Photo by Donna

Donna talked me into a little pre-holiday NYC splurge with Claudia and Michael (Chef Pardus if you’ve read Making of a Chef) this past weekend and we truly indulged, did nothing but eat and drink and nap for 24 hours, and oh man did I learn something from three of the city’s best restaurateurs.

Our room was not ready when we got in, so Donna and I strolled over to Beacon where wood roasted oysters were the perfect accompaniment to a Hendricks martini.  The city air was cold and fresh, and the holiday lights made the dark afternoon feel festive and hopeful.

Our first dinner was at Minetta Tavern, a place I’ve wanted to go to for months, being a huge huge fan of Keith McNally restaurants, Balthazar and Pastis especially.  Being in a McNally place is like being in a period piece movie set. I love being taken away like that, and this spot, on a quirky backstreet corner in Greenwich Village, didn’t disappoint.  The place, as expected, was mobbed, but we had no wait.  The meal started well with good veal heart tartare (grilled, interestingly, which gave the otherwise raw meat a more complex taste and texture).  A venison pâté was a little weak on technique, the pig’s foot was serviceable, and Pardus’s sturgeon was perfectly cooked. He’d ordered it only for the sauce, which was described as a velouté on the menu. He wanted to see if they would actually do a classical velouté, like he used to teach but it was more like a kind of vegetable puree, rather than a refined classical sauce.  Over all, the food was as advertised and respectfully prepared.

So it wasn’t the food that left us feeling let down.  About midway through our server grew cold, it seemed, and it changed the color of the evening.  Had we offended her?  Was she simply buried on a busy Friday night?  I don’t know.  But what had begun as vibrant and rich mood became dull, like green beans overcooked.

For lunch the following day, after a long sleep-in, was Bar Boulud, to which I have been several times but the others hadn’t. I wanted them all to taste the amazing pâtés—and that day, it was the grandmère that stood out, the most humble of the pâtés, perfectly flavored by the liver. It made me want to make it—that’s a good pâté.  In fact everything there was awesome, as always. My omelet was a little overcooked, but I didn’t care, because I felt so well taken care of by our server, and we were having so much fun.  Even one of the desserts, perhaps the oddest creation I’ve ever encountered on a dessert menu (Pardus ordered it only because he likes an excuse to say pamplemousse out loud), was cause only for laughter between us and the server (who removed it from the bill without even noting he’d done so). I could have stayed at Bar Boulud all the way through dinner and been happy never to leave the place.

We had to leave, though, because we had to nap, because we had to have dinner: Maialino. I all but genuflect when Danny Meyer walks by, my admiration for his restaurants runs so deep.  They’re famous for their attention to service, and I expected we’d enjoy ourselves.  The reservation was in my name, and a former student of Pardus’s came to say hi—we were not anonymous diners. The kitchen offered to cook for us, something I never say no to. We asked the server to bring appropriate wines for the various courses, excellent pastas and the crowning glory, the suckling pig with its perfectly crisp skin so, so good.

I expect good food in New York, really good food.  But when it misses the mark, I don’t really care! I’m not a critic.  It happens.  I’m on the cook’s side. I know how hard it is, especially on weekend nights. I’m just there to enjoy myself, to be with my wife and my friends.

On the other hand, if service is unprofessional or simply inexperienced, it can change … everything.

As my expert service instructor, Philip Papineau, a true master of the profession, told our class long ago, and so rightly: service is more important than the food. Thousands of restaurants survive, even flourish serving mediocre food, he said. Few survive with mediocre service.

My hope for American restaurants is that people who care about eating in them begin to regard service as a valuable, unique profession and recognize that service is a craft every bit as difficult to master as cooking.

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54 Wonderful responses to “New York City Restaurants: The Craft of Service”

  • Natalie Sztern

    The topic of service seems to resonate the internet today with the passing of Elaine and the NY Times article on Lords of the Dining Room and I agree that service above all else, is vital when dining: food and its tastes can be subjective; but its a good waiter/waitress who can make everything all better when it goes wrong. Or should make it all better when it goes wrong.

  • Jonathon Schuster

    While generally Americans are dining out more than ever, fine and even mid-level dining is becoming more and more a luxury and yet a number of staff members just haven’t gotten it. It’s not about being perfectly refined on wine service or anything like that, but it’s about the bigger picture- making the customer feel like a guest, listening to their concerns and responding with appropriate grace. There will always be terrible customers, of course, but 99.99% of customers are reasonable people who just want the things I mentioned above. While food can be simple or difficult, at the end of the day it’s just food. Without the right (read appropriately matching) service a customer is left with an incomplete experience.

  • Mattm

    So true, regarding good service. I believed that when I was a server and even when on the line; I some times wanted to deliver the food myself, just because I knew the server stood a chance at ruining it for the customer and ultimately the restaraunt. Sad but true.

    After being a waiter, I think I learned more about people then from my college sociology class.

  • Paul

    My wife and I love to go to the Four Seasons. We’re old enough to remember the novelty of seasonal foods in the US and the way The Four Seasons Cookbook popularized it. But, truth be told and while the food is still well executed, we go there because of the impeccable service. The staff have been there for a long time and know how to serve you as though you are the most important person in the room while maintaining a discrete and professional distance … no obviously youthful servers calling us all “guys” and telling us that they would be “taking care of us”. When we go there, we feel like we used to feel when dining in Europe back in the 70′s.

    BTW Michael … unfortunately not an experience that I get in NEO.

  • Jonathan

    “service is more important than the food. Thousands of restaurants survive, even flourish serving mediocre food, he said. Few survive with mediocre service.” So true so true. That and clean bathrooms of course. It’s why themed corporate places do so well.

  • Mitchal

    I’ve been a FOH member for quite some time now, and currently work in a mid-range restaurant. It has perpetually bothered me hearing servers pull out the robotic I am X, welcome to Y, I’ll be taking care of you today, yada yada… There’s is nothing less inviting to me than to be generically treated – it cuts the experience short right from the beginning listening to dry, scripted nonsense.

  • Jim Colwell

    While I agree it is infuriating to to hear “I am X, welcome to Y, I’ll be taking care of you today, yada yada…” what is your suggested alternative?
    Apparently my budget has consigned me to service purgatory.

    • Paul

      “Good evening and welcome to Le Bistro Pan Asian. ” is sufficient. After that it is ensuring that the diners are ready for the wait staff to engage with a properly attentive staff member.

    • Mitchal

      I never understood the “Welcome to Y” part myself – is there really a need to reiterate where a person is at since they chose to come there initially. As for the “I am X”, I feel I can make an experience personal enough without bothering a patron with unnecessary info – I’ve had people ask me for my name if they wanted to.
      Sometimes I feel that servers get caught in a rut – giving a spiel they find necessary to get a collectively par tip for the evening, especially when that par is standardized and acceptable… I just want guests to enjoy their experience, not simply be there for dinner.

      • Mantonat

        So when you go to someone’s house and they say “welcome to my home,” do you respond with “duh! Tell me something I don’t know!”?
        I think it’s great to be welcomed and introduced by name to the person who will be helping you navigate through a meal. That way, you can send praise or complaints to the management by name and you can develope a rappoir.

        If you really like a restaurant and become a regular, I’m sure they will stop say that to you.

  • Comal Caliente

    I recently went to a restaurant, nothing extremely fancy, but definitely a higher mid level place with varieties of mussels, dutch inspired dishes and good beer. I ordered the beer battered haddock on snert, the man who I believed to the owner said it was his favorite. When it was brought out, the batter was soggy and when cut into it the fish was cold and raw. This is something I absolutely never want to see at a restaurant, it was extremely offputting.

    However, the owner (who also served us) apologized, brought me another beer on the house while I waited for another and handled the situation perfectly. The chef came out, put his hand on my shoulder and personally apologized. While it wasn’t completely necessary, I appreciated how important it was to them. I want to go back to this place more than any other restaurant I’ve been to recently for these reasons alone, not the food (which was great). They realy knew how to turn a really bad situation into a great personalized experience.

  • Stacey Ballis

    I’m wth Pardus….pamplemousse is not only my favorite word in French, but my boyfriend’s as well. In fact, it was that little odd bit of something in common that was one of our earliest bonding moments! I find it remarkable, but hopeful, that at least here in Chicago, a side effect of the economic downturn has been a return to true service, especially in restaurants. Even the smaller, more low-brow places, servers seem to have had a secret meeting where they discussed the direct connection between good service and tips that keep one living indoors. In a day and age where the norm is back to 15% and 20% is a reward for a job well done as opposed to a mindless automatic addition, I am enjoying the new attentiveness. Hopefully we won’t lose it as things start to look up economically.

    • Comal Caliente

      Hi Stacey,

      I too love pamplemousse, i tried courting my boyfriend by calling him ma petite pomlemousse but he thought it was dorky/nerdy which also worked. I also don’t really know if that is correct agreement but whatever.

      I’m in Chicago too! Any places you suggest in the city? The one I was referring to is vincent in Andersonville. I’ve only been for dinner but the brunch menu looks great as well.

  • Annie

    I couldn’t begin to agree more with this assessment of service. What I really want to do is take your last paragraph/sentence and rewrite it to say this:

    My hope for American [businesses] is that people who care about [patronizing] them begin to regard service as a valuable, unique profession and recognize that service is a craft every bit as difficult to master as [any trade].

    There’s been such a decline in good service in all industries around the country (I don’t know if it’s a worldwide phenomenon, but given my experience with overseas call centers, probably so), that it’s not surprising that the careless and self-absorbed “I just want to get through with my workday/shift” attitude has rubbed off in places that historically have been all about serving. Sad, really. I wish that it worked the other way.

  • Rhonda

    In my humble opinion, good service cannot make up for bad food.

    Good food, is not an excuse to be a “douche” and provide bad service. I LOVED the era of MPW but it is gone. Over.

    I think of it more as a Pas de deux.

  • James Rosse

    I have a diner that I frequent and a pizza/italian storefront, because they are in jurisdiction, have parking for my ambulance, has your standard diner waitresses. The food is average for diner food, nothing spectacular, but it’s hot, tastes OK, and is relatively quick. Oh, and they know when I’m wearing my ambulance uniform that I want my check before they even serve me, so if I get called out, I can just leave.

    I can see the difference between the service that I get, and the regular customers. If I could figure out the right way to tell them that this is the way the rest of the clients should be treated, then perhaps they’d increase their business. There is a degree of familiarity that comes with being a “frequent flyer” in any business, that changes the interaction from being a chore to becoming a visit with a friend.

    Is this the sort of thing that you would look for in the service?

    • Bradsteraz

      Not to be snarky, but in my former days as a restaurant mgr.,I really did not want an ambulance parked too near my place, less potential patrons get the wrong idea !
      Now I have retired to food-serving. It is a fine balance spreading the necessary familiarity and attention among regulars and first time guests, equally. Its a bit of an art, but the regulars receiving lavish attention is a sign of a thriving business with low turnover among staff, the kind of place I return to in order to receive same.

  • Julia

    At the gastropub place near me the food is fantastic and the service mediocre, and that had a big, negative impact on their bottom line. It’s improving only because the economy killed their flagship sister restaurant and the good staff migrated downstream. The nearby cheap Vietnamese joints have terrible service and divine sandwiches and pho . . . but it does get old, year after year, to deal with brusk, careless service. I learned to make a mean bahn mi at home, so there’s that. I definitely vote with my wallet on this one, and don’t give money to any place — high end or local joint — that can’t be bothered to institutionalize respect . . . for the food, and me.

  • FBuddies

    Guys, people don’t understand a simple concept, which is painfully true: restaurant owners dont want good servers, they hate them. Sounds crazy? well that’s why you get absent minded bad service in 90% of the restaurants. It’s not the waiters ‘ fault. It’s not because of money. If u r good u get fired.If u r bad, u have better chances.. I ve heard many times owners saying to waiters “hey people come here for me not for you”..This industry has the highest turn over rate of all. Servers with brain, personality, skills, knowledge are a problem for restaurants that prefer zombiemployees that can take loads of non sense and eat eat their shit . Think out of the box and see what’s the real problem. THis industry is collapsing, every time I go out I receive mediocre stupid service,it’s a shame. Go around ask people. Blaming servers it’s like blaming a kid who cries in a movie theater at 10PM, It’s the parents fault! I worked in a fine dining restaurant, very expensive ($80above), and I had to work twice as hard becuase some of my collegues had NEVER worked in a restaurant before. I can tell you exactly why but it’s like unplugging people from the matrix, U ll have to see it for yourself.U ll be shocked and wont accept the reality…good luck.

  • allen

    Oooooh, the Hendricks martini, num num num.
    I’d go to the tavern to try the Black Label burger if I were in NY and had a few bucks. Even though I’ve had bad servers and try to be forgiving, they are human and have bad days like we all do, I must confess to swearing off a few places in my time but I try to be understanding, like Ferris Buller said to the snooty maitre d’: “it’s understanding that makes it possible for people like us to tolerate a person like yourself.”

  • Melissa

    Oh my goodness, I couldn’t agree more about how important service is. This brings to mind a fabulous place in Vancouver, BC called “Le Crocodile”. I went there on vacation a few months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about this restaurant. So much so that we are eating there tommorow night in fact. It was my choice for my birthday dinner. We will be driving 5 hours to eat at this exceptional place. (of course we’ll spend the night nearby.) It is classic French food but they make you feel so comfortable, so at ease. We even ate at the Four Seasons the evening prior to our meal at Le Crocodile, and the service was even better there. We were Americans, clearly. My voice was a bit too loud for the place, but the waiter treated us like kings and queens. The service was perfection, and this I’ll never forget! So important, service.

  • Mark Christenson

    Amen and amen. I’ll always give a place a second chance if food is mediocre but service is excellent. Excellent food and mediocre service? Bye bye.

  • claudia @ ceF

    what’s so interesting to me is that i have always said that the service is secondary to the food. that what i really want is greatness in a dish and that i have plenty of friends who are quite nice to me so what i am there for is to be wow’d by a dish. BUT after the minetta experience vs the 2 others i think i am realizing that this is just not the case…

    the pamplemousse at bar boulud? a big bowl of wrong… but i’d go back in a heartbeat. it’s a perfect nyc lunch spot. and cheers to amanda at maialino for being one of the best informed and overall professional (and cool) servers i’ve had in quite some time.

    for the record, pardus and i finished off the weekend at the breslin with bob del grosso (a hunger artist) and his lovely wife. it was wonderful. great vibe, service, food and price point. april bloomfield does it again.

  • Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    A great restaurant experience is all-inclusive: it has to be about the food that moves you, the service that hits you just right and that feeling of warmth of being in the house. But this kind of experience doesn’t just happen the first time you walk through the doors of a place, even when you’ve got a name or a context. It comes from the complex relationship that you build with that place through patience, tips and friendly appreciation for what they do. I have a small handful of restaurants where I go in Japan, Berkeley, Portland, San Francisco, France and Italy…but I’m a “regular” in all of them. Go figure. It’s a state of mind and I get that warm feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I walk in any of them.

  • NancyB

    Melissa,
    I remember Le Crocodile well. It was the first time I’d had raw Foie gras, ordering it without realizing it was going to be raw. My anticipation turned to something a little short of horror when it was served, but our waiter, who COULD have treated me as though I’d just fallen off the turnip truck, handled the situation with grace.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Just to charm in again; this time with thoughts on why trying to achieve, for a restaurant, star reviews is in my opinion -well nice.

    A restaurant thriving to get star or a top reviews, means to me, a patron, that this is an establishment very concerned with my total experience as a diner and that my bucks are being spent in a matter positive to my experience and for the price. That quality of concern by its Chef and Owner will get my business regularly if I can afford it, and all the times I can’t but still set out to splurge. Those 4 stars mean a hell of a lot for a prospective diner and much more than the bottom line to a restaurateur. Anyone in a sales oriented business knows the customer reigns supreme in any one transaction and repeats are the heart and soul of its being; the restaurant business being amongst the hardest to run successfully.

    I just wish smaller restaurants, mom and pop places; places where they can’t afford the advertising budgets and P.R. people could get just as fair a shake. Now those are places where they know ‘service counts,’

  • Carri

    Having worked both the front and the back of the house extensively, I believe it is harder to be a waiter. All the juggling of needy customers and the back kitchen…it requires a certain type of person to do it well. And once you find one, get their schedule and request their section. I’ve had customers follow their faves from place to place even in our small town. Life is too short to put up with bad service.

  • james skouras

    Knowing how to hire and train employees is the key to excellent customer service,management must lead by example everyday every minute!; from the monment the customer enters your restaurant she or he make a instant decision if they like the experience,next decision when there seated and meet there server,the waiter must read the customer understand there needs and wants,start them off with there choice of beverage,return and see if there order,take the order the clock starts to run,the waiter must be astue enough go by the table and see if they need more drinks,bring out apps if ordered,refill water glasses check to see if every one is enjoying there apps,when the customer finishes there apps busser cleans table removes apps and re-waters.The waiters bring the entrees,clocks wise ladies first,returns check to see if every is enjoying there entree,and refills wine glasses,a excellent server will be watching the table by insuring that the customer is enjoying there meal from afar and the customer don’t even know that the waiter is there except when he makes a call back or reconizes a problem and checks back ,same procedure for dessert and after drinks and coffee,proper check present and thanks.If this occurs the customer will pay more to the restaurant that provides better customer service,and makes price less relevant……

  • FBuddies

    Thank you james, finally somebody that says something interesting. Of course service is important but people dont realize than 95% of restaurants dont know how to hire people, how to train them, how to motivate them. people want good service but nobody is investing in good servers, good training programs, nor rewarding good servers. It’s like building a house starting from the roof. It’s a craft that restaurants dont want because they need people who work 13 hrs straight and dont raise any questions.The just use them and spit them out like olive pits. If something goes wrong they can say it’s the servers fault, not the restaurant caotic and non sense organization…That’s the reality and it happens even in the most famous restaurants.
    The absurd thing is that people go to managers/owners and say “food was great, but service was terrible”.. you know who s responsible ? the owners and managers themselves! you can put the best server on earth in a restaurant, but if there s no organization, no problem solving attitude, no good coworkers, no good mngmt, I garantee you u will receive bad service from a great server who s powerless, who has no ability to perform his job .
    I went to Pulino’s and the server approach was like:” ready to order?”. such a turnoff, not a smile, not a hi, like a zombie. I understand if it was a diner …come on, why is it impossible for americans to work as waiters in NYC? Can somebody answer this?

  • Dr. Doug

    Speaking of service, what about wine service. I am so tired of going to an upscale establishment, ordering a 60-150$ bottle of red wine and have it served warm. Then they look at you like you are crazy when you tell them to chill the bottle. How is it that chefs pay so much attention to the food and totally ignore what the waitstaff is doing with the wine?

    • ruhlman

      agree, hate warm red. but I once asked a server to cool it down a little and I felt like an asshole.

  • DJK

    Few things raise my blood pressure more than a server with attitude in a nice restaurant.

    It’s great when it happens, but the times I’ve had servers who’ve truly enhanced the experience of dining out for me have been pretty rare, so my expectations are merely that they don’t get in the way of the food. Make sure there’s always something in my glass, don’t bring everything at the same time, bring what I ordered, make sure I have the appropriate silverware–that’s really all I need.

    And that’s all I need when eating out at a cheap family restaurant too (though, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I even expect all of those things when eating there), which, in part, is why it’s so infuriating to me to be served by someone who, pardon the pun, brings nothing more to the table than your average family restaurant server, but has the NERVE to cop an attitude, because THEY are serving highly-regarded chef X’s(!!!) food and are unjustly much, much higher paid as a result.

    It’s why, despite a great meal, I’d be very reluctant to ever return to Eve in Alexandria, VA. And it’s why, despite several great meals, I probably won’t be returning to Lola again any time soon either. (This sort of thing taking place at home in humble Cleveland just adds another layer of absurdity, in my opinion.)

  • allen

    My one trip to NY was in quest of the perfect pizza, Lombardis, Johns and one in Brooklyn, all coal fired ovens. found it way to expensive to eat anywhere else, this was the first April after Sept. 11 2001 and the city still had the wind knocked out of it, debris from the buildings was dangling in the trees, but everyone I met was super nice and pizza was great. Hope to go back someday and try the Black Label burger.

    I recently had a bad experience at 13 Coins in Seattle, late night flight got bumped and the best late night eatery near the airport is 13 Coins. Martini was 80% water and waitress only visited us quickly to drop off drinks and food, claiming a banquet in the back was demanding her attention. I reflected the mediocre service in the tip. but in hindsight I regret that.
    She was busy and working hard, I am not the only patron in the place. I wish I had done the right thing and given her 15-20%, poor young gal was working hard.

  • John

    Your reference to Danny Meyer and service in the same post is appropriate. His book, “Setting the Table” provides a great illustration of the concept that there is no amount of technical skill that can overcome inadequate customer service prowess. Your conclusion supports and clarifies that premise.

    Meyer’s ’51 percenter’ concept has proven invaluable as I have applied it to my business, and there are sadly too few businesses out there today that seem genuinely committed to delivering great service.

  • former butcher

    One of my many “bucket list” things to do is spend about four days in NYC and hit some of its better eateries. I envy Chef Ruhlman’s little trip but enjoyed the report.
    As for service vs food….A good server is worth his/her weight in gold to a restaurant. I’ll leave with one horror story…My wife and I were dining at the New England Culinary Institute’s restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont. When our server failed to bring us the appetizer we ordered, and the said, after we asked about it..”Do you still want it?”, I asked to see the manager. As he stormed off, he said, “I’m training to be a Chef, not a waiter!” The manager comped our meal.

  • Michelle

    My hope for the people who run American restaurants (and all other businesses as well) is that they begin to regard service people as a valuable asset and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. If the service is bad, it is usually due to poor management. I have seen countless businesses who put great effort into their food (or product) only to treat service as an afterthought. ‘Hire a handful of people willing to work a thankless job for nothing, put ‘em in a black outfit, make ‘em work long hours with no breaks, and we’re done.’ That’s the impression I’m getting from management. That said, when it comes to restaurants, I must be living in the right (or wrong) town, because nine times out of ten, I find service surperior to food where I live.

  • Gael

    I have to disagree with you and apparently everyone else posting comments on here. Bad service will leave a bad impression however good service will not save terrible food. If the service is excellent but I get a disappointing meal then I am not coming back. When determining where I would like to go out to eat I have never known anyone choosing a place because the service is excellent.

    I do agree that it’s a trade that should be more professionalized in this country.

  • kim

    Hear, hear! I totally agree with the service part. I dine out mostly because of the atmosphere and company and not so much the food. Just give me a plate of fresh salad, a good friend, great service and I would happily give a 20% tip.

    • lux

      If you find yourself down in the East Village while in town, hit up Gemma for some /very/ tasty Italian.

  • David

    On a 20 degree day in Spokane, my wife and I had just finished a marathon Christmas shopping trip downtown. It was about two in the afternoon and we decided on a late lunch at a place called The Onion. We were tired, cold, and had three cranky toddlers in tow. To make a long story short the service, and food, was so good that they became our go to place for birthdays and many other family get togethers for the next eighteen years. I’m not sure what I ordered that day it must have been pretty good, but the exceptional service is what kept bringing us back. The service makes the restaurant, period.
    BTW I thought I was a douche because I like my red cool too.

  • Charlie M.

    What a bummer…I SO had Minetta at the top of my list of new restaurants to visit. Although…snippy and arrogant has always been a characteristic of the majority of NY wait staff; dispicable though it is.

  • rockandroller

    I agree with the person who said it’s a pas de deux. I might be happy that I got good service but it’s not going to make me choose to go back there if the food was mediocre or hit-miss. I’ve been more likely to give mediocre service another go, thinking it’s a bad night, if the food is fantastic than vice versa – Mexican Village here in Cleveland is a great example of this.I’ve been there 3 times because the food is really great (for that “Americanized” Mexican fix), but the service is horribly bad. After 3 visits, even the good food couldn’t bring us back a 4th time. But there are dozens of places here that I haven’t gone back to even a 2nd time, because the food was poor or mediocre. I don’t have the money to waste on mediocre food – service could just be a bad night but uneven or just bad food means something’s not right in the kitchen and I’m not throwing my money away there again no matter how nice the service was.

  • Charles Shaw

    Michael-I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Poor service really sticks in my craw. If the kitchen misses a little, I can forgive. Where is draw the line is poorly executed food regardless of the service.

  • cookbambi

    Look- good service is important. But caring ONLY about the service of your restaurant, and your customers, and putting your food quality on the back burner creates slop houses. If you care only about good service, go eat at the Cheese Cake Factory. Your going to a restaurant to eat. To delight your palate. Service is the secondary pleasure that makes the whole experience cultivated.

  • Rohan

    GG – hang out below 14th street in the lower east side, east village, tribeca, east village, and soho. resist getting caught up in the mid-town trap (but the big stuff like Rock center is worth seeing, obc.). There’s tons of great places and to start rec’ing would just be my personal preferences, but peruse Yelp, read NYMag, and skim through Blackbook NYC. Any of the McNally/Meyer restos would be great but could be a hard res to get.

  • Allen

    GG my favorite travel guide is the NY Times travel section, I even use it in my home town of Seattle to find places. Read the reader post below the article.

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