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La Rural by Thomas Rafael
January 27, 2008, 10:26.12 pm ET

It's not too often that you can walk into a new restaurant and feel like it's been there for years. But that is the exact feeling I got walking into La Rural, a new Argenitinean steakhouse on the Upper West Side. It was like an old friend drawing you in.  more

Lowering the Stakes By Brian Scott Lipton
January 27, 2008, 10:14.42 pm ET

Amidst the falling temperatures of January, even diners who usually resist the siren call of red meat can find their resolve weakening. But who wants to max out the credit card just to have a steak – a far-from-uncommon occurrence in the current climate of haute steakhouses and Peter Luger spinoffs? Fortunately, the city offers more than its fair share of appealing steak options in the $15-$25 range

Guantanamera (939 Eighth Avenue, 262-5354)

This lively Cuban eatery offers plenty of Havanian specialties, from its signature mojitos to arroz con pollo and camarones al ajillo, to tempt the tongue. But it’s a true mecca for steak fanciers, who will find no fewer than four options, from the traditional Vata Frica (fried steak) to the Bistec Empanizado, a breaded sirloin steak topped with mesculun salad and fresh tomatoes, to the Bistec Embollado, a large and meaty sirloin topped with a heap of sautéed onions.

Pigalle (790 Eighth Avenue. 489-2233)

I’ve never been sure if there’s some irony intended by naming this always-packed theater district favorite after the Parisian quarter known for its sex shows and prostitutes. Regardless, Pigalle is a true specialist in Bistro fare, including such Gallic favorites as pate, cassoulet, and escargot. But don’t be surprised if you see steak on your fellow diner’s plate; whether it’s the excellent grilled skirt steak topped with a red wine sauce, a traditional steak frites, or a steak au poivre. And unlike at your upscale steakhouse, potatoes and vegetables are included with each dish, and the house allows side dish substitutions for a mere $2.

Metro Marche (625 Eighth Avenue. 239-1010)

Ok, we will be the first to admit that the Port Authority Bus Terminal isn’t the first place that springs to mind when we think “nice dinner.” But this remarkably classy spot nestled just at the 41st Street entrance has become a reliable favorite (and one of the few places we’re able to grab a prime table on a pre-theater Saturday night!) The grilled shell steak is decidedly pleasing, and we love the fact that you get to choose your two side dishes from an array of tempting options, including excellent Brussels sprouts, haricots vert, sautéed mushrooms, and three types of potatoes. And oh yes, the same deal applies to grilled salmon and grilled yellowfin tuna, as well.

The Smith (55 Third Avenue. 420-9800)

This recently opened East Village eatery (on the former site of Pizzeria Uno) has quickly become a favorite of NYU students, especially on Sunday nights when a burger and beer can be had for just $12. But steak fans take note – you’re not alone. The Smith offers a hanger steak, a “bar steak,” and, best of all, a strip streak – all at extremely reasonable prices – each accompanied by your choice of fries or salad (and we mean lots of salad), and one of three sauces, including the caloric béarnaise or the considerably healthier and absolutely delicious chimichurri.

Ottomanelli’s (1424 Lexington Avenue. 426-6886)

In just a couple of years, this Upper East Side corner eatery has attracted sizable (as in sometimes out the door) crowds, due in large part to its fine food, enormous portions, and shockingly low prices. But its best deal may well be Dr. Eric’s Hanger Steak, surprisingly tender and flavorful and large enough for two, not even counting the large mound of addictively delicious mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies that come with the meat. The restaurant recently added a cocktail list (beer and wine have long been available) to make the dining experience truly complete.

Museum of Folk Art Shop by Pamela Grossman
January 27, 2008, 10:03.38 pm ET

Charmed by the art and the feel of the place, I wondered if its shop would also be likable. In exploring, I found a lovely, well-stocked spot and an answer to the question, "Where can you find a unique and affordable gift in Midtown?"  more

                       Photo: Museum of Folk Art

LLee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks
January 27, 2008, 9:57.25 pm ET

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the design for Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted’s 843-acre New York City masterpiece, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present Lee Friedlander: A Ramble in Olmsted Parks. On view from January 22 to May 11, 2008, the exhibition will feature 36 photographs, most never before on public display.  more

                             Photo: Lee Friedlander/The Met

The Little Mermaid by Lesley Alexander
January 27, 2008, 9:46.34 pm ET

It’s a sad day for Disney when the crown jewel of its animated features, "The Little Mermaid", is treated to a limp translation on Broadway - especially given all the money that they must have thrown at this production.  more

                     Photo: Joan Marcus

The Ice Man Cometh - Now Get Him An Electric Blanket
January 27, 2008, 10:37.44 am ET

Dutch Stuntman Wim Hof beat his own world record by staying in a vat of ice for 1 hour and 12 minutes on Saturday in front of the Rubin Museum of Art.  When it was over his nipples broke off.  Just kidding.  But he is definitely the coldest man in the city.   He says he is able to accomplish the feat through tantric meditation.  Here are some pics of the big event.


A Sad New York Farewell for Heath Ledger
January 22, 2008, 10:52.45 pm ET

Today I was actually ashamed to be a New Yorker.  A news buff at heart I was drawn to the SoHo residence where actor Heath Ledger was found dead today at the age of 28, apparently from a drug overdose.  But it was the scene outside that was truly troubling.  A mob of gawkers, paparazzi and news networks surrounding the entrance of the apartment at 421 Broome St to see Ledger's body removed.  I was almost waiting for cheers to break out as the body, in a black body bag, was finally wheeled out on a stretcher.  For me it was a reality check.  A young actor - one of Hollywood's rising stars - was dead and this was his New York sendoff.  As I was leaving one guy was hawking his photos for 500 bucks.  I didn't stick around to see if he sold them.  About a block away someone shouted out "Brokeback sucked."  Sorry Heath.  R.I.P.


Valentine's Day 2008 - Book Early!
January 21, 2008, 12:50.21 am ET

Before you know it Valentine’s Day will be here and you had better get cracking if you want to secure a table for your romantic meal.

                                            Photo: Pipa/Cititour

David Burke & Donatella
133 East 61st St, (212) 813-2121

Offering a prix fixe 5 course tasting menu.
Tables still available between 5 & 6pm and after 10pm
This restaurant is known for its “Angry Lobster” and “Bronx-style Filet Mignon of Veal”.

One If By Land… Two If By Sea
17 Barrow St, (212) 228-0822 

One If By Land is known as one of the romantic restaurants for Valentine’s Day.
This converted carriage house offers piano music and the house specialty “Beef Wellington” along with a recently revamped menu.   But you may already be out of luck.  The restaurant is fully booked, but you can still try for a last-minute cancellation. 

416 3rd Ave, (212) 481-1712

There’s nothing more romantic than sharing fondue with your sweetie.  Here you can dip fresh berries and brownie bits into a house special vanilla champagne fondue.

38 East 19th St, (212) 677-2233

Crystal chandeliers and rose petals on the tables offer a romantic setting for Valentine’s Day at prices that won’t break the bank.  Nibble on croquettas and small plates, including seared scallops and tuna.

Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, (212) 823-9335

You may have to bust the bank with this one.  A $275 9-course tasting menu including items like “Oysters and Pearls,” Greek Island oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar, and hibiscus sorbet with dragon fruit and shaved coconut.  Per se is already book for Valentine’s Day, but you can still add your name to the “wait list”.

40 E 20th St, (212) 529-7870

This champagne bar offers more than 100 types of bubbly with Petrossian caviars and chocolates by La Maison du Chocolat.

A Voce
41 Madision Avenue, (212) 545-8555

This popular Italian spot is offering an $85 4-course prix fixe meal, with 4 choices per course.  The restaurant is known for its original Italian fare, including dishes like fennel glazed duck and scampi ravioli.  At last check, early tables at 5:45pm and after 9:30pm were still available.

Spice Market
  403 West 13th Street, 212-675-2322

There are still tables available at the ultra-sexy and dimly lit Spice Market which is known to draw A-List crowds.  For Valentine’s Day the restaurant is offering an $85 Tasting Menu.

Bar Blanc
142 West 10th St, (212) 255-2330

This newcomer to the West Village is offering a full Valentine’s Day menu for $78.  Choices include Big Eye Tuna Sushimi, a 28 Day Aged New York Strip Steak and Warm Milk Chocolate Beignet’s with Vera Cruz Vanilla Ice cream.

Irving Mill
116 East 16th Street, (212) 254-1600

If you didn’t have the foresight to book a table at Gramercy Tavern (which is already fully booked), Irving Mill which has been compared to GT and will start taking reservations on Monday January 21st.  The restaurant is offering a 3-course prix fixe meal for $85.

78 Fifth Ave, (718) 789-8899

If you can’t find reservations anywhere, try Canaille.  This cute French bistro in Park Slope, Brooklyn isn’t taking any.  But the place is rather small, so you may want to arrive early to secure a table.  A single red rose and specially made chocolates will be provided.

Out of Luck

Sfoglia  - Fully Booked
Gramercy Tavern – Fully Booked (150 on waiting list) has thousands of restaurants to choose from, click here to see them all.  Or, visit to see what’s on the menu at more than 1,500 New York City restaurants.

Hitting the Bars by Andrea Strong
January 20, 2008, 1:00.58 pm ET

This week I had two meals and two bars-one at Bacaro and another at Smith & Mills-and loved both of them, not so much because the food was so brilliant (it was fine in both cases, but not great), but because the entire experience of dining and drinking was exceptional, from the service, to the cocktails, to the spectacular settings. If you're searching for a bar for drinks and a bite, for talking amongst yourselves or for exploring the world of engaging strangers, these two should be on your list.  more

                                                          Photo: Smith & Mills/Cititour

Lucky 8 by Thomas Rafael
January 20, 2008, 12:55.00 pm ET

New York's "other Chinatown" can be found in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The main drag is located on 8th Avenue, between 49th and 60th Sts. It's a bustling business district with open air markets selling Chinese vegetables and seafood. In between you'll find loads of Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian restaurants. One of the standouts is Lucky 8 Chinese restaurant on 52nd Street.  more

                 Photo: Cititour

Brooklynksi by Pamela Grossman
January 20, 2008, 12:51.02 pm ET

For decades, the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn was a relatively unchanging Polish-immigrant enclave. But in the past few years, upheaval has come fast—first the artists arrived, and recently, somewhat astonishingly, luxury condos have cropped up all over. ($500 K for a small apartment in a neighborhood where the local subway line never enters Manhattan? Apparently, yes. And no, generally speaking, neither the long-standing neighborhood residents nor the more recent artist arrivals can afford to buy.)  more

                   Photo: Brooklynski

Fuerzabruta by Diane Snyder
January 20, 2008, 12:45.36 pm ET

Perhaps it's about man's struggle against the brutality of existence. After all, the opening sequence of this high-octane piece of physical theater — from the Argentine creators of the long-running Off-Broadway spectacle De La Guarda — features a man on a treadmill, soldiering on as wind, rain, people and even a wall try to knock him down.  more

                       Photo: Fuerzabruta

Would-Be Jumper Suing Empire State Building For $30 Million
January 17, 2008, 5:42.14 pm ET

Daredevil Jeb Corliss is suing the owners of the Empire State Building claiming they almost killed him by stopping him from  jumping from the observation deck.  Click here to see the dramatic video.

Kellari Parea by Brian Scott Lipton
January 13, 2008, 9:24.22 pm ET

Sometimes, wishes do come true – even if they’re not ones you made on your birthday cake. For example, ever since my first visit to Kellari Taverna, the excellent Greek restaurant on West 44th Street, I had secretly hoped they might open a branch closer to my workplace in the Flatiron District, for when those Hellenic cravings suddenly hit.  more

                                                                             Photo: Cititour

Irving Mill by Andrea Strong
January 13, 2008, 9:20.28 pm ET

It’s always interesting for me to experience a restaurant and then read other critics’ assessments of the same places. Sometimes we’re on the same page, other times it seems we were dining at completely different restaurants. With respect to Irving Mill, curiously, certain reviewers have taken to casting this perfectly lovely restaurant in a veil of negativity, discounting much of what the owners have worked quite hard to create as some sort of less successful imitation of Gramercy Tavern. From where I sit, I don’t think that’s very fair. Now, certainly I see some similarities between GT and Irving Mill. They’re both big, festive, seasonal American restaurants with that elegant but earthy style of décor. They both also offer wonderful amounts of hospitality, and they’re both split in two, with a bar up front and a dining room in the rear. My question is: So what?   more

                        Photo: Cititour

Lush by Pamela Grossman
January 13, 2008, 9:17.42 pm ET

Phew! We've made it through the Thanksgiving turkeys, the Chanukah candles, the Christmas trees, the office parties, the gift shopping, the 10 million commitments, and the new year's hangover. The holiday season can be lovely, and I hope yours was, but it's almost always exhausting. Time to recuperate, recharge, and...take a bath?  more

                   Photo: Lush/Happy Soap

Doggie Bags
January 13, 2008, 9:15.24 pm ET

Move over Tinkerbell. This line of doggie bags might even make Paris Hilton jealous. No leashes needed. No bags of dog food. And they’re loyal as can be, and will always stay by your side.  more

                            Photo: Cititour

Macelleria Review by Brian Scott Lipton
January 6, 2008, 9:45.49 pm ET

By 9pm on a Friday pre-Christmas night, as other restaurants begged for customers, the line for tables had formed at Macelleria, the aptly-described “rustic Italian steakhouse” in the heart of the Meatpacking district. Unlike at some of the red-hot area’s new denizens, the vibe at Macelleria is decidedly unpretentious, even convivial, explaining its popularity with twosomes out for a romantic meal or large, boisterous all-male parties celebrating who knows what.  more

                                                                             Photos: Cititour

The Capitalist Cowboy
January 6, 2008, 9:37.31 pm ET

The last time we ran into the Naked Cowboy in Times Square the ladies were swooning and cheering as he made his way to a perch on 48th and Broadway.  Only now, the cowboy looked more like a walking billboard, selling space on his guitar, hawking guides and charging five bucks for a picture.  We've got a few suggestions on where the Naked Cowboy -- who's real name is Robert John Burck -- can put some ads next!

                                                                               Photo: Cititour