Here’s what didn’t make my Top Ten NYC list, but was memorable nonetheless:
Eataly walk about – this is like Saturday morning at the Italian Centre on steroids. I couldn’t resist the celebrity factor (this food emporium is co-owned by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich) and the location right by the Flatiron Building was worth the hike. But it was too crowded to see anything, never mind shop. I barely escaped with a Alessi toothpick holder and my wits.
Lupa – again with the Batali, and our first night’s dinner, and the one I most greatly anticipated. Staff were dismissive, food portions were tiny small, and my partner’s pasta was crunchy – not al dente, yes I know the difference. Of note, we ate veal tongue for the very first time, which is odd for people who never eat veal. Who chooses to eat tongue? Oh well, when in Rome. We were stuck in the back room, and wedged into our table. I have to say that La Quercia trumps Lupa in my books for rustic Italian in North America.
Prune – Oh, Prune, I wanted to love you so much. We had a late reservation our last night, and I was hoping it would be a highlight of our trip. Alas, we had the loudest table in the world beside us, and we had to SHOUT the entire time to have a conversation. This is a little matchbox of a place, with a roaring crowd. I ordered the bone marrow appetizer (Anthony Bourdain would have been proud) and the soft shell crab special (I lost points asking about the shell – you EAT the shell, dummy). I think we were tired seven days in, and would have done better at a quiet place to refuel our overwhelmed selves. I do love chef/owner Gabrielle Hamilton’s book, though, and I feel like a traitor not raving about Prune. I just don’t think it was the right fit for us. I hang my head in shame.
Lemon tree cocktail at Gramercy Tavern – this was our swankiest stop. Mike was worried his ‘midwestern look’ wouldn’t get us in the bar, but the host was most gracious and forgiving. I ate a fried oyster and spinach salad, while Mike digested his previously-eaten Katz Deli sandwich.
Vintner’s Wine Shop – on this amazing restaurant row street – 9 avenue in the Meatpacking district. I insisted on stopping here because we were in a rush before a Broadway show (the pee your pants hilarious Book of Mormon) and it was on my Master List. Alas, the service was exceedingly slow, and the atmosphere was confined to four tables shoved in the back of a deli, but my cheese and meat plate was nibbly good.
City Bakery – My travelling companion didn’t like it here – I was desperately hungry and ate cold grilled cheese sandwich. It was really loud and packed and the setting reminded me of a hospital cafeteria. I snuck back another day and had soft scrambled eggs with a maple bacon scone. Both of which were delicious, despite the surroundings.
Artichoke Pizza – we grabbed a slice, which was bigger than my head, after a late night listening to live music (at Village Lantern) in Greenwich Village. I had the artichoke, which was strangely creamy and cheesy all at the same time. We ate it on the street, sauce dripping down our arms.
Via Quadronno – in this little Italian bistro on the very tony Upper East Side, I eavesdropped on two lawyer-moms complaining about their nannies and pre-school interviews. It was very ‘Sex in the City gals have babies’. The waiter was flirty and the cappuccino was spot-on.
Momofuku Milk Bar – another #fail, but I wanted to go. It isn’t a bakery, silly me, so it was a ridiculous place for me to hunt down for breakfast. Mike had a chocolate cookie and I had a piece of crack pie sitting near Central Park, so what the heck.
Green Market, Union Square – This was across the street from our hotel, and runs four days a week. An authentic farmer’s market, where real New Yorkers go grocery shopping. I’m proud to say our City Centre market in Edmonton is bigger, with more selection.
Doughnut Planet – it was sweltering when we found this address, and I was still full from Katz Deli. But a tres leche doughnut was on my list, so ate one I did. And then walked and sweated for the next five hours and worked it off. The doughnut was good, yes, but it didn’t blow my mind, and the dude behind the counter corrected my Spanish pronounciation. Where hipsters go to eat doughnuts. In Canada, we go to Tim’s instead.
Essex Market, Lower East Side – an authentic food market, and reminded me of a smaller Cork’s English Market.
Ate a hot dog and strange cheese whiz fries at a Yankee’s game
Zibetto’s – This authentic espresso bar was around the corner from our hotel. While Mike preferred Starbucks for their free wifi action, I liked feeling bold and ordering a proper flat white at this stand up bar. I noted this was a very Italian and very male place, but I was not afraid.
Le Pain Quotidient – I fell in love with this place in Washington last year, and decided when I have $2 million, I would open a franchise here in Edmonton. Alas, with two return visits in New York, I realized I loved the setting and the concept more than I loved the food.
Ran out of time for:
Gourmet food truck – where were you, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck?
Slice of New York cheesecake
Shake Shack burger
One can only eat and drink so much. And eat and drink so much we did.
And my final NYC food post: Foods of New York Food Tour – Central Village and Soho. Coming up soon.