A Quick Trip to New York City

La Parisienne

Last week, I had to make an unexpected trip from Paris to New York City. It was kind of a last-minute affair, But I’m always up for a trip to New York, even in the winter, which I remember from my years living on the east coast, how brutal they could be. Fortunately we hit a sweet spot and people were actually wearing t-shirts on the streets – in December!

pastries at Robert

Unlike being able to forget that bitter cold I’d experienced for so many winters in New York, I did forget how civic-minded Americans are and actually saw two people pick up trash on the sidewalk (that wasn’t theirs) and toss it into a nearby garbage can. People are polite, holding doors for one another and excusing themselves when they’re in someone’s way. I also forget how blue the skies are in New York, even when it’s cold, in the middle of December. New York City can be brutally cold, but there’s usually a cheerfulness in the air that’s unmistakably très américain.

blue sky

And I also forget how eager people in stores are to help you, and when I asked at Bergdorf Goodman if they knew where the display of candies from Fouquet in Paris was (the owner asked me to take a picture for him), the person I asked on the ground floor actually took a personal interest helping me, and insisted on taking me up to the top floor and asking everyone up there to find out where they were.

(Interestingly, they said the shipment had arrived a little late and were being put on display the next day, so it’s nice to know that even in America, where Romain marveled a few times, saying “People make sure things work here!” – they still have troubles with deliveries.)

Then there’s that goofy sense of humor in the states, and if someone could explain this sculpture to me, I’d really appreciate it. Bonus points if you can translate it into French since I’ll need to do that afterward.

weird scultpure

It always amuses me when folks tell me that I need to visit the latest outpost of some Parisian bakery that’s set up shop in Manhattan, until I remind them that they probably wouldn’t want to go to a bagel shop or Duane Reade in Paris. Although on second thought, that store has everything you could need, so perhaps they do.


I skipped the croissants and macarons, and rekindled my love affair with flagels, or flat bagels. I happily had one every day from Pick-a-Bagel, except the one morning, when my French traveling companion came home whole wheat bagels (which is hard to describe since the “wh” in French is silent, so it comes out as ‘ole ‘eat bagels.) And I also had to mention that in America, people let other people pass by when walking, and the sidewalks aren’t places where people play “chicken” with other pedestrians. Which is probably why all my back problems miraculously cleared up during my trip*, because I wasn’t twisting and contorting myself to avoid people coming at me, seeing who would get out of the way first. (And I had to explain that people don’t play that game in America. And if you did in New York, you’d probably get decked.)

I didn’t really have time to make any grand plans or see many friends but did plan a few spare minutes (and I do mean minutes, not hours) to restock my larder with pecans, dried sour cherries, unscented lotions and shaving cream, heirloom beans, a winter’s worth of DVDs, toothpaste that doesn’t have fennel in it (bleech!), vintage cookbooks from the Strand – where I thought I had scored when I found a classic Lenôtre pastry book, until I had dinner at a friend’s place and she told me that she sold it to the Strand just a few days before.

I did run into Andy from Nunu Chocolates, in Brooklyn, which had set up a stand at the Union Square holiday market. So if you live in New York, run over there and get some of that gift shopping out of the way. And don’t forget yourself, too. I’m still working on him to open an outpost in Paris. And if you’re from Brooklyn, and you come to Paris and I tell you that there is an outpost of a Brooklyn chocolatier that you simply must visit, you are welcome to roll your eyes at me.

Here are a few places I hit:

The Spotted Pig

Even though I’d heard The Breslin was quite good, though a stroke of luck (which I won’t divulge), I didn’t have to wait the usual lengthy waiting time for a seat in this “hot” gastro-pub. Inside it was ear-banging loud and I’m not sure why so many places in the states are so noisy. Folks, keep your voices down! Perhaps it’s a chain-reaction and the first people to arrive are loud, so the next folks have to talk louder, then the next table has to talk ever louder. And by the time I arrive at 9pm, it’s hitting a fever pitch?

(And now that they’ve banned jumbo soft drinks in New York, next they should ban music in restaurants. And then the tip system, which has jumped the shark – yes, I saw tip jars in dry cleaning shops. Can’t they just raise the prices a bit and pay people that much more, ensuring them a decent and assured rate of pay?)

By the end of the meal, I wanted to find the nearest isolation tank. The famous burger was fine, but the highpoint for me were the chicken liver toasts that we started our meal with. They were unbelievably delicious, as were the griddled prunes – called Devils on Horseback – with smoked bacon. I know you’re not supposed to use the word “yum” on a food blog, but since I’m jet-lagged, that’s the first word that comes to mind. I’ll try to change it later, when I think of a better one.

grilled pork salad


Romain loves this restaurant and last time we were in New York, we ate there at a reader’s suggestion and he said, “Why don’t we have a restaurant like this in Paris?” So he insisted we go there the very first day. Republic is equally noisy, but fortunately we were able to eat outside and had vegetable dumplings, grilled bbq pork salad, and an excellent Asian chopped vegetable salad with little nubbins of tofu scattered throughout while we watched people bustle around Union Square.

chopped vegetable salad

The Meatball Shop

Also on my last visit, we tried to go to The Meatball Shop and it was so mobbed that the host told us the wait would be well over an hour. I like meatballs, but I ain’t waiting no hour for a sandwich. (Unless Daniel Craig or Tilda Swinton is serving it.) So I stopped in midday around 2pm, found a seat at the bar, ordered a meatball sandwich and a cup of pomegranate lemonade.

(Just after I sat down, the man next to me was really excited to see that they offered a lemonade of the day. “How cool is that?!” he said to his friends, with wonder and amazement when he learned about the daily change. I did not realize that New Yorkers were so easily impressed! Or how excitable Americans are! And to get into the spirit, here’s another exclamation mark – !)

My sandwich was fine, but the torpedo roll that my meatballs were on was soft instead of shatteringly crisp, and 47% of the enjoyment of a meatball sandwich is the über-crispy bread, which works in contrast with the saucy, wet meatballs. Part of it may be ma faute since I think I may have ordered a whole wheat roll, feeling that I need to counteract all the Black & White cookies I had that week, and whole wheat breads don’t usually get crisp enough. However since I live in France, I’m going to blame someone else and say it was their fault for offering an ‘ole ‘eat option in the first place. They should not be offering an ‘ole ‘eat option because someone might order it.

On the plus side, I no longer have to explain to Romain what a ‘ipster is, because there were plenty on parade.

soup dumplings

Grand Sichuan

I had a quick lunch with Adam Roberts of Amateur Gourmet and I first off congratulated him on his new book, which is terrific, then when I saw the food at the neighboring tables, and it was relatively calm, I was happy that I nixed trying to go to Mission Chinese (although I did have a very good dim sum, and pea shoots, which I adore, for lunch at Oriental Garden.)

crisp chicken at Grand Sichuan

We had soup dumplings, which are meant to the slurped, stir-fried green beans, and spicy crisp chicken, which were served with a couple of chili peppers here and there.

smoked coconut cheesecake

Spot Dessert Bar

Afterward we headed just next door to Spot Dessert Bar, which specializes in – you guessed it – desserts. I think it was founded by pastry chef Pichet Ong, although is name isn’t on the website, but if he is responsible for the spectacular French toast-style dessert, of caramelized brioche soaked in syrup, then he deserves beaucoup de accolades.

caramelized brioche

Oddly a few of the desserts had strawberries and blueberries on them – in December – and I couldn’t discern any smoky flavor in the otherwise tasty smoked coconut cheesecake, but we could not stop digging our forks back into the caramelized brioche. But fear not; Adam said that he would get the recipe for you and put on his blog if you all go over there and leave a comment requesting the recipe. Double points if you buy his book. Heck, if you buy a stack, he’d probably come over and cook it with you. Buy a case (and plane ticket for me**), and I’ll come make it with you, too.

JG Melon

What’s so appealing about this place is that they’re not trying to do “The Burger.” It’s just an especially crusty patty (oh, have I’ve missed those) – and real bartenders who know what they’re doing. It was funny because when I was looking for a place to eat on the Upper East Side one night, JG Melon was recommended to me, and when I looked up the address online on one of those restaurant review sites, I was surprised people complaining about a $10 hamburger.

Those folks need to come to Paris where cafés regularly charge €15 and up for one. And often not a very good one. (Although I also saw on the same “review” site that people were reviewing public bus lines in Manhattan. Really? A bus line? I guess flavored lemonade is just the tip of the iceberg…) I like that it’s a holdover from another era and the bartenders really know how to mix a classic cocktail, and the friendly host likes the banter with customers. And you can actually hear him talking to you.



I kind of walked through here a few years back, and found it interesting. But figured I’d rather go to Italy and get all that stuff, rather than in a shopping center in the middle of New York City. But I saw people drinking what looked like real espresso (which they pretty much were, although they didn’t taste quite the same as Italy), but I was pretty impressed by the selection of Italian cheeses and salumi, and the Italian breads, which I dare say looked better than anything I’ve seen in Italy.

espresso lavazza

Strolling the aisles and looking at all the amazing Italian products, and seeing this wonderful showcase for Italy, it struck me how great it would be to have something similar with French products. Considering all the cheeses, breads, pastries, olive oils, and chocolates, shouldn’t someone be launching something like this to promote and the hard-working producers of La France? Imagine a cassoulet or duck confit bar, bins of haricots Tarbais, French coffee, chocolates by Patrick Roger and Jean-Charles Rochoux, a green tea Napoléon from Sadaharu Aoki

5 Napkin Burger

A reader directed me here the last time I was in New York and I’d been thinking about it for well over twelve months. (Although I’m jet-lagged, so I might be off on those numbers. Someone is welcome to correct me on that.) The burger was just okay. I don’t know why, but with a name like that, I think I was expecting the most amazing burger ever. I had an excellent cocktail, although was surprised when the waiter asked if I wanted my Manhattan “on the rocks.” Ça existe?

Cobb Salad at Robert


With a spectacular view overlooking Columbus Circle, I had lunch at Robert on the top floor with a friend who is part-owner. I wanted a Cobb Salad, which I got.

Cobb salad grilled cheese

And when I saw a neighboring table eating one, I knew that it was time for Romain to have his first-ever grilled cheese sandwich. And admittedly, it’s been a while since I had one, too. Which is odd because I live in the land of good bread and cheese. I made a mental note to put those in my lunch rotation when I got back to my place in Paris, sans the view, malhereusement.

grilled cheese sandwich at Robert

But on buttered white bread, with a cup of very good steaming-hot tomato soup alongside, and a view of yellow taxis circling Columbus Circle, it’s hard not to fall hard for New York City, again.

columbus circle

Before we headed to the airport, there was a quick stop at The Pastrami Queen for an overstuffed sandwich and half-sour pickles, an espresso at Joe the Art of Coffee, a few bagels to take back to Paris for friends, and a couple of Black & White cookies for me.

Black & White Cookies

*I am thinking the sculpture may have something to do with a remedy for back pain. But it’s not exactly a convincing argument for the treatment, if it is.

**It has to be a ticket for one of those fancy bed-seats if you want me to come, because I just got off an overnight flight where my seat didn’t recline nor did my television/movie system work, and we got stuck in a massive 2-hour traffic jam on the way home from the airport in Paris, so I haven’t slept for 37 hours and I’m not quite ready to climb back into a plane quite yet. Although if I had one of those beds, I think I could be convinced.

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  • Franci
    December 11, 2012 9:51pm

    And now I’m thoroughly homesick for NYC!

    When I saw your second photo, I knew you’d been to Robert! A lovely setting and excellent food. I was also unimpressed with 5 Napkin Burger, despite all the rave reviews.

    Looks like you had a fun time, which is not difficult when visiting NYC. :-)

  • Camille C.
    December 11, 2012 10:32pm

    Re: friends wanting to take you to a French bakery in NYC. It reminds me of the time I was in Perigueux with my French BF (long gone) and his family way back when. Mama wanted to surprise me with a real American meal. Guess what we had? Hamburgers. I appreciated the gesture but who wants to eat burgers when you can have something so much better! Mama had grown up on a farm and everything she prepared was divine no matter how simple. Burgers, indeed!

  • Susan Marcus
    December 11, 2012 10:32pm

    a chiropractor, a’ mon avis

  • Claire Callaway
    December 11, 2012 10:39pm

    I think the little statue is of a chiropractor working on a somewhat uncooperative patient!

  • Mike
    December 11, 2012 11:38pm

    “It always amuses me when folks tell me that I need to visit the latest outpost of some Parisian bakery that’s set up shop in Manhattan, until I remind them that they probably wouldn’t want to go to a bagel shop or Duane Reade in Paris.”

    I may have amused you with my suggestion (though I most definately would want a Duane Read in Paris, why would I not ?) a few days back, but I am equally amused at the places you found worthwhile to try out when you were here. Particularly Republic and JG Melon. As for The Breslin, among the worst meals I’ve had in years. I truly disliked that place though the ski lodge vibe was interesting, I suppose.

    Eataly is the only place you went that I go back to time and again. It is a great place to shop and a good scene. And the cheese station is excellent — maybe not Murray’s overall but for Italian I would guess it is and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful. And I doubt you can get better cheese in Italy. It’s like suggesting you get the best lobsters in Maine. They may catch the best lobsters in Maine. Then they send them to NY, Chicago, Vegas etc… because those places will pay for the best lobster. And the Eataly restaurants I’ve tried — pasta and fish — were both quite good on multiple visits. Though Batali would probably agree with you on scrapping the tipping system as it seems to get him in trouble:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/del-posto-lawsuit-mario-batali_n_1911146.html ($1.25 million)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/mario-batali-lawsuit_n_1325304.html ($5.25 million)

  • MaryAlice Denson
    December 12, 2012 12:38am

    I see two chiropractor responses, but I am sure it is our local chiropractor. I went to him only once. That was enough, as his moves are duplicated in that little sculpture.

  • Sarah
    December 12, 2012 12:58am

    Dear David,

    Your travel photos are great-do you take your good camera with you when you travel, or do you travel light and use something that is clearly good as well? May I ask what you used for these photos? I use a Nikon at home but find it bulky for travel. My ipod does not take great photos, but it is the most I want to worry about while traveling, If there were a light and good option, I would try it. Would love to hear what you use when you are on the road.

  • Debra
    December 12, 2012 1:01am

    Love your idea of a French version of Eataly. Should be called Paree, and should be located in Washington, DC.

  • Catherine
    December 12, 2012 1:07am

    It seems that a lot of popular restaurants have become exceptionally noisy. “Background” music is loud, so people have to talk loudly to each other to be heard. I have heard that owners do this purposefully, to encourage patrons to leave more quickly after eating, rather than lingering to chat after dinner. The quicker that people leave, the more turnover the restaurant experiences in a night.

    As someone with a hearing “challenge” when I am researching restaurants to go to, I look for ones that are specifically listed as “quiet atmosphere”. Noisy restaurants are just misery for me and I have to strive to avoid them. Too bad that owners don’t learn that more and more people are seeking restaurants that are quieter, which makes the experience more enjoyable and memorable.

  • Tim
    December 12, 2012 1:27am

    You bought dried cherries? David, do you not know about Cherry Republic? http://www.cherryrepublic.com. Everything made from cherries you can imagine. They ship internationally. And if you ever visit, go to Art’s Tavern for a good bar burger and a beer afterwards. And the Lake Michigan beaches are close by.

  • December 12, 2012 2:00am

    You are so charming and your love of NY comes straight through your heart.
    Speaking of hearts, where is the best well debated best NY burger?

  • Linda
    December 12, 2012 4:21am

    Please report on a French version of Eataly when it comes to New York. I will be there!

  • wendy
    December 12, 2012 5:05am

    How come you’re not fat?

    Thank you for sharing all this great information!

    You are wonderful, by the way.

  • Terry
    December 12, 2012 6:36am

    Either a chiropractor or a masseur doing some Rolfing.

  • December 12, 2012 6:38am

    Republic is always too noisy in my humble opinion. 5 Napkin, though, is a solid choice ;)

  • December 12, 2012 7:59am

    Funny, my husband and I tried a life in Sweden. I grew up there and always had a desire to return (with some reservations). After four years living in Sweden we left … for all the reasons you just so well described. Life is way harder in America in oh, so many ways but there is such SPIRIT…. people actually wish each other well. Smile. Open doors. Don’t knock you over on the sidewalk. There is service and shop keepers that are helpful and glad you came! You can have great food of ANY kind at ANY time.. oh I could go on and on

  • December 12, 2012 10:19am
    David Lebovitz

    agneta: Yes, one can easily forget how helpful people in America are. Every time I have to go into my bank, a shop, they are all happy to help me – it’s so different and as Romain said, so much easier. It’s something we take for granted.

    wendy: Check out How I Eat : )

    Catherine: I think a lot of it is loud customers, which is hard for restaurant owners to control. We’ve all been near people speaking loudly on cell phones, with no regard for others. But yes, some places are designed to be loud, with music and hard surfaces. I just find that I can’t enjoy myself if I can’t hear the person next to me.

    Sarah: I take my smaller Canon with me. Here are more details.

    Camille: I was in Japan a few years ago and had an excellent meal of tofu skins, served at a restaurant that put a steaming pot of soy milk in the middle of the table, and we pulled off the skins as they formed. It’s was lovely and beautiful. At the end, they brough me (no one else) a bowl of melted mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce – !

  • December 12, 2012 10:47am

    Dear David,

    Well, this might be out of the entry’s topic, but I couldn’t find anotherway to leave you a question, even though this might me a bit intimidating for me to ask in public,since I wanted to ask “kinda” privately, but, well, *beep* that S*beep*t, I’ll ask anyway.xD.But first, to further explain things, I’d like to tell you something first.

    I’ve always had a complicated replationship with food. I truly loved it. But I did not know what good food actually was, and was drowing myself in stuff like KFC and Pizza Hut, and blah blah blah. But the good thing back then was, I got the free will to eat whatever I wanted, and not being afraid of anything. But one thing led to another, I started caring more about my body image, of which I was nowhere near happy with, and started dieting. I became anorexic before I even realized. But let’s not get too deep into that.

    After a number of months of fighting agaisnt the desease, and my crooked way of thingking, I revived my body. But the mental illness from being scared of getting fat still sticks with me, till today.

    I did not regret being like that. Firstly, I lost tons of fat; and secondly, it turned me from someone who knew nothing, and care nothing about cooking, to a some what food obsessed. All day I think about food. But I deprived myself from some, even now. I started research about the food world, and came through numbers of blogs and recipes, but your blog truly was the one that helped me appreciate the art of good food, and making me throwing away those fat free pudding cup once and for all, to understand, what ” healthy” actually means.

    I’m not a cook, nor I;m a food blogger, but I’m a writer, with the love for food thisss big. And I wanted to start a book, somewhat a journal, to share about my story, to atleast, make crash diet attemptees don’t fall in the same mistake I did. But most of all, I want to showcase my appreciation for good food, what I sincerely don’t know how to express it, since I can’t write a recipe or whatsoever. Any ideas?xD

    Sorry If I blabbed too long. But, hey, thank you, for starting this blog.

  • December 12, 2012 2:40pm

    I have been living in NYC for a few months, but because of being in grad school haven’t been exploring at all. My parents are visiting for 15 days starting next week, and I was wondering if you have any suggestion for a tour, a little bit different of what guide books suggest. My parents are a bit hipstersy hehe.


  • December 12, 2012 3:11pm

    The dream of my life : To go in NY…. It will stay a dream, for sure, but we all need dreams to make you accept our “normal life” :)

  • December 12, 2012 7:20pm

    people do let others pass in the states, thanks for pointing that out! im always running into people here in ireland. but i didn’t think it was a courtesy thing, i just thought i had forgotten how to walk right! or that the whole driving on the left translated to footpaths, as well! your trip to ny looks great

  • Catherine in SF
    December 12, 2012 8:22pm

    Whoever did that chiropractor piece seems to have been influenced by Thomas Hart Benton or Paul Cadmus.

  • CHN
    December 12, 2012 9:27pm


    (Glad you enjoyed.)

  • Shannon
    December 13, 2012 2:08am

    Looks like a fun trip! Is that a fried boiled egg in the Cobb Salad? Whatever it is, it looks delicious. Oh, and if my two cents matter, I would like to join the chiropractor bandwagon!

  • Michael Duffy
    December 13, 2012 2:45am

    David —
    Thank you again for your wonderful blog. I always enjoy reading your stories and your adventures … sometimes even more than I enjoy your recipes. And I l-o-v-e your recipes. Your array of eateries in New York made me want to go back and visit again, even though I was just there. You had much more fun eating than I had! I want to know the next time you come to New York, so I can just tag along behind you. You could probably charge people a fortune for that opportunity.

    Stay well. Stay healthy. Come back and visit again.

  • Dana
    December 13, 2012 3:49am

    I agree with Catherine in SF, the little sculpture was probably inspired by Thomas Hart Benton or Paul Cadmus.

  • December 13, 2012 4:46am

    What fun to read about your NYC adventures! Consequently, I was in Paris the week you were here and the weather was, well, not dreadful, but close…

  • Mariam
    December 13, 2012 7:58am

    PS, you should totally come to Sydney, Australia!

  • December 13, 2012 8:36am

    Drooling over your food pics (as usual)! It’s been almost two years since I have been home to NYC and green with envy as you hit some of my favorite places to eat! I LOVED 5 Napkin Burger when I was in NYC in 2011. But was also catching up with my bestie who I hadn’t seen in a while so the company may have influenced my experience. Have been dying to get to Spot. Hopefully next time I am home. This is a great mini guide though on where to eat now. What food items did you bring back?

  • carla
    December 13, 2012 9:29am

    Hi David,

    nice post.Just wanted to tell you: The black and white cookies have a funny name in germany: “American” in the singular sense. (Amerikaner) :) I don´t know why.

  • Diane Madden
    December 13, 2012 3:05pm

    David…enjoyed NYC blog!!! Where IS the Best Burger in Paris???…Met you in June at Petite Palais with Joanne and George… Will be in Paris 23-1 Dec with my pal Paul..you met…and at Hotel Montelembert (around corner from Joanne’s…sort of)… Can we treat you and Pal to a Manhattan??? Best…DCM (Dee)…

  • December 13, 2012 7:13pm

    Wow, NYC has some amazing food! I haven’t been there in years and my stomach is growling. Thanks for all of these (tasty) great pictures!

  • Mel G.
    December 13, 2012 7:29pm

    I love eating my way through vacations! Thank you so much for sharing your mini NYC adventure!!

  • nic
    December 13, 2012 8:59pm

    That sculpture looked like John Lydon from PiL (aka Johnny Rotten) dressed up as a Dentist.

  • Ceres
    December 14, 2012 12:52am
    • December 14, 2012 8:23am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for sharing – now I know what to start saving up for.. ($522?)

  • bhw
    December 14, 2012 9:36pm


    When your parents come to visit, I would recommend getting the book “New York Neighborhoods, 3rd: A Food Lover’s Walking, Eating, and Shopping Guide to Ethnic Enclaves throughout New York City” (easily found on Amazon). This book guides you to a lot of non-tourista food sites that most New Yorkers know nothing about. You will have a ton of fun. Highly recommend it :-)

    Love your blog. I love that you post frequently and I enjoy everything you write. Keep up the good work!!

  • December 15, 2012 4:53am

    I just recently introduced a French expat colleague to the grilled cheese (accompanied by tomato soup, of course) – he’d somehow never had one after living in NY for five years! I still can’t get my French husband on board with them, but I couldn’t live without them. On your next trip, swing by the Brooklyn flea market – there’s a vendor that sells the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches at the best price I’ve found in NY.

  • DanaNYC
    December 15, 2012 7:11am

    Gotta tell you, the fact that you have a photo of the Parisienne Diner (near Columbus Circle) as the first photo is hysterical (also considering you visited some of the best eating places in the city)/ I’ve only been there once – ordered a half cantaloupe. That is definitely the kind of place you order your bagel toasted (anything to up the flavor). :)

  • Jennie
    December 16, 2012 4:23am

    Love your blog, love your cookbooks (my husband and children are very happy that The Perfect Scoop just arrived), and as if I didn’t have enough reasons to love you, you have all these kind things to say about my hometown, which most Americans seem to regard as a bastion of bad manners.

  • December 16, 2012 4:24am

    Pichet left Spot awhile ago, but the best sellers are still kept on the menu. Do you like matcha? You should try the matcha creme brulee next time, as well as the yuzu ice-cream. :) Surprised you didn’t fit in any ramen run on this visit. THere are so many ramen shops on St. Mark nowadays. Next time, right? :) Welcome back!

    • December 16, 2012 8:48am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for the clarification on the pastry chef situation at Spot. I do like matcha, but it’s done almost to the extreme here in Paris so it’s not something I crave when I travel. And we have plenty of good ramen places on the rue Saint-Anne, so I skip things like that in favor of Sichuan cuisine and off-beat, creative desserts.

  • December 16, 2012 10:55pm

    Tomato soup + grilled cheese may be the new ‘burger’ in New York.
    I see it everywhere.
    Check out Eat-ily in Bologna – a shoebox next to the American version
    Love that hokie La Parisienne on 7th Ave…

  • Craig
    December 18, 2012 6:41pm

    David, you may know this anyway, but a lot of those products that you can’t find in France (dried sour cherries, unscented lotion, fennel-free toothpaste) are readily available in Britain — and London is only a couple of hours away by train…

  • peter
    December 20, 2012 4:43am

    David, you have a bit of sense and knowledge.I don’t think that of about 99% of those writing on the internet or otherwise, pro or amateur. The Meatball Shop is idiocy personified. Not that aren’t other entities that are just as awful but that lemonade bit sums up the standards of the rabble. Amazed by something that is so low brow, it is painful.Very surprised you would waste your time there. While there are barely a handful of acceptable bakers in NYC(I understand your argument about it), going to the best of them is a far better use of time than paying $10 for a bit of ground meat on some very middling bread.
    It is the same disappointment as the success of Domino’s, Subway, etc. Granted it is a higher level but it is nothing special or even good at all. From quality or value, it makes no sense.

    And to poster ‘ad’ about the parents. They are certainly not hipsterish. I promise. The French love Billyburg and Bushwick, by the way. I don’t really understand why but it is so.

    And the tip system is for the birds.

    Are you really going to recommend Nunu’s for chocolate when there is P. Roger(I think my fave) and all the others in Paris? That is far worse than someone telling you to go to Bouchon for a baguette or cookie. Best baguettes in Manhattan used to be Petrossian in case you ever need one though I think the recipe has changed some.
    French ingredients for grilled cheese === Tres bien.

    • December 20, 2012 11:12am
      David Lebovitz

      Nunu chocolates are excellent American-style chocolates, in which I mean the fillings are a bit more substantial than Parisian chocolates. But they are not overly-sweet and are very well-made. Many of the flavors they use highlight the creativity of American chocolate makers that are not timid about experimenting (like the bean-to-bar chocolate makers in America, who have opened the doors and offer a whole new range of chocolates that didn’t exist in America 10 years ago, and is what a French chocolate expert calls “The American Revolution”) – and are open to using a wide palette of flavorings for their chocolates. There are some great chocolatiers in Paris, like Patrick Roger, Jacques Genin, Jean-Charles Rochoux, Foquet, M. Chaudun, but there are some quite talented people in America, such as Michael Recchiuti, Christopher Elbow, Andy and Justine at Nunu, and Kee’s.

  • Gary Morris
    December 22, 2012 2:29pm

    Dominique Ansel’s bakery is on Spring Street. It would be worth going out of the way to visit in any city!

  • Sandra
    December 22, 2012 6:52pm

    We were in Italy last month visiting family—-outside Naples. They had come back from Sicily with a recently purchased suitcase of the freshest best cheeses, olives, and pistachios we had ever eaten…..maybe you should head to southern Italy for some of those fantastic treats!!!

  • Jennifer
    December 24, 2012 5:52am

    I have to say that I was catching up on your blog and feeling sad and missing Paris (we were there in April) and then I came upon this post and felt much better. I currently live on the very last stop on the Metro North which means that I’m less than 2 hours from Grand Central. Must keep reminding myself that people in Paris long for what’s accessible to me by a pretty easy train ride. Though I still can’t wait to go back to Paris.

  • December 25, 2012 2:42pm

    My husband is pretty much fixed on finding the best burger and one of his favorites is the Burger Joint (hidden in the Parker Meridian hotel). You need to try that on your next visit!

  • January 1, 2013 12:15am

    Spot Dessert Bar is fantastic! Their Golden toast is fabulous, but I think the best is the green tea-ramisu. Oh wait: the chocolate lava…Well, everything is spectacular!

  • Kathie Allen
    January 1, 2013 7:08pm

    How did Romain like the grilled cheese and tomato soup??

  • January 2, 2013 1:11am

    The bread you were eating looks amazing,. I want a piece right now.

  • Elena Frank
    January 2, 2013 6:49am

    I loved this article about your short visit to NYC. I’ve been living in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for about seven years (don’t ask) and for the past few years rarely get into Manhattan. Your comments about how polite we are here made me laugh out loud. In my neighborhood people shove and sometimes actually push you out of the way if they want to see something in a display case you’re standing in front of. I often leave the sidewalk and walk facing the cars so I don’t get pushed off the sidewalk by pedestrians. And I’m always remarking that people in Park Slope and Red Hook are so polite and friendly, but I usually find them to be from places like Wisconsin or Idaho. The fact that we can have such different experiences in different neighborhoods makes me love NYC all the more. I don’t like getting pushed and shoved off the sidewalk though.
    Oh, although I’ve been to Pick-a-bagel many times I’ve never had a flagel. I’ll get one next week when I go to my doctor. I do love pletzels though. I absolutely adore them although they’ve become quite difficult to find. I grew up eating pletzels and longish bialys, not round like the ones we ordinarily see.
    I love NYC but am dying to spend a few months in Paris eating.

  • January 2, 2013 6:13pm

    Great Site. New York City is one place that I have not been. I love to travel and I plan my destinations based on food; my only criteria. I just got back from a Cajun food tour of Louisiana.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.


  • January 3, 2013 4:03am

    Were the black & white cookies from Orwashers? Sounds like you were in my neighborhood, at Pick-a-bagel and JG Melon. I’ve never tried a flagel, so I’ll have to check that out! Thanks!