5 Mar, 2015
Eataly 200 5th Avenue
Eataly feels like a place of worship to a common human condition; the love of eating. This stylish one-stop foodie palace of pleasure is an ode to ingredients, utensils and books while of course, those who have the supporting roles; coffee, wine and now craft beer, are celebrated and revered. Italian food does take the starring role as the self-appointed culinary capital of the world. In Eataly’s massive space, you can shop every culinary category from every corner of the world and beyond to your heart’s content. And most importantly eat at as many as 5 different restaurants covering fish, pasta, vegetarian, pasta and meat themes. As if that is not enough, you can also hone your culinary skills at Eataly’s cooking school where of course, eating is also involved!
Browse the website http://www.eataly.com
Beware of wallet-emptying shopping opps, inevitable dish envy, luggage-allowance-blues and yes, it is sinful to visit the same place twice during a short holiday but in Eataly’s case, you will be forgiven. Don’t forget to consider their rooftop restaurant too.
Secret, adjacent, unique
In one of only curved streets in the ubiquitous grid pattern of NYC, two venues so off the pounded pavements, even the taxi drivers are surprised when they find them……..
A cocktail bar in the heartland of ChinaTown. Too cool to have signage announcing its existence ..simply a chemistry beaker, a round bottomed glass flask hanging above the beautiful wooden door (manned by the style police). A gorgeous space full of fascinating humans and lab coated bar tenders concocting various mood enhancing enzymatic brews. Definitely go for pre and post dinner drinks when visiting the neighbours…..
Right next door is the equally secretive Pulqueria ….
No sign, and even more bewildering to the uninitiated; it is down to a basement where there are 3 possible unmarked doors …choose the blue one on the RHS and be sure to have made a reservation in advance. Pulqueria serves Mexican food and drinks that will have you braying for more like a Piñata on party night.
The fact that you are eating the ultimate in authentic Mexican in the heart of ChinaTown below a dark and curvaceous street in NYC just signs, seals and delivers the fact that you are in one of the world’s quirkiest cities.
Continuing with Mexican ….www.esquinanyc.com/
What is there not to love about la Esquina? Of course, their logo of a Mexican wrestler reminds me of my favourite actor Jack Black in Nacho Libre (“sometimes a man needs to be alone with his stretchy pants…”) so that was a big magnet already.
La Esquina had been on my wanna-go-to list for awhile so imagine how excited I was when I discovered that our Soho address made us almost neighbours.. an omen from the tequila genie, for sure. We sat upstairs which had a young, date-night type atmosphere. Trendy but not self-conscious, super relaxed and friendly. The Margaritas tasted like “order-a-jug-of-this-next-time” and the food featured all the usual trappings but done with a tasteful and modern take. Downstairs is even more hipster and needs to be booked 21 days in advance.
Diagonally across the road from la Esquina we find the polar opposite of coolness; Spring Street Natural calling itself a family restaurant. Putting a tentative nose through the front door, I detect a slight hint of an albeit better lit Mike’s Kitchen and I spot a pram (as one would in a family restaurant). Its quite big and warmly decorated and it was zero degrees so we ventured forth across a threshold that one would not ordinarily cross (especially if you are travelling in NYC without a family). Despite my misgivings and the less than uber-trendy setting, it remains one of the best meals that we ate in New York. My sesame crusted sashimi rare yellowfin tuna steak with soy mirin glaze, wasabi mash, sautéed baby bok choy and crispy leeks was perfection. My boyfriend fantasised for days more about his grilled natural hanger steak with red onion jam, rosemary-parmesan steak fries and grilled zucchini. I want to go back for the “everything” crusted organic salmon with yuzu-wasabi vinaigrette, stir-fried Chinese broccoli and coconut basmati rice. The menu with its something-for-everyone breadth of choice, the interesting wine list and the quality of the food would get me back to Spring Street Natural any day.
Ok, its possible… this one may have been heightened by romance, jet lag, holiday happiness and being in New York for the first time as a couple. It was our first night in New York. We had checked in at our amazing Soho apartment, been for a run into the sunset along the Hudson River and were now feeling giddy with joy and ….lag. That first glass of wine tasted sublime and felt like an energy transfusion. We were at Boqueria where tapas is their game. Theoretically, tapas is all about sharing. This always proves to be a challenge for this culinary incompatible couple (carnivore & semi-vegetarian, crustacean allergy & shellfish freak, potato-lover & potato-indifferent, pea-hater & pea-lover etc, you get the picture). Well, actually I was happy to not have to share too much! The food was superb. Another restaurant where given only 7 days, it was worth a repeat visit.
What a gorgeous space to emerge into from an unremarkable street and an unassuming entrance. This is quintessential NYC, surprises and studies in contrasts are the order of the day.
Scrambled eggs and crispy oysters with hot butter sauce was my choice and what a taste sensation. An original combination that simply works.
We had a long lingering Sunday brunch and it was difficult not to over order so we did anyway as we couldn’t resist adding the marmalade cookies with bacon bits, the seasonal glazed doughnuts and a few other tempting sounding sides.
This is heaven for all those who love food, interesting spaces and beautiful décor. Bookings are essential and I can imagine ABC Kitchen would be equally special for dinner or lunch.
More recommendations and places on my wish list:
Essex and Beauty
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