As I have mentioned in previous trip
reports...finding good places to eat, when you travel, can be tricky. Do
you just stick around the main tourist areas? Do you try a place based
on how it looks from the outside and the menu? Or do you listen to
others recommendations? Do you blindly trust the guidebook? Before going
to NYC I tried to note down various options based on feedback from
travel forums, guidebooks etc. I put everything into Google My Maps (as
you can see here). Note that you can see all the places that we did
end up going to on this
interactive Google map. The restaurants are marked with red icons.
A real American steak – Sparks Steak House
We managed to get a table...well, we were squeezed in at a table in the bar area. The place was very lively and it seemed to be both a place for a business dinner...and an after hours beer. We were not really dressed up for the occasion but that did not seem to be a problem as the place was more relaxed than e.g. the StripHouse where we ate on our last trip (see trip report from 2004).
The menu was pretty simple and there was of course a lot of focus on the steaks :-) I went for the Steak Fromage which was steak topped with Roquefort cheese and Nikki went for prime sirloin steak. We asked to get the steaks medium done but it seems like Americans like it a bit on the rare side because it was pretty bloody to the core. But that was not really a problem as the steaks were very tender. I’m glad that we didn’t go for any starters as we got stuffed by the steaks and side dishes that we had. The meal cost us 160$ including the mandatory tip. It also included 2 glasses of wine at 15$ per glass.
As good as it gets? – Cheesecake at Junior’s
We went there one day during lunch hour and we didn’t have any problems finding the place and getting a table. For lunch I had the Caesar salad with chicken and it was huge portion but pretty good. Nikki’s club sandwich was also too large in our opinion. The place is pretty informal by the way and the food is served on paper plates. After the lunch we were ready for the main event: the plain cheese cake. And to make a long story short I have to admit that it was pretty damn good. Very rich, filling, creamy and with a great taste :-) But don’t expect much when it comes to the coffee. We tried a cappuccino and that was horrible! The salad and sandwich was about 11$ each and the meal was 45$ in total including a 5$ tip.
A small piece of Italy on 5th Avenue - Otto
Their wine list is very impressive to say the least - as long you are willing to cough up enough money. We decided to be a bit modest so we went for a Campirossi 2004 from Puglia and that was 32$ for a bottle. Nikki decided to go for various prosciutto for starters while I went for three cheeses with sweet side dishes. I think I had Pecorino Di Fossa, taleggio and one more and it is always great with a bit of cheese. For the main meal I went for the mushroom and taleggio pizza which was OK while Nikki went for the penne puttanesca (pasta in a spicy tomato sauce). I was pretty stuffed after the meal but I decided to go for a small dessert anyway. I tried the affogato which is gelato ice cream with espresso poured over it. The meal at Otto was 110$ (ca 140$ incl tip). All in all it was nice to sit down and have a warming Italian meal with wine on the side but I would not say that it was just like being back in Italy. Check out the Otto pizzeria website for more information and menu.
A Slow Travel Get together at Roberto Passon
The restaurant is located on 741 9th Avenue (corner of 50th Street) so we just took the subway and walked from there. It was freezing that night so it was great to come inside and into the warmth of this small restaurant. The place only has about 65 seats (according to the homepage) so it was pretty crowded. The noise level was also quite high and it was a bit hard to communicate with others sitting a couple of seats away from me. I decided to go for the tomato gnocchi to start with and that was excellent. I do like gnocchi and the sauce was an excellent combination of tomato and herbs. For the main dish I decided to go for a classic: osso bucco. This is a veal shank that has been boiled for a while so that the meat gets tender...and in my case the meat was very tender and delicious. When I managed to dig through the thick and rich sauce I found a nice layer of saffron risotto (risotto alla Milanese) and this is also one of my favourites. As we were about 8 around the table we just bought wine by the bottle and shared this and it was an excellent meal in good company. To round it of I went for the tirimasu with some coffee. I think we had to pay about 55 $ per person including tip and that was not bad at all because it was a great meal. If you need more info check out the restaurant homepage. Sorry about the bad pictures. The light in the restaurant was very dim so it was very hard to get the camera to focus.
Thank you to all the Slow Travel members that took the time to meet up. It was great to spend an evening with local people that I have only “met” online.
There are so many places to eat and drink in NYC and there is something for everyone both when it comes to taste and the size of your wallet.