I told Jean that I would post when I had a chance. Well, I just got back from a business trip to NYC and decided that would be the perfect first post -- relatively inexpensive, yet great food, in Manhattan.
Before any trip into NYC, I always check menupages.com to find recommended restaurants near my hotel. On this trip, my friend/colleague and I were staying near Korea town (31st and Madison). So what better first night dinner than Korean barbeque! Lisa and I headed over to Don's Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar. It was Valentine's Day, so we did the very non-New Yorker thing and had dinner around 6 p.m. -- before all the lovebirds were out. Lisa ordered a pork kimchee stew and I ordered bulgogi -- strips of marinated grilled steak, planning on sharing, of course. All the meals at Don' Bogam come with a variety of Korean side dishes and sauces: thinly shaved scallions in sesame oil, potato salad with peas, delicate pieces of pickled radish, and a dish of tiny, silvery fish. While we anxiously gobbled it all up, we did decide that Lisa's cats might be the best audience for the fish. The entrees were absolutely fantastic -- spicy, yet not too spicy kimchee and tender, juicy steak. Oh -- and the sake was fabulous too!
Our second night we ended up at Ayza Wine Bar & Chocolate Bar (notice a theme here?!) We ordered a tasting menu: 2 small glasses of red and white wines (red for me, white for Lisa), and a variety of cheese and meat served alongside some fig paste (spread a little paste and cheese on the bread) and fresh fruit. Feeling a bit guilty, we also ordered a side of roasted veggies. But really, they were superfluous! The parmiaggano, shropshire bleu, and meats were the star.
On Monday, we were treated to dinner by the PR folks from a toy company (we were in the city for Toy Fair) at Carmine's -- a popular Italian restaurant in mid-town. And it's popular for a good reason. All the dishes are served family style. The meatballs are "almost as good as my Grandma's" according to one woman at our table. And the chicken marsala was the best I've had.
Finally, on our last night, we ended up at a place we've gone to the last three years -- Havanna Central. It's touristy, for sure, but the food is really good, homecooking Cuban -- and inexpensive. I almost always order the Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice). But we've never had a bad dish. Yet the real reason we keep going back? The mojitos! (and maybe the bartenders!)