Where to Eat When Your Parents Come to Town: Part Two

by Zoe Baker-Peng

Last February, we published the previous part to this series on ‘Where to Eat When Your Parents Come to Town’. While looking up Hewitt’s dinner menu can be extraordinarily exciting (what will it be tonight?!), sometimes it’s a relief to eat outside of campus confines and venture out into one of the world’s greatest culinary capitals. New York City offers a plethora of cuisines and dining experiences and while you can, of course, get delicious food at affordable prices, sometimes delectable dishes remain positioned in a higher price range. Since Parents’ Weekend approaches, and you may be lucky enough to have your folks visiting and offering to take you to dinner, here are some more restaurant recommendations to pique your interest and taste buds.

Alder

A new take on pigs in blankets

Alder’s chic and modern interior still manages to feel cozy and inviting, and lends itself perfectly to Chef Wylie Dufresne’s aim of producing “a modern interpretation of a public house”. Aged wooden boards line the ceiling and exposed white bricks run the length of the wall, furthering the charming atmosphere created by a low buzz of voices when the restaurant is full and the large glass window that offers scenes of busy New York outside. The mix of modern and rustic décor is echoed in both the concept behind and the presentation of the food. Dufresne, and executive chef Jon Bignelli, rework pub classics such as pigs in blankets and French onion soup, as well as produce innovative dishes such as their ‘Rye Pasta’. The Rye Pasta is a gustatory delight – the rye flavor is wonderfully distinct and its pairing with shaved pastrami and pasta is an intriguing take on the classic New York deli pastrami on rye. ‘Pigs in a Blanket’ uses the traditional concept of sausages wrapped in a type of pastry dough, but defines itself with the unusual use of Chinese sausage as well as sweet chili sauce and Japanese mustard. The result is delightful; be sure to try these when you dine here. The ‘French Onion Soup Rings’ are both humorous and tasty: large fried onion rings (think gourmet style) arrive at your table, drizzled with a thick, sumptuous onion gravy. All of the dishes on the menu are enticing and inventive, although portion sizes tend to run on the smaller size. I recommend ordering several dishes for the table to share or at least two for yourself, if you’re feeling hungry.

Address: 157 Second Avenue (between 9th and 10th streets), NYC, 10003
Phone: 212-539-1900
Reservations: Recommended but not necessarily essential
Price: $$$, price range ~$31-60 per person.
 http://aldernyc.com/

The baked ziti is simply scrumptious

Parm

Located in the heart of Nolita, Parm is a lively Italian-American restaurant with an American diner ambience. Bar-style eating at the entrance (tables are available at the back) creates an immediately casual atmosphere, furthered by the discreet TVs screening sports and the unbelievably tiny kitchen centered in the restaurant. Don’t let the diner-style furnishings fool you though – Parm serves up delectable, high-quality dishes at affordable prices. Look for the neon red sign at the front of the store which announces when fresh calamari is available: if it’s lit up, you must try the calamari as it is perfectly cooked. Light, crispy and perfectly seasoned, the calamari are one of Parm’s best offerings. The baked ziti is a familiar classic and generously layered with hot, melting cheese, fresh tomato sauce and crispy pasta. Look out for the specials which change daily (in a pre-determined schedule, as seen on the menu). Other notable items on the menu are the fresh mozzarella sticks and the chicken parm, which has a rich and full flavor. Try the homemade ice cream cake for a playful dessert. Parm does not accept reservations and is a very popular weekend location so be sure to either arrive early (before 7PM) or factor in a waiting time.


 Address: 248 Mulberry Street (between Prince and Spring streets), NYC, 10012
Phone: 212-993-7189
Reservations: No
Price: $$, price range ~$11-30 per person.
 http://parmnyc.com/

Enjoy brunch with these bright, airy windows

Tavern on the Green

Why not suggest brunch to your parents? For a quintessential New York experience, try the brunch scene at Tavern on the Green, located in Central Park just off Central Park West. This spacious restaurant has many rooms in which to dine, each with a unique ambience and décor. Try and get a table in the light, airy main room which has large glass windows overlooking Central Park and the restaurant patio. The fixed price brunch menu is a great deal if you’re looking for a full brunch experience with a morning cocktail, pastries, and two courses, but there is also an à la carte menu with very similar choices. The mini pastries are aesthetically pleasing – presented in a small basket with mini ‘Bon Maman’ jams – but are not as tasty or as fresh as they appear. The ‘Persian Yogurt with Homemade Granola and Berries’ is wonderfully creamy and smooth; the granola is particularly pleasing with a variety of taste sensations subtly infusing the yogurt. For those who want a more savory start to the day, try the equally decadent ‘Cauliflower-Pear Soup’ which combines sweet and nutty flavors. For second courses, the ‘Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes’ stand out with their lavender butter, as well as the poached farm eggs on grits with chorizo. Tavern on the Green’s menu caters amply to those who want a sweeter breakfast or those who are moving towards a savory lunch. The beautifully presented and tasty food, along with its winning location, ensures a charming start to the day.


Address: West 67th street and Central Park West (just inside Central Park), NYC, 10023
Phone: 212-877-8684
Reservations: Recommended
Price: $$$, price range depends on how many courses you get ~$18-45 (for brunch)http://tavernonthegreen.com/

Blue Smoke

Bustling and busy atmosphere at Blue Smoke

On Blue Smoke’s website, the restaurant notes that it is “widely credited as the founder of New York City’s barbeque movement,” and it’s easy to see why once you taste the food. The pulled pork shoulder is delicious; it softly falls apart in your mouth as you take a bite, oozing richly, seasoned juices and aromatic smoky notes. Paired with the authentic hush puppies (soft on the inside, lightly crisped on the outside), this tastes like a true Southern meal in the heart of New York. Stop by at lunch to try the “Crispy Chicken” sandwich: the remoulade and avocado paired with the fried chicken create a sensational taste and texture experience. Blue Smoke’s ambience is energetic, and the booth style tables, large bar and bustling staff help to create a lively atmosphere. If you’re coming for dinner, be sure to stop by the renowned Jazz Standard club beneath Blue Smoke, to listen to some world-class jazz.

Address: 116 East 27th street (between Park and Lexington avenues), NYC
Phone: 212-447-7733
Reservations: Recommended
Price: $$, price range ~$12-30
http://www.bluesmoke.com/

Dine here before it closes in 2015

Union Square Café

Full disclosure – I reviewed this restaurant in Part One of this series. The reason it appears again, however, is because Union Square Café will be closing its doors in 2015. It may or may not open again but as someone who loves this New York institution, I feel I must urge you to go now before its original, iconic location is lost. USC retains many favorite dishes on its menu, such as the beef carpaccio, gnocchi, and strip-steak (see previous review), but new items appear periodically and the latest winner is the ‘Atlantic Swordfish’ which is divine. The fish is cooked to perfection – tender and moist – and has a hearty, fresh flavor, complemented by the aromatic aioli. The tempura green beans are crispy and nicely offset the soft swordfish. USC’s warm and inviting atmosphere is central to its appeal; at any seat throughout the restaurant, the friendly and pleasantly buzzy vibe surrounds you. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of New York’s greatest restaurants – a stalwart on the culinary scene since 1985.

Address: 21East 16th street, NYC, 10003
Phone: 212-243-4020
Reservations: Recommended
Price: $$$, price range ~$31-60
http://unionsquarecafe.com/

Zoe Baker-Peng is a junior at Barnard and Editor-in-Chief for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

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