Sunday, 15 May 2016

New York - My Little Bite of the Big Apple

New York. My dream destination - and I finally made it there (you can make it - anywhere, it's up to you!) with a bunch of besties for the trip of a lifetime. Mostly, we drank cocktails, Sex and the City-style (well, in our heads anyway) though we did manage a little bit of sight-seeing and the odd bite to eat.

Benares, Tribeca
Benares Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Our best meal by far was in the Tribeca area, at Benares. An Indian fine dining experience in the heart of the Financial district, with a menu fully exploring the Indian subcontinent. With a Michelin-starred sister restaurant in Mayfair, London, the dishes on offer at Benares, Tribeca, were beautifully presented and zinged with exotic spices and freshness. Our gluten-free friend was catered for on request, and had a range of dishes to choose from. I have to say it was one of the best Indian meals I've had (and I've had a lot of those!).

Tamarind and Mint Chutneys with Rice Puffs; Kandhari Murgh (chicken with pomegranate, date and gooseberry dip); Mathura Se (aloe tikka - potato patties with gram, mint and cranberry)
Tii Wali Machhi (Ahi tuna with ground spices, sesame and wild rice); Achari Bhindi (okra bhaji)
Chicken Saag; Chicken Shahi Karma; Chicken Jalfrezi 

Thai Select, 9th Avenue
Thai Select Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Initially this place looked a little run down and unappetizing, but once inside, the staff were delightful, and the cocktails were almost glowing. The food came out quickly and it was pretty standard Thai fare. The portion sizes were quite 'American', read 'Large', and we each had a variety of authentic curries. The starters of edamame beans satisfied the gluten-free requirements, the rest of us digging into more traditional springs rolls and satay in a sharing platter, and although I was asked several times, if I wanted my Jungle Curry 'hot', (to which I replied OF COURSE!), it wasn't particularly powerful. A good, safe option for Thai in New York.

Edamame Beans, Tasting Combo; Red Chicken Curry
Panang Curry; Mojitos, MaiTais and a Blue Lagoon; Jungle Curry
Red Curry; Green Curry

Ipanema, West 46th Street (Broadway)
Ipanema Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Ipanema was the one I was looking forward to most. It was the only one we'd booked before we left for NYC, as we wanted to make sure we ate something before Broadway Show (Kinky Boots, should you ask). I was expecting petiscos like I had in Camden, so it was quite different. Disappointing in some ways, as I had bigged it up to my mates, and as it was our first formal meal, it didn't quite cut it. A haven for seafood lovers, perhaps, with the sauted shrimp served in a coconut shell, and the salted cod looked appetizing. My chicken, however was really dry and overcooked, so I couldn't finish it.
We shared a croquette sharing dish, and the best dish, for me, was the chorizo - served in it's fryer!

The cocktails showcased the Brazilian spirit cachaca, giving a kick to our more familiar drinks, mainly the Caipirinha, reminiscent of a Mojito and various fruity versions of the Cosmo, all made with cachaca. Bright and fruity, they set the tone for Kinky Boots...

Salgadinhos sortidas; Portuguese Sausage; Camar o no coco
Salm o Recheado; Camar o Pandor


Visiting New York is like visiting a film set, so it's easy to pretend we're in our favourite sitcom Friends, or SATC, or even try to be a bit classier and re-enact Breakfast at Tiffany's or Some Like It Hot. Niles Bar, conveniently located in our hotel, was our most frequented bar. With friendly Irish barmen, thoroughly professional at rustling up anything from a Cosmopolitan or five, to a Key Lime Martini, a Frozen Margarita, and even the occasional Hot Toddy. And once, yes, a pot of tea...

Niles Bar, Seventh Avenue (and some Red-Headed Slots)

Ward III is a dark (though definitely not dingy) whiskey joint in Tribeca. We sought solace there after a moving afternoon at Ground Zero, and as none of us are whiskey drinkers, we found comfort in several bespoke libations such as Sex in The City (of course!) - a 'Wodka, Hibiscus, Lime, Strawberry, Sparkling Wine' concoction, The Moroccan - 'Orange-infused Wodka, Mint, Lime', and a Benito - 'Tequila, Pineapple, Lime, Aperol, JalapeƱo, Mint'. Make sure you eat the kirsch cherry from the Sex and the City - a perfect ending...
Ward III Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Ward III
No trip to New York would be complete for a SATC fan (who, us?) without a visit to Aiden's fictional Scout Bar on Mulberry Street. It's actually O'Nieals on Grand Street (they moved the street sign from Mulberry Street two blocks away for filming). We got bustled in there along with another 30 girls (and one bloke) on a SATC On Location tour, and got to sample the 'original' Cosmopolitan. The tour also included a stop at Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street, where Carrie and Miranda supposedly 'ate cupcakes', as well a chance to walk into Buddakan restaurant, where Carrie and Big had their wedding rehearsal dinner. None of this I knew before... but I'm glad I experienced it. And a shop called The Pleasure Chest. Fun. Rabbits and such.

Cosmopolitans at Scout
Another iconic place to visit in New York is The Plaza. Featured in so many movies, this place oozes old-fashioned charm and opulence and despite our ruddy cheeks after a stroll around a sunny Central Park, we were made to feel welcome, special and as though we, ourselves, were the movie stars. The champagne bar overlooking the Pulitzer Fountain offered a long list of champagne cocktails - absolutely the prettiest, tastiest cocktails by far.

The Champagne Bar at The Plaza
Aviation, 5Star, Rose Club Sparkle

Of course it wasn't ALL cocktails. Predominately, but not all. On the way to Ellis Island, I had a pretzel - those babies are salty, and one morning, breakfast on the go was a cream cheese bagel.


The best burger was at BRGR on Seventh, grass-fed, succulent and accompanied by sweet potato fries.
Brunch at Le Pain Quotidian opposite Carnegie Hall was avocado on sourdough toast, with a post-noon Mimosa. This place was great for gluten-free and I know the London branches are renowned for catering for all dietary requirements.
Avocado on sourdough, with Mimosa.
Friedman's on 31st Street were also super gluten-free friendly, they do a great brunch on the weekend, as well as artisan and organic-type lunches during the week. I can especially recommend the herbed-fries for a hangover...
Turkey Burger with herbed fries
 Breakfast to go (or rather, lunch) one day was a breakfast crepe from Eataly in Brookfield Place - here you can watch them cook your food with style and the typical New York friendliness.
Breakfast crepe
So with all the yellow cab hailing, high rise buildings, sirens and 'Have a nice day, ma'am's, this holiday was the best ever. New York, with so many iconic places to visit, so much good food, and the amazing feeling that you are actually on location, I'm definitely going back to the city that never sleeps.

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