Now that I've learned how to "check in" on Facebook, you might have noticed that we spent the weekend in NY enjoying the holiday lights, seeing a show and eating lots of great food. Kind of hard not to eat well in NY, as long as you avoid any restaurant within 10 blocks of Times Square. We stayed with my brother-in-law on the upper east side (66th & 3rd) which has a ton of good local spots and easy access to the subway to explore the rest of the city. I apologize for the lack of pictures. I wasn't thinking of blogging until the bus ride home and I started recapping all the great places we went.
Boltbus ride from Philly and a late dinner Friday night at The Smith in Midtown. A huge space by Manhattan standards, well lit and stylish. A good restaurant with a decent bar, and not the other way around; they do mostly steaks, chops and seafood. We had some great shishito peppers that were a flashback to Spain. Nicely blistered and just a little sweet. Mac & Cheese was great - crunchy little crust on top and served in it's own little skillet with a good béchamel as the cheesy base. My chicken pot pie was enough to feed 3. Needed some salt to amp up the flavor a bit, but the pastry top was flaky and buttery. So good on a cold windy night.
Brunch with some cousins the next morning at Extra Virgin, down in the Village. Almost no wait on a Saturday at noon (apparently unheard of in NY) and wonderful food. The truffled mushroom turkey burger was probably the best I've ever had. They serve it with a little side of porcini aioli that really brings out a depth of flavor and lusciousness in the burger. My only complaint about the place would be the $10 bloody mary's. They served them in tom collins glasses (should always be in a pint glass). The mix was watery and not spicy in the least. Basically tomato juice & vodka. Made me miss the good ones at N. 3rd & Standard Tap. Worth coming here just for the food though.
Craft beers for $5 in Manhattan? Impossible you say? Well you would be completely wrong. The Pony Bar serves only crafts on draught and has a live updating screen of what beers are being poured and what's up next. Basically the NY version of Kraftwork. The menu didn't look like anything special so we just stuck to the beers. For $5 a beer though, I might never drink anywhere else here again.
I've always wanted to have that NY pizza moment. That slice that explains what all the fuss is about. The reason that foodie tours come here. Well, I finally had my moment. John's Pizzeria on 64th street was incredible. Kind of a no frills place with some booths and a decent list of beers you can get by the pitcher. The pizza that they pull out of their ancient ovens is just about the best I've ever had. They serve only whole pies - no slices, it's definitely a sit down experience. There's lots of good pies in Philly (Stella, Tacconelli's, Zavino) but this seemed to be on a whole different plane of existence. The chewy crust with just a few blisters. The deeply flavored sauce. Pepperoni that does a little dance on your tongue. Mozzarella that tastes like it was stretched just minutes before going on. I ate my slices. Did my little happy wiggle in the booth. And tried to savor that moment. Mmmm. I get it now.
Can't come here and not get bagels right? Sunday brunch/hangover helper with some more cousins at Ess-A-Bagel on 51st & 3rd. This place looks like they opened up in the 70's and never touched a thing since (the website confirms my suspicion). The bagels are pretty stellar though. The line is generally stretched along the counter and back to the door. They do not pride themselves on efficiency. Getting two bagel sandwiches made took about 10 minutes, plus another five to pay for them. The food is worth the wait though and nothing rights the ship like carbalicous bagels. I've told my wife before that good bagels are one of the best things she's brought into my life. Up until I met her I only knew frozen Lenders and Dunkin Donuts. For shame. What I've been missing out on.
It's great having family to stay with in Manhattan. Hotels are insanely expensive and having someone there that knows the good places is clutch. A quick 2 hour bus ride and we can play food tourist for a weekend - one of my favorite activities. Still need to get a Papaya Dog on one of these trips and maybe a trip to Brooklyn next time to check out the scene there. So much food and so little time to eat.
The Smith - Midtown
956 Second Avenue, New York, NY
Extra Virgin - Greenwich Village
259 W 4th St, New York, NY
Pony Bar - Upper East Side
1444 1st Avenue New York, NY
John's Pizzeria - Upper East Side
408 East 64th Street, New York, NY
Ess-a-Bagel - Midtown East
831 3rd Avenue, New York, NY