My first work trip in 2017 was to one of my favourite cities, New York. I flew to JFK on Wednesday, February 22nd where I would be spending the next 9 days. I had been to New York twice in the past and had most big sights already checked off my list so instead I focused on the foodie scene. My first stop, after getting my taxi to the Jolly Madison Towers Hotel, was for a good old American cheeseburger. I found out that the original Shake Shack was in nearby Madison Square Park so I walked down to have my favourite burger. The line was short and I ordered the Shack Burger with fries and sat outside in the park enjoying the unseasonably nice weather. Thursday and Friday were working days but I managed to find a great restaurant near the hotel called Madison and Vine where I enjoyed my meals sitting at the bar. Great wine, great food and great service.
I had the weekend free so on Saturday morning I decided to go for a run. I wanted to try somewhere new as I had already done Central Park. So I took the subway to W.72nd street and started my run up the Hudson River to Riverside Park. The run wasn’t as great as I had imagined so I decided to cut over to Central Park and finish my run there. I ended up running way further than planned and by the time I finished it was 11.5km. I made it back to the hotel and got freshened up but I didn’t venture too far as I was a bit tired and sore from the big run. I made my way over to Bryant Park where I grabbed a salad from Chopt and then had a coffee while enjoying the beautiful weather outside (seriously, not even a jacket). I relaxed in the park for a while and then noticed a Kinokuniya book store so I wandered over there and bought a book. With “Lion” in hand, I made my way back over to Bryant Park to read a couple of chapters. I decided I had better check out the New York Public Library as it is right next to the park. I strolled through the library before making my way up to the Rose Reading Room where I read another few chapters. By this time it was getting a bit late, so I headed back to the hotel to freshen up for cocktail hour. I had found a relatively “hidden bar” nearby called the Raines Law Room known for their great cocktails. I was lucky enough to get a seat at the bar and the bartender made me a “Gin Nevada”. After savouring my cocktail, I made my way over to my local, Madison & Vine for dinner. A delicious set menu of veal meatballs and cavapatti pasta. Delish.
The next morning, I was off to meet my Foods of NY Tour group at 12:00. I had booked the tour on Saturday and got the last 1 of 2 remaining seats. The tour was in the Heart of the Village. We started off with a half slice of artichoke pizza from a famous late night pizza joint known for the invention of the artichoke-spinach pizza. It was apparently created by mistake when some artichoke dip fell on a pizza slice and the rest is history. Our next stop was for an Indian tandoori wrap and then we stopped at a coffee shop for some chocolate covered coffee beans. By this time, we were ready to sit down and have lunch at the oldest family run Italian restaurant in The Village, Monte’s Trattoria and they made us their traditional pasta Bolognese. We walked off lunch with a trip to Oatmeal, where everything is made with oats, and had an oatmeal raisin cookie. Passing through Washington Square we made our way to the second and last sit down stop, Toloache, a Mexican restaurant and, you guessed it, we had tacos with optional prickly pear margaritas. We even tried fried grasshopper. By this time, the whole group was getting pretty full but we only had 2 small stops left including a tea and honey shop and a macaroon for dessert. The tour ended around 3:30pm and by this time I had met the other person who booked the last lone ticket, another solo traveler like myself. After the tour was finished, we decided we would head over to the High Line. The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight line elevated above the streets of Manhattan. We walked to the end and then hopped on the subway down to Chinatown and Little Italy. Amanda had a few things she still wanted to check out in the Lower East Side and I had a cocktail bar on the list. We went to Katz’s Delicatessen to warm up and we had a bowl of the matzoh ball soup. We then tried to find the Backroom cocktail bar but unfortunately we were a bit early as they didn’t open until 7:30 so instead we opted for a bar with a view. The night was still young so we decided to try another “hidden bar” in the neighbourhood called Fig. 19. A dim spot tucked behind the walls of an art gallery. The cocktails and the atmosphere were exactly what we were looking for. By this time, it was getting a bit late so I said goodbye to my food tour friend and made my way back to midtown.
The next week was work, work, work but we did manage to fit in some fun in the evenings. We went to a Broadway show, The Present, starring Cate Blanchett. I also discovered another great cocktail bar called Lantern’s Keep and on our last night we tried some delicious Korean at Barn Joo. On Friday afternoon, I decided to try one last NYC burger joint. I had heard of the “hidden burger joint” in the Le Parker Meridien Hotel. I found the location and got in line around the black curtain. Funnily enough when I got inside it was a little bit like déjà vu when I saw a sign that mentioned their other location in Abu Dhabi! I do think the one in NYC is better but my favourite burger award still goes to Shake Shack. After my belly was once again full, I picked up some American wine before heading to the airport. Next stop. Seattle.