If you are ever offered the chance to work from Sunday-Thursday, I highly recommend it. But on Fridays I have to get creative when my friends are busy. So I went to the Lower East Side to check out some new places to eat. One of them was Stage, a tiny Ukrainian diner right next to STOMP in the East Village. My friend insisted I check it out months ago, but I never had time since they are closed on Sundays. The fried pierogies and cream of turkey soup were good, but the homemade bread was amazing. Eastern Europe food is very starchy, fatty, and sparsely spiced, but I've had it many times in my life and I still get cravings for it when I've been eating too much Malaysian food. Stage is a cash-only budget diner, and lives up to its Yelp reputation. I will come back and for the blintzes and turkey dinner. 5 out of 5.
I've been to a lot of places around the world and eaten a lot of things. I'm far from a picky eater (i.e. whiny pain in the fucking ass), I know this because I have a friend who is, and everything he orders is served with a side of misery and neurosis. But I am somewhat jaded, having eaten things that have set new gastronomic standards for me countless times. This adds a layer of difficulty in the already complicated process of finding a restaurant in New York that can really impress.
I say that NYC makes this difficult because word-of-mouth spreads so fast that when a hot restaurant gets 'discovered', it blows up overnight as local foodies flock to see for themselves. Long waits form, and assuming the staff can keep up, their reputation builds upon itself, attracting even more visitors. It doesn't take long for expectations to increase, as well as prices, until the more finicky patrons start labeling it 'overrated', 'overpriced', or 'not what it used to be'.
Notable examples of this would be the David Chang restaurants (Momofuku Ssam, Noodle Bar, etc.) and Katz's Deli.
I think the blame lies somewhere in the middle between the restaurants and the notorious reputation of New Yorkers for having unrealistic expectations.
The NYC restaurants that have true longevity are the ones are the little guys that don't have the space, or patience to ever develop any air of pretension. My best food experiences here have been in greasy spoons like Stage and the Pakistani food carts that defy New York's insistence on smelling like a shitpiss from the 1980's with their spices that are so absent from White kitchens.
But I'm certainly not averse to the famous NY joints. On my way back, I had a grasshopper pie from Momofuku Milk bar and a slice from Joe's Pizza (I've eaten a caprese slice from Joe's before, but this time I wasn't on acid). Both were delicious. At least delicious enough to stop me from comparing in the relentlessly tiring search for "The Best". And shouldn't that be enough?