I’m back on the kale wagon, folks. When I got back from a week in New York City, a family member patted my belly and snickered.
I think my indulgent behaviour in NYC might have contributed a little bit of thermal lining to my gut. I don’t regret it because a) It was Manitoba-cold in the midst of that polar vortex. And b) the food was so amazing—that is what happens when you pack millions of people with different culinary roots onto an island where they ship fresh produce every morning. I noticed a few things that might of value to fellow travelling diners headed to Manhattan:
- There are tens of thousands of places to eat in New York City and had I been there alone, I can picture myself wandering lost and overwhelmed before finally settling on the TGIFridays in Times Square where I could weep into a plate of curly fries. Lucky for me and my waistline, that wasn’t the case. Staying with locals and accompanied by a repeat visitor with the Yelp app meant we had plenty of good advice to keep us well-fed.
- Several times we ate at places that, had I come across them in Calgary, I would have ignored or even pointedly avoided based on curb appeal alone. Other places I wouldn’t have noticed because they were half underground or off the beaten path. That former point especially reminds me I could use some horizon expansion in my restaurant picking. Hip fixtures have no effect on how good the fried shrimp is inside
- It didn’t occur to me until I was there that New York City is a perfect place to go for really good food that is not “American.” Sure, you can get a really good burger at Shake Shack (so I hear, we didn’t have a chance to try it), but you can also find exceptional cuisine from anywhere else in the world. Oh, and really good American (hello, Soul food!).
- One trend I noticed that I haven’t seen much yet in Calgary was the self-assembly of entrées. As in, order your main and sides separately, or “pick 4 to share. Sort of a hybrid tapas-steak lounge thing, with a dose of family style eating. Fun way to take advantage of trying several menu items. Hey, it was a vacation!
- Takeout! The subways were plastered with ads for places where you could order food and anything else online. If we were there for longer, I would have enjoyed testing that one out. We did enjoy Indian takeout courtesy of our hosts after a very cold trip home from Shakespeare at the Belasco Theatre and it was excellent. However, had we been much later, we might have missed out as they close the kitchen at 11.
- Prices didn’t seem high to me, coming from Calgary, where dining out ain’t cheap. In several instances, food and drinks were less than I would expect to pay in Calgary. At one place I paid $3 for a pint of beer (Rolling Rock), at another a Stella Artois would run you $7. Bottled beer at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre where we caught some improv ran from $4-$5. A lox bagel from the coffee shop was $6, but $10 from the bagel place (though the latter has fresh-baked bagels of all sorts for a buck each). Empanadas were $3 each (we each had 3-4); a “small” pie with olives at Grimaldi’s was $14 and stuffed us. We wandered around the Plaza, but passed on the $60 high tea.
Prior to my many mouthfuls, I put aside my food photo anxiety for the week on the argument that I was a tourist, damnit. Here’s a bite-by-bite recap of just about everything I ate on vacation.