Monday, September 13, 2010

Midtown Ninth Avenue food destination

The restaurant scene on Ninth Avenue in midtown Manhattan gives me something to write today about other than politics or financial markets. With the former I sometimes feel that my scribbles are just for my health, not all bad, and as for the latter I don't want to jinx anything for the moment, as if I could.

The street mentioned has become a destination for reasonably priced, by NYC standards, terrific food. Saying it's a destination in the foodie sense is a stretch but where an area has good eateries that don't cost a fortune, there are enough New Yorkers to fill all seats without any tourists or adventurers from distant suburbs.

Ninth Avenue from 42nd to 57th has evolved over three decades from a place that was in the '80's possibly dangerous, the center of the XXX stores, run down, and with plenty of corner activity of several varieties. There were always a few decent restaurants at the 44th to 47th street intersections that abutted the theater district but that was it. That was it other than being the last bastion for the traditional Irish dive bars of which there were many and now just a few. Some did have good hamburgers and fresh popcorn. By 2000 the street was safe, mostly cleaned up, and new restaurants were being established successfully. In the last five years there has been many more new restaurants started that are interesting, innovative, or reliable(or some combination of those three adjectives).

Want a neat "Afgan Grill" with a great sign. What about "Kashkaval", a cured meat and cheese shop that has a fascinatingly wonderful Mediterranean tapas selection as well as fondue, that other Mediterranean staple? The new "b bap fusion rice bar" has hearty healthy Korean fare. "Wondee Siam 2" is always full for dinner and the soft shell crabs that I had there last week were beyond compare, maybe a function of my memory but they were really good. I wondee about numbers 1 and 3 which are also in the area.

There are many more, and more on the way. "Marseille", "Pam's Real Thai", and "Delta Grill" are still humming along, but now they have plenty of company. Who would have thought that 9th Avenue would be in danger of becoming boulevardier territory.

That's really nothing. The well established Chelsea 9th Ave pioneer La Bergamote now has a second location on 52nd street between 10th and 11th. Paris between 10TH AND 11TH in Hell's Kitchen?


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