Restaurants & Bars


Report-Long weekend with frugal husband and hungry teens.


Restaurants & Bars 2

Report-Long weekend with frugal husband and hungry teens.

Layne Murphy | Apr 12, 2011 03:48 PM

I got amazing recommendations for my family’s long weekend. Thanks so very much everyone who generously contributed and a special nod to Kathryn who I presume is the goddess of the NYC board and Aching whose food map is a pretty awesome creation.

Social obligations and staying next door to the Grandaisy Bakery reeked havoc on our plans but we did some fine eating. Three days in NY meant three trips to the Grandaisy and amazing roasted cauliflower pizza and stellar lemon ginger cookies. I wanted to buy a boatload to take home but got there a few minutes after closing time. The girl was sweeping up and the cases were still full and she saw my sad face at the door but showed no pity.

We chose Trattoria Cinque for our first meal because it was close and easy to score an Open Table reservation. The room is reasonably attractive but the food was pretty disappointing. The menu offers a caesar salad mixed at the table—very old school and something I thought my kids would enjoy. The salad arrived pre-tossed, way over dressed and comprised of tough outer romaine leaves. My husband’s bread soup had no visible bread and in fact no liquid at all, just a lukewarm skillet of beans. Huh? I ordered a special--pasta with a mix of fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes hadn’t much flavor and the dish was pretty much something I’d make at home on a low energy weeknight. My husband’s branzino was nice but only a thimbleful of fish served with a flavorless couscous salad. One kid liked the short rib stuffed ravioli and the other’s ribeye was so big it literally draped over the plate; the disparity of portion size fish vs. beef was pretty odd. The ricotta cheesecake was a nice desert but rocked no one’s world. My husband did love the Brooklyn (Red? Amber?) Ale that’s on tap. The service was indifferent although the restaurant was less than 25% full. At one point the whole staff was huddled in a corner and laughing loudly and hilariously which sort of rubbed me the wrong way not having been asked how I was enjoying the meal and now left out on the joke.

Breakfast a Bubby’s was pretty good and the place is cute and sunny looking but the service was a tad flaky. Son proclaimed pancakes exceptional. Eggs done very well. Bagel left me mystified as to why New York bagels are considered superior to L.A. version. Coffee was very good and reminded me of the NY custom of serving cup o’ joe with a spoon in it.

I met a friend for lady’s lunch at Tea and Sympathy which is pretty enchanting. I had mushroom on seven grain toast and a lovely cup of tea that seemed correctly English. Warm service and lots of tea-ish Brit stuff you don’t see on a menu very often. I think even beans on toast but lots of stuff I would actually consider eating.

We had dinner at Walker’s and I liked the food more than I would have if I hadn’t loved the feel of the place. I did have a fantastic NY hard cider and husband enjoyed very much a seasonal beer-Spring Fling from the Bluepoint Brewery. We started with smoked salmon on pumpernickel. The salmon portion was generous but the fish itself a bit gnarly and the toasts a tad burned. I ordered a halibut special which was quite overcooked and hot enough to suggest microwave and served in an indistinctive green sauce. The accompanying mashed potatoes were buttery and flavorful but lukewarm. My husband’s fish and chips were fine and served with a decent red slaw. The server was so loose and friendly we’d happily eat the less than stellar food again just for the warm juju.

My husband gave me the stink eye when I dragged him into the predominately pink Kitchenette but he enjoyed his oatmeal. The eggs were perfectly prepared and fresh but the potatoes were large clumsy salty oafs, not befitting the dainty atmosphere. The butter was mixed with strawberry jam and lovely on a fresh biscuit. Again, good coffee, served with spoon that isn’t necessarily used.

Our friend invited us to Via Pacri and I guess the name of the restaurant section is La Gazzetta. The music was a bit loud and we noticed that all the eye candy was seated by the window and the frumpy families like us with teenagers were seated in the back of the joint. The bruschetta with truffle honey and ricotta may have been the best thing I ate on the visit and I am so over truffle oil. The fish special was well prepared, the fish cooked perfectly. I had linguine with parmesan and black pepper which was a bit heavy with both cheese and peppercorns. One kid had roast chicken and the other a burger and both looked very good and despite enormous portions sons qualified for clean plate club. The service and décor are uber Italian and the prices are uber Manhattan.

Our favorite breakfast was at the terrifically friendly Grey Dog. The coffee alas was missing the New York spoon but also sadly served in a paper cup. Nevertheless, good java and my husband was impressed when the server actually tied leaves into a tea bag for a nice cup of English Breakfast. The baked oatmeal is delicious, sort of a riff on bread pudding and the omelet was great and the accompanying potatoes with onions and peppers perfectly prepared. This, probably because you order at the counter, was the least expensive breakfast we had at one of the few places with prices comparable to L.A.

The last meal was at Colicchio and Sons Tap Room sans progeny. Even though I warned them off it, the kids insisted on Katz’s Deli. They reported the wait was miserable, the service the meanest they’d ever encountered and the meat was nowhere near as good as Langer’s in L.A. Do not flame me for this. I am reporting on behalf of my children who do not read Chowhound.

The Tap Room is a gorgeous place and the soundtrack is not too loud and chosen to appeal to old farts without being unctuous or embarrassing. My beerhead was in heaven and our server was incredibly knowledgeable. The list is ginormous but beer is served in flights and half pints. The first flight was of Brooklyn Toasted Lager; False Start (local brewery) Ale; Ubu Ale (upstate NY). All were really good but the Ubu was a standout. Two of the beers on the Chocolate Flight weren’t available but we were happy with another Ubu, a Smuttynose Porter and a Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale. We also shared a half of Gnomegang-a serendipitous collaboration of the Upstate New York Ommengang and Hubertus Belgian breweries. All excellent.

I notice the preparations were a bit different when we ate there than is posted on website menu so specific ingredients maybe be a bit sketchy. We started fatty salmon garnished with smoked egg. The texture and the flavor of the salmon were remarkable. The cavatelli with mint, fresh peas and I forget which cheese was delicious but if I hadn’t been drinking beer, probably a bit too salty. The salmon entrée came with a beet wine reduction that actually tasted a bit vinegary and was thoughtfully served on the side for my beet hating husband. The accompanying spring garlic would have been nicer sliced more delicately and prepared with a bit less butter. The dessert menu is sort of a snooze. We had a pineapple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream that was pleasant and not overly sweet but perhaps unexciting enough to send a chef packing knives. The food is well designed to pair with beer and I like the notion of higher end beer chow. I know the objective is to have a limited menu but I did wish for a few more non-carnivorous choices. The service was also a bit stiff and formal but our server warmed up a lot upon discovering a real beer enthusiast.

So much food and so little time. We look forward to returning soon and sampling more of the Chowhound recommendations. I thank you all for your patience with my demanding questions and hope my own L.A. board reciprocates as generously when NY hounds are in the neighborhood.

Katz's Delicatessen
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Tea & Sympathy
108 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011

156 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

Bubby's Pie Co.
120 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

16 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

Grey Dog Coffee
33 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

Grandaisy Bakery
250 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

Trattoria Cinque
363 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013

Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

La Gazzetta
55 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

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