The Foodies went to New York City for five days in July (yes, we are just now getting around to these posts). We had a fantastic time and have so many places to share with you. Each day will be covered in a post.
Day of the Week: Saturday, 7/27
Total Bill: $38 (estimated, before tip)
Breakdown: 5 bao, 1 rice bowl, 1 fries, 2 drinks
We didn’t have much planned for Saturday during the day, so we decided to go back to Baohaus for lunch. This time I tried one of their rice bowls. I have to go by memory because the menu online is a little outdated. It was stewed pork and pork belly over rice with some relish on top and a side of garlic vinegar cabbage (maybe $9?). The stew was pretty good but the relish had something in it I really dislike (can’t put my finger on it). I’d recommend getting it on the side the first time. The cabbage side was really good. Hubby had the same thing as on Day 2 and enjoyed it just as much.
Sightseeing: Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art
After lunch we weren’t sure what to do. Hubby suggested MoMA, which surprised the hell outta me since I know he’s not a modern art fan. But I thought, “Maybe he’s heard about it so much he wants to go once.” Admission is usually $25 (which is very steep, in my opinion) but I got in for $14 with my student ID.
I was excited that MoMA has some Rothkos and Lichtensteins…but it turns out they weren’t the ones I’m particularly fond of. I was pleased to show Hubby several Picassos, as well as “Starry Night,” which he insists is a reproduction because they would never display the real thing where people could just snatch it off the wall or vandalize it.
Overall, I’m glad we went. I saw some things I really enjoyed, like the gallery with the World War II-era London photos. But unless some new exhibit came that I was just dying to see, I don’t think I would go back. The permanent works weren’t my cup of tea and there are other places to go for $25.
Pre-dinner drink: North End Grill
Day of the Week: Saturday, 7/27
Total Bill: $105.61 (before tip)
Breakdown: 1 cheese plate, 1 starter, 1 side, 2 desserts, 1 glass of wine, 2 drinks
Pros: Beautiful and relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, unique offerings.
Verdict: We are definitely putting this on our next itinerary.
We were meeting friends in the Financial District that evening. The meeting time was pushed back, so Hubby checked the Michelin guide for a place we could get a snack beforehand and came up with North End Grill. We took a seat at the bar and were greeted right away by an excellent bartender (whose name is unfortunately not on our receipt).
We ordered the New Orleans black pepper shrimp with lime ($13), a side of thrice-spiced fries ($8), and a five-cheese plate ($24). Hubby was intrigued by the pinot noir grape juice ($10); I got a glass of Macari sauvignon blanc ($14). We’ve never seen grape juice on a bar menu before and it was really awesome stuff.
The shrimp were amazing. We got four VERY large shrimp, perfectly spiced and grilled. The fries had a fascinating spice and came with homemade ketchup and black bean mayo. I don’t really like mayo but that stuff was so good, especially with the spicy fries. The cheese plate was really a work of art. Five exquisite cheeses along with marcona almonds, homemade crackers, an everything bagel chip, and several little fruit-based accompaniments (like this lemon basil sauce stuff and black bean caramel with pine nuts). Hands down the best cheese plate I have ever had.
Because we were so impressed with everything else, we decided to order dessert. But that was a tough decision because the whole dessert menu looked awesome! We settled on a strawberry napoleon with pine nuts and strawberry-thyme ice cream and an apricot upside down cake with macadamia nougat and honey frozen yogurt (both $9). Dessert may have been even better than everything else.
I was looking at their website while writing this and saw they have a 1,000 square-foot farm on top of their building. I think that nicely summarizes North End Grill’s commitment to excellence.
I highly recommend NEG. This restaurant deserves every bit of praise it has received and has a really bright future. We’ll be visiting for dinner during our next trip.
Unfortunately, the Foodies can’t tell you what happened before dinner because it was secret squirrel stuff. But it was AWESOME and the experience of a lifetime.
Day of the Week: Saturday, 7/27
Total Bill: $175.50 (estimated, before tax and tip)*
Breakdown: 3 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides, 2 drinks, 1 glass of wine, 1 dessert, 1 coffee
Pros: Beautiful and delicious.
Cons: The timing of courses.
Verdict: We would go back but might be better with a smaller group.
Let me first say Buddakan was extremely accommodating. Because of our secret squirrel stuff, we were a HALF HOUR late for our 8:45 reservation. For 8 people on a very busy Saturday night. I could’ve died, I was so embarrassed. (I hate to be late period but being late for a restaurant reservation makes me want to crawl into a hole.) They still managed to seat us by 9:45. Very impressive, and much appreciated.
When you first arrive at Buddakan, it can be a little tough to find the door. There’s no big sign and the door is inconspicuous. After you pass the hostess stand, you enter the bar area, which is very dark. Then you go down a staircase into the main dining room and your mind is blown. The word “grand” doesn’t overstate things at all. Despite first appearances, the restaurant is huge. We were seated in a large and comfortable booth in a corner of a room decorated like a library (in a cool way, not a cheesy way). The overall mood of the dining room is “modern Emperor’s palace.”
I started in the bar with a Haze (“vodka, lychee, nigori sake, grapefruit bitters,” $13), which was surprisingly sweet. Once we sat down at our table I ordered a Bright (“Hendrick’s gin, vermouth, kalamansi,” $12) that was more to my liking. (Kalamansi, also called calamondin, is an Asian citrus fruit with a flavor like tart orange.) Hubby had a couple of Fevers (“mezcal, lime, jalapeño, pomegranate,” $13).
For our starters Hubby and I ordered the sesame shrimp toast ($13), the spicy yellowtail yu sheng with smoked chili and pineapple ($14), and the General Tso’s dumplings ($13). Everything was scrumptious. I will never eat cheap shrimp toast again – these shrimp toast absolutely ruined me. The yellowtail was fresh and complemented well by the chili and pineapple. The dumplings were so neat. I’ve never had soup dumplings before and what a first experience. Delicious.
When we first sat down, our excellent server, Jason, told us that the food comes out as it’s ready (instead of in well-structured courses). That was fine when we were all still getting starters. But once the mains started arriving things got a little off. First, my side arrived (cauliflower stir fry with “chili-garlic sauce, pork, mint,” $9). Then everyone else’s mains came. At last, my spicy black bean lobster arrived ($34). The lobster was definitely worth the wait but everyone else was mostly done eating by the time mine arrived. I feel like “as it’s ready” is fine as long as the gap between dishes isn’t too long and for me it was a little too long.
I had a glass of Faso Creek merlot with my lobster ($11) that was very good and went nicely with the spice of my dinner. Very reasonable price.
We also had a side of lobster fried rice ($18) that was very good. But one of my favorite dishes of the night was a friend’s Chinese sausage fried rice ($11). Spicy, salty, and savory.
For dessert I had the Chinese doughnuts ($12), which was big enough to share with several others. These were fried very nicely and coated in sugar. I really enjoyed them.
For 8 people the total bill was $624.40 with tax, which is less than $80 per person. Some people definitely ate more than others (ahem, ME) but I think that’s still a very good average for such high-quality food and service in such a beautiful place.
I would go back to Buddakan but maybe with a smaller group to avoid some of the timing issue.
* One thing we noted at nearly every restaurant on our trip was that they will not split checks. They say they can’t but I don’t think that can be true unless their POS is from last century. So I guess the truth is they won’t. Instead, diners have to try to figure up everyone’s share (which I really, really hate). Maybe the restaurants don’t want to incur the extra merchant fees on credit cards. Maybe the servers don’t want to deal with multiple checks. Maybe they’re trying to be European. Whatever the reason, please note that our bill total shown above is not exactly what we spent.