Thanks to all you 'hounds for suggestions on places to eat! I was not disappointed and want to start planning my next trip to your great city! First set of reviews are below and are really long....
CITY BAKERY: 3 W. 18th St.
I was still a little jet-lagged but I met an old friend here for lunch on her recommendation. It took me a while to decide what to eat since everything looked so good! I ended up with a Mac N Cheese and the Tortilla Soup. Mac n' Cheese was okay - probably would've been better if I ate it when it was still hot and the cheese was still gooey. Tortilla Soup was great for the cold day - small pieces of shredded chicken (I think the soup may have been blended to get rid of any large chunks) and slightly spicy. I added in avocado chunks and cilantro and really enjoyed it. For dessert, I had an oatmeal raisin cookie and thought it was good - slightly crispy edges and soft center. I'm not big on hot chocolate so unfortunately, I didn't try their famous drink. If I lived in NY and worked nearby, I can see myself going there for lunch fairly often (if my wallet was fat enough!).
BALI NUSA INDAH: 651 9th Ave
Walking around the area we saw an Indonesian Food sign across the street and since we were trying to find something not Italian (we were going to Babbo the next day) we walked in. hey - it's different than Italian! :)
We were seated right away and I was really excited. Decor was cozy and since I've never had Indonesian food before, everything on the menu looked promising. We couldn't decide what to order so I went with the Nasi Rames plate and the BF got the Special Set Dinner. Good choices! our waiter exclaimed. We were just written up in the March 2nd NYT about the Nasi Rames plate. You'll like it, he promised.
BF's soup (can't remember what it was, it was part of his set meal) arrived and was disappointing - lukewarm, really bland and watery, with a slight peanut taste. My salad had too much peanut-y dressing but was tasty. Then out came our dinner plates in a large bowl with a generous scoop of rice in the center and each 'dish' surrounding it. Presentation was very pretty. Beef rendang was excellent - really tender peices of meat in a slightly coconut-y sauce. Coconut-braised milk was only okay and couldn't compare to the richness of the beef rendang. Pickled vegetables were good and sour - great way to cool the mouth down and get a contrast in flavor. Beef satay was also very tender but way oversauced again with the peanut dressing. Sambal with dried anchovies and peanuts was not up my alley since it was overwhelming with anchovies. Didn't try the BF's dessert as I was full but he said that the chocolate cake was too dry.
Total bill was about $40 (tax and tip included). I was really suprised at what a deal dinner was since BF's meal also included a glass of wine. I thought my dinner was good, not great. I'd love to try more Indonesian restaurants now so that I can compare the two.
EL QUIJOTE:226 W 23rd St
A co-worker mentioned that a guy he met at jury duty had recommended a lobster dish at this restaurant and since it was down the street from the office, off we went. We got a big kick out of the decor - walls were covered with murals of scenes from Don Quijote, an adjoining room was labeled "Dulcinea" and all the waiters were dressed stiffly in black uniforms.
We were taken aback by the price of the lobster dish that we had come for ($35) so instead, we all ordered off the lunch menu. Soup that came with my meal was a White Bean soup that was very hearty with big chunks of ham. For my entree I ordered the Shrimp in Green Sauce ($14) which our waiter explained was garlic and parsley and white wine. Shrimp was obviously fresh and the sauce wickedly garlicky but I didn't like it becuase it tasted like the shrimp wasn't cleaned properly, as in each bit had a little crunch to it that, in my head, I attributed to dirt. Maybe that wasn't the case but it made me lose my appetite. Portions were really large but surprisingly, my entree was ONLY shrimp so another co-worker who ordered the same dish had to steal some paella from another person to round out his meal. I'd probably be ok to go back and get drinks, but wouldn't be keen on having a full meal there again.