glad you had a nice visit yonder!

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Always a huge fan of your Spanish trip reports, and looking way forward to following in your Lisbon footsteps this summer, I am so happy to read of your time in my hometown. Sorry you went to Blue Hill; I would have steered you away. One very meh meal at the place you went to years ago and then a truly awful experience with their Stone Hill location when they refused to honor a longtime reservation I had made to celebrate a big birthday. (CH came to the rescue back then!)

Not sure why Le Bernardin gets “dinged” here. Truly flawless, IMO, for what they do, and the seasonal cherry blossoms are incredible. When back, you might duck into the sommelier’s wine bar just across the alley for a pre- or post snack and glass of wine (Aldo Sohm’s).

Just one correction: It’s “Marie” with the Crisis…(Not Mary). And if you are looking to replace that “red sauce” Italian on your next trip, perhaps Emilio’s Ballato will fit your bill? It is “no reservations,”(unless you are a largish party, in which case they will book you in the back room, where you should peek in anyway) and has become very, very popular in recent years. Still it is quintessential NY Italian in my opinion with veal parm and the pasta bolognese being among my favorites, for sure. (Plenty also for the vegetarians among us).


that is a good tip re the red sauce place! Thanks!

the last time we were in NYC people steered us away from Blue Hill and we cancelled our res. BUT, some also steered us away from Le Bernardin, and we cancelled that res too! I agree - LB is flawless. I do not understand why anyone would tell someone not to go to such a jewel.

and i realized I called Marie’s Crisis “Mary’s” but it was too late to fix it. I’ll ask a mod to help out…


I don’t know anyone who has eaten at the city Blue Hill and loved it, but it stays in business, so they must have faithful clientele.

I did want to go to the upstate one (Stone Barns) until the whole kerfuffle about Dan Barber.


She’s from SF! Pizza and Chinese we have in spades.

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Okay, Chinese, maybe. But New York pizza is its own animal, and even if the pizza in SF is amazing, you still need a slice from here.


Next time. In the meantime…


Oh, that looks pretty legit.

Love your narrative as much as the places you describe!

Red Rooster is a reliable favorite, I stop in every chance I get. Le Bernadine has been on my bucket list for ages and you amped my enthusiasm to get there. Your experience at Blue Hill is a bit sobering. We had been planning a visit to Stone Barns but now doubt is creeping in.

Thanks for the report, sounds like great fun was had by all.

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