31 October 2013

Eating New York

I'm back and what a time we had. Firstly I should mention that Ned was a little saint the entire time and basically slept and played his way through both flights with the odd squeak on landing both ways but considering we landed at 6am on Monday 28th during a storm I think that's allowed.

Secondly I wanted to mention Marriott East Side in Manhattan officially the cleanest, politest, nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. They were so helpful providing things we needed for Ned and getting us adjoining rooms so he could charge around our room and his grannies and the amazing Midtown location meant we were never too far away from wherever we wanted to be which was great for minimising the possibility of any baby grumpiness. Highly recommended.

Having been on a diet to get the last of the baby weight off for some time before our trip I was ready for some serious eating when we got there and eat we did. We managed to be quiet varied in what we ate although it did end up being slightly bagel and sushi (not together) heavy. New York also turned out to be incredibly baby friendly and 98% of the restaurants we visited had a high chair even if they had to dig it out from the store cupboard.

Bull and Bear Steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria
Firstly lets talk about drinks. Only one soft drink really needs a mention (in fact only one soft drink got drunk I think). We had the best milkshakes at Shake Shack in Washington Square park - I had chocolate and Joe had peanut butter. We managed to get there at 11am on a Sunday when there wasn't any queue at all - five minutes later and it practically went round the park. Americans are big on Sunday brunch and big on burgers and (apparently) Shake Shack do fantastic burgers even though we never got to try one, so the queue here is often huge. If you like milkshakes, which I do, this is highly recommended.

The Americans are not like us Brits about drinking and this became fairly obvious as soon as we arrived. We met a cousin of Joe's on the first day for lunch at the Brooklyn Diner on West 57th Street - amazing food, great atmosphere, incredibly American, not too expensive, huge hot dogs, worth a visit - he ordered a coffee, we ordered wine, he changed his order to wine and then drank more than us. The next day we met up with my school friend who has lived in Manhattan for the past five years. She gave us a walking tour of downtown and while we waited for lunch we sat down to feed the baby. She ordered coffee, we ordered wine, she said 'thank god' and changed her order to wine. Then explained to us that it's not really the done thing to order wine without food and she says she gets funny looks for ordering a bottle even if she's with four girl friends all wanting to drink the same wine!

We took this to heart and saturated ourselves for the rest of our time there. I did notice that when we went out in the evening there were more people drinking, even on a Monday night, than I expected, but mostly men in suits. My absolute favourite place to go for a drink (we went twice) was the Waldorf Astoria. If I lived in Manhattan this is where most of my money would go. The Bull and Bear bar is the most atmospheric fun, luxurious and friendly place to have a drink - the first time we turned up we had a baby in a pram and they didn't bat an eyelash though I'm sure that was not really ok. Their martini's (made with Grey Goose if you prefer vodka to gin) are lethal and the St Champagne (my choice - champagne, St. Germain and a lemon twist) is probably my new favourite drink. Definitely worth going to but the bill may be eye watering. The Campbell Apartment looks like nothing special during the day but is great fun at night and apparently has secret holes in the walls from prohibition. My mumma and I had a drink at the Algonquin - famous for housing such literary types as Dorothy Parker and Noel Coward - but it wasn't quite up to the Bull and Bear for us. If you are a fan of the 1920s and 30s which I am then these bars are heaven.

Breakfast at the Rock Centre Cafe watching the skaters
One of the many things New York is famous for are the breakfasts and we tried somewhere new everyday. The award for best bagel (plain with peanut butter) has to go to Milk and Honey which we found randomly on our way to the Circle Line boat tour. My mum had it, Joe and I wished we'd had it - incredibly delicious and highly recommended. (I had been a bit anxious about visiting America as everyone always bangs on about how awful the cheese it, that's as maybe - I didn't really have any - but the cream cheese there is much, much better than the tasteless stuff we get in the UK). I think my favourite breakfast though was on the last day at the Rock Centre Cafe watching the ice skaters and eating mountains of pancakes (my mum), frittata (Joe) and breakfast wrap with bacon on the side (me). If you like crispy bacon then New York is the place for you. Brunch at Hundred Acres  in SoHo was a real high point and well worth the 45 minute wait. They offer really exciting things along the lines of usual breakfast and brunch offerings - goats cheese and sage bread pudding with perfectly poached eggs and lovely smoked trout rillettes with toast.

The boys having lunch at the Oyster Bar and Restaurant
For lunch we usually just wondered around and found somewhere random or had it where we were. One of my two of my favourite non-sushi lunches were the Oyster Bar and Restaurant at Grand Central station - I had a tuna nicoise salad, pretty much my first vegetables all week, Joe had rock shrimp tempura and my mumma had a huge squid salad. There seem to be three areas to the restaurant, we were to the left as you go in, in the main restaurant area, in the middle seems to be more of a cafe place and on the far right is the 'saloon' which looks pretty ghastly. The arches are lit by sort-of fairy lights and it seemed really busy even for a week day lunch (which I take as a good sign). We also had lunch at the Petrie Court Cafe in the Metropolitan Museum. We almost didn't. When I asked where to go to lunch they sent us miles to this grim cafeteria in the basement where they were running out of food and you had to use one of those things you slide your tray along and help yourself to. I put my foot down and dragged everyone back up through the museum until we found Petrie Court cafe which was fantastic. Well the service was a little slow but the food delicious - we had incredible burgers and the best bread rolls I've ever tasted. And possibly a bit too much wine! This is a great place for lunch or a drink if you've been walking in Central Park or if it's been too cold to absorb the park as there are huge windows directly on to it.

The sushi sashimi mirowaise at Tsushima
We had two really amazing sushi meals - one lunch and one just me and my mum for supper. The lunch was at Natsumi, full of Japanese businessmen having Bento boxes for lunch the mixed platters were delicious and the rock shrimp tempura we shared was incredibly tasty and well done. Joe's pudding on banana spring roll was deemed 'unexciting' though. We managed to leave a pair of sunglasses in there and they tracked us down at our hotel to get them back to us which was amazing. My mum and I had a girls night at Tsushima on 47th and Lexington really close to our hotel. Again really great quality tasty sushi with a great wide-range of choice and well presented. 

On the last night Joe and I went on a hot date to Smith and Woollensky where my husband had been 10 years before and where we were served by the same waiter. Now my husband had built this place up and although my eyes watered at the cost of our New Yorker steak it was incredibly delicious, cooked how we'd asked for it and in no need of any starters, sides or puddings. It also had an wonderful buzzy atmosphere and was jam packed on a Thursday.

The bar at Smith and Wollensky
Tsushima on Urbanspoon Smith & Wollensky on Urbanspoon Natsumi on Urbanspoon Hundred Acres on Urbanspoon

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