This trip was for my husband’s birthday as NYC is his 2nd favorite city in the world, and DC to Paris just doesn’t work on a Friday-Sunday. I’m also a Groupon-aholic, and had an expiring one – more on that later. So I dropped loads of money on a hotel room and meals to make sure I didn’t waste my $20 Groupon. How’s that for convoluted logic? But of course, it became perfectly acceptable once we deemed the weekend the birthday present.
First thanks to CHers. I did not start any threads, but happily glommed off other ones.
We stayed in TriBeCa and did not get in until 11:15pm or so. I had researched a few restaurants that were nearby and served until midnight or later. So dinner was at TINY’S & THE BAR UPSTAIRS. We really liked this place – nice neighborhood feel, good service, decent prices, pretty good food. I went in armed with a scallop recommendation from CH, but they had run out! Bummer. So I got salmon rillettes to start and the fried oyster appetizer as a main. The rillettes were flavorful bits of oily (you know, the good oily) salmon, served with tons of dill and lemon and bread crisps. The fried oysters were probably good about 3 minutes before they got to the table. They just sat a bit too long. The oysters were flavorful and plump, but barely warm, with way too much breading that was starting to get soggy. I could tell they were flash-fried well, though. I loved the mustardy slaw that came with them. My husband got the burrata (very good) and the pan-roasted hake, which was really the star of the night – perfectly cooked, nice crust, served with braised endive and roasted fennel. Really delicious.
Despite the late hour for people who normally go to bed at 10:00, we went to WEATHER UP for a drink. Good cocktails, nice vibe, we liked it a lot.
Saturday lunch was at THE NOMAD – best meal of the trip. I started with the foie gras torchon with tete de cochon – creamy and delicious – served with radishes and nasturtium. My husband got the hamachi with bits of grated horseradish on top – another winner. Mains were scallops with Hen of the Woods mushrooms and slow-cooked halibut with spring peas. Both preparations were so simple, but between the perfect execution and the perfect ingredients, well, “simple” just somehow doesn’t do it justice. I feel like I could almost be a vegetarian if I had an unlimited supply of Hen of the Woods. Almost. We thought about the chicken, but decided against it. We did get to see it, though – ordered by the women next to us. Wow, what a fantastic presentation.
After lunch, it was back downtown for the 3:00pm Rare & Precious Scotch Tasting at the BRANDY LIBRARY. My husband loves Scotch. I was more or less along for the ride, but actually enjoyed it very much. Our teacher was very good – knowledgeable without being overly opinionated, passionate about his subject, and very interactive. We started at the bar with the rest of the group, passed hors d’oeuvres and Suntory Hibiki (Japanese whiskey). Then it was downstairs (fabulous room), where we tasted seven Scotches, with an “intermission” with more passed hors d’oeuvres and a shandy, which was so refreshing after all the Scotch. Some of the hors d’oeuvres were actually pretty good (they make everything in-house). I never had a shandy, so was surprised to learn that it was made with Brooklyn Lager and Sprite, a combination I never thought I would drink. Go figure! Anyway, I highly recommend the Spirit School at Brandy Library.
Dinner was at Pao!, a Portuguese restaurant on Spring Street. OK, so in my defense, whenever I left the Ear Inn, back when I lived in NY, I would pass by Pao! – it looked cute, the menu looked good and I always wanted to try it. So when the Groupon popped up, I thought why not? Well, subsequent research found no listing in Zagat – uh oh; no mention of it here – uh oh; and some odd reviews on line (you know the kind you can tell are posted by the same person multiple times?) And yet, we still went. It’s not Chow-worthy, so I won’t go into it. Let’s just say I have never heard my husband describe a meal as “wretched.” The appetizers weren’t horrible, so I was starting to have some hope until we tasted the mains. Enough said. The best part of the meal was sitting outside on a beautiful evening in Manhattan, watching the sunset over the Hudson, with a bottle of decent Douro and my honey.
Next we hit SILVER LINING – another good cocktail place, but this one came with jazz! Got to love that. I loved my Pineau Cobbler - Pineau Charentes, curaçao, lemon juice and loads of fresh fruit.
We left after the first set and went to WARD III. This was probably my least favorite of the three bars we went to – I think the music had a lot to do with it (especially after the jazz). And the fact that I was the 2nd oldest person in there, after my husband, lol. Still, great cocktails, great bartenders – not complaining, just not the favorite.
Sunday morning was breakfast at LOCANDA VERDE, which we walked by last night – packed to the gills, of course. But at 9:00AM on a Sunday, nothing but a few families and couples. The zucchini frittata was outstanding and the lemon ricotta pancakes were very good – light, fluffy, plump blueberries and a nice zing from the lemon curd. I really want to come back here for dinner.
Our last meal was a late lunch at MINETTA TAVERN. We typically order different dishes and share, but we both went for the Black Label burger, and both declared it the best burger we’ve ever had. We thought the fries were very good as well – I know they get some so-so reviews here. I loved my Spicy Mary (and it “cured” the teeniny headache I had from the mass amounts of alcohol yesterday), and the green version was good as well. Excellent service here.
Our last drink was at ROUGE ET BLANC, which was on the maybe list, but it wasn’t open late enough for Friday dinner. We’ll definitely come back here – what a great sounding menu, and I love that there’s only French wines on the wine list. The glass of red Burgundy I had really hit the spot after lunch. It was after brunch service, so we had the bar to ourselves and spent quite a bit of time talking to one of the owners – about wine, NYC, France, etc. Very nice guy.
Overall, a totally indulgent, wonderful, weekend in Manhattan.