I posted this in reply to my original question, but figured no one would see it so reposting separately.
Returned from NYC on Sunday...wanted to thank everyone for their opinions and recommendations. Here's what we did.
SushiSamba 7 on Friday night. Had a 9 pm reservation, had to wait until about 9:30 to get a table. My stepdaughter was totally fine in there. They even let her stand in the bar area while waiting for a table. We were seated upstairs, which has a great fun atmosphere and decor. The weather was nice enough so that they had all the upstairs walls removed and the fresh air and scenary of the street was great. We had the yellowtail taquitos, which were outstanding. Light, crisp shell, delicious fresh yellowtail mixed with a creamy avocado. Wonderful. We also had the pork belly skewers in butterscotch miso sauce, which I was concerned about for the sweetness factor but it was not overwhelming. The sauce was a bit syrupy and a little sweet for my taste but still delicious, and the pork belly was cooked perfectly. We ordered sushi rolls and they were nothing out of the ordinary, but especially with sushi I do appreciate just getting what I expect to when I order. The quality of the fish was very very good. It was fresh and not fishy in the least. overall, very good experience.
We did head to Stanton Social after that for an 11:15 reservation. The weather didn't cooperate and it rained, we couldn't get a cab, i couldn't figure out the subway, and it was too far to walk in our heels. We finally managed to get a cab over there but it was close to midnight at that point. The SS bouncer initially didn't want to let us sit upstairs in the lounge because my stepdaughter being underage, but the hostess told him we had a reservation and they let us up. We got up there but unfortunately didn't eat anything. My stepdaughter had had it with her long day of school, then traveling, then the whole cab in the rain experience. We were soaked and tired, so we just left. Too bad, because the atmosphere and menu looked great. i will definately try it next time.
Lunch on Saturday: Ippudo ramen, which is my favorite. We both got pork buns and the Modern, nothing fancy. I did Kae-Dama but that was a mistake this time because I was overly stuffed. I personally love the depth of flavor in the broth of the Modern, and the noodles are spot on, so this is my personal favorite. I will note this small irregularity in seating: We got there around 12:15, so of course the place was already packed. The hostess told us at least an hour for a table. We put our name in and started walking around the union square area to kill time. For some reason (a hunch I guess) we went back about fifteen minutes later: and we were the next table called. Had we walked around for 45 minutes or so and then returned, which was my plan, we would have been SOL. I know hosts exaggerate wait times to give a worst case scenario, but it was a bit much.
Dinner: Osteria del Circo. I know its nothing special, but it was close to the hotel and I've always wanted to try the one in Vegas and never have, so thought I would give it a try. Adequate at best. Our waiter was very unhelpful when I asked him to explain different dishes or give a recommendation, he basically just read the description of the dish off the menu. No insight about what to order. Bread given initially was run of the mill focaccia mix, and they provided only a very little olive oil for dipping. Really, like just a tablespoon or two in a small dish. So it had to be refilled, which is a little odd. I started with the grilled octopus and stepdaughter had caprese salad. Hers was a caprese salad, enough said, but she is not very adventurous. I did taste the homemade mozz and liked that it had a slightly sour flavor. My octopus was just OK. I think I was comparing it to the first time I had octopus at Badolato in Las Vegas, which was flipping outstanding. This octopus was several whole tentacles that had been heavily grilled. It was very encrusted with grill crust and seasoning, which overpowered any taste the octopus itself might have had. It was a little chewy, but not horrible. Came with a lemony creme fraiche to dip which I also thought was an odd choice. I am used to my octopus lightly grilled, with a light lemon herb dressing, maybe potatoes/capers, etc. creme fraiche a little heavy for me. For main courses, stepdaughter had tomato basil gnocchi which was....tomato basil gnocchi. Gnocchi were homemade, good but not outstanding, and in my opinion a little small. Also, the sauce was very close to a decent sauce out of the jar. I had expected something a little fresher. It tasted good, but was nothing special. I had the mozz/spinach ravioli. It was advertised as being cooked in browned butter, but I saw no evidence of that. The ravioli pasta itself was very good, thin and well cooked. The filling was a bit on the light side and too heavy on the spinach, but was acceptable. The dish was solid but again not outstanding. It did sit very heavily in my stomach. For the price we paid, meal wasn't worth it, but stepdaughter did like the interior decorations and had a good time. And there was nothing wrong with the meal, it just was average.
Brunch at David Burke Townhouse on Sunday: I basically went here because I knew stepdaughter would love the cheesecake lollipop tree, and it did not disappoint. By this morning we were both very full from eating all weekend, however, and couldn't do much justice to a three course brunch. But we tried! She started with berries/yogurt/granola, which again was a good rendition of what it was. Berries looked very fresh. i had the tomato soup, which was outstanding. Well seasoned, with a little creme fraiche and basil oil on top. Smooth but still with good texture. And served quite hot, which is how i like it. Very good. Main courses were a bit more problematic only because of a menu issue. I had looked at the menu online before coming and had decided I wanted the "smoked salmon reuben" which is advertised as a salmon reuben sandwich with gruyere and zucchini "sauerkraut". It was not on the menu at all when we were there on Sunday. Also not on the menu was the pancakes with chocolate chip ice cream and whipped cream, which stepdaughter had wanted to order. So we were a little disappointed. i asked the waiter if the kitchen could still make me the smoked salmon reuben and he checked and then said that they could. So I was excited. What I got for a meal, however, was a smoked salmon eggs benedict with a side of shoestring potato fries, which I never would have ordered. stepdaughter had gotten the chorizo eggs benedict, so we basically had the same thing with different meats. I was not very happy about this; but it was my fault for ordering something that wasn't on the menu, I guess. I didn't say anything to the waiter or staff at DB Townhouse about the fact that I didn't feel I got what I ordered. Felt it was my fault for ordering off the menu, not theirs. obviously a misunderstanding, so not meant as too much of a criticism.
The eggs benedict was good, hollandaise well executed and seasoned, eggs cooked perfectly, etc. Didn't eat the shoestring potatoes, not my thing. For dessert stepdaughter got the cheesecake lollipop tree, which really is visually stunning. It's about eight walnut sized cheesecake balls on sticks that have been dipped in various coatings like chocolate, nuts, etc. and put on sticks to fashion a "tree". She thought they were great. I literally couldn't even eat one because I was so stuffed. I had berries and cream only for dessert, as I was so full.
So that was the weekend! Thanks so much for everyone's input! Sorry this is so long!
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