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NYC trip report – bit(e)s and pieces

beetlebug | Jun 1, 2008 07:08 AM

I’m in New York for the week and am very excited. I’ve only spent pieces of weekends here and never for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to scan the boards for suggestions, but managed to cobble recommendations from friends and from a brief look at the Manhattan board. In all honesty, the Manhattan board is overwhelming to me. So many posts and I just don’t have a good grasp of the neighborhoods and geography.

So, here is a partial report and I’ll add on to this thread when I get a chance.

Breakfast – bagels from Grand Central – Hot and Crusty is the name I think. I got the salt bagel and it was fine. It was huge and a bit bready. A lot of cream cheese which I ended up scraping off. But, it served its purpose and it was close to us. Plus, we grabbed it on our way to the subway to Queens. Attached thread:


Grand Central Oyster Bar – this was close to my hotel and it was way past my lunchtime. I had a hard time finding it in the station and I was tempted by numerous things in the food court. But, I wanted a lighter lunch because I knew dinner was not that far away. I ordered 2 different kinds of oysters (one from LI and one from Washington State), 2 littlenecks and 2 cherrystones. The littlenecks were the big winners. Briny and refreshing. The oyster quality was very good but the shucker inartfully shucked. All the shellfish had minimal juice within the shell.

I also ordered the caviar sandwich – black caviar, chopped hard boiled egg sandwiched between toasted white bread. Sour cream on the side. I really liked this sandwich although it could have used a bit more egg. I smeared little bits of sour cream on to each bit and overall, the sandwich held together well.

Avra – I’ve eaten this at this greek restaurant several times over the years. The last time was in 2003 and I wanted to re-visit it. Part of me was torn about this, because so much food, so little time, but I have really fond memories so I went. Overall, it was a hit with some minor misses. If I go back in the future, I’m going to focus on the appetizers.

The bread, olives and dip were an excellent way to start the meal. The olives were big and meaty and complemented the bread and dip well.

C and I decided to split everything. I didn’t want to start off my visit being a complete glutton. So we split the stuffed squid (stuffed with 4 cheeses and herbs) and the greek salad. We had a hard time narrowing down the choices because all the apps looked great. The squid was absolutely delicious. A combo of mild and sharp cheeses and herbs that blended really well together. The whole body and tentacles were then lightly grilled. I could have eaten all three squids by myself and been totally happy. The greek salad was also great. It was mostly red and yellow tomatoes with green peppers, olives and 2 wedges of feta. The tomatoes were amazing. I couldn’t believe the quality of these tomatoes at this time of year. They were like August tomatoes – brightly colored with the right amount of firmness, juice and sweetness. The feta wedge was also the right texture and flavor.

Main course – we split the royal dorado fish (I asked for a fish about a pound). Served whole and deboned at the table. The waiter did give me a look when I asked for the head (love those cheeks) but he handed it over. Nice flavor with just a hint of fishiness. This would have been great if it hadn’t been overcooked. This is a thin fish and the chef left it on for at least a minute too long (probably closer to two minutes).

Dessert – these were surprisingly strong. I had an assortment of homemade ice creams (they also had sorbets) and there were a lot of flavors of both. I went with the fig, pistachio and chocolate. The chocolate was the weakest of the bunch and I use that lightly. Rich intense chocolately flavor. The fig and pistachio were amazing. Big chunks of sweet fig against the cream of the ice cream itself. The pistachio was just a great nutty flavor. The only downside was that there were small icey particles in some of the bites.

C got the apple tartin and the surprising thing was that it was served in phyllo dough. What a great idea. I’m not usually tartin kind of person but I really liked his dessert. The right ratio of apples to dough and the flakiness of the dough was just delicious.

We had the perfect amount of food for the two of us and it was an auspicious way to start our vacation.

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