New york Inspiration

An inspirational week in New York

A tourist view point of the food and restaurant scene in New York City, in no context shall these viewpoints be the latest trends as I have no idea what was happening here last year or five years ago.
We were traveling with a couple of teenagers and we mixed it up between tourist, culture and food & of course shopping “I don’t have an opinion about good or bad shopping so I didn’t write about it”.

A New York visit is like an image assault on the mind, it’s in your face and if you blink you may miss it. We started of our trip in Newark on the Joisey side, we took the bus in ca. 1 hour not a big hassle to find ca. $70 for 4. For our return trip a week later with our shopping quota filled we opted to take a taxi. A black Suburban “one of those Kardashian’s car I was told” 95:bucks.

What a welcome the trip in from Newark gives a crappy first impression with the NYC skyline in the background. A poorly maintained freeway potholes and litter, broken & damaged road side barriers and signage, more litter car parts and blown out tires and more litter even a decrepit 10 lane turnpike with little toll stations, the kind they used in eastern Europe before the end of the cold war, how can they still exist here, to sit there must be the worst job in the world?

We arrived at our Hotel, Cassa Hotel one block out from Times Square, we were on foot and it was a bit hard to find, when we eventually found it Cassa Hotel certainly didn’t look like it did on the internet. There was a bit of a lobby and entrance rebuild in progress, I’m sure the simple door will look more prominent upon completion.

A quick trip around Times Square then starving we eventually walked into a nameless bar and opted for a couple of local IPA’s and a selection of burgers for from their menu. Great burgers they went down a treat.  45 east 33rd St. was the address which later turned out to be a Hilton Double tree, kinda funny as I have worked with Hilton for over 10 years and no where in or outside the restaurant did I see any branding not even on the bill it must’ve been a conscious decision. Hilton should’ve shown a little ownership?

I noticed further evidence of this street level disassociation, where corporate hotel chains lease or hire out their street level access to Starbucks ect, a nearby Grand Hyatt was anonymous at street level, the intensity and aggressive marketing in Manhattan is a constant assault on the senses, there is so much to see and so much information to process and interoperate.

charging bull 
Face time conversations, litre size take away coffee and Jay walking differentiates the locals from the map reading, dawdling and photographing tourists.

The twin towers memorial in lower Manhattan is worthy a visit, we all remember where we were that day; they have created an impressive reflection on the importance of 9/11 and its impact.

Wall street and the charging bull are with in walking distance, further around the boardwalk tied at pier 16 is the “Peking” one of the German flying P clipper ships and the star “in my family’s “ cult declared Irving Johnson’s film “Around Cape Horn”.

bow of the Peking

A hike across Brooklyn Bridge also does wonders for the appetite before lunch back in China Town at Nom Wah, 13 Doyers street. Nom Wah is a this little pearl, exactly the kind of Chinese restaurant experience one wants to have in china town. Established in the 1920's. Well worn but comfortable and inviting, Nom Wah serves great dim sum, noodles & soup with good tea and friendly service.

Nom Wah, Dim Sum

Meandering through China Town to the neighbouring little Italy one can really see the city contrasts and social boundaries, through to Kenmare St. for a gander at the Sweet Greens concept, a concept focusing on local, eko friendly, plenty of veggies, pre order and payment by telephone apps ect. All the modern hip restaurant words rolled into one concept, with hundreds of guests cued up for lunch.

I was very impressed with many of the markets, supermarkets and restaurants that focused on lifting local and ecological produce stating the origin of their produce and presenting their suppliers. I thought we were pretty good at it in Sweden, but here in Manhattan it seemed more naturel & informal, less forced but mainly its just Big Time.

Further on to the whole food market where a foodie can spend hours just reading the labels and looking at the displays, a number of the speciality supermarkets have their own little interactive shops rolling sushi, espresso bars, craft beer tasting ect which takes them to a level above what we have in Stockholm.

Exhausted back to the hotel to regroup before hitting Five Senses a random choice Korean restaurant in Korea Town, friendly staff and prompt service, the restaurant is full of Koreans or people who look like Koreans, to me that means the food is relative authentic and traditionally correct. The background music was very loud, but nobody else seemed to mind it must be the norm, tasty food without signs of any new ideas. The restaurant was simply decorated; the food was a little more expensive relative to the surroundings and basic menu ingredients.

On the move again to Madison Square Garden to watch the NBL match New York Knicks- Portland Trail Blazers, what a show at the garden, great experience, the Knicks got a right lesson, but don’t buy a beer $$ and that was my lesson.

A little excursion out to Brooklyn the next day to visit a couple of record stores,
Co-Op 87 a second hand shop with a good reputation on the Internet, their bins were well picked through no big artists were represented, I imagine they were all reserved for the more lucrative internet sales, anything else of any note seemed scratched, the inventory isn’t catalogued so the guy couldn’t say what he had in stock. The second shop within walking distance was Rough Trade, greeted by a sound wall of Hawkwind Rough Trade is a modern old fashioned record shop selling music related paraphernalia and mainly new rereleases, I picked up Dr Feelgoods, down by the jetty and Springsteens, Nebraska.

Dinner at Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Avenue in 
Harlem, wasn’t much to write home about, a positive impression of the bar, d├ęcor & music set the scene, the main courses arrived before we were finished with the starters, they were hustled onto the table, a barely warm lamb shank in a all too sweet sauce slopped onto a bed of plantain mash and greens in a plate that could never give it justice. Roasted chicken a chopped up mess of chicken with out a thought of presentation. Steak Frits, at Red Rooster this world standard is a sirloin steak with a green vegetable coulis? The music roots pie as dessert didn’t strike up a beat for me either, not a lot of soul in this food. If you are unlucky enough to sit in the bar area there is a high volume level & one needs to speak very loud to be heard.

Chelsea Market- Spice Shop

Down to the meatpacking district & lower Manhattan again, a walk along the High Line, an interesting excursion in urban planning even on a bleak day it was well visited.
Shop and restaurant concept stealing at Chelsea market there is something here for everyone who wants to start a food business, eat and browse you way through it.

Chelsea Market fish shop eat in or take home 
Afterwards we had lunch at the Spice Market 403 W 13th St. a good Value 4 course lunch $29-$31 in a restaurant with great atmosphere and attention to detail throughout, the decor helps set the mood and style and supports the predominantly Thai Asian crossover concept, super food with focus on authentic tastes, attentive and switched on service staff.

Spice Market lunch 
Spice Market lunch

The Little Beet 135w 50th street an almost vegetarian, vegetarian restaurant, chicken, meat and fish were also on the menu. One protein and two sides, were the deal. Hard to say if it’s a real restaurant as the food is served in take away packaging and carry bags. The food offering was just, vegetarian food needs a lot of love to make it appealing to non vego's, I certainly didn’t experience a lot of focus on taste & seasoning. Be careful what you choose I took the green health juice, which turned out to be kale, I innocently choose the kale as one side, “slightly oven warmed” the veggie burger which turned out to be a lentil and kale burger and the lentils which were a cold salad of course combined with kale. A self-service disk and cash register was the extent of the service staff. As a concept that works in the opulent Rockefeller Manhattan area its interesting, we’re all going somewhere in the future many are choosing this route, we need to be prepared.

We went to the theatre where my kale induced bloat set in, we saw Finding Neverland “a inspirational journey behind Peter pan” which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

Beecher’s cheese 900 Broadway, is a pretty cool cheese shop making their own cheese on the premises and selling predominately hand crafted American cheese.

Fresh and Go another right in your face concept with several “shops” serving all the modern key words, sour dough bread, vegetarian, local, eco, sustainability soups, natural, packaging, friendly service and speed. Again we pride ourselves in Sweden with our attention to detail and the environment here the commitment is tangible without the little stickers that we hide behind. “buy shares”

Shake Shack we visited the one in Madison Park, there are many in the city, even with poor weather there were still about 200 people in the cue in the park, alfresco dinning it must be insane during the summer. We tried some shakes, shakes to die for, I took the  malted salted caramel shake, with enough calories for a whole day and if it was double the size it just would’ve taken longer to drink.

Eataly Cheese Shop
A visit to Eataly is a must for all those with a taste for Italy, deep dive into the Italian food culture, everything that you could expect showcasing the Italian food culture, many different kitchens and pop up restaurants from coffee, gelato through to seafood, pasta and meat restaurants. Full focus on authenticity, and everything smack bang in the middle of an Italian "supermarket" come bookstore.
We ate in the seafood restaurant, great short order food, swordfish, grilled squid, fritto misto, branzino all well presented with good service and real dose of escapism.
Eataly Craft & IPA'S

Breakfast/brunch at Bubby’s 120 Hudson St. is a solid start to the day in NYC. Bubby's was full with a short waiting list, which is a reflection on the food and service. Super casual and unpretentious atmosphere, happy, attentive and communicative staff, breakfast is served in large portions; a little pricey is the only negative. Bubby´s is also a good starting point to visit to local tourist attractions like, ground zero memorial, Chelsea market area, statue of liberty tour & the high line.

Texas Barbecue at Hill Country Barbecue Market, 30 west 26 th street.
Great Texas Barbecue carved and sliced, order and pay for by how much you take. A good restaurant concept, but at the same time a little catering feeling with all the food served in paper cups or folded into butchers paper. Enough side dishes to make a vegetarian happy- no fish I found the desserts too sweet no balance they were all served in mason jars. Good smoke BBQ taste on the ribs and brisket.
High volume level especially at ground level, the perfect place for a large group, and regular late night country bands in the cellar. Book a table in advance.

Chipolte, Mexican fast food concept with many outlets in Manhattan, A big fat burrito a bit hard to eat with out getting it all over your face, lots of modern trendy words supporting their choice of produce.

Flat Iron building

There’s something in Manhattan for everyone especially if you are working in the food catering or hotel industry, inspiration is everywhere. The size of the place can be a bit daunting & it can be a bit expensive as well especially if you want to try lots of Stuff. We found the weekly underground pass excellent value and relatively easy to get around on, knowing which direction to take once you are back on street level is a bit ify.

One major restaurant differences is the number of front of house staff these places have, I imagine back of the house it’s the same. I feel the bill and tip system is a bit of an insult, the taxes should be included in the stated prices rather than a little surprise at the end and the fact that the tip amount is nominated on the bill from 15-22% shows how sick the system is, the whole world knows how poor the bottom end of the wage structure is in USA. It would be better to secure the basic wages and have the tip as an option as in the rest of the world. One only has to look on the streets to see that a world leader such as USA certainly doesn’t paint a just system.


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