February 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Treble C Goes Stateside!

An account of Canapés, Cupcakes and Cocktails' time in New York City...

So there we were...four hyped-up females; airborne and just seven hours and eighteen minutes away from New York City. Our trip would constitute a five-day stint of shopping, sight-seeing, cocktail quaffing and, naturally, an exploration of the City's distinctive culinary traditions. Although, with over twenty-thousand restaurants to choose from, the difficulty would ultimately be deciding where to start! Oh yes, we may have arrived a week too late to witness the spectacle of the New York Marathon but the girls and I fully intended to embark on a marathon all of our own...and this time, the only work-out endured would be that of our credit cards! Thus, here reads our adventures, foodie-related findings and overall, a mere snippet of the fun to be had in this overwhelmingly non-stop City...

Date: Wednesday 9th November – Sunday 13th November 2011
Name of Establishment: Miscellaneous...Read on!
Location: New York City
Reason for Visit: “Sometimes you just have to get away with the girls!” - Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

Day 1:
Touching-down in New York at around lunchtime and then facing an hours-worth of 'gridlock' from within a yellow cab, it was no wonder that checking into our hotel and unpacking was momentary before heading out for something to eat! We lucked out finding that Café 28 (245 5th Avenue) was literally just around the corner; a 'gourmet deli' with a huge selection of self-service savoury and sweet bites as well as a range of paninis, sandwiches and salads. With world-wide culinary influences, the buffet-style dishes allowed for a rather nutritious dinner, (if, of course, you choose not to opt for one of their fresh pastries or cookies for dessert!) That evening, our party of four celebrated our first night in the City over cocktails and, based on a recommendation from the girls behind the 'Foodies in NYC' blog, headed to Bookmarks at The Library Hotel, (299 Madison Avenue on 41st Street). Here, we took the elevator (in American lingo) to the 14th floor where the cocktail bar spans a stylish lounge, conservatory and rooftop garden terrace. Sat overlooking the twinkling lights of Midtown Manhattan, the girls and I sipped at our generously measured and literary-themed drinks; The Hemingway and the Pulitzer proving two of our favourites.
First Cocktail of the Holiday!
Café 28 - Self-Service Dinner

And now for a collective opinion of the day's visited eateries/watering holes:
- Café 28 – 7/10 'healthy', 'eclectic' and 'colourful'.
- Bookmarks at The Library Hotel – 9/10, 'effortlessly chic' and in terms of the cocktails, 'potent'.

Day 2:
Taking advantage of the Broadway Plaza's complimentary breakfast, the girls and I planned out our day over banana-nut muffins, toasted bagels with cream cheese and grape jelly as well as freshly brewed coffee from the comfort of our hotel room. Afterwards, we headed downtown for a stroll alongside the Hudson River towards Battery Park and then, before checking out the development of the Ground Zero site, took a well-earned pit-stop in American chain café Cosi. Stating that 'Life Should be Delicious', this venue was a tad on the cheesy side and yet, the Raspberry Mojito Lemonade was rather well received. Making our way from the Financial District to the curiosities of Chinatown, it was agreed that we would indulge in a late lunch at The Peking Duck House (28 Mott Street); a restaurant specialising in...yep, you guessed it...crispy duck pancakes with all the trimmings! Despite the glowing review, (courtesy of the New York Times no less) proudly displayed in the window, our party had a rather mediocre experience; the duck itself proving fatty and greasy and the service intermittently dismissive – disappointing indeed. Walking off the heavy feeling in our stomachs, we explored nearby Little Italy and made our way onto Bleecker Street whereby the cosmopolitan line-up of shops and eateries included the famous Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street). It would have been criminal not to stop for a cupcake at this point and so, we elbowed our way to the counter with our wares; on my part, the seasonally inspired 'Snickerdoodle' which fully met my approval with its light cinnamon-flavoured sponge and meringue topping that had been sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, yum! After a touch of late-night shopping amidst the bustle of Times Square, we ended our day at the John Dory Oyster Bar (1196 Broadway at 29th Street): a classy joint serving up cocktails, champagne and...erm...oysters! This was a buzzing space which was candlelit and old-school in terms of its décor - it's fair to say that the barmen looked the part too!
Duck Tales
Mid-Morning Refreshment

And now for a collective opinion of the day's visited eateries/watering holes:
- Cosi – 7/10 'Does its Job'.
- The Peking Duck House – 4/10 'quackery about quality'.
- Magnolia Bakery – 8/10 'crowded cupcake appreciation'.
- John Dory Oyster Bar – 9/10 'fresh', 'vibrant' and 'vivacious'. (Though one member of our party wanted to dedicate the three word summary to the 'sexy sexy barman'!!)
Did someone say Snickerdoodle?!
Day 3:
After a light breakfast at the hotel, the girls and I took the subway up to Central Park for a walk in the autumnal sunshine intending to build up an appetite for brunch at Normas. Situated as part of the Parker Meridien Hotel, (119 West 56th Street) this popular venue (recommended to us by a number of people who I will thank personally in due course) delivered, without a doubt, the best breakfast I have had to date. Think two doorstep-sized slices of warmed crispy French Toast dusted with equal measures of cinnamon and icing sugar and then drizzled with hot caramel sauce and flourished with a decorative (perhaps even edible) pink bloom – a masterpiece! The girls were equally as impressed with their dishes and we agreed to return on our final morning in the City. From Normas, we busied ourselves with a serious shopping mission hitting all the big players; Abercrombie and Fitch, Macys, M&M World and American Eagle (to name but a few). We also wandered through the festive market at Bryant Park and checked out the grand architecture of Grand Central Station. Here we revisited Magnolia Bakery (15 Vanderbilt Avenue); selecting mini cheesecakes this time around to share between us. As well a bite-sized version of the New York classic vanilla cheesecake, we also opted for the pumpkin and pecan special which had been set upon a cookie-crumb base – lovely. Later, after pizza at the tropically heated but reasonably priced Sbarro on Times Square, we made our way back to the hotel to beautify ourselves for a night out at The Bubble Lounge (228 West Broadway). I know what you're thinking, this sounds a little seedy and yet, this couldn't be further from the truth. Boasting an extensive line up of champagnes (over three hundred varieties to be precise) as well as a decadent list of cocktails including a White Chocolate Martini which was as creamy as it was boozy, this was a funky venue which, although no more expensive than you can expect of this City, entertains its clientèle with well-prepared drinks and a party atmosphere brought about an excitable buzz, mood lighting and the varied soundtrack overhead!
Brunch Bonanza!

Magnolia Bakery Cheesecakes

And now for a collective opinion of the day's visited eateries/watering holes:
- Normas – 10/10 'top-notch brunch'.
- Magnolia Bakery – 8/10 'crowded cheesecake appreciation'.
- Sbarro – 7/10 'simple yet effective'.
- The Bubble Lounge – 9/10 'tune-tastic bubble-fest!'
The Bubble Lounge Beverages
Day 4:
Day 4 started with another hefty breakfast at the hotel; fresh pasties and coffee supplemented our plan formulation for the day. We started by heading to South Ferry to travel to Staten Island in order to photograph the iconic Statue of Liberty as well as the Manhatten skyline from our floating vantage point. Let's get one thing straight though, this was not for the faint hearted...it was FREEZING on the deck of that ferry-boat and upon returning to dry land, we headed straight for nearby Bean&Bean (71 Broadway) for hot drinks – here Lychee White Tea and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes were among our orders and although the tea was served in too large a cup to achieve the desired degree of fusion, the latte was divine – not to mention organic and freshly roasted. Snacking on giant salted pretzels and honey-roasted nuts from the numerous street-side sellers to power us through the last of our sight-seeing destinations, (namely, the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Centre and Empire State Building), the girls and I made room for the evening's festivities given our plans for making the most of our last night in the city - dining in style at La Bottega. This classy Italian, set within The Maritime Hotel, (363 West 16th Street – Chelsea) was spacious and atmospheric with paper lanterns thoughtfully hung to cast a subtle glow, complimenting the candlelight which flickered from each table. We were seated in the greenhouse and, as we toasted the end of a fantastic trip with flutes of pink prosecco, the warmth radiating from the overhead heaters became almost unbearable. That said, without them, the temperature quickly plummeted so that we each had to wrap up in our winter coats! The service was also a little on the chilly side but fortunately, the food more than made up for this proving fresh, tasty and flavoursome – the complimentary basket of warmed stone-baked rolls to start was a nice touch and the home-made gnocchi was particularly delicious. Afterwards, we made our way into the lounge where our helpful server assisted our cocktail choices; allowing us to order 'off-menu' which resulted in my first Cosmo of the trip as well as several well-executed favourites including an amazingly punchy mojito and zingy green apple martini!
Prosciutto Pizza complete with Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula
And now for a collective opinion of the day's visited eateries/watering holes:
- Bean&Bean – 7/10 'warming yet wobbly'.
- La Bottega (Restaurant) – 7/10 'tasty' but 'questionable service'.
- La Bottega (Bar) – 8/10 'chilled-out cocktail classics'.

Day 5:
Our final day in New York City started with that aforementioned trip to Normas and, it was just as we had anticipated; thus, a quality experience including complimentary smoothie shots, beyond friendly service, dishes which had been generously portioned, beautifully presented and most importantly, tasted delectable. OK, so if by the end of your holiday you are little low on dollars, this is probably not the place to come but do make sure you add it to you New York 'to do' list – trust me, you will not be disappointed! And so, our trip was coming to an end...we indulged in pedicures on 5th Avenue to ease our aching feet and picked up snacks for the journey ahead of us from nearby Dean and Deluca.(156 West 56th Street). Here, besides a multitude of temptingly (and rather sizeable) fresh edibles to indulge in, there is also an array of treats which can be taken home as souvenirs of your trip – perhaps for your fellow foodies back in good old Blighty!
Kiwi, Raspberry and Grape Smoothie Shots
Crispy Belgian Waffle with Fresh Fruit

And now for a collective opinion of the day's visited eateries/watering holes:
- Normas – As above.
- Dean and Deluca – 8/10 'Something for Everyone'.

This really was an amazing trip and writing this post has allowed me to re-live it somewhat. Even now, I long for the on-tap variety that exists around every corner...not to mention the non-stop buzz and all-or-nothing attitude that seems to be consistently adhered to. I have been exposed to the wonderfully weird (for instance, the 'pet' man with a bird in a cage which he wore as a backpack and whose dog wore tiny ruby slippers), have tried to blend in with the cool New Yorker culture but overall, I got to spend a selfish amount of time with my very best girlfriends. New York City is indubitably a foodies playground and this foodie certainly intends on a return journey...hopefully with The Best Foodie Friend et al. in tow. Though for now, the closest I will get to my next NYC fix is my half-eaten packet of Nutter Butters!

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