My daughter, Marissa, and me in front of the Washington Square Park Archway at the entrance to the NYU campus.
I’ve been to New York many times, for business and for pleasure, but on my last trip I squeezed a lot into my three-night visit with my daughter Marissa, who has lived there for five years. It was mainly an eating fest, but we managed to fit in some great activities.
My husband and I stayed at a hotel called Le Parker Meridien on 119 W. 56th Street, next to Carnegie Hall. It’s a lovely hotel and our room had a beautiful view of Central Park. . Another place we stay at and enjoy is the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square . That was where the Romance Writers of America held their annual conference last year.
Le Parker Meridien has two notable places to eat. One is called Norma’s. Norma’s is expensive, but it’s a unique experience for breakfast, lunch or brunch. They have a $1,000 omelette, with eggs, lobster and caviar (I don’t know what would possess anyone to order that) but everything else is much more reasonably priced. Some good choices are blueberry pancakes and clotted cream, apple and red-pear crepes, Nutella French toast, and regularly-priced omelettes. But make reservations or it will be a long wait. And come hungry. The portions are huge. There’s also the more informal Burger Joint, hidden behind a curtain in the lobby. But you’ll find that the wizards there make great burgers, shakes and fries that people line up for. It’s a well-kept secret.
When we arrived in New York on Thursday night, we hadn’t eaten so the concierge directed us through an office building across the street and out to Circo. We had eaten there in Las Vegas at The Bellagio Hotel. The food is delicious and the service is gracious. The lemon sorbet is to die for. I had the spaghetti and white clam sauce.
Friday, our daughter met us and we ate breakfast at a French bistro called Rue 57 Brasserie Parisienne . Then we went to Columbus Circle to shop at their indoor mall. They had some neat stores, including Coach, an olive oil store, and L.K. Bennett, a Kate Middleton favorite. I had my eye on a red dress but they didn’t have it in my size so we bought it for my daughter in navy. At least someone in the family will get to feel like a princess. Then we went to Cole Haan and I bought a fabulous green purse that doesn’t match anything, but it’s still fabulous.
Then it was off to Ed’s Chowder House. I loved the selection of chowders (Sweet Corn, New England-style Clam, Manhattan-style Blue Crab and Ed’s Loaded Shellfish Chowder) but I tried the spaghetti and white clam sauce and it was horrible. Don’t go there for the pasta.
For dinner that night we went to Otto. I love that place. It’s crowded with long waits without a reservation but worth the wait. They call your name from a board that flips over Italian cities like in a train station. The black truffle honey they serve with the cheese appetizer is to die for. I’ve been there three times and am never disappointed. I had spaghetti carbonara and their pizzas and vegetables are wonderful. The place is a lot of fun.
Another place we didn’t get to this trip but that is owned by the owner of Otto is Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world, at 200 5th Avenue. Don’t forget to try to the gelato. http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=AjMIuhOaUuT0g_GLHh5VYYibvZx4?fr=yfp-t-701-s&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=eataly%20nyc One restaurant we didn’t go to, but had been to before and loved, is Babbo, in Greenwich Village, where you can’t make a reservation until a month in advance. .
We had tickets to Anything Goes and it was one of the best plays I’d seen on Broadway. That afternoon, my husband and daughter wanted to walk around the city and I took the opportunity to go to another play, The Best Man, with a litany of stars, including James Earl Jones, Candace Bergen, John Laroquette, Angela Lansbury and Eric McCormack. On each trip I take to New York, I try to see as many plays as I can. You can get day-of-show tickets at 25 % to 50% discounts through Entertainment-Link at the Times Square, South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn locations.
For dinner Saturday night we had a reservation at db bistro Moderne. I had the pre-theater priced fixed menu and although the food was good, the waiters were pompous and the chairs uncomfortable. We won’t go back there. An alternative would have been Becco located on Restaurant Row in the heart of the theater district. Wonderful atmosphere, great staff and great food. Below is my favorite dish, spaghetti with white clam sauce.
Sunday morning my daughter and I took a cab to The Frick Collection, an intimate but magnificent collection of art housed in the mansion of Henry Clay Frick, at 1 East 70th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. The Frick is one of my favorite museums. It’s on a quiet, elegant street near Central Park. That day we saw a Degas exhibit and went back to my favorite Old Masters and a lovely roomful of Fragonard panels, said to be one of the outstanding achievements of French rococo painting of the eighteenth century.
Then we visited the NYU campus where my daughter is in graduate school and sat at the park people watching—the roller boarders, a man actually playing a grand piano in the park (don’t’ ask me how he got it there), a guy playing his guitar. The weather was perfect.
Afterwards, we went to a delicious brunch at 10 Downing located at 10 Downing Street at Sixth Avenue, south of Bleecker. Great for people watching through the window. Then on to the Tenement Museum which starts at 103 Orchard in the Lower East Side. You can watch a film and then tour the building (97 Orchard) and visit restored apartments of past residents from different time periods, meet the residents or walk the neighborhood.
When we got there, there were only two tickets left. So I went to the Hard Times tour on the second floor to visit the restored homes of the German-Jewish family and an Italian-catholic family and my husband went to Irish Outsiders on the fourth floor. It was an hour tour where you learned about the actual families who lived in the tenements and what happened to them. You can also add an hour to your tour for an extended discussion.
Discover how immigrants survived economic depressions at 97 Orchard Street between 1863 and 1935. Visit the restored homes of the German-Jewish Gumpertz family, whose patriarch disappeared during the Panic of 1873, and the Italian-Catholic Baldizzi family, who lived through the Great Depression.
2nd Floor – 1 Hour – Ages 8 +
Pay a visit to the Levine family’s garment workshop and the Rogarshevskys’ Sabbath table at the turn of the 20th century, when the Lower East Side was the most densely populated place in the world. Explore how immigrants balanced work, family and religion at a time of great change.
3rd Floor – 1 Hour – Ages 8 +
Experience the heart of the immigrant saga through the music of Irish America, then tour the restored home of the Moore family, Irish-Catholic immigrants coping with the death of a child in 1869. Compare the Moore’s struggle to keep their family healthy with that of the Katz family, Russian-Jewish immigrants who left their ‘mark’ on our building in the 1930s.
4th Floor – 1 Hour – Ages 12 +
There are a number of other tours you can take, including Foods of the Lower East Side, as well as special events.
We also bought a digital camera at B&H Photo, an amazing operation you have to see to believe.
There’s never enough time to fit everything in. We didn’t go shopping on Fifth Avenue this time or get to visit the 9/11 Memorial.We’ll save that for the next trip.
This is just one person’s experience in New York. Tell me about some of your favorite experiences in the city that never sleeps.
Marilyn Baron is a longtime member of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog. She has published three humorous, supernatural short stories with TWB Press. A Choir of Angels, Follow an Angel and The Stand-In Bridegroom are available here. In January, she published The Edger, which she co-wrote with her sister, Sharon Goldman, an award-winning artist in Florida . The Edger is available at Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble Nook Books.