This year, after the usual excesses of Christmas, I headed off to NYC with my other half and son for a trip which would take in the very best of the New York foodie scene (as well as a fair amount of sightseeing and the obligatory retail therapy!). There are of course hundreds of restaurants to choose from in New York so there are doubtless ones that we failed to grace with our presence, but with five days to cram in as much as humanly possible we did our very best at a foodie safari of the Big Apple!
So here’s a bite size review of the ones that made the cut…
5 Napkins Burger
In the heart of Hell’s Kitchen this hip burger joint boasts some of the best burgers in town. We sampled the deep fried pickles with pastrami and of course we had to have burgers, which were very good, especially the ‘special of the day’ which included a Portobello mushroom and truffle aioli – yum!
Diners are quintessentially American and no visit to New York would be complete without a visit to one. Our first (there’s more to come!) was the Brooklyn Diner where we had a less than light lunch with some fabulous malt shakes and half a tonne of pastrami – how much more American can you get!
A legendary steak restaurant and owner of the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world Keens dates back to the 19th Century and is famed not only for its colourful history (including a run in with Lilly Langtry) but also, and more importantly, its amazing (and huge) steaks. It is fair to say that if you plan to eat at Keens you want to arrive hungry which was a challenge after the Brooklyn Diner, but we did a sterling job and at the end of the meal, two steaks, each approximately the size of a human head, had been demolished (I opted for fish which was equally substantial but a little lighter).
Fresh & Co
After a rather carnivorous couple of days we opted for a healthier start to the day with breakfast at Fresh & Co, a chain similar to Pod in the UK. This high street concept offers healthy options throughout the day including kale smoothies, porridge, a build your own salad bar and much more. After the a couple of days of true USA indulgence it was a welcome break from the supersized meals and set-us up for the day.
Ritz Carlton Central Park Star Lounge
Our New Year’s Eve plan was to visit Schillers which came highly recommended, however, having weighed up the challenge of getting around town on New Year’s Eve we chickened out and stayed at the ‘none too shabby’ Ritz Carlton’s Star Lounge for dinner with a wander out at midnight to see the fireworks in Central Park amongst revellers from around the world. Not for us the joy of being penned-in in Times Square for ten hours awaiting the iconic ‘ball drop’, instead we opted to dine in style waited on by possibly the most attentive staff in history – it was a tough choice but the right one I think.
48th Street Diner
On our way to the ‘Top of the Rock’ (Rockefeller Centre) we stopped off for a bit of breakfast at the 48th Street Deli. Although a little more rough and ready than our usual destination breakfasts it set us up for the day with the US special – pancakes, bacon and maple syrup – well, when in Rome!
On-route from our bus tour around Downtown Manhattan we passed the famous Magnolia Bakery (as featured in Sex in the City) – for once it didn’t seem to have a queue snaking around the store – so I waited for a mere five minutes before being welcomed in to make my selection. I went with vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes and a few cookies for good measure and I have to say they didn’t disappoint. I can certainly understand why they are the cupcake of choice for Carrie & co!
John’s Pizza Bleeker Street
A New York institution, John’s of Bleeker Street is world renowned for serving the best pizza in New York. So much so that they don’t take bookings nor do take-away, so if you want to sample the joys of John’s Pizza you can expect to queue in line (in our case in the freezing cold) to get in. After a forty odd minute wait whilst staring with mouths agog and noses pressed against the window at the lucky diners inside, we were in! And it was worth the wait – what a pizza. It was so good we even got the t-shirt to remind us of our visit.
New York is famed for its diners and although we took a look at Katz (which had a starring role in ‘When Harry Met Sally’) and had of course swung by the Brooklyn Diner, this time we plumped (being the operative word) for the famous Carnegie Deli as our ‘last hurrah!’ in New York. The pastrami sandwich that would require dislocating your jaw to tackle without a knife and fork (thankfully cutlery was supplied) and a slice of classic New York Cheesecake that could feed a family were “awesome”. As ever the customer service was outstanding, something that struck us throughout the trip and brought into sharp relief the difference between London and the US. Some may argue that it’s the focus on tips that drives it, but it seems to go deeper, as even shop assistants can’t seem to do enough for you and you don’t tip them!
Anyway, having eaten our way around the city, seen the sights and shopped ‘til we dropped, we made our way home a good few pounds heavier and a fair few dollars lighter back to Blighty, having seen-in 2015 in style in the Big Apple (pretty much the one thing we didn’t manage to eat!).