Motorino (New York, August 2019)


Here finally is the last meal report from our trip to New York in August. This was our last meal out in the city and another round of pizza. We’d spent the day hanging out at Coney Island and at the end had been thwarted in our attempt to eat pizza for dinner at Totonno. The Upper West Side location of Motorino—just a couple of blocks from our flat—was our fallback option and as it turned out it wasn’t a mere consolation prize. It is likely that Totonno is as good as everyone says it is and quite a bit better but we rather liked Motorino’s pizza—which, like that at Totonno, is in the Neapolitan vein. And we much preferred the atmosphere at Motorino to the frenzy at Mama’s TOO! where we’d had our first meal in New York— coincidentally and fittingly, also pizza. Here is how it went. Continue reading

At Coney Island (New York, August 2019)


On our last full day in New York we took the subway from the Upper Westside all the way to Brooklyn and out to the sea, to Coney Island. I’ve always wanted to go to Coney Island. I’ve never had much of a sense of it—a hotdog stand and a beach is all I could have told you if you’d asked me to try and describe it before getting there—but it is an iconic piece of Americana. And there’s no guarantee that it will still be around when our kids are our age. They may not be able to take their kids there when their turn comes but we could take them now and so we did. And, unlike me, they’re really into hectic amusement parks and boardwalks. We met a friend and his family there for lunch and beach lounging. Before lunch the four of us spent an ungodly amount of money on the rides and attractions along the boardwalk. Is there any reason you should not look at pictures of all of this? No, there is not. Continue reading

The Bombay Bread Bar (New York, August 2019)


This was the third of three Indian meals I ate in New York in August. The Bombay Bread Bar was the latest of renowned chef, Floyd Cardoz’ Indian restaurants. I never had a chance to eat at Tabla, Cardoz’ most successful restaurant, in operation from 1998 to 2010. Along with Tamarind under Raji Jallepalli*, Tabla was one of the few restaurants in that period that attempted to move Indian restaurant food in the US past the established cliches. Despite its longevity, however, it did not really spark a movement. Now the zeitgesit has caught up to Cardoz. New York alone is full of restaurants serving modern and regional Indian dishes, in rooms that are trendy and playful (see Adda and Baar Baar, for example). It made sense then that in 2016, after several years helming non-Indian restaurants, he made a return to this culinary space with Paowalla. But it didn’t stick, and in 2018 the concept was switched to the more casual Bombay Bread Bar. This was apparently more successful but not successful enough to keep it in business. It was announced in July that the restaurant would close in September. Nonetheless, I wanted to eat there. Having tried Cardoz’ updated take on Goan food in Bombay (at O Pedro), I was curious to see what he had been up to here. Continue reading

Crown Shy (New York, August 2019)


In my review of our dinner at Rezdora a few weeks ago I noted that we’d managed to a table for two at prime time on a Friday despite booking just a few weeks in advance. The same was true of Crown Shy, where we dined the next evening: we managed a table for two at 8.30 pm on a Saturday without very much fuss. Now, however, Crown Shy has picked up a star in the most recent Michelin list for New York and I’d guess tables are a much harder proposition at any time. I’d also guess that my other comment at the end of the Rezdora review—that dinner at Crown Shy was quite a bit cheaper—is probably also now not going to be true much longer. What has not changed at all, however, is our opinion of the meal: we thought it was very good indeed and a very good value—the latter of which is not something I would have expected to say of a tony restaurant in Manhattan’s financial district. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Wandering and Eating at Chelsea Market (New York, August 2019)


This was actually our second full day in New York, and our first Sunday. The major plans for the day involved a walk on the High Line followed by a production of Puffs (a Harry Potter parody/tribute we took the boys too and which they loved). After that we were scheduled for early dinner with an old friend at Bombay Bread Bar. Those dinner plans changed later—we ended up at Ippudo Ramen instead and ate at Bombay Bread Bar the following weekend—but we needed to grab an early lunch before getting on the High Line. Looking around on Google Maps, Chelsea Market looked like a good place to get a range of things we might all like. Continue reading

Sushi of Gari, UES (New York, August 2019)


My thoughts about sushi in Minnesota have been aired so often even I am sick of hearing about them. Suffice it to say that whenever we are in a city that presents the chance of eating actually decent sushi we take it. New York is such a city. We can’t afford Manhattan’s high-end sushi bars, so there was no question of a no-holds-barred omakase experience. In fact with our evenings pretty booked there was no chance of sushi dinner at all. And with the days dictated by things we were taking the boys to see and do the challenge was to find a decently rated but not extravagantly expensive place we could go for lunch without making it a destination in itself. The Sushi of Gari location on the Upper East Side fit that bill perfectly with its relative proximity to the Met. How did it pan out? Well, it was, as expected, much better than anything in the Twin Cities, but it wasn’t anything so very special either. Details follow. Continue reading

Ippudo Ramen (New York, August 2019)


As you ritually commit all my posts to memory you do not need me to remind you that we were rebuffed on our first attempt to eat at the 51st St. location of Ippudo Ramen. Well, not so much rebuffed as hit in the face by a minimum wait of an hour at 5.15 pm on a Saturday. On that occasion we decided not to chance the missus getting late for her theatre date and ended up eating a nice if expensive for what it was dinner at Empire Diner. And given the fact that Ippudo does not take reservations we resigned ourselves to probably not being able to eat there at all on this trip. One hour waits with young children are no fun for anyone and our weekday dinner plans for the next week were pretty set anyway. As it happened, though, we got in without any wait at all just the next day. Continue reading

Foxface (New York, August 2019)


[Upfront disclosure: this write-up is of an establishment owned by friends and of a meal at which we received a significant comp.]

Foxface, a tiny—and I mean tiny—sandwich shop in St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, opened late last year. Ori and Sivan, who own and operate it, are not strangers to the once vibrant, now moribund American food forum world. I’ve known them for some years now, mostly online. Some of those who’ve followed their restaurant reports over the years might well have been surprised that on their return from a five year sojourn in Tokyo they decided to sell sandwiches; but nobody would be surprised to learn that these are some bloody excellent sandwiches (in some cases literally so: blood shows up in the ingredients of a couple of sandwiches in their ever-changing lineup). Continue reading

Baar Baar (New York, August 2019)


Baar Baar is a recently opened mod Indian restaurant in the East Village in Manhattan. Its name means “again and again” but I have no desire to eat there again, which is a shame because there is real talent in the kitchen. But that talent is in service of taking what could be excellent iterations of more traditional dishes and marring them with unnecessary jhatkas or flourishes that must read well to those looking for novelty but which come across as trying too hard on the plate and palate. At least so it seemed to us at our table. I ate here two days after my dinner at Adda and here again I was sans the missus; I dined instead with more people who I know from the food internet. In this case, one person I knew in the heyday of Another Subcontinent (and her partner) and two others I’ve come to know more recently on Twitter but had not met until this meal. So as to not tarnish their reputations by association with me I will preserve their anonymity. Continue reading

Pastrami Queen (New York, August 2019)


I said my next New York restaurant report would be of a newer, mod-ish Indian place. I lied. Again. Instead I have for you a report on an older, very far from mod-ish Jewish deli. Deal with it.

We ended up at Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side for two reasons: 1) we needed to find a place to eat within walking distance of the Met; and 2) we wanted the boys to try pastrami and other Jewish fare in New York and didn’t want to deal with the madness of Katz’s. Not knowing much of the New York deli scene I didn’t actually realize that we were eating anywhere significant till after our meal when I looked them up. It turns out they’re pretty celebrated and are reputed to serve some of the best pastrami in the city. Continue reading

Rezdora (New York, August 2019)


Back to New York. After a run of informal or relatively casual meals, here’s the first fancy’ish restaurant for which we hired a sitter and abandoned the boys to go eat at. (By the way, Manhattan babysitting rates: what the fuck?)

When I was planning our New York eating I asked the brain trust at Mouthfuls to recommend a couple of “fine dining” (whatever that means these days) places in Manhattan where two people could eat well and get out for about $250 all-in. This sounds like a tough proposition in Manhattan but bear in mind that the missus never has more than one drink and I rarely have more than two. A few names came up but after filtering for “sounds interesting to us” and “not difficult to get a table” only two remained: Rezdora and Crown Shy. We ate at both on consecutive nights. Here first is the Rezdora write-up. Continue reading

Gray’s Papaya (New York, August 2019)


On Friday I had a quick report on casual lunch at the Upper Westside location of Luke’s Lobster, an establishment whose proximity to Central Park and the Museum of Natural History I appreciated. Today’s report is of an even more casual lunch at a far more iconic and certainly far cheaper restaurant: Gray’s Papaya. The flagship location at Broadway and 72nd is also easily walkable from the Museum of Natural History, though a bit further than Luke’s Lobster. But a large part of the charm of being in New York is walking the streets and despite the heat and humidity we did not object (we averaged about 6 miles a day over our 10 days). And without making over large claims about the quality of either the hotdogs or the juice I can say that we enjoyed our meal at Gray’s Papaya as well. Herewith a few details. Continue reading

Luke’s Lobster (New York, August 2019)


We stayed on the Upper Westside while in New York last month in no small part because we were going to be spending a lot of time with the boys in the museums and in Central Park. For food-obsessed people like us, however, this presents some challenges as both the UWS and the UES are relative interesting food deserts, especially in close proximity to the big museums. On our first full day, however, we had a nice casual lunch at the UWS outpost of Luke’s Lobster, a chain with locations all over Manhattan and other places on the East Coast as well Las Vegas, San Francisco, Japan and Taiwan. Herewith a brief report. Continue reading

Yoon Haeundae Galbi (New York, August 2019)


We’ve been curious about the Korean food scene in New York for a while. Koreatown in Los Angeles is usually our stomping ground when we’re there, and it is, of course, a rather hardcore Korean enclave. But New York has a sizable Korean population too and we were interested to see how the food would compare. The boys’ vote, of course, was for Korean barbecue. I looked around online to see what the options were and hit upon Yoon Haeundae Galbi, a recent’ish Manhattan outpost of a restaurant in Busan. Located in Midtown, it was the perfect pick for another evening when we needed a dinner close to a play the missus was going to and when we needed a place that would be an easy sell to some old friends that we were meeting for dinner. And a good meal it proved to be. Continue reading

Dim Sum at Nom Wah (New York, August 2019)


Since our most recent dim sum meal had been so dire—at Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington, MN in July—I’d asked for recommendations on Mouthfuls for dim sum parlors in Manhattan. Now, the best dim sum, or for that matter the best Chinese food in New York, is said to be not in Manhattan but in Queens. On this trip, however, our focus was on eating not the best possible versions of the things we were interested in but the best possible versions of the things we were interested in that were also within easy reach of other places we were going to be visiting. And so when it came to pass that we were going to be in the vicinity of Chinatown for lunch one day we were only too happy to stop in at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which had been recommended by a few people. What did we find? Read on. Continue reading

Adda (New York, August 2019)


Hot on the heels of my review of lunch at Rasika in DC comes this review of dinner, almost exactly a week later, at Adda in NYC. Adda may be the hottest Indian restaurant in New York right now, at least among the foodie set. While sketching out our meals I asked New Yorkers on Twitter to recommend Indian places and Adda was the one that showed up on most people’s picks. And when I went about making plans to eat out with various groups of people it was the one that kept getting mentioned as a place people would be happy to go to.

As it happens, I went there with a group of people from Mouthfuls, the venerable New York-focused food forum. We’ve all known each other for a long time online and we’re all huge pains in the asses and most of us not easy to please. But we liked the food at Adda. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Empire Diner (New York, August 2019)


We ate dinner at Empire Diner in Chelsea on our second evening in the city. Why did we eat there? Reasons are there two: 1) we needed to eat somewhere within relative proximity to both our apartment and to the theater where the missus was scheduled to watch Say Something Bunny that evening ; 2) we tried a walk-in at the Midtown Ippudo Ramen location and were hit in the face with a ludicrous projected wait at 5.15 pm. So I checked the list of recommendations I had been given by my compadres on Mouthfuls and gave Empire Diner—a short walk from the theater—a call. They had many tables available and so we hopped back on the subway and went over. We didn’t really know what to expect or whether this would be a meal up the boys’ alley. But it turned out rather well, albeit not very reasonably priced. Continue reading

Pizza at Mama’s TOO! (New York, August 2019)


Our first meal in New York, eaten shortly not too long after arrival from DC, predictably/stereotypically/appropriately/conveniently involved pizza. We were staying on the Upper Westside, in a neighbourhood described by my primary sources of New York food recommendations as a bit of a food desert. But a short walk north from our apartment put us at a pizzeria that has received a lot of attention, and a New York Times star, in the last year: Mama’s TOO! at Broadway and 106th Street. As the name indicates, this is an extension of an existing brand. Mama’s Pizza, not too far away, has been serving up traditional New York slices for a long while now. Mama’s Too! (the exclamation mark is part of the name) takes that pizza in some new directions, both crust and toppings-wise. I do not pretend to be a pizza savant of any kind—if you’d like to find out more about where they fit in or depart from the larger New York scheme of pizza please take a look at Pete Wells’ review. Read this only to find out what four people who do not have any sort of firm ideological position on pizza thought of their offerings on one hot August evening. Continue reading