I love New York. This was my fifth trip to this lovely city, with my first about 15 years ago! As an adult I’m discovering new places and areas everytime I visit and I’m not done yet. I want to spend more time exploring Brooklyn and Williamsburg, get over my jetlag faster so I can enjoy the city that never sleeps properly (rather than being in bed by 10pm at the latest!) and eat at lots more restaurants. This trip was really all about the food and drink and we had some amazing meals. We found these places through recommendations from a friend of James’ sister, who works in a restaurant in Manhattan, plus using the brilliant NY Eater heatmap – listing amazing restaurants for all budgets all over New York. So here’s where and what we ate:
We started our trip with lunch at Hide-Chan Ramen, where we started with pork gyozas to share and then moved on to ramen. Full of flavour, the meat (more pork!) was tender and delicious and we slurped the noodles down, enjoying the warmth and bustle of this restaurant on 52nd street. Given its location, it’s perhaps a little more touristy than other ramen places but the food was good, it was relatively cheap and it regularly makes lists of the top 10 ramen places in NYC (eg New York Times, the Gothamist, Time Out).
We got looked after here as this is the restaurant in which our friend-of-a-friend works, which really meant that we ended up with far too much food, trying some off-menu foods that were absolutely delicious. I had to take a doggy bag home and finish up for breakfast the next day…
Blue Smoke is really a bbq restaurant – they serve other things including a section of their menu with Cajun dishes, but bbq is what they do best. We ordered some snacks to start with, and then the bbq. You got your pick of meat, James went for pulled pork and I went for brisket, plus two sides. Mine were mac and cheese and potato wedges. With our starter we were bought a huge platter of food, not just the snacks but also cornbread madeleines, hog;s head cheese sliders, deviled eggs and more…. I was pretty full by the time we’d finished the starter! It was amazing. And then the brisket just fell apart at the slightest touch of a fork, still delicious eaten cold for breakfast the next day. And everytime I eat mac and cheese I’m reminded how much I love mac and cheese – I think it might be one of my favourite foods! There was no way we could manage a pudding but were brought over cocktails on the house. The restaurant was casual and bustling – a really good atmosphere.
I reviewed this place from when I last visited New York here. This time we had a window table, but it was a grey winter day so Central Park didn’t look nearly as impressive as it did in the fall! But it is a very nice restaurant, really good food, lovely views over Central Park and live gentle easy listening music. We were still a bit full from dinner the night before so I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as on my previous visit – however, I would still really recommend this as a lovely place for a leisurely lunch (or brunch) with an excellent wine menu and beautiful views.
You’ve always got to have a burger when in NYC, and while we’d planned to go to the Burger Joint after a recommendation from a colleague, we soon realised that there was a supposedly very good burger restaurant just a short walk away from our hotel in Soho. So we decided to go to Black Tap instead. Its a small place that sometimes has huge queues, given it only has high seats up against the bar. But on Sunday night – Superbowl Sunday – there were only a few people there and we were straight in without a wait. The burgers were great, cooked perfectly and with amazing sweet potato fries. James had a craft beer and I had a cocktail. But then we went for a shake…..
We shared this between us but were quite ridiculously far away from doing it justice, defeated by the brownies and chocolate chips! And after the meal we were so full of sugar we had to go back to our hotel for a liedown, at which point I had a sugar crash and fell asleep – no jazz club for us!! I need to do it with a little less jetlag or with no plans at all for after the meal…
This was our posh meal of the trip. You can’t book in the bar area, and with hindsight, we turned up perhaps slightly too late despite the fact it was a Monday night. We had been enjoying the cocktail bar we were at (see below) slightly too much! But we put our names down for a table and went around the corner to a nearby bar to wait. Just as I finished one glass of wine, James had a text saying our table was up – about 35 minutes (and less time than they had told us it would be). This was an expensive meal – over $100 a head, but we did have 2 courses each and then cheese, plus a bottle of wine, so we weren’t skimping! I started with a special, truffled clams, which were just absolutely incredible. I LOVE truffle (and I love clams) and these were served in the shell and just delicious. We had to wait quite a while for our starters and so as a result they gave us an extra clam on the house and I was so glad they did – I could have eaten them all night. Next I had sea bass with smoked potatoes, fennel gremolata and shell beans. Again, this was so light and flavoursome, it was wonderful. And then finally we topped it off with some cheese. This was by far my favourite restaurant.
I was a bit silly here as James had said to me just that morning “oh you won’t have had a hot dog in New York“. So when I discovered that Katz did hot dogs, I decided to get one. It was definitely the wrong decision – the hot dog was nice but nothing special and certainly not enough for lunch. Luckily the famous pastrami sandwiches were huge and delicious so I was able to share James’. And this really was delicious – the meat was so soft, it melted in the mouth, and there was so much of it I couldn’t get my mouth round it. Katz has been open since 1888 and is famous for making the best sandwiches in New York. It’s a bit confusing – you take a ticket when you go in, and then go up to a counter and order. Nobody really tells you anything and you kind of have to work it out by yourself. I left James to figure out his pastrami sandwich while I went to pick up some drinks. You pay by handing in your marked ticket as you leave. To be honest, I really want to go back and have a whole pastrami sandwiches to myself. It was AMAZING.
Mile End Deli
This is another sandwich shop like Katz, but we went for breakfast where I had the smoked meat hash. Americans do brisket so well – again the meat was melt-in-the-mouth-delicious, a huge plate of potatoes and brisket with two fried eggs on top. I polished off the whole dish and the waitress said “good job!” to me when she came to clear away our plates… Always a good way to know that yes, you are really greedy.
This cocktail bar was right around the corner from our hotel (Nomo Soho). A black door amongst pulled down shutters, it is very easy to miss. But when you open the door and walk down the narrow corridor, the bar opens up to a huge space with high ceilings and dark, candlelit booths. The cocktails were delicious, a good selection plus a “bartender’s choice”, where you tell the bartender what you like in a cocktail and s/he makes you something off the menu. We were so comfortable sat chatting in our little booth that we stayed for 2 cocktails each and were much later than planned on heading to Gramercy Tavern!
The Cannibal Beer & Butchers
This little craft beer bar is in a cellar on 29th street doing exactly what it says on the tin, really well. We squeezed past high bar stools to take our seats against the butcher’s bar, James ordered a plate of jerky and we both had beers from their list of 350 different bottled beers. Another great place we could have spent hours.
I’m home now, and my first day back I ate just an apple until dinner at 7pm, feeling that a good fast was overdue. I am going to have to watch what I eat (and drink!) over the next few weeks to make up for all the food in New York – but it was so, so worth it.