Recently Eaten

A Voce
8

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After spending (literally) hours trying to figure out which Italian restaurant to take his parents to, we settled on A Voce. After looking over the menu, it seemed to get the right balance of familiar Italian dishes done with a bit of a haute cuisine twist, and the atmosphere was on the interesting side but still acceptable at the parent level. It was also important that the place wasn't tiny and cramped, like so many New York restaurants tend to be; more for the sake of Wayne's parents, as we wanted to make sure that they could enjoy a long-ish dinner in a comfortable setting.

The restaurant was exactly as we had hoped. We had a spacious table against a wall, so half banquette seating and two chairs. The restaurant was on the quiet side when we arrived, but the noise level built to a pleasant buzz as the evening went on. The server was attentive at the beginning, and knew the menu relatively well (she was able to answer our questions without sputtering), but she was a bit too perky for my taste.

I had a lovely mushroom and walnut soup which had a creamy, velvety texture and an earthy flavor. It was rather filling but I could have had another bowl of it, I enjoyed it so much. Wayne ordered the cassoncini con prosciutto di parma, these amazing fried balls of dough filled with prosciutto that just melted in your mouth. We also ordered the terrina di polpo, the octopus terrine. It had a bright, citrusy flavor and the octopus was cut paper-thin, so the texture was soft and chewy in a good way.

I was actually quite full at that point, so it was a bit harder for me to enjoy the trout as much, but it had a nice grilled charcoal flavor but was still tender at the same time. And perhaps we went overboard, but we did order dessert. The bomboloni were the best, very light even though they were fried, and the chocolate sauce was rich and decadent.

The real test was Wayne's parents: they declared the meal to be amazing and were quite happy with it, so I can definitely recommend it if you have parents coming to town and you want to impress them.

Char No. 4
7

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I hadn't been to Char No. 4 in a while, and we needed a place to take Wayne's family. The trick was finding a restaurant that had something for everyone, that wasn't too exotic for the parents, had vegetarian options, wasn't too expensive and was interesting and well-executed enough to satisfy me and Wayne. Char No. 4 fit the bill rather nicely and we were quite pleased with the way it turned out.

The atmosphere is contemporary and sleek while still creating a feeling of warmth - definitely a plus for parents who aren't used to city restaurants. The banquettes are set up in a way to feel rather cozy and intimate, but it was a bit of a squeeze getting 6 adults in. The waiter was very understanding and patient with our large group, and managed to keep all of our orders and requests straight without getting annoyed. It was busy, as it was a Saturday night, but the pacing was mostly right - the main course came out a bit more slowly than we would have liked, but we were in the mood for lingering anyways, so it turned out fine.

The food was better than I remembered it. The brisket sandwich was tender and flavorful, and of course I could have eaten twice as many pork nuggets as we had ordered. Wayne's mom thought that the chicken was cooked nicely but had too much preserved lemon on it. The drinks list is good and of course the selection of bourbon and whiskey is top notch. Unfortunately I (obviously) couldn't partake in much of it.

It's moderately priced, you can get a sandwich for around $12 or a large entree for between $12-$25. I highly recommend this place if you have family or friends in town and you need to take them somewhere that has a city-ish vibe but perhaps are eaters on the less adventurous side. 

Buddha Bodai
4

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This place is perpetually busy. They have dim sum whenever you want, you fill out a form and they bring it to you - no carts. They have the standard, garden variety Chinese menu, but of course everything is kosher and vegetarian. I have nothing against that, I've had some amazing vegetarian meals, but the food is just not very good. The food lacks flavor and needs much more salt, it's just very bland. Everything tends to be on the sweet rather than savory side, so when you order "mock duck" or "mock roast pork" of course I feel rather let down.

The staff is on the helpful side, not as gruff as you would expect in Chinatown. So that's a plus. But the lack of flavor in the food is a real turnoff - sometimes it's better to just make food the way that it is rather than trying to imitate meat.

Think Coffee
5

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This mini-chain has multiple locations - I've been to the one on Mercer the most. The coffee is decent, not the best by any stretch of the imagination. However if you have friends who aren't as in to coffee as you are, then it's a good place to get a variety of other drinks like chai and tea. They also have food, but I've never had any of their sandwiches. The atmosphere is very dorm-ish, young NYU students basically camp out there and do their homework. If you can find a spot it can be a good place to meet up with people, they don't give you the stink eye for lingering. There are even some couches if you can snag them. 

La Colombe
8

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Excellent coffee, especially the lattes. They have a good selection of pastries, I especially like the apple turnover - very flaky and buttery. The staff is friendly. The place can be busy but it mostly seems like take away, not many people linger. The space is airy, lots of natural light. Good people watching for fancy people in Tribeca. Not sure if they have wifi or not.


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