New York & Brooklyn

{An October 2013 Visit}


Shopsin's (Lower East Side) - Richard has been going on about Shopsin's for years, so we had to go. The menu did indeed have hundreds of items on it, and papa Shopsin was seated on a chair keeping a careful eye on his son in the kitchen. I can't even remember what we ate, but it was delicious.

We also stopped at Saxelby Cheese on the way out of Essex Market for some cream cheese and burrata... and salted caramels made in Brooklyn.

Russ and Daughters (Lower East Side) - I wish I'd returned to Russ and Daughters for more of their delicious Scottish smoked salmon. My small package got me a few days of lox, cream cheese and bagels for breakfast.
Central Park (Harlem)

Pok Pok Phat Thai (Lower East Side) - It didn't seem like we were going to make it to Pok Pok NY, but noodles and drinking vinegar at their tiny off shoot in the LES was just as satisfying. Charles went for the regular Phat Thai, whilst Richard and I decided on variations of Kuaytiaw Khua Kai with super wide rice noodles.

Frankies Spuntino 570 (West Village) - How could we not go to Frankies? We had to try meatballs first hand after making versions of them so often at home. They certainly lived up to their reputation, as did some kale and harissa crostini, homemade pasta with a sausage-tomato sauce and squash ravioli.

Benkei Ramen (at Ushiwakamaru in the West Village) - At some point during pre-trip 'research', I came across this article on Time Out about hidden ramen spots in NYC. We jumped at midnight ramen, and headed over to Ushiwakamaru on our Saturday evening in Manhattan. Midnight turned out to be 12:30, and a problem in the kitchen caused us to wait over an hour for our food, although it was excellent when it arrived.

Central Park from 'The Castle'

Sushi of Gari Tribeca (Tribeca) - There was eye rolling here. Ecstatic eye rolling. The fish was so fresh and delicious we wouldn't hesitate to head back to any of the Sushi of Gari spots.

Northern Spy Food Co. (East Village) - Another spot I made reservations for in advance, and well worth it as they were packed on Friday evening when we arrived. Everything was well done here, but the best dish by far was their famed kale salad with roasted squash, almonds, cheddar and parmesan.

Parm (Nolita) - The meatball and eggplant parm sandwiches were some of the best we've ever eaten. Do not skip Parm, especially if you're in the area.

Rice to Riches (Nolita) - There must be tons and tons of cream in their rice pudding, which of course makes it delicious. At least a dozen flavours were on offer when we were there, and the mascarpone cherry came out the winner.

Jacob's Pickles (UWS) - It's funny that we didn't make it to Jacob's Pickles until our last evening in Manhattan, considering it was walking distance from our apartment. Although the fried chicken was a bit of a let down (it was more crusted chicken than fried), the homemade pickles were well done, and the mac and cheese alone makes the spot well worth while.

Milk Bar (Everywhere... but UWS) - I had a Corn Cookie earlier in the week at a Flat Iron market (incredibly random, but there are tons of excellent vendors set up on the street between Eataly and Union Square), but this time we stopped with the intention of securing a slice of Crack Pie. Unfortunately they were sold out, but we walked away with Cereal Milk soft serve with cornflake crunch on the outside.

ABC Kitchen (Flat Iron) - Richard chose to go to ABC Kitchen on his birthday. It was the largest restaurant we visited, but the servers were excellent, as was the meal - a whole lobster, tuna carpaccio and roast suckling pig. There were also very creamy mashed potatoes (I wouldn't really call them 'mash', but they were delicious), and these crostini with squash that were amazing. Dessert was less of a hit; My fig crisp was far too rich (and large in size), although the apple sorbet served with it was a hit with both of us.

High Line

The Raines Law Room (Chelsea) - We visited the Raines Law Room a number of times for the best cocktails any of us have ever encountered. Super comfy, plush furniture is arranged around the main sitting room, with the bar (and some standing room) in a small room at the back. There is also a beautiful garden patio - Thankfully it was still warm enough to sit out on our first evening in town.

The place is basically unmarked. Next to the Chelsea Hotel, there's a black awning with a black door down the stairs. Ring the doorbell and wait for the host to greet you. They'll either give you a table, a spot in the standing room, or take your phone number and text you when there's room. It's supposed to be a 'speakeasy', so it's all very secretive. Enjoy.

Bouchon Bakery (Time Warner Centre and Rockefeller Plaza) - After staring at the Bouchon Bakery book at Provisions for months, I couldn't not go to Bouchon. We enjoyed a TKO, Butter Nutter and canelé on a couple different occasions. It wasn't the best baking ever, but was certainly worth a visit.

Shake Shack (everywhere...) - I was anxious to try Shake Shack, and that is where we ended up on our first night in town. It was very good, though next time I'd just stick with a milk shake and head to Diner in Brooklyn for any burger cravings.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (multiple locations... and trucks too) - Wow. Excellent ice cream made with Michel Cluizel, Askinosie and other small batch chocolates, single estate vanillas, cinnamon and extracts.

We missed Sullivan Street Bakery and Upstate Craft Beer and Oyster Bar, both of which were high on my list... Next time, Manhattan.


Marlow & Sons (Williamsburg) - I can't say enough about the restaurants and other food related spots owned by this group. We were blown away at this location by a short but delicious list of oysters, the best chicken ever (roasted brick chicken) and a quince and apple crumble that was hands down the best restaurant dessert I've encountered. Needless to say we went back another evening.

Diner (Williamsburg) - Another spot owned by the Marlow group. Their menu sounds amazing, but leave it alone until you've ordered their burger (medium rare). AMAZING.

Wythe Hotel (Williamsburg) - At 5pm the Wythe Hotel (also owned by... the Marlow people) opens their roof top bar and patio to those not staying at the hotel. It's busy, but well worth the trip for views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn rooftops.

Egg (Williamsburg) - We ended up at Egg on our last morning in town and instantly wished we'd stopped in earlier. Richard enjoyed house made sausages and eggs, whilst I gravitated towards biscuits and gravy. Like every other brunch spot, they had freshly squeezed orange juice.

Bedford Cheese Shop (Williamsburg) - We stopped here three times. They have a large selection of cheese and meat, but also many, many pantry items (fancy smoked oysters, locally made pickles and preserves, and lots of chocolate). On our way to the airport we grabbed one of their baguette sandwiches - This one had delicious ham and cheese and mustard. Way better than airport food.

Bedford Cheese Shop

Roberta's (East Williamsburg) - For some reason Roberta's wasn't high on my list, but it turned out we were staying a couple blocks away,  so we trekked over on our first night in town. It was still warm enough to sit outside on their tiki themed patio (we got a take out pizza... I'm not sure if that's how it's supposed to work...), and enjoy cider and beer. I'm sure any of their combos are wonderful, but we ended up with a margherita pizza, which certainly lived up to Roberta's reputation.

Dun-Well Donuts (East Williamsburg) - This one was right across the street from our L station stop, and we popped in many times for their delicious vegan donuts.

Pies n' Thighs (Williamsburg) - We had a heavy night of eating by the time we ended up here at 11:30 for fried chicken and a slice of pie. Delicious and well worth it.

Maison Premiere (Williamsburg) - Also sort of unmarked, look for a sign that says 'Bar Oysters' hanging from the entrance, and likely a bit of a line up outside. On our first evening we ended up in their beautiful garden patio - amazing - with a plate of oysters and delicious absinthe cocktails (their specialty). Happy hour (our second visit) is well worth it, with several oysters from their menu only $1.

Smorgasburg and the Brooklyn Flea (Williamsburg) - There are many, many good food at both these ones. We enjoyed barbecue from Mighty Quinn's as well as a couple Dough doughnuts.

Brooklyn Flea

Mast Brothers Chocolate (Williamsburg) - What can I say, this place is heavenly. Not only do they have all their bars on hand, they've got a solid selection of books as well as a delicious bakery counter with cakes, cookies and confections.

Blue Bottle Coffee Co. (Williamsburg) - Right around the corner from Mast Brothers sits Blue Bottle Coffee Co. They've got cafes all over, but this is the only one we made it to, and their coffee lived up to the hype.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Pumpkin loaf and a cappuccino from Blue Bottle Coffee

Le Gamin (Greenpoint and also Prospect Heights) - A recommendation from a wonderful retail shop sent us to Le Gamin for a late brunch. Perfectly poached eggs, wonderful lemonade and a beautiful garden (in October) were very much enjoyed.

Ovenly (Greenpoint) - I wish we could have spent more time at Ovenly (a tiny bakery started by two ladies who experimented at Pauli Gee's before moving across the street), but alas, we walked away with just an amazing salted chocolate chip cookie.

Brooklyn Roasting Company (Dumbo) - We never would have made it to Brooklyn Roasting Company if it wasn't a stop on our bike tour. They were one of the first 'makers' in Brooklyn that got the whole thing started. Their coffee is very good and the warehouse space itself is worth a visit... Plus it's right next to the Brooklyn Bridge so you'll want to wander around anyhow.

Brooklyn Spirits Trail - We only made it to New York Distilling Co. (well worth it for the bar itself), but if you have time, it looks wonderful.

This whiskey, made by Breuckelen Distilling, came home with me.

Immaculate Infatuation was my go to reference 'blog' (thank you, thank you Andre for the tip), and they didn't ever steer me wrong.


Once again, Airbnb. We stayed in a great spot on the UWS (right at the NW corner of Central Park), between the local B, C lines (blue) and the 1 (red) going downtown. In Brooklyn we ended up in East Williamsburg, right between L and J/M stations. Obviously convenient subway wise (getting to Manhattan was breezy), but also easy to walk down to the water.

Other stuff

Don't miss the Chelsea High Line - very impressive - and also any of the 'parks' along the Brooklyn side. We spent a few evenings just sitting and watching the sun set over Manhattan.

We booked a bike tour via Get Up and Ride, and I wouldn't hesitate to go on another next time I'm in town; Spots like the Brooklyn Navy yard are otherwise unaccessible, and we wouldn't have known about the Wythe Hotel or cool shops and graffiti spots in the area without our guide.

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