New York City is like one great big meal. A bit extravagant, somewhat pricey, but overall an unforgettable experience. So what makes New York so special to me? Like any great meal, each dish has to be well executed, a little bit edgy, sometimes unexpected, each plate should be unique but complementary to the whole experience.
The cocktail – If you’re looking for buzz, look no further than Mercer Kitchen in Soho. Situated below The Mercer Hotel, this place is one of the many restaurants of Jean-Georges Vongerichten in NYC that offers casual dining where you can get anything from pizzas from the wood burning oven, oysters from the raw bar or roast chicken from the rotisserie. If you can still fit it, try Jean-Georges’ signature Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake served with Cocoa Bean Brittle and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
There is also DBGB Kitchen & Bar, at the East Village, which is Chef Daniel Boloud’s latest eatery where, as the website describes it, French brasserie meets American tavern. Case in point, where else can you order “The Frenchie” – you guessed it, a burger with pork belly, tomato onion compote and morbier cheese on a brioche bun?
Amuse Bouche – Is there anything you can get for free in New York? Head over to Soho for some window shopping (it’s free but potentially dangerous). The eye candy at Hollister is particularly tasty! If you’re looking for great kitchen gadgets, Sur La Table is a fantastic place to gawk over kitchen gadgets. When you’re tired, grab a pastry and a cup of coffee from either Balthazar or Dean and Deluca. Another note worthy place was at our hotel, where, for the price of a cup of coffee, you can sit at the lobby and try to celebrity sight/model watch.
The Starter – Tribecca’s a great place for breakfast, in particular, we had a great brunch at Locanda Verde, a hip Italian taverna serving food by Andrew Carmellini. If you’re looking for hearty Italian fare with a New York twist, this is it (think scampi with sausages and poached eggs on a bed of polenta).
The Salad – No doubt, would be hanging out with the fabulous Asha from Fork Spoon Knife and Christine from Fresh Local and Best at the Chelsea Markets where we spent a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The Fish Course – would be at the West Village where Mas Farmhouse is located. A quaint restaurant with excellent service, the chef will vary his menu based on what is in season so you can be assured, whatever you’re eating is always fresh.
The Meat Course – The Lower East Side is where you can find La Esquina, a taqueria, cafe and restaurant (yes, there are three dining areas) serving great Mexican food. Reservations at the restaurant is a must, but well worth it. Where else can you have dinner in a dungeon like hideaway that’s actually super trendy and serves surprisingly delicious Mexican food? Start with the tostadas (the crab and chicken were my favourites) and then go for any of the main courses from the grill like the grilled Angus strip steak with chimichurri or the chipotle-guava glazed pork spare ribs.
Dessert – Being the last, some people consider this the most memorable dish of a meal. I’d say, my New York neighborhood would be the East Village, home to David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, we were lucky enough to snag a reservation at Ko (it’s been rumoured even his parents need a reservation to get in), so we decided to make a Momofuku day of it – that’s right – all four eateries in one day. We started with some steamed buns from the Ssam Bar, momofuku ramen and smoked chicken wings from the Noodle Bar, Crack Pie and Soft Serve Cereal Milk (and Soft Serve Carrot Cake) from the Milk Bar… and for dinner, an 11 course meal from Ko (no photos were allowed at Ko). At Momofuku, whether you believe the hype or not, the experience was certainly memorable.
There were many other neighborhoods we enjoyed, and meals we indulged in that didn’t make this list, and there are many areas we skipped and restaurants we unfortunately missed out on, which also of course, didn’t make the cut. But like with any great meal, this only means one thing…
It always keeps you wanting to go back for more… and I surely will.
Till next time…
Fruit Loops Milk Panna Cotta pictured above (first picture) was inspired by Christina Tosi/David Chang from Momofuku. Recipe can be found here. (Only change was to substitute 6 cups cereal with 6 cups Fruit Loops and decreased the salt to 1 teaspooon)
Apologies for the lack of pictures – we were just having to great a time to remember to take any photos (and terrible restaurant lighting didn’t help either!). The only day we took out the camera was on Momofuku day.