NYC – Part II

Rubirosa – Nolita

Having not been to the Nolita area before I found the area buzzing – even early doors on a week night – a bit like Soho I suppose.

After first attempting to get a drink at Mother’s Ruin (sadly too rammed) we decamped to Rubirosa managing to get a seat at the bar.

The friend I am with has been here before, with a different friend again, who had also told me to visit here on my trip.

A delightful bartender (one of many) recommended two great wines for us and we settled down. There’s a great cocktail list – classics with an Italian twist which would in my mind, make Rubirosa a drinking destination as much as a restaurant.

It’s cosy with an old-fashioned vibe about it – wooden floors and furniture and a large velvet curtain to swoosh open as you enter and leave. There is a huge range of people in here – dates, groups of friends and people flying solo. Hand written notes from Rubirosa fans adorn the wall behind the bar.

We weren’t intending to eat but as we were there and everything looked immense we decided to stay. Classic Italian/American comfort food is on offer – meatballs, pastas and of course pizzas, which are huge but also thin and delicate.

From memory the medium size pizza was six slices and the large eight. A medium was quite sufficient for both of us, although several lone diners manged to eat a whole one to themselves. Respect my friends.

We order an Arugula – cherry tomato, onion, Parmesan and balsamic with some prosciutto added for good measure. It arrives resplendent on its own stand and a man sitting next to us asks what we have. He seems jealous about what we’ve picked. He says he’ll order that next time.

The pizza is delicious – a great tomato base and generous and excellent quality prosciutto. There’s one of those meat slicing machines behind the bar so perhaps they prepare it all there?

There are gluten-free options AND there’s a pizza with vodka on it if you fancy that.

Sitting up at the bar is highly recommended to get involved and soak up the atmosphere. It certainly feels like a neighbourhood restaurant but I can guarantee people travel from across the city to come here.

If you’re seeking a good quality pizza in a lively atmosphere – Rubirosa is a winner in my opinion.

Clinton St Bakery – Lower East Side

The Clinton St Bakery is a few steps from Katz’s deli – the infamous diner from that scene in When Harry Met Sally (on my list for next time).

Since I’ve told people I’ve been here I’ve discovered other friends have too and it seems according to them I should have had the pancakes. They’ve been voted the best in NYC. Twice.

We get there early and the queue is already snaking out of the door. We’re informed it’s a 40 minute wait. Unless of course we want to go next door. We’re not sure what next door is but we accept anyway. It seems to be a less formal version of the main restaurant but for me feels more like a diner which is what I’m after. There’s two free seats at the counter so we can observe all the action. Result.

People pop in and out – some collecting breakfast to take away. Lucky *astards.

Perched in anticipation we ponder the extensive menu and struggle with what to choose. We start with coffee though and in true American style it’s free refills.

Finally I order – picking the Country Breakfast. Three eggs any style, Heritage maple cured ham, hash browns, and a buttermilk biscuit. I can’t remember what a buttermilk biscuit is until my friend reminds me its a scone. Whooo! Hash Browns are not a la Macdonald’s – think more of a potato pancake type affair. I go for scrambled eggs which is a gamble as people rarely meet my high scrambled standards. They are delicious as is the ham which has been cooked – more like bacon really. I can’t manage it all and for those that know me this is a rare occurrence.

clinton-2

Kicking out of her comfort zone my friend orders the Southern Breakfast that includes sugar-cured bacon, fried green tomatoes and cheesy grits. Neither of us had grits before but they were a perfect accompaniment to breakfast. They’re sort of creamy like mashed potato/polenta but taste like neither of those things. My friend is beaten too due to the huge portions.

This is everything you’d hope for in a proper American breakfast and more. There’s cocktails if you’re feeling decadent plus an array of sweet bakes if you want to take away. They’re open in the evening too if you want to try some of their non breakfast options such as buttermilk chicken and waffles.

Next time I’m in town though I’ll go back for those famous pancakes.

Pure Thai Cookhouse – Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t exactly sound inviting. I’m staying in Manhattan tonight and meeting a friend who’s coming in from out-of-town. We therefore needed somewhere that’s equidistant from my digs and her station – Hell’s Kitchen fitted the bill.

After a bit of research our choice was endorsed by my friend’s husband who said he’d heard lots of good things about the place.

Pure Thai Cookhouse is touted as one of the best Thai restaurants in the City and considering the size of New York this is a bold claim.

The restaurant is unassuming from the outside and once inside is narrow with people eating on every available surface. It’s a Monday but when we arrive there’s a queue so we pop a few doors down for a drink and wait for our text to summons us.

When we go back its still busy and the amazing aromas wafting from the kitchen are intoxicating.

The decor here is laid back – canteen style with metal furniture and tables tightly packed together. If you’re after an intimate dinner or a private conversation this probably isn’t the place for you. We end up chatting to a British couple living in Virginia as we’re so close to them we can hear their accents.

We order two starters which once they arrive seems a little greedy based on their size. Steamed beef buns are three delicate pillows filled with slow braised beef brisket, leeks, cucumber, and sesame plum sauce. Steamed vegetable dumplings were also delicious – packed with peanuts. spinach and garlic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC – Part I

I’ve only touched down in the UK this morning. Fuelled by hideous jet lag I’ve decided to use my time to jot down some of my musings from across the pond. More to follow in due course but here’s a start……

Chelsea Market

In the heart of the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market attracts a whopping six million visitors per year.

In my mind I was imagining a Borough Market style set-up. It’s not like that all. This is an indoor venue open seven days a week with vendors having permanent shops rather than stalls. It’s therefore a great place to go if the weather is a bit dodgy. It’s open from 7am in the week so you can always grab some breakfast before you hit the Highline or Whitney Museum of American Art nearby.

Most establishments here are food related with just a few anomalies. Anthropologie has managed to sneak in there for example.

Like the rest of NYC you can get a huge range of cuisines – oysters, crepes, Italian, doughnuts it’s all here. There’s some bars too if you fancy a quick pit stop – we had a little rest at Bar Truman which had a great selection of beers and wines.

We were in search of dinner and went to Very Fresh Noodles¬†where I had the ‘Tingly Cumin Lamb’. Slow roasted lamb (so delicious and tender) was served with their signature noodles (which we watched being made) cumin, coriander, celery and chilli oil. I can’t profess to not like Chinese food anymore…..It was a generous portion and was mind-blowingly awesome.

Even if you’re not a foodie this is a great place to while a way a few hours.

Gray’s Papaya – Upper West Side

Eating a hotdog in New York is as traditional as fish and chips in England. There are hot dog vendors on every street corner but if I was going to have one I wanted it to be good and salmonella free.

After some leafing through my city guides I came across the same place several times – Gray’s Papaya. How excited I was to discover it’s just two blocks from my hotel. The shop is certainly no frills and not fancy in any way. There is a queue out of the door though which is a good sign.

There isn’t a menu – it’s literally hotdogs and a range of slightly alarming looking tropical drinks. $1.95 for a beef hotdog with free onions or sauerkraut is pretty good if you’re on a budget. They offer a ‘Recession Buster’ – two dogs and a drink for $4.95. I went for one dog but they’re not huge so could have wolfed two if I’m being honest. To drink I had coconut ‘champagne.’ I have no idea what was in it (not champagne) but definitely coconut and strangely nice.

The hotdog was delicious – nothing like the anaemic slightly flaccid specimens I recall in the 1980’s. The bun was soft and the onions lovely and caramelly.

Service is brisk and leaves me slightly flustered but it’s all part of the experience.

Eat standing up feeling whilst smug you’ve got yourself a very cheap and authentic NYC lunch. This place is an institution and has been featured in numerous TV shows and movies. I see there’s a new branch on the way so they’ll be more hot doggery opportunities for all.

B.E.C

At 3.30pm after walking for literally hours without sustenance I was ready to eat practically anything. On a fairly average street in Chelsea I wasn’t expecting to find this place.

BEC – what did that mean? I could only think of Tooting Bec but was sure it didn’t relate to there.

Bacon Egg Cheese. Oh My Lord.

This place is all about gourmet sandwiches – about ten in all plus a few salads. They have some beers and wines on offer for the evening – I had some excellent coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Co.

Decor is pretty cool – the seats are made from reclaimed boardwalks from Coney Island.

Ingredients are high quality – excellent breads, free range eggs and local cheese. I went for a Roadhouse – eggs, sausage, avo, cheese and slaw – all the most delicious things slapped between two bits of high-class ciabatta.

In my haste to eat and prevent myself from passing out I forgot to take a photo of my delicious lunch.

I photographed my empty tray as an inferior substitute so please see website for saliva inducing examples.

Right time for some sleep – more to follow in due course………….