Came east for a wedding, which, with accompanying repasts, took up one evening, one wedding lunch, and one brunch.
Since my greatly preferred Stage is no more, ended up at Carnegie late first night. All the obnoxious waiters of yore seem to have been replaced by folks from cultures where politesse is the rule--no loss. Spouse's pastrami on rye was less than stellar if not bad; my kasha varnishkes got lost in translation--no noticeable onions, no oomph. Potato knish so so.
The dining room at Hotel Fitzpatrick (Lex) did a creditable job--mild leek & potato soup, above-average fish & chips, nice trifle--for the "rehearsal" meal, but when we arrived one hour into the 10-1 brunch, French toast cold, no one paying attention.
Upper Story by Charlie Palmer was a delightful venue for the smallish wedding--disappointing h d'o, v. nice lunch--one salmon on lentils+, one hangar on mashed purple potatoes+, terrific molten chocolate "cupcake." Floor to ceiling windows, and snow on cue during ceremony!
I had phoned Keens from SF to ask where their lamb chops came from and was told Pa., which alas, had moved about 2,000 miles west by the time we got there. It's a beautiful spot--v. old New York, but I cannot recommend it: the baked potatoes were old (at first I thought the sour cream-chive mix was spoiled but when I got my replacement, even harder and older-tasting, I realized). What's really weird is that we are late diners but were eating at 6:30 because that was the only reservation available on a Sunday. The p-house for 2 was nice, and my Caesar wasn't bad, but the potato is part of the triumvirate of my winter steak-house expectations (beefsteak tomato + Bermuda onion in the warm months is a 4th essential). Although I sent the first one back and left the second, we were charged for it. Must be primarily a tourist trap now.
I had really looked forward to Russ & D Cafe. Everyone was friendly and welcoming; the cold beet borsch was the best I'd had since my mother's when I was a kid; BUT, the bread basket was full of stale bread! I enjoyed my sturgeon sandwich because I love and rarely get smoked sturgeon. I'll undoubtedly give it another try next trip to NYC, but was a bit let down.
For about half the price, I got a take-to-the-plane sturgeon, onion, pumpernickel bagel from Ess a Bagel along with cole slaw with a wonderfully tart dressing and sharp cabbage, v. much to my taste. Had two good lunches there also.
We had an after-theatre dinner at Benoit; my spouse had 5 little apps ($19), which were all good if not super; I enjoyed my salad of frisee (or, as spell-check would have it, "frisby") aux lardons. My venison was a bit dry and not as flavorful as I'm used to, but a huge serving. I compare cassoulet to those I've made in years past, and, as such, it lacked both the garlickiness and the breadcrumb-crustiness I prefer. It also, thank heavens, lacked the rancidity so often characteristic of this dish. Tasty, satisfying, but not quite what my taste buds were expecting. (Mom used to tell me not to cook so many favorites or I'd never enjoy dining out! Maybe that's why we love Chinese food so much--chicken salad and Szechuan green beans are about my limit!)
We joined the newly weds at one their faves, Stella (Macy's), for our last dinner: I love vitello tonnato and was excited to see it on the menu, but, alas, the only resemblance to the McCoy was a few capers. The meat was topped with frisee--go figger! My crucifers with raisins and pine nuts lacked any sign of the latter but was ok. Everyone else seemed much happier with the food, though we all loved the peanut-chocolate confection we shared for dessert. Spouse was happy with fried calamari and sausage pizza.
Though the food was a bit disappointing, the experience was wonderful--warm (not weatherwise) reunions with lots of generations of family and a couple of high school mates; visits to 3 favorite museums; a play; and a chance to familiarize ourselves with the apparently successful melting pot of midtown!