Your recommendations made our pre-Christmas trip to the City even more fabulous, as I'd have expected. My husband is now a Chowhound beleiver. Here's the food recap:
- Thursday night arrived at Penn Station and each grabbed a slice (plain cheese was best) before heading out. Thank god the strike ended the following day, we felt like salmon swimming upstream trying to get to our hotel for all the New Yorkers who otherwise would have been underground.
- Late Thursday night walked to HELL'S KITCHEN. What a pleasant surprise - was expecting a neighborhood dive. Just the opposite. Stood at the bar and drank their delicious house margaritas (litmus test) for an hour and then sat down for one of the most memorable "mexican" meals I can recall. I had the lamb shank with 7-chili rub and pinto beans, and was in heaven. My husband had the halibut which was just as distinctive, unsual but complementary flavors. And the little pre-dinner corn cakes with the black bean dip, Mmmmmm, we were licking our lips, and talking about our meal well into the following day.
- Friday afternoon tripped over the West Way (or Side?) Diner in the same neighborhood. Great greasy spoon with true NY appeal.
- Friday night, HEARTH. Had the first reservation and was able to be seated in the kitchen. What an experience! Though if it weren't for my fellow chow's I'd have never have known to ask. Were seated in front of the seafood sous-chef and learned so much. Ended up ordering almost entirely seafood and made him nervous ; ) Terrific menu, and tremendously fresh ingredients. We had the white anchovies and the red snapper for apps, then the monkfish osso bucco and the striped bass. Wasn't sure about fish in a red wine sauce but monk and osso bucco are two of my favs, so I couldn't pass it up, and was glad I didn't. Had gnochhi as a side with fresh black truffles, that melted in your mouth. Shared the lambs milk panna cotta for desert. All around an incredibly special and memorable experience, including delic bottle of St. Joseph Syrah. The only disappointment and was our own fault, was that when told that they'd gotten in black truffles that day and we could have them added to pasta for "an extra cost" we didn't ask what that extra cost was. So the $39 side dish came as quite the surprise.
- Found our way to McHALE'S after dinner and felt right at home. My husband had serious burger-envy, as they were on every table, and as good as Hearth was said to me, we could have saved $300 ; ) It felt like being home in Pittsburgh. We left our money on the counter and the bartender took what she needed with every round. We're seriously distraught that it's being torn down. What a true gem. Can only imagine how you locals feel. And we did wave to the Chowhound that lives across from the Playwright Tavern! We almost stopped in, but felt a magnetic draw to McHale's.
- Saturday afternoon met a friend in SoHo who took us to a very authentic French Bistro (60ish Thompson Street) right across from his apt. I wish I could remember the name because it was quite the treat. Everything's homemade. The husband works the dining room and the wife cooks. Delicious homemade pate, and a huge serving to boot.
Thanks again for treating us to a NYC gastronomic delight. Please let me know if you're planning a trip to DC. Would love to return the favor.