OK, so: NYC is supposed to be this great culinary apogee. Do I have to spend $100 per person to experience this? I moved here from Portland, OR two years ago and I haven't had a better meal here than I did at Sympatica or Le Pigeon out there. It seems like you have to catch restaurants no more than a year after they open in this town -- after that they either close or backslide in a calculated way once they have a name for themselves and have a guaranteed customer base.
What am I looking for? A creative, but not overly molecular fire-worky place, New American/Continental influences, below 14th street or in Brooklyn, and that does not cost more than $50-60 per person. (Flexible re: location.) Some places on my radar include: Perilla, Little Giant, Nuela, Aldea, Perry St, Blaue Gans, Locanda Verde, Buttermilk Channel, Dressler, Saul, Convivum Osteria, Osteria Morini, Scarpetta, Sorella. (Sorta new here - is it not OK to be asking about some Brooklyn restaurants on the Manhattan Board? This is definitely more about Manhattan than BK ...)
Places I have been:
Prune: Had been wanting to try this place since before I came to NYC and was disappointed. Duck breast w/ dandelion greens and raisin/caper vinaigrette sounded like just what I wanted: a fatty slab of animal resonating with some salty bitter sweetness. What I got was a well-cooked piece of duck on a bed of greens with a barely-perceptible dressing. While the breast was good, I have had duck breast before and had been looking for something different. Off night? Poor choice? Should I return?
Dell'anima: Gnocchi w/ rabbit sausage. Again, comforting and well-executed, but the flavors didn't pop. I had just been to Modo Mio in Philly and it absolutely blew this (as well as Al Di La -- bland Ragu + excellent pasta = decent meal) out of the water. Again, has this place jumped the shark? Should I have just gone w/ pasta instead of gnocchi?
Frankie's Prime Meats: Sauerbauten: Good at first but devolved into cloying sweetness. Tasted mostly of meat and salt; the herbs didn't really come through. Bone marrow toasts w/ gremolata were rockin' though.
Franny's: Good but inconsistent. Bruschetta w/ pancetta and roasted peaches was awesome. Didn't love the terrine. Pizzas were of course good but this thread isn't about pizza. Roasted broccoli salad was v. good.
Breslin: Lamb Burger finally came through as an NYC food item that blew me away. Intense, concentrated lamb flavor, saved from unctuousness by the bracing Feta on top, perfect bun, overall a great experience. But you can only eat like one of those a year.
Since I am on a budget these are really the only "foodie" places I have been (have loved meals at Broco Tacos and Metro Cafe in Sunset park, Di Fara, Sal and Carmine's, Ba Xuyen, Lucky Eight, but am not really interested in traditional food in this thread).
Anyways, sorry for the long post but I wanted to try to give a more clear idea of what I was after. Thanks guys!
9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014
85 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
139 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
95 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013
20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
43 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010
218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012