Cari and I have been to New York together before. In 2005, we drove down, stayed in Secaucus, New Jersey, went to see Spamalot and Fiddler on the Roof, ate a lot, and came home. This time we flew, stayed in midtown Manhattan, went to see Jonathan Richman, A Little Night Music and Maude Night at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, ate a lot, and came home.
Since this blog mostly has to do with eating, we thought we’d share our eating experiences. There’s hundreds of restaurants in New York City. These are the ones we found ourselves at.
831 3rd Avenue
There’s nothing quite like a New York bagel. After having not eaten much upon our late arrival in New York the previous evening, it was thoroughly rewarding to enjoy an authentic New York bagel. The place was packed, with tons of fresh bagels and homemade cream cheeses, fish, and baked goods to choose from. I enjoyed an “everything” bagel with olive cream cheese. Cari had an onion bagel with sundried tomato spread. Both lived up to our (high) expectations.
Pho Sure/Baoguette Gourmet Sandwich
120 Christopher St.
Apparently one of the latest trends in food is the baoguette. These sandwiches pair traditional Vietnamese fare with the French baguette. This place was small, but quick, dirt cheap and very, very tasty. Cari and I split two sandwiches. The Sloppy Bao had spicy curry beef, green mango, basil and lemongrass. The BBQ chicken sandwich was served with pickled daikon, cilantro, cucumber and a garlic aoli. Both were great and had a nice amount of heat to them (we ordered medium-hot).
187 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Our one and only Brooklyn dining experience on this trip was a positive one. We met up with some friends before the Jonathan Richman show down the street. Fornino divides its menu of brick oven pizzas into “Naples – The 1st Generation,” “Italy – The 2nd Generation” and “Fornino – The 3rd Generation.” The idea being that the further down the menu you’d go, the more exotic the pizzas became. We decided that two large pizzas should do it for the five of us. We shared the Patate e Salsiccia (with fennel sausage, fingerling potatoes, fontina and cherry tomatoes) and Spinach (with mozzarella, spinach, ricotta, pecorino, pinenuts and white truffle oil). Both were delicious, none of us left hungry, and at roughly $50 before tip it was a great bargain.
Pinch & S’Mac
474 Columbus Avenue
A co-worker told me about S’Mac, a restaurant devoted to gourmet macaroni & cheese. We hadn’t put much thought into where we might eat when we walked from our hotel in Midtown Manhattan to the Upper West Side but were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a location on Columbus Avenue. This particular location shared space with Pinch, a pizza restaurant, but we had macaroni on the mind as soon as we arrived. Each macaroni is available in a number of sizes. We went with the smallest, “nosh,” and shared two very different varieties: Buffalo Chicken (with cheddar, american cheese, boneless chicken and buffalo wing sauce) and Mediterranean (with goat cheese, spinach, olives and roasted garlic). Both were very tasty and were served in cute little cast iron pans.
630 9th Avenue
In New York, you can go to a restaurant at 10:30pm and find the place completely packed. Luckily we knew this would be the case and made reservations. Of course, February 14 is a busy night for restaurants to begin with, and with President’s Day the following day, a lot of people had the next day off work. As for Cari, my parents and I, we were looking for some good Italian food after our night at the theatre. Nizza did not disappoint. They had a mushroom pizza with truffle on special that three of the four of us ordered. I had spaghetti and meatballs on the mind and was happy to see the “Sunday Pasta,” which featured fresh spaghetti, meatballs and Italian sausage. The salads were also very good, as was the atmosphere. A place we’ll definitely consider on our next trip to New York City.
2nd Avenue Deli
162 East 33rd Street
Cari and I were lucky enough to visit the original 2nd Avenue Deli on our last visit to New York. Located in the East Village, the restaurant had a lot of great character and delicious food. Unfortunately, that location closed a few years ago, only to find itself replaced by a Chase bank. The good news is that 2nd Avenue Deli has since reopened on East 33rd Street, albeit in a much duller neighbourhood. The even better news is that the food is as good as ever. Now that Cari is eating meat again, we were both able to enjoy the pastrami on rye. I opted for the full sandwich, while Cari ordered a half sandwich with matzo ball soup. In the end, she probably ended up with as much food as I did! (It came with one monster matzo ball). No New York food experience is incomplete without a trip to an authentic deli, and this was it.
1240 Avenue of the Americas
Last time we were in New York, our friends Brighid and Elise took us to Magnolia Bakery. We were taken with their cupcakes and soon realized that so too was half of New York. In fact, at the time the bakery set limits on the number of cupcakes you could buy. Not a minimum, but a maximum! We were ready to return to Bleecker Street to seek out the original location, but soon learned that Magnolia Bakery had expanded and opened a location a few short blocks from our hotel. The cupcakes were as good as we had remembered and provided a great snack on our walk to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on a wintry Monday night.
Five Napkin Burger
630 9th Avenue (yep, the same physical address as Nizza!)
Another late dinner, this time following a night of sketch comedy. This time we didn’t need a reservation, but the place was packed anyway. I’ve always had a weakness for gourmet burgers, and was intrigued by Five Napkin Burger when family friend Henry included it on a list of restaurant recommendations for our trip. Like most of our meals, this place definitely did not disappoint. I ordered the Original 5 Napkin Burger: 10 ounces of ground chuck, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli. Mmm. So big I had to cut the thing in half and it dripped all over my hands. Cari ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger which was about as big. Both of us cleaned our plates and lived to tell the tale. We will return.