My bride, 17 year old niece, and I spent Christmas in NYC. We didn't break any new ground for any of you, but we did take all of your reviews to heart. The Chowhounders have never let us down.
Our red-eye flight from Sacramento dropped us into NYC at 8:30am. While the wife and niece slept, I explored SOHO, stocked up on provisions and brought back samples for their breakfasts. I stopped at Local, an artisan coffee shop at Sullivan and Macdougal, asked for a Macchiato, but he made the starbuck's version, essentially a cappuccino. It is unfortunate the the artisan coffee shops now have to choose between a real macchiato and a starbuck's macchiato. I walked over and had a baguette from Grandaisy bakery. I then picked up provisions at Ruben's Empanadas, the salt cod, the tuna, and the argentinean beef. All wonderful, affordable flaky pockets. For dinner, the three off us tried Blue Ribbon Sushi. It was pricy but ultimately forgettable. We have had sushi only a half dozen times in NYC but have never been wowed. We were still hungry so we walked to Gray's Papaya!
We met our friends Paul and Jason, with whom we were to spend our christmas dinner, to pick up provisions. Grabbed some Mud coffee, and stood in line at Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market to pick up the Kurabota Pork Shoulder, skin on, the centerpiece of the Christmas meal. Moved right on over to Murray's Cheese shop to pick up the cheeses, the salume, olives and butter.
We were meeting some other friends, Greg and Linda, from home for late dinner on the upper east side, so my wife and I stopped off at Blue Ribbon Brasserie for Oysters and wine to tie us over, but the bar was full. We ended up at a table and changed the strategy, sharing Steak Tartar, Sweetbreads, and the Fried chicken before catching a cab to the UES. I read on these boards that the fried chicken at Blue Ribbon Brasserie was good, and my wife agreed whole-heartedly.
The friends we were meeting own a pizza by the slice in Midtown Sacramento, Luigi's Slice, so naturally, we had pizza for christmas eve dinner. There were very few places open, so we wound up at Al Forno. Pizza margerita and Pepperoni Pizza. For 9pm on Christmas Eve, it hit the spot. The crust was thin, crisp and foldable. After dinner, we walked off both meals by walking through midtown.
LES food tour - or as my family now calls it, the LES Food tour / Death March. This was christmas day and we followed RGR's tour almost verbatim, and had a wonderful time. Katz' Deli was fantastic as always, but the chocolate egg cream was the standout on the tour. I would recommend this tour to anyone. The Donut Plant was closed on Christmas Day, but every other place was open. We started at 11:00am and finished at Kossar's Bialys by 2:30. We had to cut our day short because we had Christmas dinner in Brooklyn at 4:30, and we had to get moving.
Stayed in, ate left overs all morning and relaxed.
Day Five - 27th
This was museum day for us, the the day ended rather bittersweet. We met our friends Paul and Jason at Momofuku Ssam Bar at 5:30pm. We ate Empress Jonah Crab claws, Steamed buns, pork sausage with rice cake, braised pork spare ribs, grilled pork belly with razor clam kim chee. The only disappointing dish was the grilled pork belly. It seemed unfinished, with simple grill marks on what seemed steamed pork belly. It could have used some braising. The steamed buns were fantastic. Our niece brought home two orders of steamed buns for late dinner. She absolutely loved them.
After this meal, we rested a bit, and got ready for our 9:15pm reservation at Le Bernardin, which has three michelin stars and we we wanted to give it a try. Let me say that the food was exceptional. Every course was tasty and memorable. What stood out were the broths - the calamari consomme, the nuoc mam broth, the Jerez vinaigrette. The fish quality was great, and the textures were interesting. There are a few negatives, but they have to do with service and not the food. We wanted a drink before we sat at the table, and we usually start our meals with Lillet Blonde, but Le Bernardin ran out. The next problem is that I ordered an Etude 2004 Deer Camp pinot noir, and the sommelier brought me the wrong vintage. I pointed this out to him and he challenged me. The next problem is that the waiter tried to make it especially clear that the salmon will be coming medium rare, and then went further to assume we wanted it well done. Perhaps we were there on a bad night, but we didn't expect these things from a 3 star.
Went back to Local for coffee, black this time, no macchiato.
We toured Chelsea Market, had fantastic lobster rolls from The Lobster Place before catching our flight home.
Thanks to all on this board who guided us via their experiences. We appreciate all that difficult eating you went through...
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019
73 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012
Blue Ribbon Sushi
119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012
The Lobster Place
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
1484 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075
64 Fulton St, New York, NY 10038
Ottomanelli and Sons
285 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014
539 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018