3 Yummy Dishes That Make Paying For A Reservation Worth It

Photo: Courtesy of Rosemary's.
It's a controversial thing, the idea of paying money — even if it's not a huge sum — to purchase a reservation at a restaurant. Does it democratize the who-do-you-know nature of scoring a table at the most exclusive restaurants in NYC, or does it actually take us down the slippery slope of making dining out in this city even more cost-prohibitive than it already is? It's hard to say. But, one thing is clear: People feel strongly about the issue — on both sides.
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So, I took one of these apps, Resy, which has been in NYC since the fall and launched in L.A. last month, out for a spin to see if I could answer a few of the most basic questions. How much do these reservations really cost? (Somewhere between $3 and $12 a person, from what I've seen.) How many restaurants are available in the app? (A little short of 50 places in New York, all south of 42nd Street, in Manhattan.) And, most importantly, how great are the restaurants in the app? Are they actually worth considering that slippery slope? Are they actually that tough to get into? The answer here is more subjective, but for me, there were three spots that make Resy totally worthwhile. The breakdown on what they are, why they're great, and what they cost, right this way.
Photo: Courtesy of Rosemary's.
Rosemary's
18 Greenwich Avenue (at West 10th Street); 212-647-1818
Two words: lemon pasta. This is the best version of this (surprisingly difficult-to-make-at-home) pasta out there. Called linguine on the menu.
Rosemary's is hands-down my favorite restaurant in all of NYC. And, for parties smaller than six, they don't accept reservations. The wait is always very, very, very long. Unless of course, you have an app that lets you pay $3 to $7 a person for the table by the front windows.
The wine list is super-affordable, the focaccia is warm and magical, the affogato and olive oil cake make ordering two desserts a no-brainer, and sigh, that lemon pasta. Also, the holidays are behind us now, but this place is the coziest, most festive spot to enjoy fairy lights and wreaths — and of course, it's decked out in beautiful, rustic decor year-round.
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Toro
85 Tenth Avenue (at West 15th Street); 212-691-2360
Excellent corn. Incredible pan con tomate. The most basic things are somehow better here, and I was completely delighted. And, as a vegetarian, I didn't even try the dishes my friends most raved about: the mini hamburgers and octopus.
Full disclosure: I discovered this place on goop. And, proceeded to be unable to get a reservation here, ever, until Resy came along. Then, delight of delights, I put on my most streamlined neutrals, channeled my inner Gwynnie, and happily paid $8 per person for a table in the clean, wooden-but-industrial space for a wonderful (albeit pricey) tapas meal with girlfriends. Our waiter was attentive and helpful, our food was all fantastic, and we had a whole lot of fun. All in all: worth it.
Photo: Courtesy of Charlie Bird.
Charlie Bird
5 King Street (at Sixth Avenue); 212-235-7133
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This place serves up the best farro salad I've ever tasted. Truly.
The chef (Ryan Hardy) has talent and creativity in spades, the sommelier is arguably one of the best in the entire city, the bar is always packed, and the reservations here are pretty much impossible to come by — even if you're willing to settle for a 5:30 p.m. seating. Seriously, the New York Times opened their review of the restaurant by calling the host at Charlie Bird "the hardest-working woman in the food business."
So, even at $8 to $10 a person, paying for a reservation feels pretty worth it. Especially in the middle of winter, when all you want is to be safely tucked away in a warm, inviting space, eating something comforting, listening to some '90s hip-hop, and sipping on a glass of wine you've never heard of — but end up thoroughly enjoying.
Bonus: The first time I used Resy, I came here, and they brought out a complimentary glass of Champagne for me and my boyfriend. It hasn't happened again since, but I certainly appreciated being welcomed.
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