Wednesday July 20, 2016
- Rather than start a new trip report I thought that I would continue to add on to this one, featuring excursions into the different boroughs and neighborhoods of New York City that I have the pleasure of taking with family, friends and fellow Roadfooders. I received a text from the one and only ChiTownDiner
, seeking advice for an upcoming trip he and his lovely wife Patti would be taking to NYC. After many helpful (I hope) exchanges, I was looking forward to meeting them for a few meals and to catch a Broadway show. Before heading over to Brooklyn for breakfast with CTD & Patti, headed over to the Lower East Side to pick up a few provisions. I came across this mural and it really stuck with me.
Just a brief stop at my favorite neighborhood store, Economy Candy
My local fix for Cadbury from across the pond. CTD had mentioned that he loves the Chunky candy bar, so I picked up a couple along with some Rocky Roads, Bit-O-Honeys, Mary Janes, Toffee Crisp and a Zagnut bar. They can be tough to find in the average grocery store/pharmacy these days.
A Mary Jane bar is something I rarely see anywhere other than Economy Candy and 99 cents is less than what I would expect to pay in other retail locations.
I passed an Asian restaurant called SOY on the way to Brooklyn and liked their use of Legos for their signage.
Heading to the pedestrian path on the Williamsburg Bridge.
Looking south on the Williamsburg Bridge (aka the "Willy-B") towards the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
I haven't walked across the Willy-B in years and underestimated how long it would take me to get across so I was a bit late in meeting Gregg & Patti at our first stop, The Bagel Store
I'm glad I didn't keep them waiting too long and Gregg offered me some of his rainbow bagel with scallion cream cheese. I had been here in last month with the Brooklyn tour but this would be my first bite of the (in)famous "Rainbow Bagel". I was underwhelmed. A bit of sweetness to the dough but the flavor and texture just didn't stand out to me. Not a bad bagel, but not one I would go out of my way for either. It really is a work of art but I can think of at least four different bagels I would want before this one.
Next up was a short walk to our second stop, Pies-n-Thighs
. Some call it "hipster soul food" but it is pretty darn tasty. Will you pay more than you would in a small southern town? Yup. But it is NYC and the costs of running a restaurant are generally higher here and those get passed along to the customers.
Gregg and I both had our eyes on the pies, donuts and fried green tomatoes.
We opted for a mix of different things for that table to share. Clockwise, from the top: cinnamon sugar donut, two fried chicken breasts (I ordered one but since they were small, they gave me two for the price of one. Score!), fried green tomatoes (with a spicy remoulade sauce and pickled onions), chocolate (cake) donut, Lemon Chess pie (with a rhubarb compote) and Blubarb pie with a side of Burnt End Baked Beans.
We all liked the cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes. Crispy, tart and I think the remoulade had a slight kick to it, if memory serves.
When it comes to poultry, I'm a white meat guy, all the way and these breasts were great. Nice crunch on the crust, the meat was juicy and a little drizzle of honey and a splash or three of hot sauce and I was in heaven. Not sure if Gregg & Patti tried these. The beans were very thick and rich. I loved them but I take issue with the name on the menu. There were some shreds of meat in there but I couldn't tell if they were burnt ends and there wasn't any discernible smoke flavor. I LOVE burnt ends and I've had them in baked beans before and when it is done right, it is heaven for my taste buds. However, unless you are making burnt ends IN HOUSE and putting CHUNKS of them in your baked beans, please do not use the term BURNT ENDS on the menu!! I don't quibble about too many foods but this one drives me crazy.
Look at those beautiful fault lines! This was one seriously craggy and chocolatey donut.
The cinnamon sugar was a nice runner-up and would be perfect for dunking. Keep in mind that these are $3.00 a piece. About average for the NYC donut scene and are definitely worth the price tag, IMHO.
This slice of Lemon Chess pie was a bit runny but had a good lemony tang to it, although I could have done without the rhubarb compote.
The Blubarb pie won me over completely. A perfect balance of tart and sweet and the crust on both pies was clearly homemade. Oh, the young guy who waited on us was really cool and helpful in answering any questions that we had.
Next, we headed over to Gregg & Patti's car and made the brief drive to Peter Luger
for our 12:45 reservation for lunch. We were lucky enough to score a spot just a block down the street.
One of the main dining rooms. I'm guessing that very little of the decor has changed since the late 19th century.
The complimentary bread basket and "steak house" sauce.
Anytime I see someone eating a puny little leafy salad, I am overcome with the urge to walk over to them with this plate and say (in a Crocodile Dundee voice), "That's not a salad. THIS is a salad!!" They wisely use a combination of creamy and crumbly bleu cheese atop iceberg wedges and tomatoes and then shower it with chunks of their house bacon. While their steaks are known throughout the U.S. I think that this salad and the cheeseburger are the sleeper hits. Of course, I am perfectly happy only having steak once a year, so I could be wrong!
A medium rare steak for one. Plenty to split between the three of us. Very tasty, though a bit too rare for me.
No worries though as this is what I was really craving.
A perfect medium cheeseburger with bacon. The cheeseburger by itself was $8.95 when I first tried it in 2009 and it is now up to $12.95 (or $13.95? I need to write these things down!) but still worth every penny.
We may have overdone it a bit by ordering an extra side of bacon as we never touched this. Gregg & Patti said I should take it home and my girlfriend Dayna totally appreciated it.
Across the street from Luger's, we spied this mural. I couldn't help but think that it had a Monty Python meets Salvador Dali quality about it.
Looking at the Willy-B from outside Peter Luger.
Our last stop was for dessert at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
. This turned out to be a bit problematic as the area was jammed with cars and pedestrians as the area has undergone a revival of sorts and is more popular than ever. Parking was impossible, so Gregg & I hopped out to get our ice cream while Patti sat ready to move the car if need be. They couldn't stay long as they had to meet people on Long Island so we had to cut our day short. Hopefully they can come back and we can explore Brooklyn Bridge Park another day as it really is quite lovely, as the following pictures will demonstrate.
A small shop with big flavors.
Always on the hunt for a good place to stage my pics.
I went for two scoops: coffee & butter pecan, topped with warm hot fudge. Perfect.
Lots to do and eat in the park. They have added a Luke's Lobster, No. 7 Sub (off-the-wall sandwich combinations), Shake Shack to the area so it's a perfect place to grab some lunch, spread out a blanket and just chill for a few hours.
The view of the East River and Lower Manhattan from the big lawn.
Looking westward at Lower Manhattan and the Financial District from the top of the steps in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
This view just never gets old.
And a closer shot.
I made my way back into Manhattan to pick up a birthday gift for a friend's daughter who was about to turn 1 year old. I stopped into Piccolini, my go-to gift shop for kids and fell in love with this very plush lamb which I hope was a hit with their little girl.
Walking through the Nolita (North of Little Italy) neighborhood, I passed by L'asso which has pretty good pizza and is also the spot where I performed stand-up comedy for the very first time in 2005. I haven't been on stage in years but I remember it being the most terrifying, exhilarating experience. I had to take this picture as I love Keith Haring murals and that photobomb of Bill Murray on the left is just classic!
The streets of New York are not just interesting but educational as well! In case you were wondering...
A local taqueria with many flavors of Jarritos. I'm partial to the Mandarin and the Pina.
Monday July 25, 2016 - Gregg & Patti came back to the city after a relaxing long weekend in Long Island and they managed to check out a wide array of what the city has to offer. One of those was to see their first Broadway show. Dayna and I are big fans of Broadway and we recommended that they see "Kinky Boots" at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Al Hirschfeld was an illustrator and caricaturist who was well known for his drawings of Broadway celebrities and the theatre was renamed in his honor in 2003.
I've saved the best for last. What better way to end this section of this ongoing trip report than with a shot of ChiTownDiner showing off his "kinky boots"?!?! Work that runway, Gregg!!!
Gregg & Patti, thank you both so much for sharing so much of your time with Dayna and I. We had a blast with you both and I can't thank you enough for lunch at Luger's. I hope we can make it to Chicago next year to check out the traveling company of "Hamilton" and spend some time with you both in your fine city.
post edited by billyboy - 2016/09/03 20:54:24