Peep, 177 Prince Street: My friend Kim arranged a big group dinner at this popular local Thai restaurant in the Village. Our group raved about the lychee mojitos and the mojitos in general. Our server pushed the panko coconut shrimp so I went for it. And you know what? They were just fried shrimp. No sense of coconut whatsoever. For my main, I couldn’t resist ordering the “Face Towel Noodle,” which turned out to be nothing more complicated than pad se eu. This was fine, but nothing to write home about. (I’ve eaten a lot of pad se eu in my day.) Others at our table were seduced by the braised half duck in pinot noir, mostly because it came with a “one eye son in law.” This turned out to be half a hard-boiled egg. The Verdict: Go for the bathrooms–you can see them but they can’t see you–but not the food.
The Breslin, 16 West 29th Street, in the Ace Hotel. This dark and cozy pub-like restaurant is a welcome addition to the wasteland that is Midtown. I had the baked egg with chorizo and tomato and although not as nice as Caravan’s version–the Breslin uses sliced chorizo whereas Caravan used actual chorizo–I was still very happy with my choice. Lovely service for the most part, except for the random bus boy who stood at my table at the end, waiting for me to leave. (They were not full.) The Breslin has one Michelin star. The Verdict: Highly recommended. I only had breakfast there, but I hear good things about dinner too.
Minetta Tavern, 113 MacDougal Street. Surely the bone marrow at Minetta is one of the best things I’ve eaten all year. Lusciously buttery. I am guessing they broil the bones in order to get that lovely crispy char on top. The Potatoes Anna were also excellently crunchy. Lovely service that steered us towards an excellent good-value of a Crozes Hermitage. Senior staff member a dead ringer for Roger Sterling in Mad Men. Old school Italian restaurant feel with lots of caricatures on the walls. The Verdict: Very highly recommended.
Ess-a-Bagel, 831 3rd Ave: I showed up here in the early hours of a Sunday and somehow managed to beat the queue, because before I knew it, there were 40 people in line behind me. I only wish I had had a bigger suitcase, as I could only import 13 bagels back to Chicago. Six of them are the highly coveted salt bagel, which you really can’t find outside the Tristate area. Sadly, Ess-a-Bagel was out of Everything bagels, which are my second favorite treat. The Verdict: Get here early and it works best if you just want bagels as there is a separate, shorter line for people only ordering bagels (i.e., no sandwiches, cream cheese, etc.) Many Japanese tourists.
I think I spent more than $300 on food in two days in NYC. That’s okay though because I caught a cheap flight on United Airlines, and I was able to say in the city for free. More about that later this week, when I tell you where to sleep in New York…