I'm an LA chowhounder who spent 3 days in the City. I want to thank NY-chowhounders who gave me such forthright and detailed advice on where to go. Here are brief highlights:
Dinner at BLUE HILL (off Washington Square) - There is such a genuine love for and play on local ingredients here, sincere service, and in a romantic and warm room. We loved it. I started with a foie gras in a broth of baby root vegetables and red wine dressing - so rich and light at the same time. Had the signature duck in an orange glaze and then an extraordinary chestnut dessert which was the first that I had that wasn't too sweet. Had great service from Maureen.
Brunch at CAFE SABARSKY (at Neue Gallerie, 86th at 5th Avenue) - This was a total surprise. We went for brunch on Sunday morning and I felt like I time traveled to 1920's Vienna. Try the minted pea soup, spaetzle with baby vegetables, and the topfentorte. Tour the very small gallery upstairs after. This will become a regular stop from now on.
Lunch at SARABETH's (downstairs at the Whitney) - I'll never be able to have Chicken Pot Pie again after this. Perfectly prepared and not overly creamy (Eew!). Vegetables not overcooked. Great wine list.
Late night drinks at GRAMMERCY PARK TAVERN. If you aren't in the Christmas/holiday spririt now, drop by for a nightcap. Room is beautifully decorated and service gracious. I was worried about the Zagat factor with the crowd, but those obnoxious types were fairly few. Great Holiday cocktails (i.e. Kentucky Cappucino, Fig-mulled wine).
Drinks at FLUTE (Champagne Bar) - This is next to Grammercy Park Tavern. The room and basement are cool looking, but the service wrought with attitude and the glasses they give us poorly washed. (Yuck.) Wouldn't go back.
CITY BAKERY. Can't believe I'm writing this. Everything we tried (croissants, cheese danish) was very dry and over-brittle. (We went around 10 AM.) Does anyone else notice this? Don't like the new location. Feels so impersonal and austere. Will definitely give them another visit next time, but was not happy this go around.
That's all. Best holidays to all.