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6 Day NYC Report - Eleven Madison Park, Atera, Bouley, Jean Georges, Lincoln, Marea

gumption | Apr 7, 201411:28 AM

Seattleite here. I was in NYC earlier this month and hit some notable spots during a long weekend. What originally began as a quick jaunt to see Pippin (best friend treated me to plane tickets and for the show) turned into a whirlwind six-day foodie and opera tour (with three performances at the Met Opera). I had lurked here on the Manhattan board for weeks prior to do my research... lots of good threads here, especially a notable one about packing too many high-end spots into a short period of time; I was mindful of this and did try to spread the heavy-hitters apart by at least a day. Thanks especially to ellenost for many insightful responses and general nuggets of wisdom.

I've been a food meetup organizer for 3+ years in Seattle and have hit lots of Pacific NW hot spots (The Willows Inn, Canlis, The Herbfarm, Le Pigeon). This trip would be my first foray into Michelin 1* & 2* territory... I’d done some 1* places in SF.

Day one: Lunch - Bouley
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Day one: afternoon - ABC Kitchen

I spent the next few hours exploring, walking, and generally digesting my earlier feast. Met a friend in Chelsea after work; she was hungry and asked if I’d be interested in a pre-dinner bite. I turned her down, saying that I wanted to save my full appetite for my late dinner (9pm seating) at Atera. We ended up at ABC Kitchen and sat at the back bar. Very hip place and totally full on a Friday night. The walk through the dining room seemed endless and every table was taken. Got a two-top in the back, we had cocktails which were spot on and my friend had their burger. From what I saw and heard her describe, it was juicy and definitely hit the spot. Definitely a great place for after-work drinks and nibbles.

Day one: Dinner - Atera
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Day two: Respite, Opera, & Pippin

Had to purposely lay off any substantial meals given the previous day’s superlative restaurant double. I attended a matinée opera at Lincoln Center. Scanned the neighborhood and the pre-opera meal ended up being a quick bite at Epicurie Boulud across the street. Went with a tuna sandwich - fresh and definitely filling. After the opera, I headed to Time Square to build up an appetite and see if any hole-in-the-wall type places looked interesting. Tried for ramen at Totto, but the queue was too long, then headed to Xi’an Famous Foods, but they only took cash and I didn’t have much. Argh! Had to settle for Chipotle since I was pressed for time. Made it to Pippin which was completely entrancing and a pure joy.

Day three: Lunch at Punjabi Grocery & Deli and Hot Chocolate at Max Brenner

Had to try for Indian food and I’d considered hitting E 6th St based on a friend’s recommendation, but online research led me to a posting for Punjabi Grocery & Deli on Yelp and went with that. Met a vegetarian friend there which worked out because all of their offerings seemed to be meatless. The shop is a small deli with grocery items scattered about. A deli case had about ten Indian curries, including all of the usual suspects. They also had samosas, pakoras, etc. Nevertheless, everything was filling and spiced just right. I had a satisfying combo (less than $7 with tax) of saag paneer, channa masala and lentil dal which was perfect comfort food for the windy day.

Walked up to Strand Bookstore, then took a quick hot chocolate stop at Max Brenner. Quite a tourist trap, and Sunday morning was especially busy since they serve weekend brunch. I ordered a Mexican hot chocolate which sadly lacked that extra depth and sometimes slight heat. They also have a gift shop area by the entry which featured truffles under a case, and many different confectioneries in gift packages. (I just found out that they’re an International chain.)

Day three: Dinner at Eleven Madison Park
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Day Four: Lunch at Shake Shack

I confess that I’m from Los Angeles and that In ‘N Out has never really impressed me. Whereas my very first trip to Shake Shack (back in 2003?) was quite a revelation. Their perfect patties - of choice meat and expert seasonings - was probably the best and most gourmet that fast-food burgers could get. That first trip still stands as my all-time favorite burger, but sadly, this repeat visit just didn’t satisfy in the same way.

I ordered the Smoke Stack this time primarily for the bacon, but I guess I should have read the ingredients much closely because the amount of spicy peppers in the burger really put me off. And because of all the heat, I wasn’t able to fully process the natural flavor of the patty. Oh well, live and learn. I’m sure Shack Shack will get another chance from me, and I’ll go much simpler next time.

Day Four: Dinner at Xian Famous Foods

Made it back to Xian with cash in hand this second time. I think I had read that their hand-pulled noodles were a specialty, as were the lamb burgers. Wish I had the time to sit down for some soup, but I was under time constraints and thus, I gobbled up two lamb burgers. Sadly, they seemed a bit dry -- both the bread and the lamb filling. The cumin was pronounced but it just needed some more extra zing, in my book.

Day Five: Lunch at Marea
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Day Five: Dinner at Lincoln
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Day six: Lunch at Jean Georges
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Bouley at Home,
ABC Kitchen,
Shake Shack,
Xi'an Famous Foods
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