Sunday, July 15, 2007

My very own NYC dining out guide

I have been to so many restaurants and bars since I’ve been here that I feel compelled (and justified) to publish my own reviews and recommendations.

These are not all the places I’ve been to … just the ones I have something to say about.

I’ll start with Soho, the West Village and the Meat Packing district and will post about other areas later …

* Café Noir - Grant & Thompson
Bustling tiny tapas restaurant with a great atmosphere. I recommend the pitchers of excellent Sangria but take no responsibility for your actions after consuming a couple of them – they are lethal.
* Balthazar – Spring Street, between Broadway and Crosby
The place to see and be seen. Don’t be put off by the hour long wait for brunch (spend it browsing the great MoMa shop across the street), you will feel like you’re in Paris once you’re inside (minus the rude waiters). The place is decorated like a bistro with huge mirrors and tables crammed too close to each other. The food is excellent – I would recommend the eggs Benedict (best I’ve had in the city so far) and a glass of champagne. New Yorkers really know how to brunch.
* Jane - West Houston, corner of Thompson
Another great brunch spot in the Village. No queues, great food and they didn’t mind Joe & I staying & chatting over many glasses of champagne for over 3 hours (there’s a recurring theme here I fear). I recommend the enormous French Toast, drenched in maple syrup. Yum!
* Garage - 7th Avenue and Grove Street
Quite odd looking – like a large pub with a fireplace. But they have live Jazz and make the best Espresso Martini in the city! Don’t go for the food though. Just sit at one of the stools lining the oval bar and enjoy the music and the cocktails.
* Tea and Sympathy - Greenwich Avenue, corner of Jane Street
Fantastic for nostalgic Brits. A tiny little tea shop with an eclectic décor where you can get your fix of cream tea, cucumber finger sandwiches, beans on toast and Shepherd’s pie. The owners have started a petition to nickname the area “Little Britain”. I hear it’s catching on.
* Jerry’s - Prince Street between Mercer & Greene
I’ve loved Jerry’s ever since my first visit to NYC almost 10 years ago. It’s an upscale diner, complete with leather banquettes and excellent eggs benedict. Unfortunately, over the years (going there has been a ritual of mine every single time I’ve visited the city), the quality of the food has gone down hill but I still love the atmosphere and it will always hold a special place in my heart as my very first New York institution.
* Slane - Mac Dougal Street, between Bleecker and W3rd
A very nice, laid-back bar where the bartenders learn and remember your name. For dinner, pop into Ciao next door for some simple, great Italian food. Sit at one of the tables outside and soak in the atmosphere of this bustling corner of the West Village.
* Hotel Gansevoort – 9th Avenue at 13th Street
One of the coolest place in the city – great rooftop bar where you can drink until 4am (and then you can catch a limo home, long story …). The restaurant, Ono, is wonderful – think Japanese fusion - and “Garden of Ono”, the downstairs bar is also fantastic ... landscaped Japanese gardens, a compelling water-feature (just remember not to put your handbag on the ledge, another long story …) and eye-wateringly expensive drinks ... the perfect NYC night out.
* Pastis – 9th Avenue, corner of Little 12th Street
Another “see and be seen” place, where celebrities hang out (although I haven’t seen any myself). Good food, but nothing to shout home about. It’s more about sitting outside, watching the world go by.
* Soho House – 9th Avenue, corner of 13th Street
Apparently, I should feel privileged to have been to Soho House, the New York offshoot of the famous London members only club. I had a really wonderful evening there but it was more to do with the company than with the food. Still, they have a smoking room complete with a pool table (very cool and almost unheard of in New York), as well as a small cinema and rooftop swimming pool. All you need to get in is someone with a membership! Easier said than done ...

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