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Manhattan Cafeteria

Hits w/out-of-towners: Le Zie, Cafeteria; Gramercy Tavern; City Bakery


Markets & Stores

Hits w/out-of-towners: Le Zie, Cafeteria; Gramercy Tavern; City Bakery

Caitlin McGrath | Apr 27, 2004 06:23 PM

My folks were in town last week, and a few places we went - all near my home - were quite successful with them.

I hadn't been back to Le Zie on 7th near 20th in a while, but it was as pleasant as ever, and seared tuna, grilled bass, and fettuccine with mushrooms were as well cooked as ever, and all under $15. The wine list is surprisingly varied for a neighborhood place, too.

After a couple of mediocre coffeeshop/diner breakfasts near their Chelsea hotel, my parents were very happy with my suggestion of Cafeteria 7th and 17th. They thought breakfast was very tasty (I agree, and things like omelettes and pancakes are cheaper here than at the 24-hour diner across the street from me), and, importantly, that the coffee is very good (Northern California coffee snobs, they are).

We took them to the tavern room at Gramercy Tavern on a Sunday, sure they would also enjoy one of our favorite places (Just the front room - I've never eaten in the dining room). As usual, everything was excellent. We had, between us, oysters, artichoke and cranberry bean salad, grilled baby octopus, quail with polenta (this was especially fine), fish stew, roast chicken (accompanying springy vegetables especially praised), fish stew, filet mignon, tarte tatin, sorbets, and pear and sour cherry crisp with cinnamon ice cream. Most of these are regulars on the menu (in season where applicable). Grilled octopus wasn't so perfectly cooked as I've had before (it was mostly tentacles, not as tender as the body, especially in the tiny baby ones), fish stew is slightly different now, with more saffron in the broth and bread cubes in the bowl rather than garlic toasts, but just as delicious (though I loved the crisp garlic toast for dipping); filet was as good as ever; and co-hound, who has sampled many roast quail treatments there, thought the current variation the best yet. Service was, also as usual, excellent (thoughtful touches like asking whether we were satisfied with [white] wine temperature, and whether we wanted the bottle on the table or in an ice bucket - I realize this is GT, but this kind of thing is unusual at the tavern room price point), as was regular brewed coffee. The filet has crept up above $20, but only by a couple of bucks; other prices seemed generally the same.

Our last meal together was lunch from the very good, but very expensive ($12/lb) salad bar at City bakery. (This is the only one at such a price that I think is worth it as an occasional splurge.) As usual, the different vegetable dishes were interesting and delicious, and I appreciate that the baked or poached salmon they always have is wild (for environmental and taste reasons). My stepmother pronounced the hot chocolate the best she's had, and found the single shot a perfect size for after lunch.

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