It was my second big trip to the big city which meant it was time to start digging into some more nooks and crannies that NYC has to offer. This time around we didn’t put as much on the itinerary, maybe one reservation or planned stop each day, which gave us a whole lot more free time to wander.
One of the things that still blows my mind about big cities, especially those with millions of people, is the shear variety of things to do. Not that I don’t love living in a small town, it is just nice to be strangers in another town for a few days. In fact if there is one thing in particular I love about Manhattan it is the anonymity that it provides. The diversity that a big city, particularly New York, has to offer is astounding. Over the course of this trip we hit just about every neighborhood in Manhattan and 3 out of 5 boroughs. Despite having very few plans we kept extremely busy. If anonymity is number 1a on my list 1b would be that 24/7/365 you can find anything you are looking for.
While we did a fair amount of sight-seeing and touristy things there were plenty of holes in the wall that we explored. Each day was a blast but it wasn’t until our last day that I really fell in love with this particular trip.
For day 5 we had put two things on the list:
- Brooklyn (since I was a tad too hungover to make it there on our previous trip).
- Gramercy Tavern for dinner.
By the end of the day I was bummed that we didn’t spend more time in Brooklyn but it was a solid few hours that allowed us to start our last day of the trip off on the right foot. From BKLYN Larder to Threes Brewing and some Roberta’s Pizza I was sold. While it was an amazing start to the day we had a ton more ground to cover included walking back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge (where I shamelessly pointed out that one time in Sex and the City where Steve and Miranda… never mind…).
Once we were back to our studio on the lower east side we just took it easy for a couple of hours before heading out for dinner. It was the proverbial deep breath before the plunge of going hard during our last night in the city.
To finish the trip out strong we had one reservation that we were not going to miss: Gramercy Tavern. I was super interested at dining at one of Danny Meyer’s restaurants because many of his hospitality do’s, don’ts and style of running a hospitality business are what I try and utilize for both MTGA and my day job. As we sat down I shamelessly stared at all of the service staff to see how they conducted their business. I also listened in on their conversations with other guests to see how they approached different personalities and groups. While I have read plenty of articles and Meyer’s book Setting The Table, seeing it all in action was still mind-blowing.
While I was geeking out on the service and hospitality side of things we also had some amazing dishes, my favorite of which was a cauliflower and barley risotto (which made me wish one of us had done the veggie-based tasting menu). Outside of that dish the lamb loin & shoulder was my other fave along with the plethora of cheese and dessert(s) that showed up at our table. All said and done it was one of my favorite dining experiences that I have had recently.
Naturally once you get done with an awesome white-linen kind of meal it is time to find some good dives for some additional late night beverages. While the first stop wasn’t really a dive it was a place that looked like Christmas literally exploded into: Rolf’s. From what I understand the place is decked out like no other for every season or holiday. It is also a German eatery though we decided to stick to the bier.
Next on the list was the next open door we found on the street that had a bar behind it: Molly’s. By this point in the evening I wasn’t really sure where we were though we had to of been pretty close to Gramercy Park since we hadn’t hopped in cab or taken the subway anywhere… It was a quieter bar with some sawdust floors and Guinness on tap which was good enough for me. It was a chance to get to know the few locals who were working behind the bar who had some interesting stories between the two of them.
As the night continued to get fuzzier we ended up heading back to the studio we rented on the lower east side. As we were walking back to our place we made one more pit stop in a bar that we had walked by a few dozen times by this point. Every time we actually noticed their “specials” sign would change almost every time we walked but though we finally figured out the pattern:
- 11am – 3pm: Beer and a shot was $3
- 3pm – close: Beer and a shot was $5
- Weekends: Tall boy and a shot was $7
For those of you who have been to Panchas in Yountville…take that, get rid of the smoke, graffiti the entire place and only play punk rock (aka my kind of bar). What felt like an hour or so ended up being 3+. It was suddenly 4am and closing time. We stumbled/crawled back into bed for 3 hours of sleep before having to pop out of bed to head to Newark to fly home. By this point we looked like NYC had chewed us up a bit and spit us out but man was it worth it.
It was a trip that allowed us to unwind but also fall back in love with a big city. We definitely had the conversation that inevitably comes around: “We could totally be city people if we wanted to,” but we don’t really want to. I know there are plenty of awesome and bustling metropolises that we have yet to explore but NYC is one that I will always want to go back to.