Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I just got back from another trip to New York City, this time to see family. I also got to check out several restaurants while I was there, starting with a great Friday night dinner at Niko's Mediterranean Grill and Bistro on Broadway (at 76th Street) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Niko's specializes in Greek food, but also has some good Italian dishes. We had the tilapia and the pesto lasagna, both of which were excellent, and the Greek house wine was very good. I had been to Niko's a few years back for a nightcap, and loved the dark, cozy atmosphere of the place. After having dinner there, I can say that my opinion of Niko's has not changed a bit.
I woke up early Saturday morning to take a long walk through Manhattan, getting a decent bacon egg and cheese sandwich (along with many construction workers--always a good sign) at the West End Superette at the corner of West End Avenue and 72nd Street. Being from Boston, I have a place in my heart for superettes. And there are a million of these little family-owned places scattered throughout Manhattan, seemingly on every block.
Later in the morning (after my long walk through Manhattan), I had a second breakfast, this one much more substantial, at the wonderful Popover Cafe on Amsterdam Avenue near 87th Street. The Popover Cafe is in an old building that has lots of charm. Teddy bears and other knicknacks adorn the restaurant, and the vibe is upbeat and youthful there. We both ordered the French toast, which was about as good as I've had. It was fresh and hearty and had loads of strawberries on top. All in all, a great breakfast at this Upper West Side spot.
After breakfast we walked through parts of the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village. Along the way, I discovered that two restaurants I had been to fairly recently had closed: Vinnie's Pizza on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side and Mainland India on Bleecker Street in the Village. I really liked Vinnie's and will definitely miss it, but Mainland India was average at best, in my opinion.
After making the rounds through the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village, we had a late lunch at the famous Joe's Pizza on Carmine Street in the Village. I had heard so much about the place that perhaps my expectations were built up too much, so I have to say that I was mildly disappointed in the pizza. It was indeed classic New York pizza, the type that you fold to eat, and the crust was dry and fairly crisp. But I think I still prefer Grimaldi's in Brooklyn Heights, as well as Da Nico in Little Italy when it comes to New York pizza.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through Greenwich Village and the Union Square area, taking in all the street entertainers and vendors in both areas. We walked by some great-looking restaurants along Fifth Avenue between Greenwich Village and Union Square, but we kept walking, as we were pretty full at that point! Perhaps I'll get to one of those dining spots on my next trip to New York.
Union Square is one of my favorite parts of Manhattan, with its incredible architecture, abundance of history, and vibrant feel within the park itself (thanks in part to the farmer's market there). We eventually pulled ourselves away from Union Square, however, as we had a reservation at a hidden gem of a Thai restaurant in the Midtown area called Topaz. Situated on the relatively quiet 56th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Topaz is one amazing restaurant. I had an incredibly hot Tom Yum Goong soup, followed by a rather spicy but delicious Bangkok fried rice entree. Topaz serves authentic Thai food, so beware if you order something spicy; my mouth was on fire from the soup for a good amount of time.
Sunday morning soon came around and it was time to head back to Boston. We had a quick, decent breakfast at Viand Cafe on Broadway near 75th Street in the Upper West Side before I left. Viand was pretty good, but it felt like so many of the hotel restaurants I have been in on my travels (Viand is in the same building as the Beacon Hotel). In a way, the generic feel to Viand was a bit comforting, and the food wasn't all that bad. But it was no Popover Cafe, that's for sure.
After breakfast, I headed out. Because the foliage was so nice, I decided to take back roads to Waterbury, CT, where I would jump on Route 84 and zip back to Boston. The foliage was indeed spectacular in places like Ridgefield and New Milford, two towns in western Connecticut that rival the beauty of villages in Vermont. Eventually I got to Route 84, but jumped right off it in Cheshire to try Blackie's, a hot dog and hamburger stand that I have been trying to get to for awhile. What did I think about Blackie's? Well, you will have to wait for a short while, as it was good enough to be featured on this site!
Another trip to New York in the record books, and with it, several good restaurants. I'll be back in the city later in 2006, so stay tuned for more reviews of restaurants in New York.
Coming to NY from Texas next week..but NY born and bred..and go back often...but checking out restaurants on the Upper West Side since that is where we will be staying...we usually go down in the 30's and 40's...so your article helped a lot.
Posted on 7/10/08
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