My wife and I come into the city once or twice a year, and have usually gone to the same places for meals - Florent for a Sunday brunch; Grand Central Oyster bar just for the oysters, as the rest of the menu seems pretty mediocre; Nobu or Nobu Next Door for the omakase and/or sashimi & rolls; Balthazar for a breakfast or lunch; Barney Greengrass when we don't want to walk far from our UWS family apartment for a weekend breakfast; New Green Bo for dim sum that's far better - so far - than any of the big Chinatown palaces we've tried; Red Cat for a quiet decompress meal before we leave; Katz's for late night meat fix (sometimes Crif Dog for the same thing).
This time I'd like to try some different places. I read the boards here religiously, but it's so hard to know what's what and even harder to estimate price levels, levels of formality etc. without going to a place.
So: can anyone recommend any of the following, all in Manhattan:
a) a good, inexpensive & funky/different weekend brunch, fixed price menu & cocktails a plus but not necessary;
b) decent inventive and interesting sushi and/or other Japanese menu in a 'different' environment, not as high end as Blue Ribbon or Bond St. or Jewel Bako (we were going to try Sushi Yasuda but it looks really pricey?);
c) a good place that is not too touristy for oysters, maybe lobster rolls, or interesting seafood in general;
d) a good French bistro where I can get a great steak frites / tartare / steak au poivre / sweetbreads without breaking the bank. I tried Les Halles and while the tartare was OK it wasn't especially great, and something seemed just a little off or manufactured about the whole experience;
e) really good, homey, super crispy guilty-pleasure fried chicken - great mac & cheese or collards or various other sides a plus, but not necessary;
f) something interesting / different in Chinatown - we spend a lot of time in that neighborhood, and while we love New Green Bo, something different would be neat too.
g) and lastly, a nice, small, quiet and relatively inexpensive neighborhood restaurant ala Red Cat, with an interesting & different menu, where I will feel comfortable and can relax and not have to deal with snooty waiters etc.
I'm not asking for anything to replace Katz's, of course, since nothing CAN replace Katz's (or Crif Dogs, or the Shake Shack, etc.).
Thank you for any / all recommendations, advice, etc!
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