What a time I had! If I had any concerns about being a solo diner, they have now vanished. I love New York, and am very familiar with the city. I'm 57, married, usually travel with my husband, but I wanted to go see the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium before it was torn down, and my husband did not, so we decided I would take the trip myself.
This is my first post on this board that's not a question, so I'm a little intimidated because I know some of you eat/post with a very sharp eye, and I'm not sure my reviews will be up to very high journalistic standards. I'm an excellent, varied cook (my standing joke is I make the same hundred things over and over), we dine a lot, travel a lot, eat at very high end restaurants maybe just once or twice a year, usually on a big vacation (for a NY reference, our trip 2 years ago we ate at J-G, 4 years ago at The Modern).
Anyway, I'll plunge right in...and I hope the moderators will allow me some leeway in referencing where I was sightseeing at the time (which is relevant to some of my choices) and my observations about the restaurants themselves (which is relevant since I was a solo diner and therefore had more time to observe these things, rather than being engrossed by my companions' conversation).
Day One: Arrived at my hotel around 7pm, and had originally planned just to grab a slice of pizza that night. Instead opted to take advantage of the extended RW menu and go to Brasserie Ruhlmann, just a few blocks from my hotel.
I did not want to sit outside because I wanted to "see" the art deco interior. This was a mistake on 2 counts...first of all, inside was a little stuffy because even though the a/c was on, the doors were open to the patio so it was diminished, and inside had an odd odor - maybe cabbage-like?
I ordered, from the RW menu, beef carpaccio, curried short rib, and rhubarb panna cotta.
Started with a glass of Sancerre (this is a wine I had never tried because you don't ever see it offered by the glass where I live). I thought it was ok - a little too tart and astringent for my taste, but it was fine.
Had not had beef carpaccio in years, and what I was served was a little different from my memory...it was a small bed of arugula, topped with a few thin slices of beef, topped with a few thin slices of parmesan cheese. The portion size was more than adequate, but I didn't care for the dressing - it was much too vinegary (and this is from someone who loves vinegar and always has 8 or 9 varieties in my pantry). Too tart.
Curried short rib was really wonderful. I love humble cuts, cook them all the time, this was perfect - all fat rendered away to leave a meltingly tender rib, loved the curry sauce with the little chunks of (was it mango?) in it, some basmati rice under. Very good.
Had my first experience with panna cotta for dessert - liked the panna cotta, but thought the rhubarb topping needed more sugar - again, too tart. The whole meal was just on the sour side.
Service can best be described as way too hovering. There were only a handful of us dining inside, so the staff had nothing to do but wait to pounce on our every need (this might sound like a good thing but sometimes it's not). I had about one bite left of one of my courses, but saw him standing nearby watching me, so I deliberately put down my knife and fork and took a sip of water - I swear he was visibly disappointed that he couldn't whisk the dish away that instant!
I wasn't sure what the solo dining aspect would be like here, since this was my first meal, but I did not bring anything to read, and really did just spend my time looking around and (inadvertently) listening to nearby conversations. While I wouldn't say it was awkward, in hindsight it was probably my least interesting experience.
I'm very glad I went, because I wanted to, but I'm also very glad this was my first meal in New York so it did not really serve as a disappointment, just a bar set.
I'm going to go take a break now before starting on day two - please let me know if this is too long...there's lots more to come.