Thought I'd post my impressions from this past weekend in NYC. Thanks to everyone who helped us decide where to go - you didn't steer us wrong! By way of background this was a casual, fun trip with my H and another couple - not meant to be a foodie extravaganza, but, nevertheless, we ate well!
Friday - we arrived earlier than planned, so after a quick check-in at The Eventi (new Kimpton in Chelsea, great rooms would stay again) we walked to Eataly thinking Friday between lunch and dinner might be out best bet to squeeze in. We were right! Arriving roughly in the center of it all, we asked a hostess "how it worked" and were told we could order drinks from a server in the center court and walk around with it eating from the various counters or put our name in at one of the restaurants. We ordered beers (to cool down after tromping through the snow in our parkas!) and made one of the stand-up tables our home base and put our name in for a table at the pasta and pizza restaurant. We were told it would be no longer than 30 minutes (it was approx. 2:00 pm) and thought it was odd that they don't have "beepers" to walk around with or that they don't offer to call you to let you know when the table is ready - they just tell you to keep checking back. Bought some pizza rustico from the bakery - one with rosemary ham and one with caramelized onions - soooo good. Also odd is that the hostess said that they usually frown upon people bringing back food from the counters to eat while having a drink at one of the center stand-up tables - but since it wasn't busy (most of the tables were open) it wasn't a big problem. Weird policy given that the entire place is under single ownership. While it's great that you can walk around with a drink, it would be difficult to enjoy said drink and eat just standing around with your bags and coats - especially if it was any busier. Checked back with the restaurant and our table was ready in just 15 minutes - yay! Had a wonderful casual lunch sharing a few pastas - their fresh fettuccine with ox-tail ragu was simply amazing, and the pasta special of butternut squash ravioli was so sweet it was like candy - in a good way! Also shared a pizza - with tomato sauce, ricotta, and salami - mmmm, excellent. It was from their regular pizza menu though was also supposed to have artichokes on it and one of our party didn't want them - they were happy to take them off, but wouldn't allow you to add anything to the pizzas. Again - odd. The pasta portions were on the small side - but hearty enough, the pizzas however were really big! The server said they were individual, but I would most definitely recommend sharing so you can try more things! They also serve delicious, simple Tuscan bread to get you started and serve it with a saucer of good olive oil (thought I'd read that they didn't do this - as it's not the custom in Italy, but ours came with oil). After lunch I shopped for some jarred goods to bring home and the selection is amazing (and expensive)!
THE CAMPBELL APARTMENT (Grand Central Station)
Friday - Dropped in for happy hour drinks (5:30'ish) and the room was absolutely beautiful and JAM PACKED with people! My companions weren't up for jostling to get to the bar so sadly I had to leave the yummy looking libations behind and we walked across the street to a non-descript Irish bar for a drink before heading off for dinner.
WATERFRONT ALE HOUSE
Friday - Walked here for dinner and it was great!! We had chosen this place as it is right near the bar we were going to see a band at (Paddy Reilly's). I was concerned about the no-reservation policy but it was not problem at all. They do not seat parties of two at the larger tables so while there was a wait for smaller parties our group of four was seated directly upon arrival at the last open table! Our server Debbie was terrific as was the great selection of beer and the awesome burgers! Best burger I've had in NYC. Brought home some of their house-made hot sauce too.
Saturday - Took a cab from downtown to the East Village to have a late lunch at Inoteca (H and I had been before and thought we'd go back). It was fairly busy at 3:00 but we got a table and ordered some wine and lunch and sat back to relax - I love the atmosphere there. Our server was rather clueless - he was either brand new and neglected to mention that (or he was nursing a hangover!), which meant lunch was rather more drawn out than we planned, but the food and wine were excellent. The antipasto platter was a great deal - with olives, coppa, mozzerella, pickled veg, lentil salad, butternut squash drizzled with balsamic reduction, AND a huge slice of asparagus frittata! Needless to say we only half finished our sandwiches but both were excellent - house prepared roast suckling-pig porchetta and oh so tender ribbolita beef on soft and chewy ciabatta rolls. Really good!
Saturday - Had made reservations for post-theatre* dining here and it was great! Glad we had a reservation though as it was hopping at 10:30. Nice table, nice lighting and a great selection of wines. I had a simple, delicious arugula salad and the moules frites. Mussels were amazing, small and plump like I prefer and not a mushy one in the whole pot! Fries were just right too! H had "the best salad he'd ever had" - frisee with blue cheese and walnuts and the steak frites, both perfectly prepared. Friends had the steak and classic bistro roast chicken, both thoroughly enjoyed. I thought the value here was terrific - fresh, well prepared dishes and an interesting wine menu with some inexpensive gems. (*BTW - we saw Million Dollar Quartet and it was a great show! Got our tickets at the South Seaport half price TKTS booth that morning.)
THE BLARNEY ROCK
Sunday - This is a dive bar - but such a good one I thought I'd mention it! Had to catch our DC2NY bus on Sunday at 11:00 am and this bar was the only place close enough to the pick-up location at 33rd and 7th that we could schlep our bags to for a bloody Mary! They make a great bloody - with a spicy house made mix and the Irish barkeeps are friendly even at 10:30 am! Add in the cleanest restroom in NYC and you've got a hit!
All in all a fun weekend, lots of good food and too much drink - just the way it should be. Thanks for help in planning it Chowhounders!
200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010