Where to eat in Manhattan…

Over Christmas, I proposed to Jules and she said yes. Phew. After that stress was over, we spent 5 days with some friends in Manhattan exploring the best of the best of food. For most of these places, try to get a reservation!

Engagement night we went to Le Madeleine, a french bistro. It was pouring outside so we were glad to be in this warm atmosphere. It was conveniently located close to the theatre district so catching a pre-show bite was convenient. The mushroom soup was divine. I am a sucker for truffle oil. The duck breast I had was delicious, tender and juicy on the inside, crispy skin on the outside. I am a huge fan of crispy skin. Price range: $20-$30 per entrée. (403 W 43rd St, (212) 246-2993, www.lemadeleine.com)


Cream of Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil for $7.


Duck Breast for $22.

Le Madeleine on Urbanspoon

You can’t go to NYC without checking out Katz Deli. There are many New York deli’s in NYC but THIS is the one to go to. You may recognize it from When Harry Met Sally. Get the pastrami on rye. Don’t be stupid like me and order the Salami on Rye. Sigh, they sound the same at the end! Anyway, after eating my salami on rye, I devoured Jules’ pastrami. We also had a hot dog. The pastrami was amazing. Extremely juicy, warm, salty, highlighted with mustard. It was a bite out of all meat heaven. The rye was a bit dry though but frankly, I don’t care when the meat is that good. It came with a huge dill pickle to fill you up if the meat didn’t. The hot dog was reasonable but I would’ve traded it in for another pastrami on rye. Warning: the meat slicers are a surly bunch. Get in, ask for your food, and get out! Price range: $9-15 per sandwich. (205 E Houston St, (212) 254-2246, www.katzdeli.com)


Hot Dog and Pastrami on Rye.


Pastrami on Rye!!!

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

If you go to one bakery, go to City Bakery. It is in a location with lots of cute stores and coffee shops. The mac-and-cheese was reasonable but in retrospect, I should’ve spent all my money on the baked goods. It is a bakery after all. The lemon tart was the best I’ve had. The tart was crisp but crumbled when you put pressure on it. The lemon was zippy and very satisfying. The chocolate cheesecake was rich without being too sweet. The other tart, I can’t remember its name, was kind of like a granola bar. Nice textures and flavours but the lemon tart had it beat. Similarly, the mini-apple pie was pretty yummy but the lemon tart blew it away. Maybe you should get 3 lemon tarts… Price range: $4-5 per item. (3 W 18th St, (212) 366-1414, www.thecitybakery.com)


Oooo trendy.


Meh on the Mac-and-Cheese.


THE LEMON TART! Also a chocolate cheesecake, a chocolate tart, and some cranberry almond tart.

City Bakery on Urbanspoon

With respect to pizza, I’ve always imagined NY pizza like what was shown on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. Thick crust, mountains of mozza, and so heavy you have to fold it to eat it. Well, turns out that true NY pizza isn’t really like that. After thorough chowhounding, Sal’s and Carmine, just a bit south of Columbia Unviersity, was the top pick. Boy they weren’t wrong. Thin crust, lightly crispy, almost like a wafer. Not a lot of sauce but very well seasoned. The cheese was just enough to give it the zip it needed. It was heaven. I had the cheese pizza and the pepperoni pizza and both were delicious. The slices themselves were huge! Cheap for $2.50 a slice. (2671 Broadway, (212) 663-7651)

Unassuming from the outside…


Italian Sausage



Sal's & Carmine Pizza on Urbanspoon

Pastis in the Meat Packer’s District was amazing for brunch. We started with the tomato bisque that was creamy and rich. However, Pastis is mostly known for its Eggs Benedict. I had the Eggs Norwegian (poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise) and it was excellent. The egg was poached just right, runny in the middle without being slimy on the outside. I was stuffed and I am never usually stuffed after an eggs benny. My companions had the Eggs a la Basquaise (creamy polenta, peppers, onions and prosciutto) and Eggs Hussard (ham, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Bordelaise and Hollandaise). Price: Eggs Benny are ~$17 (9 9th Ave, (212) 929-4844, www.pastisny.com)

Tomato bisque.


Eggs Norwegian. The best.


Eggs a la Basquaise.


Eggs Hussard.
Pastis on Urbanspoon

Before seeing Les Miserables, with the fabulous John Owen-Jones, we ate at Marseilles in the theatre district. It was the most savoury meal that we had in Manhattan. My only complaint: the restaurant was damn dark. I think dimmed lighting is great for ambience but having it so dark that you can barely read the menu is frustrating. But the food, oh my, the food! First, a squash soup with a mint oil and a bit of prosciutto. Creamy and warm. For the main, we had the daily special. It was a duck confit with shallots, cashews, and potatoes. Tender, unravelling meat, savoury, sweet. My favourite thing: tons of duck. My companions had the salmon dish and the lobster stuffed ravioli but it was the confit that stood out. Don’t miss it if you are looking for a pre-show meal. Price: $25-35/entree. (630 9th Ave, New York, (212) 333-2323, www.marseillenyc.com)


Squash soup with mint oil and prosciutto for $7.25.


The salmon for $22.50.


Lobster stuffed ravioli for $17.


The duck confit for $24!

Marseille on Urbanspoon

Don’t forget to try a hot dog from a street vendor. This picture almost looks pornographic. I can’t quite explain why. Maybe it is the cool soft lighting, the pale bun, and the fleshy hot dog. It certainly tasted good though.



We concluded our tour of Manhattan’s food scene with a lavish dinner at WD 50. Our last night in Manhattan, we decided to go all out. Total bill: $400. Not bad if you consider 3 appetizers, 5 main courses, 1 bottle of wine, and 4 desserts. Sigh, each item was so experimental that I am not 100% what was in it anymore. In terms of flavour, I preferred Marseilles but in terms of creativity, I loved this meal. The server was a bit reserved but certainly very attentive. I only say that because he didn’t laugh at my jokes. I hate that.


We tried to find it at night. It was next to impossible. The only sign it had was this tiny one.


Started with a very interesting bread substitute: wafers seasoned with sesame seeds. Extremely thin and addictive. I think we pounded back 2 full trays of these. I think every restaurant should serve this instead of bread. And the presentation was so unique!


Another photo…


This was our first appetizer. Deep fried cornish hen balls with a banana pate. Not what I was expecting but the game flavours of the hen were yummy. Paired with the banana pate… I wasn’t sure what I was going to get next. Portion size, as you can see, is on the smaller side.


Second appetizer. Smoked eel, salsify, guava, puffed yuzu. No idea what half of those things mean. A bit unremarkable.


First entree: Wagyu flat-iron steak. Server described it as the precursor to the legendary Kobe Beef. It was a bit disappointing in flavours but the texture was very supple. I thought it could’ve used a bit more marinating/seasoning. It was paired coffee gnocchi BUT the coolest thing was the coconut whip that was beside it (in the background). Verrry interesting combination. Not sure if I liked it but I was certainly intrigued.


Another photo of the Wagyu flat-iron steak. With coffee gnochi, coconut, cipollini, sylvetta. You can see the coconut whip better here. I love how it looks brush-stroked.


This was Jules’ pork belly dish with sunchoke, ancho-pineapple, caper emulsion. I have never been the hugest fan of pork belly because of all the fat but Julia really enjoyed it.


A close up of the ancho-pineapple and capers from the pork belly.


Entree number 3. Duck breast, spaghetti squash, almond polenta, pomelo molasses.


Dessert number one. Soft white chocolate, potato, malt, and white beer ice cream. I loved the beer ice cream and the soft white chocolate. And so beautiful! More brushstrokes!


A closer look at the white chocolate and the beautiful lines.


Dessert number two. Jasmine custard, black tea, banana. The banana and earl grey ice cream was heavenly.


Dessert number three. This was really cool. Cherry covered chocolate, molasses, lime. I remain confused as to how it is made. Do they core out a cherry and stuff it with chocolate? It was delightfully rich.


Dessert number four. Toasted coconut cake, carob, smoked cashew, brown butter sorbet.

This was a very visually meal. The tastes were very unique and interestingly paired but overall, I enjoyed other meals more. I would come back again and maybe try the tasting menu (at a screaming $125 a person). (50 Clinton St, New York, (212) 477-2900, www.wd-50.com)

wd-50 on Urbanspoon

So concludes my food tour of Manhattan. I barely even touched the surface. I hear Kingston is only a bus ride away from Le Grande Pomme…. perhaps I will be seeing it more.

~ by Russ on April 23, 2008.

2 Responses to “Where to eat in Manhattan…”

  1. I was reading your blog and saw some pictures, thinking, I’ve seen that somewhere before. Actually stopping to read it, I realised we’d eaten at the same place (WD-50), trialling quite a lot of the same food.

    I have to say, that marshmallow whip went amazingly well with the beef. See this post

  2. CITY BAKERY is to die for!! I love the chocolate cookies, the flatbreads, and practically all the cold self-serve food. Just the best.

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