Just Another Day in New York City with Chris & Amy (Ayersian)

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2012/07/17 01:59:40 (permalink)

Just Another Day in New York City with Chris & Amy (Ayersian)

Chris & Amy came to NYC back in February of 2012 (yeah, I've got a backlog of Trip Reports to post!) and we had a really fun day of walking around, getting food-blocked after finding out a couple of my favorite food carts weren't out on the streets that day and finding some unexpected delights!  We first met up in the morning at our old standby, Ess-a-Bagel, on 3rd Avenue near 51st Street.  I don't remember how crowded it was but if it's busy, you definitely don't want to be the person holding up the line.  I've been chastised by their staff before!

I ordered my most favorite combo, an Everything bagel with Raisin Walnut cream cheese.  Just can't beat that salty/sweet taste!

My plan was to hit a couple of street carts, but a phone call to Hallo Berlin told me that their German wurst cart was still in operation (the owner, Rolf Babiel, had passed away in 2009 and his brother has since taken over its operation) but would not be on the street on this day.  Another call to Daisy May's BBQ USA confirmed what I had long suspected...they no longer operate their BBQ street cart, which had some of the best chili I've tasted in a long time.  What to do?  What to do?  We headed over to 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan to a newish location of Magnolia Bakery.  

While I'm not a big fan of their cupcakes I do think that their bars (lemon, Magic, toffee, etc as well as their puddings and icebox pies are quite good)

I'm a huge fan of their banana pudding but had never tried their banana cream pie.  I liked it but there weren't enough banana slices in it for me, the banana flavor wasn't really strong and the cream was somewhat runny.  The Nilla wafer crust was okay but I prefer them broken down in the pudding.  Glad I tried it but think I'll stick to the pudding next time.

I bought a couple of these chocolate milks made by Ronnybrook Farms as they are my favorite and I wanted Chris & Amy to try them.  These small single serve bottles aren't cheap (although it depends on where one buys them and I can usually get half gallons at a good price) but sometimes the craving hits and Billyboy gotta have it!  I've never had chocolate milk that tasted so fresh and was such a perfect combination of chocolate & milk.  Slays me every time!  I forget what Ayersian had purchased but I remember liking it.  C & A, feel free to chime in and add any photos you have to this report!

I'm not sure but I think it was at this point that we went to the MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art) to see some Diego Rivera wall murals and lots of other interesting, provocative art.  Thanks for the free pass, Chris & Amy!  Unfortunately, photo taking is not allowed in the museum so you'll have to settle for this subway advertisement I found in our travels that day.

Midtown Manhattan can be a bit of culinary wasteland as there are not a lot of independent options to choose from but it occurred to me that if we walked for a bit, maybe a 1/2 mile, we would be right outside of this hotel:

and just steps away from a fine, fine burger at the Burger Joint!  Now, when you first walk in to the lobby at Le Parker Meridien you'd never suspect that there is a burger joint kind of place in a swanky hotel.  Just look for the maroon velvet curtain and if you see this sign at the end of the short hallway, you're there!

As you can probably tell from the following pictures this is not a white linen, five-star kind of place.  It was a secret but that cat has been out of the bag for some time.  

The do have some attitude here and a fun sense of humor.  They are cash only and it is a very small place that fills up quickly.  Not a place for a big group to go as a booth for 4 can be hard to find.  One secret I was let in on years ago is that if you are getting it to go you can call ahead and then walk in to the front of the line and pick it up.  Just be ready to have everyone stare daggers at you as they did to me!

Given all of the copious amounts of graffiti on the walls and signs this warning has got to be tongue-in-cheek.  

And you CAN have it your way!  Just know what you want when you get to the counter as they are slammed all of the time and holding up the line isn't cool, dude!

More American graffiti.

Burger Joint has been written about on many blogs and site and gets a lot of tourists (hence the lines!) but how is the food?  Well, Chris got in line as we were splitting one burger and an order of fries for the three of us while Amy and I waited for people to leave and secured seats on some tall bar stool type chairs.  I forget if we ordered this medium or medium rare but it was just fantastic.  Juicy, beefy and the toppings were fresh.  It is a mess to eat but a joyful one at that.  One of my favorite burgers in the city and I've eaten quite a few.  

The fries are good, like those from the "golden arches" but much better.  I doubt they are hand-cut but these fries just feel "right" in this setting.  They do offer soda, beer, wine and milkshakes but I have yet to try them.  I must give thanks to Stephen Rushmore and Michael Stern for reviewing this place as I had been here once and wasn't impressed.  I had gotten it to go and ate in the office cafeteria by myself after hours at work during the swing shift so I MAY have missed out on the total experience!  Anyway, their review inspired me to go back again and I've loved it ever since.  Thanks, guys!

We decided to walk to the subway and make our way to the West Village to check out a falafel shop that Chris & Amy swore I would love.  On the way we passed this place:  The Original Soupman on 55th Street near 8th Avenue.
It's the original location of the "Soup Nazi" as made known to many on the TV show, "Seinfeld".  There is definitely a lot of branding going on with hats, t-shirts (that say, "No Soup For You!") and branded soup bowls for sale.  I have been to some of the franchised locations and wasn't impressed but I think I owe it to myself to come here and see if it is worth the hype.

The three of us hopped on the 8th Avenue Line headed downtown.  As we walked through the West Village we came across a place that caused me to rejoice!  A new location of The Meatball Shop!  WHAT?!  I knew we had to go in and try something, anything on the menu as I love their meatballs!  

Their motto!  I think that says it all.

Business was a-boomin' when we arrived so we got our food to go. 

We picked up a Smash, 2 beef meatballs smashed on a toasted brioche bun with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella that came with an arugula & apple side salad.  Juicy meatballs, fresh, stringy mozz, a bright tomato sauce and a good quality bun had all of us lovin' this!  The peppery arugula and crisp apples were a nice counterpoint.

Chris & Amy suggested that we try a single ball of their special of the day, a Reuben ball.  I wasn't as sold on the idea until I actually tried it.  Corned beef in meatball form, covered in Russian dressing, sauerkraut and caraway seeds sprinkled on top, this was a real winner and one I'd happily order as a full entree.  I've been to The Meatball Shop before and I find myself craving some of their meatballs as I write this.

While I have enjoyed the occasional falafel sandwich from time to time, it was never a food that excited me...until this day.  Chris & Amy had told me that Taim Falafel & Smoothie Bar had raised the bar for them so I was eager to try it for myself.  

We met my girlfriend for lunch.  C & A had a mixed platter while we both had falafel sandwiches.  I don't remember what Dayna had but I got the Red (roasted red pepper) falafel.  Everything tasted so fresh and the falafel balls were so light and not at all greasy or heavy as can be the case in many places.  The hummus was creamy, the Israeli salad of tomatoes and cucumbers was vibrant and the pickled cabbage was crunchy and provided a welcome tang.  I never knew it could be this good.  We camped out on a local bench outside as the place is very small.  Take a bite, watch people go by, take another bite, chat about food, our lives, etc, repeat.  A perfect meal.

Chris & Amy were ready to head back to their hotel but I had one last stop in mind en route to the subway.  Patisserie Claude on West 4th Street in the West Village has been making excellent pastries for years.  While Claude did retire a few years ago, one of his long time assistants took over and has been keeping up the good work.  

I used to come here frequently when I worked in the Village and nothing was better than an early morning pain au chocolat, like this one.  They really are best fresh out of the oven: warm, buttery and filled with gooey dark chocolate inside.  They do lose something later in the day but are still quite good and something I was happy to share with Chris & Amy for their first time.

And a parting shot of Ayersian, proud parents of a brand new baby pain au chocolat!!

That's all for this trip.  Hope you enjoyed it. 
"Eating is an adventure.  Enjoy the ride!" - billyboy, 2012
The 411
1.)  Ess-a-Bagel
      831 3rd Avenue
      New York, NY 10022
      Ph# 212-980-1010
      Website:  http://www.ess-a-bagel.com/
2.)  Magnolia Bakery
      1240 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue)
      New York, NY 10020
      Ph# 212-767-1123
      Website:  http://magnoliabakery.com/home.php
3.)  Burger Joint (at Le Parker Meridien Hotel)
      119 West 56th Street
      New York, NY 10019
      Ph# 212-708-7414
      Website:  http://www.parkermeridien.com/eat4.php
4.)  MoMa (Museum of Modern Art)
      11 West 53rd Street
      New York, NY 10019
      Ph# 212-708-9400
      Website:  http://www.moma.org/
5.)  The Meatball Shop
      64 Greenwich Avenue
      New York, NY 
      Ph# 212-982-7815
      Website:  http://www.themeatballshop.com/
6.)  Taim Falafel & Smoothie Bar
      222 Waverly Place
      New York, NY 10014
      Ph# 212-691-1287
      Website:  http://www.taimfalafel.com/
7.)  Patisserie Claude
      187 West 4th Street
      New York, NY 10014
      Ph# 212-255-5911
      No website
post edited by billyboy - 2012/07/17 02:18:07

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