Having spent a week in my second adopted neighborhood in New York, Tribeca, I have noticed some subtle changes in the restaurant landscape.
More than ever, at night, it is quiet, and that can be directly related to the Triburbia effect, meaning the rising number of stay at home moms with strollers who have traded in late night dinners for lunch/shopping.
Many restaurants have closed, most notably Chanterelle and Danube, and there are more empty spaces now than I can remember, testifying to the rising rents everywhere. The quality of some existing restaurants have slipped too. Old standbys like Tribeca Grill and The Odeon have not kept up with the times, serving mediocre food for unjustified prices, and the basic grub stops such as Edward’s or Petite Abeille, or Max, might as well be located in the Upper East Side. It’s a bad sign when a chain comes along, like Dean’s pizza, further signifying a changing of the guard. More Duane Reades, banks and chain stores like Subway. I had a few recent meals at Bouley Upstairs and Blau Gans, and although the meals were fine, they were not up to par compared to past experiences. I am still wondering about Nobu’s consistency.
The Little American Place, Kitchenette, Mangez avec Moi have all had changes in their food, I feel, and the void for cuisine ethnic and exciting has not been filled.
There is still a proliferation of Italian restaurants, mostly overpriced and antiquated. This is pasta better off made at home. There isn’t a decent burger in sight, maybe Landmark, and the steakhouses Wolfgang’s and the Palm, are not first choices for a fab cut of beef. Megarestos like Megu, Matsugen, and Ninja, still seem to stay open somehow. Thank goodness Chinatown is so near.
Newcomers like Bar Artisanal and Locanda Verde are trying to fill the void, but my recent trips to these bars proved fatefully malserviced, coupled with uninspired, small portioned food. The perennial brunch pleaser, Bubby’s is trying to become a late night destination. Alas early on a Sunday night, they were out of the ribs. I guess they are trying to fill the void left by Florent’s closing, picking up a weary Soho crowd. Bouley Market is trying to be a wine bar at night, but the space is simply not conducive to this conversion. I still enjoy the Japanese small plates at B Flat, a jazz mecca with fine cocktails, and have yet to give Macao Trading Co. a second chance. Visits to Macao upon opening left me confused.
At the moment Tribeca still seems like a good destination for lunch, from the Bangladesh eateries closer to the courthouses to the Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon, including several pubs that are open for lunch offering good pub fare. There are a couple of bars on the clandestine side, not speakeasy, but hard to find. 77 Warren might have the right vibe and feel, but their hours are not set in stone.
Pastries are still good at Duane Street Patisserie and Bouley Market, but when will real artisanal coffee arrive? Stumptown, Counter Culture, anyone?
I still enjoy Tribeca, and will continue too seek out good quality food there, but in the meanwhile, it’s Winnie’s, NY Noodletown, Big Wong, Fuleen’s, and Grand Sichuan for me.