Well, we did it again. My best friend and I fit all these meals and drinks into one weekend in New York, making us really good at vacation or grossly over indulgent. You decide.
1 & 2. Oysters and juleps at Maison Premiere. I forgot to ask the bartender if I could move in here. There’s an oyster tower— two shelves of oysters on ice cascading off the bar— and I think my bed could be made on a third level, just under the antique French Quarter-esq marble bar. It’s not just the absinthe fountain or ornate cash register or beautiful patio or handsome bartender in suspenders— it’s the light too, filtering in and illuminating my julep cup, whispering “stay here, drink more, move in…” If it weren’t for the walking caricature of a williamsburgh hipster who sat next to me to tell me about how his big accomplishment for the day was going to prospect park and finding the perfect branch for his “side art project”, I would have thought I was in a classier time, far, far away from 2013.
3. [CLOSED] Soup dumplings at Full House Café. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love soup dumplings. I mean it’s soup. In a dumpling. I also love a food writer named Calvin Trillin. I was pretty disappointed when I heard that his annual food tour of New York City was the weekend before my visit. Luckily, I read somewhere that the dumplings at Full House Cafe were included on the tour. Never mind that the blue lights and empty booths made me think we walked into a karaoke bar. The dumplings deliver.
4. Shiromaru Hakata Classic Ramen at Ippudo. Never. Have. I. Waited. So. Long. For. Food. My experience in the service industry was brief, but if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that a hostess should not tell a customer it’ll be a one hour wait, when it actually is a two hour wait. Mostly to avoid the terrible things the customer might picture doing to the hostess. While my best friend and I were killing time we realized later that we had both secretly imagined the hostess telling us that they ran out of ramen, at which point we leapt across the stand to strangle her. But, like the long chicken-bus ride to a remote Mexican beach, once you touch the sand, you forget all about the terribly bumpy journey. The ramen broth was rich and nutty (I didn’t leave a drop in the bowl), and judging from our crispy soft shell crab, you probably can’t go wrong with the appetizers. The dining room is dark with dashes of red and a large window into the kitchen that softens the otherwise hardcore modern look. Service was lightning fast. If this restaurant resembles what’s actually happening in Japan, I have to start planning my trip. It will probably take less time than getting a table Ippudo. Plan ahead.
5. The Bee Sting at Roberta’s. Hyped it may be, but this is a fun place. I’ve been sightly obsessed with going since I first tried a slice of this sopresetta pizza with chili and honey at a food fair last year. The crust is perfectly charred, and the kick of honey and chili is surprising— like you don’t know if you like it or if you’re just intrigued by it, but after three slices you’re pretty sure you like it.
6. Chocolate chip cookie at Caprices. I know some baker boy has been working day and night in the back trying to get this cookie just right. I was drawn in by the smell of freshly baked cookies, and my nose did not steer me wrong. The chunky chocolate-chip cookie sitting on top of the glass counter was soft, warm and chewy.
7. Jerk pork belly hash at Miss Lilly’s. There was a gorgeous waitress with long dreads in a halter top, a waiter rocking a black and white patterned two piece, African Queen playing on the jamaican-flag speakers, and a cute bartender surrounded by plastic pineapples and bananas making drinks called tempted to touch. You’re not paying $21 just for jerk chicken, people. Service is on island time, but the brunch is solid and a tropical departure from your regular bacon and eggs.
8. Martinis at Belemans Bar. Ever read the Madeline books? When I was little I loved the stories and illustrations of a little french girl who lived with 11 other girls at boarding school in Paris. The book’s whimsical illustrations were done by Ledwig Belemans, who was comissioned to paint the walls of The Caryle Hotel Bar. It’s not hard to imagine the bar as a gathering place for New York socialites and politicians— the waiters are head to toe in red suits, a 24-karat gold leaf ceiling sits overhead, a jazz band plays almost every night, and the martinis are perfect. Woody Allen plays the clarinet on Mondays and it costs $145. So… don’t go Monday nights? $15 cover to sit at the bar other nights unless otherwise mentioned on the calendar.
9. Pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery. You swear I would wait in line for a Cronut. I would recommend walking around the line though and grabbing a DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann), a pastry with crossaint-like dough, carmelized on top and flakey in between.
10. [CLOSED] Kale Salad at Northern Spy Food Co. It was my last day in New York and I really hoped I could eat a burger at Spotted Pig as my last meal. But almost three days straight of overindulgence was too much (am I getting old?) so I opted for a kale salad. It wasn’t epic, but it was homey and pleasant, as was the service, and the blue-grey walls and bar.