My first real visit to the big city did not disappoint. Truthfully I had been to New York City once before on a college visitation trip back in high school, which meant seeing Times Square was the highlight. So I had never really experienced the city until now.
At first I was a little overwhelmed because NYC is a huge city, but also because of getting off our redeye flight to get to where we were staying on the Upper West Side by 7am so we could hit the ground running. Day one consisted of a whirlwind of stops: Eataly, Museum of Sex, the NoMad Hotel Bar, the New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Magnolia Bakery, Ray’s Pizza and Bar Boulud. Getting a good bite to eat and a glass of wine to start the day at Eataly was the right choice. While a meal of cheese and charcuterie isn’t necessarily the most balanced of meals it was pretty solid. With the base layer in place it was off to the Museum of Sex, which is fascinating as long as you don’t mind a little bit of porn with your museum exhibits. The gift shop is pretty interesting as well… (if you are into that kind of thing). From there it was time to cool off with a beverage at the NoMad Hotel. A very swanky scene that has cocktails with a pretty solid kick. The rest of the stops were good to check off the bucket list and worth getting to if you have never been before; once you do feel free to move on to the rest of the city.
The only real reservation that we had for the entire trip was at Bar Boulud. The experience started off a little slow but as we got to know our server a bit and get into the meal it really picked up. The food was good but make sure that you shoot for a table towards the middle or back of the restaurant. We were up front by the door and we both agreed that it took away from the experience a bit. The wine we chose for the night came off of their list: 2009 Domaine Coillot Marsannay “Les Boivins.” As far as we were concerned this was a hidden gem among a bunch of of the other wines on the list. It packed a really good punch but had all the awesome subtleties that you would expect from an awesome Burgundy. It was $99 on the list and worth every penny. With the Venaisen Rotí I had for my main course it was even better (plus it had been a while since I had a good piece of venison).
Day two started off with Staten Island Ferry (aka one of the only things you can do for free in NYC). It gave us a good view of the Statue of Liberty while we grabbed a beer and another slice of pizza. Next on our list was what would become one of my favorite stops, The Breslin. It nails the English pub look and feel. If you end up in NYC it is worth making a stop here, or at the Spotted Pig, for their cask-conditioned ale. Other than just being really really yummy it was unlike any other beer that I have had previously. Very smooth, rich but not overly filling, sort of nutty and fruity… I don’t really know, it just kicked ass. Once we had a couple of those in our respective bellies it was off to the Top of the Rock to watch the sun set over the city. This was another one of those things you should probably check off the bucket list just to say that you’ve done it. Truth be told I am a sucker for a good view so it was awesome.
From there it was time to get some real NYC culture! A couple of great speakeasys: The Tippler and Bathtub Gin. Killer cockails and atmosphere. Both are easy walking distance from one another so if you are looking to start one of the marathon kind of nights, like we were at the time, it was a good place to kick things off. After a few beverages it was time to hop on the subway for a ride up to Harlem and the Red Rooster. There was a fair amount of hype surrounding this place and upon our arrival it definitely didn’t disappoint. The place was flat out packed. Upstairs you have a full bar and restaurant and downstairs was one (maybe two) other bars and a ridiculous dance party. It was here that things started to go off the rails a bit… especially around 2:30am when we hailed a cab to head back to the Upper West Side. It was about that time that I realized I hadn’t had much to eat all day and even less water to drink which probably resulted in me leaving my phone in the cab only to watch it bounce around northern Manhattan and the Bronx using the “Find My iPhone” app on my laptop… *sigh*. Hence the lack of cool photos in this post…
After twelve hours, yes twelve hours, of recover time we ventured back out into the world for some ramen and hydration. If you haven’t tried ramen for a hangover cure you really should. Best. Fix. Ever. Anyway, after that we felt a bit more like our normal selves and got back at it. It was a pretty relaxing afternoon that mostly consisted of us trying to figure out where to go to dinner. We settled on Les Halles for the evening which was another awesome choice. It was nice to taste seared foie gras once again but also to be in a very cozy place on a cold night. Food, atmosphere and the 2011 Crozes Hermitage, Entrefaux were perfect. Frankly at this point in the trip all I wanted to do was kick back and soak in my surroundings. This meal allowed us to do just that AND start planning our next trip to the big city.
Looking back on the trip it is hard to believe how much we packed into it. The great thing about NYC is the fact that there is always something to do. It might not be my favorite place to visit at the moment, but it is definitely up there.
More than anything it makes me wish that the west coast had efficient forms of public transportation…