So it was a little bit impulsive, but when a friend suggested I join her on her business trip to NYC last minute I couldn’t fight the urge to escape for a pre-Christmas trip to clear my head. So that’s how I ended up in the Standard High Line, in full festive NYC swing.
While she spent the days in buying appointments in the Meatpacking district where we were staying, I pounded the pavements clocking about 9 miles one day (when I decided to walk from the hotel to Williamsburg, all through Brooklyn and back over the Brooklyn bridge). Partly because the best way to see a city is on foot, and partly because I literally could not navigate the subway, AT ALL.
Thanks to a solid bunch of recommendations, we managed to eat and drink our way around various neighbourhoods with financial abandon, and I am holding off the spender’s guilt until I get my credit card statement. Apologies to my family whose Christmas presents might suffer as a result.
Here’s a little run down of what we ate and drank, all in the name of research(!?):
Meatpacking / West Village
The Standard Grill – Shrimp cocktails (prawns on ice with a spicy ketchup) and Pisco Friscos straight off the plane
Bubby’s High Line - Epic Southern-style brunch, incredible potatoes, amazing biscuits, solid bloody marys, kept us full for a good 12 hours
Aria - Super buzzy and busy Italian cicceto bar packed to the rafters, mostly drank wine, but the snacks looked ace and can attest to a tasty spicy carciofi dish
Cafe Gitane / The Jane Hotel Bar – Having spent the previous night in trendy Williamsburg we relished the style of the Jane Hotel. It kind of homely/ bohemian whilst being super cool and atmospheric at the same time.
Kind of near the base of Central Park
Quality Meats - We got a little fancy at this spenny steakhouse next to Central Park, the bone in sirloin was a winner, as were the potato disc things
Mandarin Bar – The better bar was shut for a private function, but it’s quite fun to be sky high
Moma Cafe – Having read Danny Meyer’s book on hospitality, I was intrigued as to how that translated into an art gallery canteen. The place was a well-oiled machine with a crazy amount of covers and worth a visit just to examine the sheer efficiency of the whole operation. I had a solo caesar salad and a glass of wine on a Monday. It was ace.
Lower East Side / East Village
Dominique Ansel – Obviously the cronut was sold out, but the kouign aman did not disappoint, it was caramelised on the outside and fluffy on the inside, definitely worth a visit
Russ & Daughters Cafe – One of the must visit cafes on most foodie’s lists, this cafe serves up some of the acclaimed products from the Russ & Daughters 100 year old store nearby.
Estela – Along with Wildair, this was one of our favourites of the trip. You wouldn’t even know it was there from the outside, but up on the second floor of a non-descript building they are turning out stunning dishes playing with textures to an absolute delight of a degree. The beef tartare had crunchy pops of buckwheat nestled within and the squid ink and squid rice had a crunchy and soft texture too.
Employees Only – A cool speakeasy style cocktail bar, I can’t remember what cocktail I drank, but it featured lavender, went down a treat, and was pretty goddam strong
Wildair - I’m not in the slight bit biased even though the adorable (and uber talented) chef Fabian treated us to a cracking feast, but this place is a dream. Potato darphin topped with sea urchin was a thing of great salty sweet beauty, as was the romaine lettuce, the pork rillettes, the beef tartare with smoked cheddar, the radishes with seaweed butter. I want to go back, right now and live it again. *****
Eataly – The pasta and pizza bar here is amazing. It’s expensive I’ll admit, but the pappardelle with lamb ragu and mint was awesome. Save some time for visiting the shop too, but bear in mind it is super expensive.
Wythe Hotel - From the 7th (or 6th i can’t remember) floor bar, the views over Manhattan are spot on. We giggled a bit at the pretentiousness of the establishment (and that’s coming from someone who lives in East London!), but couldn’t fault the cocktails.
Hotel Delmano – Another trendy cocktail bar with natural wines (I had an orange Georgian number), the food was good, but not why you go there. That said, we had a really good fluke ceviche with crackers (?!).