Monday, 4 April 2016

Visiting New York Part 2: Eating in NYC

Part 2

It's quite clear from my past posts, that food is a major feature of my day- my families stance on the subject is even greater. With Dad being a chef in the past, no lie, our entire itinerary was planned around food- we had two planned places each day and made it our business to plan things to do around these joints. Some were recommendations from friends, some were places my parents had already been to in their last trip and some were brand new places we had read about- apart from Street food- Food and Drink and tipping service is a lot more expensive in New York. Some of our meals varied from as little as $50 for six people to $500+ for a boozy night. It totally depends on what you are in to, but as advised, we did our research and planned ahead.

Tuesday's Eats:

Landed in New York at around 7pm, so that was 11pm Irish time, not hugely late, but by the time we got into the city and checked in- all we wanted was something quick. Because of the location of our hotel we are spoilt for food- there was a Shake Shack, no lie- 50 meters from our hotel. So good. Milkshakes were delicious and it definitely lived up to its hype. I just wish I could have fitted in two visits (though my waistline is entirely grateful I didn't!)

*Go for the shake stack, crinkle fries and peanut butter milkshake.

Wednesday Eats:

-We had a Whole Foods right next to our hotel- a sort of upmarket supermarket selling organic and nearly every dietary friendly item conceivable! Whole foods was where we got breakfast every morning- fresh cold pressed juices, the most insane bakery selection (breakfast pretzel or a banana and walnut muffin anyone?!) and a huge deli selection of cold and hot foods- breakfast was always under $10 each day (per person!) and the choice was limitless.

-Lunch was at the famous Katz's Delicatessen (Lower East Side- 205 Houston(Lower East Side- 205 East Houston Street, corner of Ludlow St, New York City, 10002)- Katz has featured on almost every food programme in New York, so while yes it was quite a stereotypical tourist joint, I had never had a Pastrami sandwich before and was eager to try. Perfect for meat lovers. True New York experience, but be prepared with an empty stomach- the portions are huge and we had to cancel dinner plans that night and go for something smaller and low key because we were so full.

*Go for the classic Pastrami on Rye with a side of green tomatoes and pickles and load up on the mustard and wash it down with a can of soda.

-Dinner plans were changed because Katz was so filling, so late that night, we took a five minute walk from the hotel to a Chipotle. Basic, fresh and non GMO (which is a big deal in America- because you never know what your food actually is!) mexican- and sooooo cheap.

*Go for a salad/burrito bowl- with extra avocado and one of their house margarita's- our local Chipotle didn't skimp on the Tequila. Winning.

Thursday Eats:

- Lunch was in Brooklyn and unintentionally planned- we spent so long walking around the little streets that we actually lost track of time- we did pure American food at Buffalo Wild Wings. Again an utterly cheap lunch meal and it ticked of American fast food of the list...however, there is no way I could possibly eat that type of food every day. I don't know how people do it. Don't get me wrong though, my wings were demolished. 

*Go for their lunch menu deal- I went for the classic buffalo wings with blue cheese, crudités and fries and pick the smallest size plate- because it is literally the size of your head.

- Dinner was at the The Boil (Lower East Side- 139 Chrystie St, between Broome St & Delancey St, New York, NY 10002)- you CAN'T make reservations at the Boil and our waiting time for a table was for 1.5hours but I'd wait even longer for that food again- Absolutely unreal seafood, creole style served in giant bags- the whole family went for mixed dishes- but I have never had anything like this and only wished this was available in Dublin.

*Go for their combos, a little on the pricey side to most people for a main, but it's at least 2 pounds of shellfish. I went for the Crawfish and Shrimp combo and also try the Chili Margarita- they put fresh jalapeño's in the drink and mother divine they don't water down drinks at all. PS- If the queue is big for a table, put your name down and go for a drink at One Mile House (around the corner!).

Friday Eats:

-Because we visited Woodbury Common on Friday, lunch was in the food courts- the choice is immense. Anything you could want, they had. Again portions were ridiculous.

Nerai (55 East 54th Street, New YorkNY 10022) was Friday night's food. I went for dinner with a friend from Secondary School (thanks David Fitz!) on Friday night and he brought me to Nerai, a beautiful Greek seafood restaurant. We had Shrimp Loukoumades, Stuffed Calamari, Cretan spiced scallops and lemon potatoes. I also had the most delicious glasses of Malbec. Nerai is a higher end restaurant- and definitely one of the pricey meals during the week.

*Go for the stuffed Calamari. It was recommended in past reviews and it didn't disappoint. Dress wear is smart.

- Drinks at Beauty and Essex (146, Essex street, NYC 10002); I later took a cab to meet one of my sisters and my parents at the hip Beauty and Essex. Recommended by the fabulous Dearbhla (from the Belle Azure blog) who spent time living NYC and what a fabulous recommendation. Super funky, great music, I can't comment on the food because I didn't eat there, but my family loved it...and the drinks...don't get me started. The cocktail list was fab, but at $17 a pop, my poor dad (whose turn it was to pay the bill that night!) nearly had a heart attack lol!

Saturday eats:

Luke's Lobster (THE PLAZA FOOD HALL1 W. 59th StreetNew York, NY) was Brunch for the day following time spent in Central Park. Luke's Lobster is a sustainable lobster shack/restaurant that offers the most insane Lobster maine sandwiches. They have several locations in New York- but because we were in Central Park, we popped into the Plaza Food Hall (sort of like the Harrods food hall except a lot smaller!) and had lunch. 

* Go for the Lobster Maine meal Combo- it comes with chips (crisps!) or pickles and a drink. And make sure you get the Ginger Beer- it's so spicy but nearly rivals the Old Jamaica Ginger Beer brand- and well that's a big deal for me to say!

- Plaza Food Hall- being the fat mess that I am- cake was the option after Lunch and we went for three slices of yumminess! There are so many little stalls in the Plaza Food Hall- that during the summer, it would be amazing to take a picnic of little bits and bobs from the food hall!

- Dinner was skipped/stopped for bagels from a 24hr joint on the way home from seeing Matilda on Broadway (my thoughts up on that in the next post!)- though the bagels!!! Lashings of Cream cheese and crispy bacon- drool!

Sunday eats:

The Halal Guys (West 53 ST. & 7 Ave New York, NY 10019We were told to stop at the Halal guys...and boy was that a recommendation (thanks Orla. T!). I LOVE street food and these guys have a super reputation for being clean and serving good food. They have several locations around NY, and most of them are fixed. We visited them after spending the day at MOMA- totally recommended for a cheap meal.

*I went for the Gyro bowl- full of beef, rice, spices, salad and a pitta and wash it down with a snapple- while sitting on the office steps of some skyscraper- tres New York right?!

Red Rooster in Harlem (310 Lennox Avenue, Harlem, NY 10027, Between 125th and 126th) was our soul food experience. I'm going to start of by saying the food was ok and fairly decent, but the service was absolutely appalling. We didn't have one complaint the whole holiday with service- Waiters really work for their tips (they have reduced wages lower then minimum wage, something like $4 dollars an hour- so service should and will always be top notch!)- but our lady was mean and rude. And I would suggest going to another local soul food place such as Sylvia's purely because of the service from our waitress. Also, the food wasn't hugely amazing, for 1 bottle of wine, 6 mains, 2 starters and 2 desserts, the bill was over $400, and I would have just expected way better. I was actually super disappointed because I really wanted a decent soul food experience- so should I be back to NYC- it'll be to this place instead- Sylvia's (see link!).

* Should you decide to go Red Rooster- out of all the dishes that we had I would recommend the Shrimp and Grits or the Fried Yardbird, or the Red Rooster doughnuts (filled with sweet potato cream).

Monday eats:

Sarabeth's (339 GREENWICH STREET, CORNER OF JAY STREET)for pancakes- Everybody recommended Sarabeth's for pancakes. I didn't want to go for the stodgy pancakes from a diner that stick to your pallet and these were the total opposite- fluffy and light and a stack of five. Oh-emm-gee! There are five Sarabeth's in NYC- we visited the one in Greenwich but that was because we could walk to there from our hotel. Some will be more busier then others, but totally recommend the one we went to as it was quiet and you can have a stroll also in chic Greenwich.

*Go for the lemon and ricotta pancake stack. Nom.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing, Queens (38-12 Prince St, Flushing, NY 11354, United States)- yes we took the subway all the way to the last stop in Queens but for a good reason. Dumplings! Holy moses. So good. Our last meal in NYC, and I felt like I was back in Beijing. If you have a bit of time, stroll around the area too, it's like a second china town and the visit then asian beauty + fashion shops- they have one of a kind items and totally worth rooting through.

*Go for the beef and spring onion pancakes, the steamed pork and crab meat dumplings and the crispy noodle seafood dish. Drooling. Again and again.

Tuesday eats:

- We had an early evening flight and loved Sarabeth's so much we went back for their Prix Fixe lunch menu. Totally recommended.

What are your recommendations for New York? 

Stay tuned for Part three of my New York blog soon!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

VISITING NEW YORK; Where we stayed, Eating in NYC, Things to do and my Top Tips

So my latest trip took me to New York. My parents treated myself and all my sisters to a seven night trip to NYC (27 and being brought on a holiday- lucky me!), and we were super excited and nervous (6 of us for 24/7 non stop can be and was at time intense!!!) but it was also eight years since I had last been to New York and I was excited to try out the new spots and the ever changing vibe.

Where do you begin? The location, the Food, the Drink, the Culture, the's just one hub of a big buzz. Like little ants in a trance...the city truly never sleeps. Everyone works so hard to out do one another, but I love it and I love it's ambition. And I can't wait to be back, albeit after I have tackled a few other locations (I've made a mental note to really avoid visiting the same place too many times- the world is so big and time is so short to keep going to the same place!). But wow, thank you New York for re-lighting my spark to be aggressive and powerful.

I've decided to split my post in three sections: (1) An Intro and Where we stayed, (2) Eating in NYC and (3) Things to do and my Top Tips- hope you enjoy!

Where we stayed:

Seven nights were spent in The Conrad New York (102 North End Avenue, New York, NY 10282)- a luxury, suite based room (business) hotel based in Downtown Manhattan. The hotel is directly in front of the World Trade Centre and has full views of the Hudson River. Most people generally stay Uptown when visiting NYC, but because there were 6 travellers, we needed large rooms and the Conrad offers suite only style rooms- so there are seperate living rooms with each bedroom meaning there was always plenty of space and we were never on top of each other. Most of the hotels in NYC are tiny because Manhattan is so small, but we were 7 minutes on the subway from the Times Square stop so it wasn't as if we had ages to travel! In fact, most places other then visiting Flushing in Queens or Brooklyn took less than 20 minutes by subway- the metro system is sooooo cheap and reliable (more on that in part 3!).

The rooms are beautiful with huge beds, ample wardrobe space, nespresso machine, super fast internet (free!) and great concierge service- the General manager was really discreet when I organised an Easter surprise for the family and I loved their attention to detail. If you can afford, splurge for a room with a Hudson river view- oooh la la!

The hotel also has a cinema attached, a rooftop bar (that unfortunately only operates during Spring/Summer schedule!) and a decent restaurant and bar. Drinks were a normal price for that type of hotel ($16 for a glass of cava and $17 for G + T's!). Because of where the hotel is located, the Financial District, you are spoilt for choice for eateries- but decent priced ones too. There is plenty of street food for office workers! It certainly wasn't tourist filled. In fact I loved the location so much because every morning when I nipped to Whole Foods for breakfast, I was walking with all the workers on the way to their offices- such a buzz and so fast paced and reminded me of living in London years ago.

*A little note for any Irish readers. Directly in front of the hotel  (Hudson river side) there is a fantastic Irish Famine Memorial Site- they have a whole lot with grass from Ireland (yes- I said Grass from Ireland!). The Irish may have had a tough time in migration the last century- but New York does certainly recognise them as being a major population to shape the future of the city. Kudos.

Price wise of the hotel was very expensive. But you pay for what you get and in our case it was space and quietness. There are no honking horns or bars around and everything is fairly quiet but extremely safe (there are police everywhere because of the New World Trade Centre and I think some government buildings!)so being a solo women in the area would be totally fine. Highly recommended, and I'd love to be back, even just to see what the Rooftop bar (which stocks wine ice lollies- H-E-L-L-0!!!)looks like during the warmer weather.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Visiting New York post which is all about my favourite thing in the world- FOOD! 

Happy Sunday!