This always happens. I come home from a trip to the Big Apple and my friends and co-workers ask, “What did you do in New York?”
My answer: I ate.
Of course, the city is loaded with museums and attractions to keep tourists busy all day and all night — it is the city that never sleeps. But, when I go to New York, I hang with New Yorkers. I crash in my sister’s small — although penthouse these days (holla!) — apartment and I’m on her schedule. I brunch. I eat bagels. Dinner is always after 8 p.m. In fact, 8 p.m. would be an early dinner in Manhattan. And, after a night out, I may have stopped for a $1 slice of pizza at 4 a.m. from time to time. As I said, the city never sleeps.
Since my trips to the Big Apple ALWAYS revolve around food, let’s consider this blog post “Eating my way around New York City: Volume I.”
So, I arrived in New York Friday night after a six-hour bus ride from Washington, D.C. No, it should not take that long. It was after 7 p.m. when my voiceless sister — she had a summer cold or something that I’m now battling with a cup of green tea as I write this post — walked up to me outside Penn Station at 33rd and 7th. We hopped in a cab downtown to her new neighborhood — the Financial District.
Stone Street Round 1: Dinner at Ulysses’ Folk House
Stone Street during the daytime
After a quick pit stop to drop off my bags, we walked to Stone Street for dinner and drinks. It’s a cobblestone street sandwiched between Financial District skyscrapers and lined with pub-like restaurants that have beer-garden-style tables and umbrellas filling the narrow, historic roadway. The vibe is very European, completely unaffected by the city’s usual hustle.
My sister and I ended up at Ulysses’ Folk House, where we began our outdoor meal with a cheese plate and bottle of Chime Pinot Noir. For an entree, my sister ordered the $10 lean turkey burger. I got the Stone Street Salad, which is greens with sweet dried cherries, gorgonzola cheese crumbles and toasted pecans in a balsamic vinaigrette. Overall, the food was decent, the prices fair and the service slow. Our waitress seemed more interested in entertaining her friend than checking on her tables.
Stone Street Round 2: Brunch at Stone Street Tavern
The next morning — or who am I kidding, afternoon — we brunched with my sister’s roommate at Stone Street Tavern, again on Stone Street. Both girls had brunched there before, so I was expecting a quality boozy brunch. And I got it.
I follow the school of thought that brunch without booze is just a late breakfast, so, with that in mind, my sister and I ordered two-hour bottomless mimosas. At $15, that’s just slightly pricier than the bottomless brunches I go to in the Washington, D.C., area. Also, you have the option of bottomless Bloody Marys or Champagne too.
One of the main reasons why we brunched here was because my sister just had to have the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. It did look pretty delicious. Her roommate ordered the special: crab cake Eggs Benedict. She said the crab cakes were a bit dry, but, then again, all three of us have been spoiled by Maryland and Virginia crab cakes.
I also ordered off the specials’ menu and opted for the omelette. The eggs were perfectly cooked, fluffy and even a tad moist. This may just be the best omelette I’ve ever eaten. It was filled with cherry tomatoes, red peppers and goat cheese. It was perfection.
To top off a fabulous meal, I ordered the mango-guava cheesecake. It was also a special that day. And, it pretty much made my day. The flavors just worked. Between the three of us, there wasn’t a crumb left.
Although Stone Street Tavern was busy, our waiter was attentive, checking in to refill our mimosas. He even remembered my sister’s roommate’s dessert order from our initial order and brought it out just as she finished her entree. And, he personally made her a latte. After the previous night at Ulysses, he restored my confidence in Stone Street’s service. Overall, we had a fab brunch.
My sister, right, and I brunching at Stone Street Tavern.
Afternoon Delight: Drinks at Rogue
My sister hates doing anything touristy, especially where there may be crowds of people. How she lives in New York City — a mecca for travelers — I have no idea. I’ve learned my limits of pushing touristy activities on her. She was NOT happy when I dragged her onto the Staten Island Ferry a few years ago. So I decided a quick fall shopping trip at Macy’s Herald Square was vital and the only “touristy” activity she’d have to endure. I rewarded her with drinks at our old stomping ground — Rogue, a sports bar where a familiar face to MTV’s “Real World” viewers once tended bar.
Here are some of the reasons why we love Rogue: they play a fantastic selection of music at night, including throwbacks to the 80s and 90s; its laidback and the patrons are chill; it’s right on Sixth Ave and an easy spot to meet friends; the bartenders are friendly and mix a mean Bloody Mary; and it actually has really decent food. The chips with guacamole and salsa are amazing. Honestly, you’d think they came from a Mexican restaurant rather than a Chelsea sports bar. It must be the cilantro. I’m a sucker for cilantro.
Night on the Town: Dinner at PUBLIC
In the spirit of full disclosure, some details of this night remain fuzzy, while others came roaring back the next morning like flashbacks. Shortly after awaking Sunday, I asked my sister, “Did we eat a mushroom ceviche?” To which she replied, “Yes, you really liked it.” So, I think I’ve pieced together enough to confidently say that I liked PUBLIC quite a bit and would go back. It was one of those nights when, as I said to an old friend now living in New York, the city gets the best of you. New York – 1; Erin – 0.
We took an Uber car up to Nolita for our 9:15 p.m. reservation. I think we were a few minutes late, so we waited at the sleek bar for our table to be prepared. My sister and I ordered the sweet “Fancy Champagne” cocktail, which has Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao, angostura and orange bitters in it.
We were seated at a row of tables for two directly across from the bar, which has an exposed brick wall behind it. Unlike at several New York City restaurants where I’ve dined, the tables were set at a comfortable distance apart. I could easily maneuver getting back to the bench-side, and I didn’t feel like I was a part of the next table’s conversation like I have in the cramped quarters at Max Brenner or Dojo Restaurant & Bar at Yotel.
We began our meal with the PUBLIC Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, the restaurant makes its own wine, and this particular wine comes from New Zealand. For appetizers, we ordered the mushroom ceviche and a watermelon, feta and basil salad. The ginger ponzu sauce on the mushroom ceviche was fantastic. It was my favorite part of the meal. The watermelon and feta salad was stacked like a Jenga tower and was a refreshing sharable dish for a summer dinner. We both ordered the Ora King salmon entree that is paired with spiced cauliflower. The salmon was beautifully cooked. Absolutely delicious.
Clockwise from top right: the watermelon and feta salad, the Ora King salmon entree and the mushroom ceviche with miso aubergines and a ginger ponzu sauce at PUBLIC.
Stone Street Round 3: Brunch (again) at Stone Street Tavern
My sister really likes the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, so we went back to Stone Street Tavern. We actually tried to just stumble downstairs from her apartment to Harry’s Italian Pizza Bar for a Bloody Mary and a pizza, but there was a wait for a table. So, back to Stone Street we went.
After the night we had at PUBLIC, a Bloody Mary was in order. It had a little spicy kick and a nice thickness. Nothing is worse than a watered down Bloody Mary.
Continuing with my hangover-cure theme, I ordered the Hangover Burger. It’s topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato and a fried egg that just oozes everywhere. I got sweet potato fries drizzled in balsamic on the side for $1 more, but you can also order French fries. It’s served on a wooden board rather than a plate, so it is incredibly messy. I ended up using my napkin like a bib and I still found egg yolk in the strangest places — mostly wherever I set down my phone.
Warning: This burger is messy. Proceed with caution. And, perhaps, a bib.
Italian Eats: Dinner at Harry’s Italian Pizza Bar
We first stopped into Harry’s Friday night for a drink at the bar after dinner at Ulysses. Harry’s has become our downtown Rogue replacement — that convenient place for a nightcap, a lazy brunch or a quick, quality meal.
With each pizza delivered to nearby tables, I was tempted to order a pie. But, I had a constant craving for pasta that I just couldn’t kick. I tried the bow tie pasta with shrimp and asparagus in a light marinara sauce. It was piping hot and still steaming as I finished eating. It was a huge portion of pasta. If I lived in New York, it would have been great for lunch the next day. But, I was on a bus back to Dupont Circle.
Let’s Seamless: Leo’s Bagels by delivery
I was determined to eat a bagel while in New York City. Washington, D.C., is not a bagel city. And, it’s really a shame.
I had to catch a noon bus uptown, so we ordered bagels via Seamless. Our bagels — a cinnamon raisin for my sister and an everything (for breakfast) and a pumpernickel (for the bus ride to D.C.) for me — came from Leo’s Bagels. When ordering online via Seamless, you must select the bagels separately from the cream cheese, which is sold by the quarter pound. I underestimated what a quarter pound of cream cheese looks like. It would be the perfect amount for two bagels. You might even have a little extra. Trying to spread a quarter pound of cream cheese on three bagels — especially on bagels of two cream-cheese-loving girls — was a challenge.
The everything bagel was a little salty. For some reason, it smelled a bit like salami, which I didn’t mind because I love salami. But, I’m warning you in case you have not been obsessed with the lunch meat since you were a little girl.
The pumpernickel bagel was tasty. It certainly rivals Murray’s Bagels’ pumpernickel bagel, but Murray’s may just edge out Leo’s. I have to give points to Murray’s for the way the bagel is smothered in cream cheese — like there is an abundance of cream cheese in the world and it’s Murray’s Bagels’ mission to alleviate that problem. (Though, in my book, an abundance of cream cheese could never be a problem.)
The pumpernickel bagel from Leo’s Bagels and the humorous bag it was delivered in. (Instagram photo)
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ate my way around Lower Manhattan over Labor Day weekend. How did you spend your three-day weekend?
Wish you were here,