Keep in mind that while I grew up going to the city almost weekly, I took along one friend who has never been! Four of us, eating and drinking our way through the weekend while pretending to actually be attending the Hotel show at the Javitz center (which we did actually spend two days at). Anyway....
2nd Avenue deli for our first stop before even checking in. Sammy, our Lebonese waiter was terrific and steered us toward the kitchen sink (a triple decker with just about everything on it)a pastrami and corned beef (what else would one have?) and various other options. It was jas I suspected it would be, terrific! I weighed back and forth several times between here and Katz'z but opted for Second ave. since it was the truly kosher experience. Good decision. Never mind the fact that I actually parked at a meter adjacent to the restaurant at 1:00 p.m. saturday...Oh, Sammy recommends Byblos for decent Lebonese food (we didn't make it).
Met for starter drinks at Grand Central so friend could see the building. I can only say one thing. Stay away from the bar at Cipriani's. Serves me right for going there in the first place.
Next on to Grotta Azzurra based on the limited recommendations here. Don't know anything about the old one but this place was terrific. Seamless, attentive service from Chris the server and Paolo, the wine steward. Some great values in wine and the food was well above average. Started with some sauteed Octopus with spicy tomato sauce then had a half order of risotto with artichoke and mushrooms. All pastas can be had in half orders. Another course of red snapper livornese style. The dish seemed salty but fit the style with a light caper sauce. Others in the group had gnocchi with crab and lobster in a delicate sauce with curry essence. The curry was just enough for aromatics but did not remove from the dish at all. Also, while very tasty but not to true style was the fettucini carbonara which was more cream sauce then egg sauce. I wish I could remember the wines. One was an interesting Spanish white (Saia, perhaps) very reminiscent of a New Zealand SB. A medium bodied Barbera (sorry, I forgot to take notes) finished off the entrees. The chef, Chris Pfeiffer came out to visit after we told the server how much we enjoyed everything with a bottle of an Austrailian Black Muscat for us to sample. A little cloying but a very nice surprise. Ordered one dessert and out came three, again, on the house!! A pumpkin mousse filled cannoli and a white chocolate panna cotta were absolutely to die for! I cant remember the third so it must have been less than memorable....Oh yeah, the wine cellar is done very well as is the tin ceiling. All in all, highly recommended.
Breakfast was lousy on Sunday. Was staying at the Yale Club and for a private club, it was a disaster. Just plain ol' bad service...
Don't worry, Grammercy Tavern more than made up for it at lunch. No need to waste space telling all of you how well they do. Sat at the bar, served by Heather and had a great dish of Grilled Bacon with red caggage and spaetzle. More dessert on the house (we were on a roll I guess) and then we rolled out the door, two martinis and a bottle of wine made the trek more slippery then it should have been! Nice to see cheeses on any menu.
The chef from Grotta recommended 71 Clinton so Sunday night, we headed over there. Have to admit, I was close to a food and martini coma by then but did my best to rehydrate. After a dozen waters at the table I was able to choke down a little wine and three appetizers. After all the raves, I was a bit disappointed but it was still a quality meal. I had a braised duck and parpadelle app with mushrooms sans duck (but they fixed that problem once I brought it to their attention) and a celery root soup with peekytoe crab and potatoes. Vey well made and tasty. I had a salad too of arrugula, mint, basil, figs and pecorino shavings. Maybe it was the over abundance but, having tried it once, with all the restaurants in NYC, don't think I would go back.
NYAC for a reception Monday night, Manhattan Grill for another reception (did I mention the free drinks all night?) and then to the Bubble Room for overpriced Champagne (A native's suggestion). I then dragged everyone for late night eats at Florent where I had the best meal of the day of Swiss, tomato and bacon on grilled rye with a Duvel.
We actually managed breakfast the next morning on the corner of Lex and 39th. Can't remember that name either(maybe I should start taking ginko...then again, maybe I should drink less). Managed a decent whitfish plate and a bagel.
Drove up to Columbia Bagels for the best in town and off we went into the wild grey pavement...