Monday, December 19, 2016

Fall in New York

Trip date: Oct 2015

Day three was another gorgeous New York fall day. Forest and I slept in a bit before meeting at Gotham West Market, not far from my hotel. Although this upscale food hall is filled with delicious places to eat, we had our sights set on Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. The ramen was absolutely delicious, the best bowl I have had since the last time I was in Japan. I may try the regular restaurant next time!

We walked past the aircraft carrier Intrepid on the way to catch the subway but didn't go for a tour. We were heading out of Hell's Kitchen to the Upper West Side. We were going to Town Shop, a well-known lingerie store with a reputation for having salespeople who excel at bra fittings. In fact, most can just look at you as you walk in and tell if you are wearing the wrong size. I know that men don't give a rat's ass about this but it was a great girly experience and their selection of lingerie is immense! Major shopping took place.

We walked past a cute little Italian cafe on a random corner and decided to take seats outside in the sun for a glass of wine and some bites of cheese. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

That evening we had a cocktail crawl planned. I mean it really isn't a Wendy & Forest trip without at least one! First up was the newly opened Slowly Shirley, which is the lower level speakeasy at Happiest Hour. HH is a big loud party while SS is quiet and elegant. We took two seats at the tiny bar and met Kyle, our bartender for the evening who was absolutely awesome.

A few classic cocktails, some great jazz from the speakers, and a delicious fried chicken sandwich made for a very enjoyable time here.

Next up was Mace which was getting a lot of press (and still does, especially as it was just listed at 28 at the World's 50 Best Bar awards). The menu here is one of the most creative and beautiful that I've seen. And the drinks were extraordinary. I'd say this is a must stop while in the East Village.

We took advantage of the gorgeous evening and decided to head to the uber-touristy Times Square as neither of us had been in years. The last time I had been in fact was when I was in college and it didn't have the best reputation back then. Now, of course it is all cleaned up, there are park-like tables and benches and people bring their kids to see the Disney characters. The ginormous signs flash ads for clothing, theater shows, movies, etc. The light is so bright! The people watching is unreal. It was super fun and funny and I loved it!
We stopped in a restaurant bar for a nightcap but they were closing. A waiter told us about this place called Lille's so that is where we went. This Victorian style bar was really a surprise! The drinks were bad, the wine was overpriced, but the atmosphere was great!
Forest and I had lunch reservations the next day at MaPeche, another in the Momofuko restaurant family. This is such a fun concept as you get a small menu of dishes to choose from but throughout the meal a trolly or tray is brought around with a selection of special small plates as well, dim-sum style. The seafood platter with oysters, chilled prawns, and stone crab claws was amazing. And the pork belly buns lived up to their hype. Our waiter sweetly sent us a free order of birthday cake truffles when I couldn't decide between those and the cereal milk soft serve cone.
We took a nice stroll around 5th Avenue and then headed to the Ink48 for a glass of rose on the rooftop terrace. There are absolutely amazing views from here which were made even more dramatic when a crazy thunder and lightning storm rolled through!
Forest had a flight to catch back to Paris so I walked with her back to her hotel, said goodbye, and caught the subway to the Lower East Side. As a party of one, it was much easier to get a seat at Attaboy, housed in the old Milk & Honey location that I had loved so many years ago. The bar is an absolute gem, I couldn't love this little spot any more. I had a few rounds made by Dan and just relaxed in the REALLY dimly lit space. Attaboy came in at #6 during this year's 50 Best Bar awards and it is pretty obvious why. No website, no reservations, no sign, just ring the doorbell and hope for the best.
From here I had a short walk to Prune where I was meeting my friend Meg. Our dinner was outstanding! Head-on spot prawns, sweetbreads, and braised shortribs were all standouts but the best part was that Chef Hamilton was in the (tiny) kitchen!
We headed next door to my friend Castro's bar Boilermaker for some retro cocktails and I was super happy to see Kyle from Slowly Shirley behind the bar. Super fun evening catching up with Meg and eating and drinking like queens!
The next morning I slept in before strolling around Hell's Kitchen for a bit. Then I grabbed an Uberpool to Penn Station, caught the NJ Transit to Newark airport. It took about an hour 15 but it only cost $13!

Fantastic trip to the city! And on my flight home we flew right over the Finger Lakes and Niagria Falls!

Earlier post about this trip here.
All New York photos here.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New York State of Mind

Trip date: Oct 2015

After spending five days in Chicago, Forest and I flew off to continue our girls' trip for another five days in New York. I was very happy to get a complimentary 1st class upgrade on Delta even though it was just a short jaunt to the Big Apple. We were on separate flights, coming into different airports (I always gotta earn those miles!), so I grabbed the subway E line from JFK and headed into the city.

I was staying at the Kimpton Ink48 in Hell's Kitchen. It was an easy 10 minute walk from the 50th St subway stop to the cute boutique hotel that was once a printer. My only complaint was that the hotel was covered in scaffolding making my nice view of the city a bit awkward. After I got unpacked I walked to the CitizenM Hotel in Times Square, where Forest was staying. This is an over-the-top hipster hotel with big fun art and a great rooftop bar where we had a drink.

From here we headed to the Highline at dusk for their weekly stargazing event, hosted by the Astronomy Club. I already love the Highline, but this free viewing event was awesome! We saw the rings of Saturn and a double star and spoke to some nice geeky people. If you are in NYC on a Tuesday night between April and October, I'd give this a go for sure (clear skies needed obviously!)


Next up, Uber to cocktails at Dead Rabbit. You've probably heard of this place, being voted the #1 bar in the world and all. This was a repeat stop for me (one which I would do over and over) and IMHO these folks are completely deserving of all the accolades they receive. We had planned on a one-and-done but they took such good care of us we ended up tucking in for a bit. We had prime seats at the bar upstairs (I've never actually sat downstairs so can't compare) and enjoyed our complimentary tea cups of punch while reading through the impressive cocktail menu and stories of New York embedded in them. We ended up ordering a few snacks (Scotch egg!) as neither of us had eaten since our flights. Finally when we tabbed out we were presented with gratis Irish Coffees. Class act Dead Rabbit! 
We grabbed another Uber and headed to Madison Square Garden to have dinner outside at Shake Shack. We ran through the park, getting to the burger shrine just before they closed. Burgers and red wine procured, we sat outside under the twinkly lights on a perfect New York fall evening. *That* was a great night and a fantastic start to our visit! 
The next morning we took the subway to Russ & Daughters Cafe for brunch. OMG. This place is so incredibly delicious and cute! A do not miss I'd say!
The beautiful, sunny day called for some serious walking and window shopping. Sometimes wandering is exactly what you get to do on vacation, that you don't always get to do at home. We walked across lower Manhatten over to Pier 25 on the Hudson River where Grand Banks is docked. Fabulously sunny day, sitting on an old schooner, slurping oysters and drinking white wine. Heaven!
We stayed until the sun started to dip and then Uber'ed off to meet our friend Karen for drinks at Nitecap. This is a perfect review of this little cocktail den. 

It was a quick walk from here to Mission Cantina for dinner, our friend Larin joining us. Absolutely delicious, unfussy, fun food here.

We tried for after dinner drinks at Attaboy but the wait for four was too long so Forest and I headed back to our part of town, stopping at Nomad Hotel's Elephant Bar. Another repeat stop for me, I love this place even though it gets super busy. The drinks and the ambiance are always spot on.
More NYC tales here.
All photos here