We found your board just before our recent trip (pilgrimage?) to New York--a city we love. We are San Franciscans and loved the opportunity to come to "The City" during Thanksgiving week. Thanks to you posters for your insider input. Following are reviews on our three favorites while visiting New York.
Tout Va Bien; 311 W 51st St (just above 8th)
Our very favorite. Marvelous prix fixe menu with three entree choices. The vegetable soup was a creamy-peasant with a deep, rich flavor beyond detection. The beef bourgonoine (I'm sure I butchered that spelling) was wonderful and my sis had the a la carte beef medallions that were wonderful (and not all that expensive). We found more diners in the restaurant who speak French than English--that says a lot for a French restaurant! We were stunned by the veiled slur about this restaurant in Zagat. The exterior reminded us of all those fabulous little neighborhood restaurants in Paris and the interior is equally charming, old, perfectly clean and authentic. The tables are close, but that gives a nice, warm family feeling, while courting couples were given plenty of privacy. We even returned for a SECOND dinner here!
Da Nico Ristorante (Little Italy) 164 Mulberry St. The prices were extremely fair, the food was delicious and plentiful. My prior experience in Little Italy was one of those tourist cafes with a hawker on the sidewalk--this was VERRRRRY different and lovely. The family was dining and quietly chatting with neighbors at a table in the back during our lunch visit, giving us a very wonderful family Italian feeling. Pictures of visiting celebrities on the wall were not surprising--anyone would love this place.
We went to the deli on the corner (just a few doors down-not crossing any streets, from Da Nico and found great stuff there for a dinner snack in our hotel room. We could never have eaten a full meal after our late lunch at Da Nico. We recommend this deli too.
Our third favorite find was a very casual cafe. 3 Star Coffee Shop, 541 Columbus Av. (W 86th) was filled with neighborhood locals. The man and brother(?) who did the cooking and table service were friendly and very caring. I had a steak with mushrooms, with a lemon touched sauce that was different from anything I've ever eaten and wonderful. Sis had a gyro and Greek salad that was fresh and the meat was just excellent. It is worth a mention because it has such good, inexpensive food and old-fashioned family service.
We stayed at the newly remodeled Washington-Jefferson Hotel on 51st between 8th and 9th. We felt very safe there. It was just charming and they put a little refrigerator in our room for us. For less than $100/night 2 beds/2 people it was a real find. Our only BIG complaint is the damn heat. Next time I want a room with a window that opens! We got them to turn off the radiator, but we got so much heat from surrounding rooms and the a/c only blew.
Thanks again for your help. If you have questions, please e-mail me as I am not a regular reader.