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Escargots NYC Trip 1/08: Food, Theater, Fab Village Tour & More...

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Jan 9th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Escargots NYC Trip 1/08: Food, Theater, Fab Village Tour & More...

Neopatrick, Atodhum, Hockeymom, editor Doug and more -
Thanks everyone for some new ideas and recommendations. This is our 12th annual 'gtg' with several couples in NYC, our 4th at MIchelangelo- we think b/c it gets fuzzy after yr 12 !

I did my notes not by each day but so all restaurants are together, all theater, all day trips, etc.
Thanks again!

HOTEL:

MICHELANGELO
152 West 51st:
we enjoy the rooms, the downstairs lobby bar with music, our night caps in the bar area where we sink into the couches, or a snack and something at days end before we gear up for night ! And the coffee/tea/etc ready in the morning. A great spot if you don't feel like catching up on the morning paper w/ coffee in your room -

The concierge James is one of our favorites who is always ready to help in any way - and the entire staff goes out of their way all the time. It has always been a good location for us - quiet and removed enough from Theater District/Times Sq but close enough to walk to many things.

RESTAURANTS - DINNER

CAFE DES ARTISTES
One of my all time favorites. Still think it's one of the most romantic spots with the magnificent
Howard Chandler Christy murals - the flowers, art, the center table decor....from spring to the holiday gingerbread house -

everyone loved everything ordered ,which included some magnificently fresh salads, salmon, pot au feu snapper, wiener schnitzel, wines and chocolate fondue for the table for dessert !

www.cafenyc.com

VICE VERSA

After Fodors Editor Doug Stallings mentioning Vice Versa several times, including on my planning post, we were thoroughly pleased with a pre-theater dinner here - one of the most friendly and gracious greetings by a NYC restaurant host, fabulous martinis at a welcoming bar with a most affable bartender -
followed by excellent wait service and a meal everyone was pleased with (especially some wonderful salad options) - the sea bass and grilled pork chop
got rave reviews - the two salmon takers wished the salmon had been something 'more special than they would have prepared at home' (but they are big salmon cookers) -

I had their signature pasta on the advice of our waiter and I had THE best dish on the table - hands down ! I let everyone have a TINY taste and they were all extremely jealous.

I had the Casoncelli alla Bergamasca - veal, raisin and amaretto cookies filled ravioli with sage, butter
and pancetta - talk about some fabulous flavor combos -

Since we were having dessert after theater, they brought us a lovely plate of amazing cookies so we'd have 'something sweet' before leaving and that
was appreciated.

Decor, service, food, all high marks - all 8 of us said we would return and recommend.

The only warning I would give the ladies most especially is that they have two one-person unisex restrooms so as you might imagine would happen -
every female heading to the theater lined up before leaving the restaurant - which we were all laughing about b/c every male who went to pass the line and then realized or was told it was one line since they were unisex, they all opted to get out of line
so plan on some time if you want to use it prior to leaving - there were over 10 women still in line when we left. A common plight in the smaller city restaurants - but usually only a problem at a time like this -

www.viceversarestaurant.com

LE MADELEINE

Two of us have eaten here before and loved it this time too. We were in the cozy garden room - again, everyone gave everything a thumbs up and again we were given a fabulous plate of cookies since we were holding dessert for after the theater -

Favorites were the Baby Arugula & Manchego Salad, the salmon, mussels, chicken and fusilli pasta (which I had, w/ grilled autumn veg, coach farm goat cheese,
bl olives and shaved parm-regg and the flavor were excellent - the veggies were so "snappy" and fresh

Fresh and fresh is all I can say about each ingredient.
You can truly taste the difference -

Ladies: same problem here with the 2 unisex restrooms just as the pre=theater crowd gets ready to leave - so plan accordingly

www.lemadeleine.com

ITALIANISSIMO

This restaurant is a tiny TINY italian favorite of my daughter in her neighborhood and it did not disappoint us - we ate here after a day at the MET and some shopping/errands - it was a cozy, comfortable ending to a long day of walking.

The Stracciatella Fiorentina was amazing - we all had the special salad and veal scaloppini of the day, with one pappardelle and the fruit flambe -

nobody loves a veal pounded thin, thin, thin, like I do - and Roberto Passon and Marseilles both have two veal dishes I often crave for - but this is on equal footing with the best veal dishes I've ever enjoyed - and with some alternative options that were fabulously delicious- (artichokes, an amazing lemon sauce, and more)

If you aren't up this end of town, but end up finishing a museum or area of Central Park and it puts you near here for dinner, you won't be disappointed.

307 East 8th St
www.italianissimonyc.net

RESTAURANTS: BREAKFASTS/LUNCH/SNACKS

INSIEME: @ The MIchelangelo

Tried the new restaurant Insieme - opened by the people who run the Hearth in the village, so we were hoping for great things and were disappointed, but then again it was breakfast an it is new -

service was warm, friendly and given with a smile and confidence but was spotty - six of us for breakfast with only 4 other patrons in the restaurant at 9:30am and 4 wait staff and still we did not all get served at once, there was about a five minute lull for the final three to get their meals - and everything was room temp at best, including the eggs - (for yrs the hotel served breakfast in the basement adjacent to the kitchen while waiting for the restaurant to re open upstairs - the food was better (great french toast) and hotter then - maybe too long a trip from basement to table if that is still where kitchen is?

I had lemon ricotta pancakes which were great - but barely warm - the eggs got thumbs down from everyone from egg white omelette to scramble and the bill was high.

www.restaurantinsieme.com

MAISON

we walked here the next morning, we've eaten here before - many meals 24/7, and the service and breakfast were good, hot and better priced. And theer is nothing like WARM FRESH BEIGNETS and coffee as a beginning to breakfast.

This restaurant is part of the tour de france group and the several I've eaten in I've enjoyed.

www.maisonnyc.com
www.tourdefrancenyc.com


RUE 57

Breakfast: they seat larger parties downstairs in the private room where it is all larger tables which was delightful and everyone enjoyed the food, service and decor.(esp the eggs benedict and omelettes)
Definitely would return

60 west 57th
www.rue57.com

ROBERTO PASSON

Brunch: (and yes, NeoPatrick, we had the veal!!)

Great 11:30 brunch, and by the time we get past the coffee, rolls and whatnot - sure we can eat veal ! as well as some plates of eggs, home fries and other
wonderful things topped by great desserts (chocolate souffle) and coffee and biscotti - We love this restaurant but have only had dinner here and now we enjoyed a wonderful, leisurely brunch too !

MAX BRENNER: Chocolate by the Bald Man

Lunch: Union Square/ girls shopping day we lunch here and I am AMAZINGLY surprised to have a fabulous cobb salad and my friend a wonderful southwester style chicken crepe ! Some incredible hot chocolate....and a shared dessert - the "Chocolate Mess" an order for one was plenty

Then a visit to the chocolate store so I can bring home a few tins of my favorite pistachios rolled in praline paste and fine cocoa....
l love this place. Someday I am going to be brave enough to get the chocolate syringe.....

www.maxbrenner.com

SAMALITA'S
http://www.uppereast.com/samalitas.html

After the MET, we stop here before a few errands and dinner for a glass of wine and some guacamole ! What fun - they have several kinds of guacamole (California, Mexican, Samalitas, etc)

we loved it - and I liked the corner near the bar with a hand washing sink for patrons after coming in from the city but perhaps not needing to wait in line for the rest room if that's all you wanted to do before
dipping your chips in salsa and guac. - dd says the pizza is good, and the meals that went past looked fresh - Califiornia/Mexican food - friendly service, great bar.


AFTER THEATER:

CHEZ JOSEPHINE;

What was had: Fabulous Amazing, Mouth Watering - the Apple Rhubarb Crepe Cake - and Profiteroles - chocolate dense cake -

the Apple Rhubarb was perfect (huge rhubarb fan here) just tart enough, just sweet enough, small but perfect in every way

Great piano player and singer - often accompanied by an equally fabulous female singer
www.chezjosephine.com

AFTER PARTY/ @ West Bank Cafe
407 west 42nd street
Pop in for a short visit after Chez Josephine - enough to hear someone belt out a fabulous set - would defnitely return although on this night, I was surrounded by thos ein their mid 20's to mid 30's...
www.westbankcafe.com


THALIA
www.restaurantthalia.com

We all enjoyed this place- for many reasons: the greeting we rec'd at the door, as he escorted us to the coat check and then waited to bring us all to our table, to the great wine and desserts and the fabulous, fun service, decor and oh yea, that chocolate orange cheesecake with whipped cream and orange sauce !!! chocolate cake !!! fabulous scoops of great flavors of ice cream -
a definite return visit is in order.

THEATER:

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
I didn't read the reviews. I laughed. I laughed at the same jokes I laughed at the five times I saw the movie. Silly, knew what was coming, but laughed anyway. Thought they did a good job on the set and lights and transition between sets - I thought everyone was well cast b - I particularly liked Roger Bart as Dr. Frankenstein and Sutton Foster as Inga - Megan Mullally was good - won't go down as my all time favorite musical, but it was a fun night and I'm glad I saw it.

CYRANO
Kevin Kline on stage - I love. Jennifer Garner surprised me with her performance with a few glitches - Chris Saranadon is a pro, and Daniel Sunjata was excellent. The production itself had some slower than necessary moments, imo, but it doesn't matter it is over now anyway !

TOURS

www.foodsofnyc.com

Food Tasting and Cultinary Tour Greenwich Village - FANTASTIC !

*thanks hockeymom

This was a HUGE surprise and a MAJOR HIT with all of us - the guys and gals did this one together and what a wonderful time - just enough history, culture, architecture, opportunities to meet chef/owner/etc and taste testing mixed up and you never were bored.

HIGHLIGHTS: The pizza at Joe's (although others on the tour would pick the pizza at Bleeker St Pizza)
I liked them both, but Joe's better

Faicco's Italian Specialty Shop: the rice balls !! Amazing.... it was a good thing I was on a tour, I would have had way too many of these. (oh and the salami's served later with things from Murray's)
The bread from Amy's with the oils and pesto from O & Co...... heaven
The cheeses and olives from Murrays
The dumplings from Lime, the thai restaurant !
Chocolate Chip cookies from the MIlk & Cookies Bakery - oh my!
the BEST cannoli's from Rocco's.....

and so much more..... and all along learning about the architecture/history and seeing the narrowest house (8.5 ' wide) and the history of Chumleys (and 86) and walking thru restaurants to homes tucked behind and
strolling the smaller, almost no traffic, meandering streets....and some great coupons with discounts to many of the places we were in - and just enough of the "this is where Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick supposedly had their first date ( Cornelia St Cafe) and here is the outside shots of Friends, etc, etc....
.this was absolutely delightful and highly, highly recommend for anyone !

One of the restaurants , Palma, that has a wonderful garden dining area and past that a private dining room in the first floor of their home - where we plan on reserving for one night next year !

This company also does tours in other areas, and we plan on taking one again as a group next year.

GIRLS SHOPPING DAY:
Down to the Union Square/FlatIron area:

Apt 48
( 48 W 17th) and shipped home some fabulous Christmas ornaments and gifts for next year at 1/2 price and more !

From there, walking towards Union Sq, we stopped in a fabulous stationery store, great consignment shop, Beads of Paradise (some funky earrings) coffee at Tisserie, and through the vendors in Union Sq market

- and on to Filene's basement, DSW, lunch at Chocolate by Bald Man, back through the square and down to Fishs Eddy - always leave here with some cute thing I have to have for the kitchen pantry or a gift: and back to our hotel area and the American Craftsmen store for some holiday sale finds.

THE MET:
We were there or the last day of Tapestry in the Baroque - which was breathtaking; the Age of Rembrandt and the Christmas Tree and Neopolitan Baroque Creche - which is always a favorite to see.
always a great day- saw the Ghiberti panels from the Gates of Paradise/there until the 13th if you are in the city and can get there - fabulous.

Depth of Field: modern photography is there until March

Until next time NYC - see you in April !
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Jan 9th, 2008, 11:19 AM
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Just one correction to your report.

Italianissimo is at 307 East 84th street, not East 8th street. Didn't want anyone to end up in the Village looking for an address that probably doesn't exist.
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Jan 9th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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escargot What a fantastic trip post. And now I'm starving. Sounds like the GTG was wonderful. Saving this post for future reference.

What a way to start the New Year.

Theresa in Detroit
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Jan 9th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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Wow what a perfect whirlwind reunion with friends! Thanks for all the time to write this helpful post.

Glad you too liked YF without any preconcieved feelings of needing to love it. We loved it simply with open minds. Isn't Roger Bart a hoot and Sutton in that hayride?????

It's been years since we've stayed at Michelangelo. Love that hotel. Hopefully someday soon.

Your detailed descriptions will be helpful to many who search these boards.

Oh btw I like the word affable. It is my new word for the day, although of course it is an old word! LOL!
 
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Jan 9th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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Good grief!! Does the diet start today? ;-)
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Jan 9th, 2008, 12:09 PM
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Oh and btw...I saw Roger Bart play Leo Bloom in the Producers. LOVE him!
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Jan 9th, 2008, 12:34 PM
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You guys are too funny

Williamsscb13 THANK YOU for catching the TYPO - yikes. hopefully if anyone goes they will keep reading or hit the web site..... my apologies to anyone !

Kealalani: That scene in the hayride? that won me over - Sutton so endeared herself to me in the number, -

LLindaC: Actually YES
I was at weight watchers at 8am to jump start the new year - between a surgery, followed by a specific diet for a bit, and having quit smoking almost one yr to date, and way too much travel and holiday eating the past 3 mths, -
I have some 10 plus lbs. to shed..... wish me luck !

I read SO little about Young Frankenstein before seeing it - that I did not even know who was in it (except Mullally) and didn't read the program until intermission - and that was when I realized I was watching George the pharmacist from Desperate Housewives ! I kept thinking.... I can't place that voice but I know it sometimes.....

I didn't see him but Broderick in the other role, so I hadn't seen him on stage yet ! he did a great job.




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Jan 9th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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What a great trip report. Your trip sounds like a lot of fun. I'm glad you enjoyed the Foods of New York Tour. We are from Massachusetts and will be doing a North End Tour (Boston) in the spring. Reading your report makes me want to return to New York! I will keep reading Fodors and learning new things. You can never learn too much or travel too much!
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Jan 9th, 2008, 03:43 PM
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Oh what a great trip. It's like reading a few pages from one of MY journals -- it's all sooooo familiar.

But you've really thrown a curve at me with Maison. We were VERY disappointed this past summer when we went there for breakfast (been there many times) and they informed us they don't do the beignets any more! They must have had a lot of complaints and brought them back. That was half the reason for going.
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Jan 9th, 2008, 03:50 PM
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escargot,

you didn't happen to see the original Who's Tommy the Musical at the Colonial theatre???? Roger Bart proved he was brilliant in the role of Cousin Kevin.
 
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Jan 9th, 2008, 04:03 PM
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ya know escargot....go look at your program. If you saw Broderick as Bloom, did you see Bart as the ubergay Carmen Ghia? He got a Tony nom for that role which he reproduced in the movie version. I'm the biggest Roger Bart fan ever...what a strange dry role he played in DH...
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Jan 9th, 2008, 08:14 PM
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LLindaC - I had to call my daughter to jog my memory, b/c I went to the Producers with her - (thank God for younger memories) and she said 'oh mom, don't you remember, we saw the understudy that night do that role and we even said how excited we were for him to get a shot at it because he was so great in the role !"

So no, I didn't get to see Bart in the role.....but I never would have even thought of that if you hadn't mentioned it !

Neopatrick: I can't imagine them stopping the beignets ! All I know is I am glad they are back ! I would have been sooo disappointed - our whole group would have - we had all enjoyed them the year before and I'd had them in the spring with my daughter when I helped her move into her new place...

Kealalani: No, I never saw Tommy - but I will be on the lookout for him in stage roles from now on-

Hockeymom I hope you are going on the North End Market Tour with Michele Topor - it is fabulous !
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Jan 9th, 2008, 08:25 PM
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Maison already had my dander up, since they long ago dropped the "duck hash with poached eggs" my FAVORITE dish. But at least now with the beignets, there is a reason to go again.
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Jan 11th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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LLindaC: if you come back to this thread -
my daughter and I were talking about this again this morning and wishing we'd kept that program - wondering who might have been the understudy we saw - if you still have your program, or you know, we'd be curious to see where and what he has done before or since, b/c we were so impressed with him too.
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Jan 17th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Great trip! Thanks for the restaurant details. We went to Palma after seeing the little garden space on the food tour - what a treat! If you want to sit outside on a nice evening your best bet is to eat early, the reservations fill quickly for that charming space! Our meals (and the service) were very good and we were not rushed.

I'm making notes of your restaurant choices, there are a few I haven't been to and would like to try (and catch the error re Italianissimo, so don't worry I won't go wandering!

Thanks again
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Jan 17th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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escargot...

Thanks for a great report and all the restaurant recommendations!

My mom and I will be in NYC over Memorial Day weekend. Prior to moving south we lived in the Metro area but haven't been back in 15 years (we're very excited to be going back to the city!) I'm starting to do trip plannning now and I always like to have an arsenal of restaurant options!



Thanks!
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Jan 17th, 2008, 08:38 PM
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ViceVersa was my mother's favourite restaurant in Manhattan. I still remember our last lunch there before she was killed in a car crash. She had salmon and I had the Casoncelli Bergamasca, which was fabulous. It was amusing to gaze out onto the patio and see all those terra-cotta heads.

Thingorjus
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Jan 17th, 2008, 09:12 PM
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Alas, I find it my duty to go to Vice Versa which has been acclaimed by many many on this and other boards and toast thingorgus's mama.

Really, to Mom!
 
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Jan 18th, 2008, 03:55 AM
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escargot:

Excellent - so much help on this thread.

Thank you so much.

Sandy
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Jan 18th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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That was a great trip report, escargot. We didn't have the opportunity to get to the Flatiron district, last time in the city, hence I didn't get to Fish's Eddy- one of my all time favorite places, and where I always order or bring home something! Thanks for sharing-I've bookmarked those restaurants too.
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