6 days in New York and my husband and I were filled with a conflicting urge to soak in as much as we could and experience the city, just like a local would. We tried to live many weekends in 5 days. Being the compulsive planners that my husband and I are, we kept making our “must do” list a few months before we left and did most of our reservations even before we landed in New York. Our list was a mix of places we definitely had to go and eat at and experiences which we knew only New York could offer.
I am going to try and do justice to one or two highlights from each day, as tough as it may be to do that! But, I am going to try nevertheless. Almost all of these experiences need a blogpost of their own! My first Blog Post in this series will cover the first 3 days.
A Starry Night at Jean Georges
Very obviously and naturally, often with us it’s all about the food. We definitely wanted to do a black tie, fancy meal at a 3 Michelin star restaurant. After reading many reviews, and leafing through the menus of the Top 5, we zeroed in on “Jean Georges ” at the Trump Hotel.
A word of advice, reservations to the restaurant open a month in advance and fill up as quickly, we wanted to go there Saturday Night, but we logged in to discover that the only option available was at 10.30 pm, so we decided to go there on our first day. We chose Jean Georges for the stars it had and also because the menu is kind to vegetarians (Me) as well as to my husband who is allergic to shellfish.
It’s plush no doubt, but what struck me was the fact that the entire dinner unraveled like a ballad. Eyes conditioned by numerous culinary shows on TLC, Masterchef and a palate thats been accustomed to some world cuisine thanks to some travel and a lot of eating out back home!
While it was a 3 course meal, it began with an amuse bouche, a cheese platter and dessert platter, the sorbets in between to cleanse the palate. When Michelle, our amazing host realized I was vegetarian, or at least preferred to be, she got the chef to put something together that was a tasting menu of sorts.
The meal itself was an absolute delight. My meal began with a Heirloom Tomato and Vegetable Salad, Corn filled Ravioli in Basil Fondue and followed by the main course, which was many things actually, rice crisps with avocado, goat cheese mousse and beetroot and toasted pistachios, Hummus with vegetables and Tofu in Ginger sauce.
What I Loved about the meal, was the symphony itself, from the chatting up, to our host working with us to help us choose our meal, her explanation of every dish and last, but definitely not the least, the food. I would definitely do it again! An experience that must not be missed, there is obviously something these guys do to earn their stars that makes the whole experience a delight to savour everytime you think of it. It was all French cuisine must be, stylish, elegant, delicate and above all sinfully reaching out to almost all the senses!
A meal for two including tips could set you behind by 360$, but as an experience, it’s not one to miss if you can afford it.
A good way to walk off the meal for us was to walk down to our hotel through Times Square, and while we did tell ourselves we would take a cab if we were tired, there is just so much to see that you don’t want to waste time being tired.
Top of the Rock
There is something romantic and charming about being able to see the entire city from a vantage point. We decided to watch the Sunset at “Top of the Rock”, which is in the iconic Rockerfeller Centre. On one side you see Central Park and the other you have a view of the Empire State building and the Concrete Jungle that New York is.
We were there in Summer, so yes it’s crowded, and one must be prepared to jostle for a spot to enjoy a view. We went at 7 and managed to spend time till 8.30 in the night. If you are able to smuggle a spot, it can indeed be an incredibly romantic moment. For a classic movie buff like me, all I could think of is “An affair to remember” as I saw the Empire State building and be quite thrilled about it.
A premiere pass for 2 costs about 68$. Also remember to pose before you go up and at the view finder because this ticket entitles you to two digital photographs. Watch out for the (what I like to call) the disco lift, because as you climb up to the viewing deck, there are psychedelic lights and techno music that play in the lift. Same drill on your way down too!
We walked down from the Rockerfeller Centre to Times Square where Iridium is. Iridium is one of the famous Jazz Clubs in New York and we chose it, amongst many others because Catherine Russel was performing. Most of the other clubs seemed to be doing more instrumental music, and I like my jazz music with Singing, if it’s going to be for a long time.
Jazz at the Iridium with Catherine Russel
So Catherine Russell is a blues and jazz vocalist and boy did we think our decision was right. Her father was Louis Armstrong’s music director and understandably the music genes rubbed off. Her set was about 90 mins long, and she kept us hooked in her glamorous shiny dress and soulful singing. So much naughtiness, pain, happiness, melody all rolled into one evening. Guess that’s what New York at the time of Sinatra must have felt like. Sigh Sigh Sigh!!!
We did make reservations in advance, but frankly got no benefits, we still stood in a long winding line with those who did not buy tickets, and probably spent lesser. We spent 64$ for two.
Breakfast at Clinton Street
Breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day, it sets the tone for the day and can make the difference between a blah day and a GREAT day! Having Fantasised about breakfast from Midtown till Lower East Side, we were a bit taken aback that we had to wait for 90 minutes to get a table at 9.30 in the morning! Having no agenda and time and an appetite on our hands, we decided to walk around. Walking around in New York is anyway a delight because there is Art peeping out from every nook and corner of the city in some form. However being hungry we decided to have a little something to last us till the wait was over at a cafe close by. The good part about waiting for your turn is that register your number and you are sent a link where you can track your turn.
It was finally our turn, and we decided to share their Waffles. The Waffle itself was a dream, spongy and still a bit crisp, but the highlight was the caramel sauce on the side. For those of you who know the delirious high that Garrett Popcorn brings, this sauce was the liquid manna version of that. Very satisfied and well worth the wait.
Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge
This was followed by a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked from the Manhattan Side over to Brooklyn. It Spans the East River and we decided to cross over, be prepared it’s a longer walk than it looks to the pier, where you definitely want to sit and relax with a drink or the very famous ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (which has a long winding line) outside. The bridge is about 1.8km to cross over, and then it’s a winding uphill and downhill walk to the park, but well worth it.
In between – You got to eat!!!
Thanks to lack of concerts that happen here, we thought it would be great to attend a concert, and we figured that Rihanna and Eminem were on their Monster Tour. They are not my favorite performers, but the thrill of going to a concert, is just that a thrill. The concert was at the Met Life stadium and I for one had not been prepared for what a large venue it was. We also found a spot that was right at the top, so it felt like we were sitting up and had almost a 360 view of the audience.
I had 3 highlights from the show. When Rihanna sang Stay, the audience lit up their phones and swayed to the song. Rihanna and Eminem also did one of my favorite duets together – Stan! It was such a pleasant surprise, especially because I had a random thought hoping that they would do it together and they did! Of course watching Eminem asking the real slim shady to stand up, just brought my teenage years back to life. Absolutely loved it.
Transportation was made easy, because the stadium was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There were Shuttle buses, which was great, except the fact that there were at least 2000 people waiting for the bus and about 5-6 buses shuttling people up and down. It was a 90 minute wait!!! You may want to arrange your transport, or charge your phone so that you can hail an uber.
As I end this blogpost, I cannot help but share one of the two songs that play in my head when I think of New York