Travels: Empire State of Mind

No, Dave and I were not singing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys while we were walking through the concrete jungle of New York City this past weekend. But we gave our taste buds a ride all over town while visiting family and cheering on a close friend for the NYC marathon. Here is a quick rundown of our itinerary:

Friday night
Dinner at BYOB Kuma Inn in the Lower East Side with Dave’s sister and her boyfriend (this place was an obscure restaurant above a Bavarian bar, but the tapas style Asian food really stood out!)
Drinks at Elsa’s

Saturday
Brunch at Petite Abeille in Stuyvesant Town with my cousin Jami
Being a tourist at the Empire State Building (spectacular views!)
Dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea

Sunday
Brunch at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District
Quick walk through of EATALY in the Flatiron District (where Dave freaked out because Mario Lemieux walked by us)
Being spectators at the NYC Marathon

I’d like to shine a spotlight on a few activities from our weekend….

  • Dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea in the West Village. Dave’s research paid off for finding a romantic atmosphere for our Saturday night date night. According to press clippings displayed near the restroom, One If By Land has been voted Most Romantic Restaurant in NYC multiple times and apparently is an old carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr. This fact I thought was especially cool, because I am always thoroughly entertained by this Got Milk? commercial from a few years back:


I’m sure Burr was proud to have won the dual, but I would hope he would be proud to know that his former residence is now a pretty awesome restaurant. My love of dirty martinis has been elevated with their Horse and Carriage cocktail. It was a dirty martini with horseradish-infused vodka, olive juice, and a tooth pick spear of bleu cheese & onion stuffed olives. A first whiff smelled like a Jewish Holiday, but it gave the cocktail a swift kick in the pants, like the Jews did to the Egyptians.

Their menu is a Four Course Prix Fixe including a choice of a small, medium, large, and dessert dish. With this type of menu, there were many delectable bites, but my favorite dish was the Halibut, which sadly was not included in our photo shoot for the evening. It was perfectly cooked and surrounded by trumpet royale and Shiitake mushrooms, on a bed of roasted garlic potato purée. There was a lemon burst that really balanced out the flavors in the rest of the dish.

  • Brunch at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District. I first stumbled upon this place the summer of 2010 during my annual Girls Weekend with college friends. We had drinks here and it was a fun, happening place. When I came back to Philly from that trip, the Twenty Manning restaurant near Rittenhouse Square had been reinvented to Twenty Manning Grill. TMG eerily looked like The Standard Grill I had just been too in Manhattan; Beef, Fish, Fowl, Poultry sign and all. I had told Dave previously about Philadelphia’s venerable restauraneurs’ imitation of New York City restaurants; now he had had seen it first hand with this example as well as Pastis (Parc in Rittenhouse). Brunch didn’t really stand out for me, besides our celebrity sighting of Bridget Monyahan, the housemade raised donuts, and these really cute salt and pepper shakers.

  • I failed to mention the real reason for our visit to NYC, I opened a bakery!

    Just kidding……but if I did, I guess I couldn’t use this name. However, because this shop had my namesake, we popped in to taste the mini, and I mean mini, cupcakes they were selling. Apparently, each cupcake is less than 50 calories. They weren’t anything to write home about. The concept appeals to me, since I often need something sweet to cleanse my palate after a meal, but am not looking for anything filling. The frosting was good, but something about the cake itself was off, but we couldn’t put our finger on it.

With lots of reasons for frequent NYC visits and it being in close proximity to Philadelphia, there will plenty more Manhattan posts. Lucky for us, the city has boundless gastronomic options!

One last thing I would like to mention – while watching the marathon runners pass by us with less than a mile to cross the finish line, we saw a few amputees and individuals in wheelchairs. I believe completing a marathon when you are healthy is inspirational on its own, but this just blew me out of the water. Here is a picture of a female amputee close to finishing the race:

Dave found out more about her today. Her name is Melissa Stockwell and here is her Web site. The quote on the home page is “All of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” I couldn’t agree more! I have decided to pursue my own dream and start culinary school part-time this week! Wish me luck!

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