New York restaurants - sticker shock

Old Dec 13th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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New York restaurants - sticker shock

I am headed to New York for several nights this week and I have been looking for places to eat and I have to say I am shocked and dismayed at the prices - and I live in a big city, Atlanta, where we eat out at nice restaurants. I've gotten some good suggestions from this board but alot of the places have appetizers / salads for 15+ then entrees for 30 or more. We are two weight watching ladies, well sort of, and I am wondering if we can split some of these items. Are portions usually large - will the waiters be grumpy with us? And I have to say I wonder who pays these prices - folks eating on the company dime or Europeans with dollar kicking Euros? Some of the restaurants I looked at were Avra, Alcala, Solaera, Les Halles, Trattoia de la Arte, Un Deux,Trois, - not really the high status restaurants. We are staying in Midtown East but I also looked at establishments in other parts of Manhattan, I must have looked at 50 menupages! I've been to New York before but I don't remember being so shocked by the prices on those trips. I guess NYC is not having recession the rest of the country is?!
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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There are plenty of nice places to eat in NYC that are not terribly expensive. I visit NYC pretty often, and have felt like the prices there are only slightly higher than comparable meals in Houston. (I usually eat at mid-range or below restaurants in both cities.) You can have a nice dinner with one glass of wine plus tip for $35-$40, especially if you are "weight watching" and, as a result, are having two appetizers or an entree with no appetizer. Kefi, on the west side, is really good. I also love Yakitoro Totto on the east side. The Red Cat in Chelsea is really good,
too--a little more expensive, but especially if you order carefully, not outrageous. There are lots of good, not expensive restaurants in the Hell's Kitchen area (9th and 50th, more or less).
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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I would highly recommend lunch at Eleven Madison as a great value: two courses for $28 for amazing, exquisite food. We each had the balik salmon appetizer and the roast chicken for two when I was there in October...both were absolutely delicious and a bargain for such high quality.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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maryanntex - Kefi was the one restaurant that I had found that sounded tastey and reasonable - we do plan to eat there one evening. I'll check out your other rec's.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 12:29 PM
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Ipanema on W. 44th St. is an old favorite Brazilian restaurant. It's been there for years and has consistently good food and really reasonable prices.
Kellari on W. 46th is also very nice - mostly seafood with a Greek/Mediterranean flavor, but it also has a variety of other foods.

Puttanesca on 9th Av. in the low 50's is a reasonably priced Italian restaurant, also with consistently good food.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 01:38 PM
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You will find that ethnic restaurants generally have a lower price range. And certain ethnic cuisines make for very good sharing for two (or more) people. Greek, Turkish, and Persian places tend to have a good variety of appetizers - hot and cold. My wife and I have now adopted sharing for our dining out. We might order a couple of appetizers and one main dish - and share everything - plenty for us. And the service staff has no problem with that and they shouldn't - and just tell them you're sharing everything - and they'll bring you an extra plate. It's becoming quite common. We do that in French restaurants also - couple of appetizers and share a main - e.g. a choucroute. But - yes - many moderate priced restaurants charge in the 20's for a main dish and 10 to 12 or so for appetizers. If you are on the Upper East Side try - Beyoglu or Shalizar - first rate and inexpensive. My beef is the pricing of their wine lists - andthat goes for just about every restaurant in town. Shameful - hardly anything in the 30's or 40's when there are plenty of good wines that they could sell in the 20's and 30's and make a good profit on.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 01:39 PM
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I don't know what made you select the places you did, but they don't strike me as either good for weight watchers or particularly good value. Trattoria Dell 'Arte is a good Italian but it's really pricey unless you eat pizza or pasta, neither of which sounds like good weight watchers fare. There are HUNDREDS of good, inexpensive Italian restaurants; Becco, Maria Pia, Trattoria Trecolori, Basilica are just a few in midtown west. But frankly, if you're eating basic chicken/fish and veggies/salads, Italian is not the way I would go as the best value. I agree that Greek (heavy on fish), new American (like Eleven Madison Park), Brazillian for steak or French, Japanese are all good options for you. It's common for 2 diners to share an appetizer and then get an entree. You can also make a meal out of 2 appetizers.

I also agree that one way to eat very good food at great prices is to have your main meal at lunch when prices are lower and have something small for dinner. Places like Jean Georges, Asiate, Eleven Madison Park, Matsugen (Japanese) do extremely good value prix fixe lunches, some allowing 2 courses where you get to decide which 2 courses you want. Asiate in the Mandarin Oriental hotel has great views, very good (healthy) French/Asian food and a $24 prix fixe lunch during the week.

If you tell us what you like we might be able to steer you better.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 01:42 PM
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Kefi is very ww friendly. You can share the salad to start and each get one of their great fish dishes.

Kellari Taverna is great for dinner, but only for the prix fixe; otherwise it is very expensive. It's an attractive place too. I'm a weight watcher and on the prix fixe, I start with the green salad and then have one of the fish dishes. I've asked to substitute fruit for the dessert; one time the waiter did that for me and the next time, I was charged - $10!!!

I also suggest having a few special prix fixe lunches in great restaurants and a light dinner in a diner, etc. that day. Nougatine has a great lunch.

Sushi can often be a reasonable ww friendly meal.

Atlantic Grill on the UES is a good choice too. You can easily share the beet salad or chopped salad to start and order a great fish entree.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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I'm kind of amazed that you are amazed at the prices. It's New York. We pay those prices sometimes in Charltotte and Denver too.
Lunch is a great suggestion.
I understand that the restaurant at MOMA is outstanding--and expensive. But maybe lunch.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 02:03 PM
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Please do not blame NY for your lack of research. Grocery stores prices in that part of the east side are comparable to those of aiport stores.

There are thousands of restaurants which are cheaper around the city and where you can get an excellent meal, especially ethnic reatuarants but one must be willing to leave the neighborhood.

There are many guides that have pages and pages of inexpensive restaurants including Twenty Five Dollars and under: A Guide to the Best Inexpensive Restaurants in New York by Eric Asimov (yes Isaac's nephew) and Time Out NY Dining Guide.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 02:22 PM
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suec1, I chuckled a little when I ready your subject because I get sticker shock when I LEAVE NYC.

Many of us eat out regularly at local favorites that are much less expensive. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid over $20 for an entree or $10 for an appetizer.

Compare that to tourist/vacation destinations like Newport RI, Or most of Vermont and Maine that I've visited, where unimpressive main courses are routinely $25-30 and simple salad apps are $10! My theory is that the supplies they need aren't as easily available ( I can get mescun lettuce--in various assortments--at every dinky corner store here), plus restaurants typically aren't open all day like many places are in NY, aren't busy everyday of the week, and the turnover isn't as great.

NY has so many choices that I believe that it is actually easier to eat cheaply and well in places like NY.

Keep in mind that some of the places you are looking at are still considered pricey by some New Yorkers. Yes, there are people who go to these places routinely and have the money to do so, but it may be just an occasional treat to regular NYers.
You've heard of them because people on this board and elswehere suggest them thinking that if you're already comeing to NY and looking for good food, you might be willing to spend a little more than is the norm for you.

But if you don't want to , and especially if you are light eaters, you'll find that less expensive places are also more casual and less likely to be upset or surprised by people sharing apps, entrees, etc.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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Check out this Times article published today

The NY Times usually has a dining section called $25 and under that may help you choose some more affordable options.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 03:04 PM
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I gave some moderately priced ideas here:
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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...I agree with McLaurie. Wherever did you find that list of restaurants you mention in the original post?
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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some other options for fine dining:

L'ecole in Soho 3 courses around $28 pp

Tartine (BYOB)

Jean George Prix Fixe Lunch $28

Le Relais de Venise $24 for steak, fries and a salad (not for the weight watcher)

Convivio four courses $59

Duane Park on Sunday evenings there is a $25 3 course Prix fix with live jazz starting at 7pm

Lots of options, if you give a price range maybe people can offer more suggestions.
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Old Dec 13th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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I live in NY and NEVER pay those prices. Sure, you can pay those prices if you want. But I don't have that kind of money. There are thousands of restaurants in NY. I suggest looking around once you get to NY and your "neighborhood" (where you are staying) and check out the restaurants around there. If you want a fancy dinner - go for it. But you can eat in diners, ethnic places and get good Italian for much, much less than you quote.
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Old Dec 14th, 2009, 06:04 AM
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I was looking at the menu for Woodfire Grill in Atlanta recently (because the chef, Kevin, was on Top Chef). Those prices are comparable to what you pay in a nice, but not over-the-top restaurant in Manhattan. Almost all of his entrees are over $25, and most of the appetizers are over $12. That's about typical for an upscale restaurant in New York.

But if you can't find dinner with a glass of wine for $45 or less in Manhattan, then you really aren't looking very hard (and I mean that $45 per person includes the tip too). If you don't drink wine, then it's almost criminal to pay more than $40 for dinner unless you're going to a top restaurant. It's just not worth it.

I almost always share an appetizer (unless I'm going to a fabulously upscale place where we want to try a wider range of dishes and are willing to pay for it), so no one will bat an eye, and most restaurants will even split salads and appetizers in the kitchen for you (Blue Smoke always splits the iceberg wedge salad for us in the kitchen). And I almost always share dessert. With a main course, that's usually as much as I can eat.

ViceVersa is a great theater-district restaurant with a $35 prix-fixe for dinner, or you can get entrees and share appetizers from the a la carte menu for about the same price (most of the entrees there are between $25 and $30, so typical for an upscale Midtown restaurant). Dessert would be more. You can get a half-size entree portion of Pasta there, and that is usually enough for me. But I don't like Applebee's-size portions.

Just one word of warning: If you don't make a reservation for dinner, you may not get into the restaurant of your choice. There are so many tourists in town right now that the best places have been mobbed. Use Opentable to make reservations (you can always cancel later if you change your mind).

But reservations at local restaurants can be made the same day in most cases. Call around 1pm for a table after 7 that night at a local restaurant like Ethos (Great, by the way, for Greek food, especially grilled fish, which you can share for about $20 per person).
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Old Dec 14th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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Head to the East Village. There's a stretch of restaurants on Second Avenue from 13th St south to Houston that offer good food at good values, well below the prices you name--also on the side streets and other avenues in the neighborhood. Get away from midtown and you will get away from those prices. (I'm with the others--I eat out weekly and well and never pay those prices, except for a special splurge.)
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Old Dec 14th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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There are good BYOB with no corkage fee restaurants in NYC, and I find that that helps a lot w/the total price. I ate at one on Sat. night, Le Sirene, in Soho. Incredible food. We had two appetizers (incredible goat cheese tart w/shallots, truffles, grapes, and a thin layer of aged swiss- and housemade pate) and two nice size entrees (trout and duck, omg the duck was so tender and good, like a duck prime rib w/cherry port sauce) and total check was just over $80. They have a 3 course fixed price dinner from 5 til 7 for $28.50. The BYOB w/no fee is a huge plus IMO.

If you want less expensive, I did a post in October 2009 asking for cheap eats in Soho, Tribeca, the Village, Chelsea. Take a look at that post (click on my name to find it). Great recommendations there for dinners for $20-25 or so. I particularly liked Cafe Cubana in Soho from that list. But you have to be flexible in your thinking regarding places at that price. They are not going to have the refined atmosphere that more expensive restaurants have. They are generally more casual and ethnic.

P.S. Another good deal-- East of Eighth in Chelsea has a deal where you can sign up for their "club" online. Then you get an email for a free dinner for your birthday. We ate there last Fri. on my husband's birthday for lunch and got the free entree. Nice bistro, good food, great deal w/the free entree.
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Old Dec 14th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Sorry, it is La Sirene, not Le Sirene...
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