Joie de Vivre

Our trip to Manhattan in October lasted a mere twenty-four hours, having been cut short by an improbably early nor’easter which brought snow to much of the area. Still, we had enough time in the city to get a lot of exercise pounding the sidewalks, to take a free neighborhood tour, and to experience the form of entertainment we love

best: enjoying good food. Whether it’s just the two of us at home, a small dinner party, a large backyard barbecue, or dining out at a restaurant, for us eating is truly one of the great pleasures of life. The enormity of the Big Apple and the sheer number of eateries to be found there can be, to say the least, daunting. But, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we’ve had good luck in the recent past researching restaurants by neighborhood, cuisine, and price range through New York Magazine online.

Hole-in-the-wall ethnic places abound in big cities and usually allow us to sample cuisines we can't always get back home. Because we were walking back from Times Square, we decided to visit Korea Town in the garment district on 32nd between Broadway and 5th. The tour we took of the area around Times Square had gone on way longer than we had envisioned
and by 3:00 we were starving and wondered if restaurants would be open at that hour. (This notion probably stems from being disappointed several times in France where the kitchen staff nearly always takes its break before the dinner service starting at 2:00.) No need to worry in this country, however. Woohoo! Dumpling makers were hard at work in the front window at Mandoo Bar--mandoo being the Korean word for dumplings, as it turns out. A table was available in the stark but clean place, and, lucky for us, they offered free pickles and kimchee (and even refills) which helped to quiet our rumbling, grateful stomachs. For my lunch, I chose Mandoo Soup with pork and vegetable dumplings, which was soothing on the very cool windy afternoon. Hubby had Mool Mandoo, which turned out to be 10 dumplings exactly like the ones in my soup. Except for this ordering mistake on our part, we were pleased with the healthy and relatively cheap luncheon meal. A man nearby had a big bowl of what seemed to be bibimbop, which would be worth a try next time.

As a rule, when it comes to dinner, we like to find a place near our hotel, figuring that we’ll be exhausted after a day of sightseeing and won’t want to bother traveling far and wide. Since we were staying at Broadway and 27th, I paid particular attention to both the East and West 20s selections on New York Magazine’s website, being sure to check out their critics’ picks, also noting readers' reviews. We made an online reservation for 8:30 at Resto on 29th at Park. The menu of this Belgian restaurant, which includes a four-course prix fixe on Sundays for $38, has the typical moules frites, which are always quite tempting,
but because of our late lunch we decided to go with something less caloric and heavy for that time of night. We started out following highly-praised reviews of deviled eggs on pork toast; they were indeed tasty, though a bit greasy for our tastes. Both of us chose small plates as our main dish. My crispy pig’s ear salad had a nice mix of spinach, egg, and oyster mushrooms, though the pig's ear chips reminded me a bit too unfavorably of the pork rinds preferred by former President George H. W. Bush. My husband really enjoyed the tête de cochon salad, served on brioche toast. Resto has a large selection of Belgian beers and a small, but expensive wine list; we did find a quite palatable rosé to accompany our meal. The service was very good, but I would be remiss in not talking about the noise level inside the restaurant which bordered on unbearable. I pointed this out to our server who said that her parents had just told her the same thing when they dined there the previous week. The management should really think about carpeting the floor or at least a wall to absorb some of the sound. Over all, we were happy with our choices of restaurants in the city and welcome any advice readers have for future visits.

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