Renee's Favorite Restaurant Experiences—And The Meaning Behind Them

Last week was an incredibly busy one and filled with more social events than usual. Over the weekend, I started reflecting on everything I had experienced and was touched by two facts. First, every activity revolved around building relationships, be it new, old or rekindled, and consuming food. Second, the food was delicious - some of the best I've eaten from some of the most well-known establishments in Manhattan. I wrote a post a while back on reflecting on the importance of food and the role that it plays in our lives, but this past week I breathed this statement to its core as I met with new and old friends for drinks, dinner or events that were filled with edible delights. Without fail, dining out in New York leaves me with special memories of the way I feel when I walk into the restaurant, of seeing both new and old faces, bubbling conversation and culinary adventures of the most delicious kind. Because last week was such a special one, I wanted to share with you the restaurants where I dined and the events that brought me to each establishment.

Friday Night, The Goodbye Party - Crispo: I have some special friends who are doing what many of us in New York will eventually do: grow up, make family a bigger priority and move to a place with more space. Sadly, this means they'll no longer be conveniently located near the city. So, Friday night we celebrated their going-away from New York and the start of their new life at Crispo. Crispo is one of the few restaurants in the city that I frequent on a regular basis. Typically, I like to experiment with what the city has to offer and will try a new restaurant when dining out; however, Crispo, offers consistently delicious Italian fare and is a great space to host almost any event, be it a birthday celebration, a place to entertain out-of-town visitors, a first date or just a casual dinner with a friend.

Order: Don't leave without ordering the risotto balls and their famous spaghetti carbonara. They are to die for! Here's a fun tip for you: If you can't decide on what pasta you're in the mood for, ask them to bring you two half-sized portions, so you won't have narrow it down to one hard-to-make decision. They'll gladly honor your request and only charge you for the price of one!


Tuesday Night, Meeting New Friends - The Little Owl: I spent Tuesday night with a new group of girls with whom I've had the privilege of working through the LOFT Girls program. After another photo shoot and cocktail party, we ended our night over a delicious meal at The Little Owl. The restaurant is a New York gem and it is very difficult to get a reservation. After five years of living in the city, this was only my second visit.

Order: This adorable West Village Mediterranean spot is well-known for their meatball sliders. Ridiculously scrumptious! I've had tastes of several different entree options and I promise, you really can't go wrong, so order according to what your taste buds are craving when you visit.


Wednesday, Rekindling A Longtime Friendship - Gramercy Tavern: I really don't have much else to say about this experience other than it was a five-year-in-the-making-dream-come-true! When a dear friend from Atlanta was in town and asked where I'd like to meet, I said, " Gramcery Tavern," without hesitation. There's no rational reason why I've waited so long to visit this New York classic establishment. Gramercy Tavern, one of Danny Meyers' fine establishments, provided a perfect dining experience: top-notch service, savory food and a beautiful atmosphere.

Order: I'm no expert with this menu having only visited once, but I highly suggest the watermelon salad with beets, hazelnuts and blue cheese as well as the roasted hanger steak if you're visiting for lunch.


Wednesday, Working Over Drinks - Bobo: There's nothing wrong with making business fun (I encourage it), so Wednesday evening I was in for another treat when I met with my editors at SHAPE for a few drinks to catch up on things. My friend Kendra suggested we try Bobo the last time she was in town, and she was spot-on when she said the rooftop space was a perfect setting for an outdoor after-work drink.

Order: They offer a great happy hour until 7 p.m. during the week in which you can order $1 oysters and half-priced small bites like tuna tartare, sausage rolls and pickled deviled eggs. All were very tasty paired with a chilled glass of rosé wine, my summer staple.


Thursday, The Date - Momofuku Ko: Yes, it's true. I had a date last week. If I'm going to be completely honest, it was probably one of the best dates I've ever had. Of course, the restaurant played a role in this experience, as it only hosts 10 to 12 people at a time. You all sit together along the kitchen counter with a perfect view into the kitchen where your meal is prepared. You'll enjoy a tasting menu devised by the chef, Peter Serpico, and his aides de camp, and it is usually about 10 courses long.

Order: The best part about Momofuku Ko is that you don't have to order! Just bring your adventurous palate, empty belly, and sit back, relax and watch your handcrafted meal come to life right in front you.


Signing Off Loving New York Restaurants,


Renee Woodruff blogs about travel, food and living life to the fullest on Follow her on Twitter or see what she's up to on Facebook!

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