I could write a thousand things about New York, Millions have been written, what exactly is it about this city that captures our heart and imagination? Growing up in North America, my love affair with New York started early, probably with Harriet the Spy, and since then pop culture has cemented in my mind New York as the place to be, to love, where everything happens. So when I finally traveled to New York in 2013, I literally didn’t know where to start.We tried to fit as much in as humanly possible (they call it the city that never sleeps for a reason) but were still left wanting more. Though I could write about Broadway, shopping, Central Park, architecture, history, service, art, neighborhoods, for this blog, I will settle on food.
New York is a food lover’s paradise, There is literally any type of food available and more often than not, you can find an authentic version of almost any cuisine. That first night our plane was quite delayed and we ended up in New York hours later than planned. Tired, hungry, and a bit grumpy, we hopped in a cab to our hotel in midtown Manhattan. Driving through Manhattan’s streets we crossed an intersection and the streets to the south were so lit up that even at midnight, the light was almost blinding. ‘Time Square’ the driver said. Though Time Square is a total tourist trap (definitely
avoid restaurants here) it it an amazing site to behold. Even at this time of night, it was crowded and full of energy. It is impossible not to feel caught up in it, Ahh New York. After checking in at our hotel in Midtown East, We were told to head down to 3rd avenue for dinner. It was now 1 am. Unfortunately too many places that I have travelled to (I am looking at you London) and my own home city (ahem Winnipeg), the restaurants close early. I wrongly thought we’d end up eating fast food. Walking down 51st St, we passed the Le Bateaux Ivre (the Drunken Boat). A french restaurant that appeared to be open. A good sign! We took our chances and upon entering, @benton8tor asked the server if we could still order food. She looked at us quizzically ‘ We serve until 4’. I was home, these must be my people . Our dinner was fabulous, best fries and a fabulous steak in what appeared to be a classic french bistro on a street in New York. And so began my food odyssey in New York.
The next day, was our anniversary and we had booked into Colicchio & Son (Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame) as one of the few famous chef restaurants we could afford (side note a meal for 2 still runs at about $400) Though the restaurant has since closed, Tom Colicchio has since opened Fowler and Wells http://www.fowlerandwells.com/
Fowler and Wells is worth checking out if Colicchio and Sons is any indication.. Coliccihio and Sons had service to match their exceptional food.
We started with 6 different amuse bouches, bing cherry stuffed with foie gras (as decadent as it sounds) watermelon and jalapeno, eggplant dumpling ( I don’t even like eggplants but I loved this), gazpacho, cucumber and caviar, and bacon flatbread. We then sat down to a tasting menu that included burrata with tomatoes (so creamy), monkfish, and short rib with a complimentary dessert. All of this was paired very carefully with wine (fresh crisp whites and medium bodied reds ) and my first sherry. Ben asked for beer rather than wine tastings and they totally accommodated. We left with a complimentary muffin for breakfast the next day.
To really delve in to New York’s food scene, I made 2benton8tor agree to take a tour of the Lower East Side. I for one, have always been fascinated with the lower east side, maybe because of Blondie, CBGB’s or various New York based stories. That said, I am equally fascinated with the decidedly more glamorous upper east side. Either way, we started our tour at a local Jewish deli, where were were promised the best bagel we would ever have. I ate a good bagel, followed by a Ukrainian restaurant with delicious cold borscht, authentic and tasty New York pizza,
OK Italian pastries, good gelato and at the Papaya King http://www.papayaking.com/, the very very very best hot dog I have ever eaten.The tour would have been worth it just for that.Who knew a simple hot dog could taste so good.
Although New York is a food haven, drinks at iconic spots should not be missed (despite the pricetag,
wine at the Waldorf Astoria is a must, presidents stay there (OK so maybe in 2020 you might want to spot a president again) and the wine list is extensive and fabulous, also the people watching is amazing. http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-york/waldorf-astoria-new-york-NYCWAWA/index.html
So are post theatre drinks at the famed Algonquin Hotel, of the infamous round table http://www.algonquinhotel.com/. the hotel is steeped in literary history which is still evident and the wine and cocktail list are equally impressive. Unfortunately we missed seeing Matilda, the hotel’s very famous cat. Cocktails at the Boathouse in Central Park are a must as the scenery and oasis of quiet in a bustling city is really rather fabulous.
But if you could only go one place, go to Gramercy Tavern in the Flatiron district.http://www.gramercytavern.com/ On our last night, we took a chance and when they heard it was our anniversary weekend, they found us a table and ave us a free appetizer and dessert.Despite the stereotypes, New Yorkers give the best service and are simply the friendliest. The food is cheaper than than most high end restaurants but it is just as incredible. I started with a beet salad that was to the day one of the best I have ever eaten, homemade spatzle, oysters, pate and a delicious burger, we were full and totally enamored of the food.There cocktail list is legendary and I have a champagne cocktail, with elderflower and orange bitters, lemon that i have tried but failed to recreate.
New York, go for everything, stay for everything.