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Restaurants & Bars 4

NYC Trip Report (Tulsi, Stanton Social, Earl's, Marea)

Brad Ballinger | May 29, 201211:24 AM

Our neighbors moved to Manhattan from St. Paul a little under a year ago, and have been after us to make a visit. We finally got around to it. It's been about 5 or so years since we last were in New York.

Friday: Got in around noon and walked from Turtle Bay to Madison Square Park for lunch among the Madision Square Eats vendors camped out there for May. Had the Speckenwulf pizza from Roberta's, and it was a fair rendition of Neapolitan style. My wife had something at Asiadog. Good topic, so-so dog. Afterward, we walked across the street to Eataly just for the sensory overload, and a beer in the rooftop Birreria. Nice space, and my immediate thought was that no where in the entirety of the Twin Cities would have this many people in this much square footage on a Friday at 2:00, unless it was a workplace. After that, we made the pilgrimage to Chambers Street Wines, and I shipped some home.

Dinner at Tulsi. We ordered the tasting menu (two regular, two vegetable). First off, the featured cocktails here were the best we had the entire trip. I thought they'd all be a little too sweet. Not even close. Great mixologist here. All dishes were very good. Moistest tandoor chicken I've had. It's easy to dry that out, but it was exquisitely prepared. Incredible depth of flavor, not just heat.

Saturday: Breakfast/Lunch at BXR. Happy to see Palm on tap. Had the croque tomate, which was just fine. Frites a bit on the limp side. My wife enjoyed her chevre chaud salad. For what it is, BXR is a solid, dependable spot. From there to a matinee of One Mane, Two Guvnors, which I mention only because of the obsession with food. Funny, funny show.

Dinner at Stanton Social, which was a bit of a disappointment. We were all over the concept of sharing small plates, which is why we chose this place. And I was intrigued by the French onion soup bites that were featured in a Best Thing I Ever Ate a while back. Those were quite good. Our server suggested we order everything at once, and let the kitchen take care of the timing. Wrong decision -- at least for that one visit. When the fifth course came out less than 20 mintues from ordering, I asked if they could slow it down a bit. They did. For a bit, and then the frenetic pace resumed. Most dishes were above average, but some were merely okay. Herb frites big disappointment. And we felt rushed the entire time. We decided to help the restaurant turn our table by not ordering dessert.

So instead we had our dessert at Big Gay Ice Cream. Salty Pimp is a good cone. We were in the mood for a nightcap back in our hosts Turtle Bay neighborhood, so we stopped in at Beekman Bar and Books and helped the Russian mob launder some money. I like the vibe of this place. Cocktails poured tableside seductively with James Bond movies playing in the background (muted, subtitles).

Sunday: Got to Neue Galerie before opening anticipating a line for the Klimt exhibit. No line, wo was had a light snack at Cafe Sabarsky inside until the gallery opened. Excellent strong coffee. Good breads. Klimt exhibit small but good. Heinrich Keuhn photography exhibit impressive. After a short stop at the Guggenheim two blocks away (short because the spiral was closed), we walked over to Earl's Beer and Cheese. Sampled all four beers and ordered the cheese board. Had my doubts seeing the spread in the ramekin, but was pleasantly surprised. Will come back next trip and order something else from the menu. So many things looked good. Walked one block east to ABV, but only had a glass of wine. Nice space. Nice concept.

Dinner at Marea. Was looking forward to ordering the four course prix fixe, but Earl's had me scaling back to a crudo dish and a secondi dish. I got the Akamutsu crudo because I know I'd never get to try that fish ever again. Prepared with chervil puree and grapefruit. Wonderful flavor that was both rich and light at the same time. My wife ordered the charred octopus. Best octopus I've ever had. Entree was the halibut with hen of the woods and fiddlehead ferns (probably ordered this dish for the sides than for the fish). Perfectly cooked. Could have used a touch more salt to liven it up. Dessert was a sorbetti trio (probably still being influenced by Earl's). Sikly textures and strong flavors. Nice ending.

Service good everywhere (with the exception of feeling rushed at Stanton Social). I've always experienced that restaurant service is an art/profession in New York, San Francisco, Europe, but even at the higher end places in the Twin Cities, it's just a job.

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