You might not know this, but New York blood runs through our veins. Our Mom is a native New Yorker and thus, disembarking at Laguardia carries with it much warmth and love, taking us back to the days of visiting our grandparents, our marathon viewing of MTV (at the time, unavailable in Canada) and countless outings to stock up on Jordache and days-of-the-week undies from Bloomingdale’s.
While our recent trip was all about work, we did manage to go off-script a bit, fill our bellies and empty our wallets (more on that later). Standing in the baking sun and the 30-minute taxi line-up along with Meryl (our most fave travel mate and also the gatekeeper of all-things-Bite Me More), we plotted out how fast we could get into the city and hustle around – there was much to pack into our New York minutes.
An hour later, we were on the subway heading downtown for a late lunch at the utterly instagramable Jack’s Wife Frieda
. While a super small space (definitely couldn’t fit their 125k instagram followers in there), we were seated within 10 minutes (maybe also because it was 3pm) and eating 15 minutes later. Let me tell you, it was drool-worthy. Let’s start with the fresh Mint Lemonade. We sucked those babies back in seconds. Whistles wet, we moved on to the main event – Lisa and I ordered avocado toast. Boring, you say? Think again. We not only added a poached egg on top, but also this open-face sandwich had a creamy avocado spread atop crusty-yet-soft seeded bread, along with cherry tomato jam, pickled carrots and za’atar. Heaven. Sent. As for Meryl, she ordered up the Breakfast Bowl, a combo of poached eggs, red quinoa, kale, spaghetti squash, grilled tomato and avocado. According to Mer, “It was fresh and delicious and filling and colorful.” Really, that girl should write resto reviews.
Since we had dinner reservations 3 hours later, we skipped dessert (fear not, we did have some…keep reading) and spent a few hours walking in and out of Soho shops, checking out high fashion at Kirna Zabete
, the latest in cosmetics at Birchbox
and all the mini must-haves from Muji
. Needing to head back uptown for dinner, we had one more downtown stop: yes, you guessed it, Dominique Ansel’s bakery
, home of the Cronut. What kind of trouble did we get into there? Let’s just say that while they were sold out of the Cronut, we didn’t leave disappointed.
The Frozen S’mores, marshmallow wrapped around a custard ice cream center covered with crispy chocolate wafer chips, was torched until golden brown. As for the Cookie Shots, chocolate chip cookie cups were lined with chocolate and held a few gulps of milk in each, giving new meaning to the classic milk and cookie combo. We rolled out of there with 30 minutes until dinner at one of New York’s hottest restaurants.
After a French shower (read: a few spritzes of perfume) and a step closer to a hairbrush, we were off to dinner at The Grill
, the latest restaurant from renowned James Beard chef Mario Carbone and group. Located in the old space of the iconic Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe designed Four Seasons Restaurant (not to be confused with the hotel chain), it’s the place where JFK dined before Marilyn Monroe sang him his infamous birthday song. A few things to know about this amazing space – the interior is landmark protected so the original French walnut walls (all from one tree!), the beaded curtains and the Richard Lippold sculpture all remain intact. The ceilings are miles high, the atmosphere and menu very classic ’50s chophouse, a lush atmosphere into which you’re greeted by Joan Miro and Cy Twombly works in the lobby, followed by extraordinarily attentive wait staff attired in dapper $6,000 Tom Ford tuxedos who perform table-side theatrics (when was the last time you saw a Prime Rib trolley?) and serve up classic cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, while I had a glass of Pinot Noir (immensely drinkable), Lisa opted for the Champagne Cocktail and Meryl got a superb Dirty Martini. As for the menu, while we probably aren’t the intended audience (more red meat than you can shake a loin at), we also weren’t the least bit disappointed. Meryl went all fish with Tuna Ravigote to start followed by Scottish Salmon in Chartreuse Sauce, Lisa opted for the table-side prepared Mushroom Omelette and Cajun Snapper with Coleslaw and Chowchow and I was all about the Chopped Salad and Spring Chicken a la Queen (kinda like Chicken a la King but more regal).
Everything we ate was flavor-packed, satisfying and only enhanced by the buzzy feeling of the restaurant. To close things off, we of course had to try the dramatic Cherries Jubilee, and what a jubilee it was – creamy vanilla ice cream topped with brandy-fired cherries. When all was said and done, while we super-stretched the Bite Me budget (and the waistbands on our pants) for this meal, the food and fun of The Grill was priceless.
After waking early from our collective food comas, it was all business. The reason we were in New York in the first place – a half day of filming at the recipe-mavens and cooking mecca Food52
for Hellmann’s Organic Mayonnaise
Lisa created a killer recipe using this mayo, a Grilled Chicken Burrito Bowl with Chipotle Mayonnaise Sauce
. Not only is it the perfect answer to, “What’s for dinner?” but it’s also super tasty and easily customizable for the picky eater.
The 5 hours spent there included at least a hundred laughs, including Lisa piggybacking me, a lesson on how to do the ultimate gut punch and Lisa getting stuck on the pronunciation of chipotle (as she said, “This is gonna be a thing.”) to no avail.
We wrapped at 2pm and headed back uptown for lunch at Viand
, our fave Madison Avenue coffee shop. Biali’s, Greek Omelets and Turkey Melts were devoured, fueling us up for a few hours of scouring the racks at Barneys
Good times were had and within no time, we again found ourselves out of time and heading to dinner at one of our super-scrumptious faves, The Polo Bar
. As you can imagine, the interior is classically gorgeous Ralph Lauren (clubby wood paneling, deep caramel saddle leather, equestrian art, tartan pillows), to say nothing of the stylishly clad hostesses and wait staff. Where to start with how delicious and divine the food is? Maybe the drool as I write this is a good indication – I long for more, more of Ralph’s Corned Beef Sandwich, a dreamy sandwich with layers of super lean corned beef loaded with melted Swiss cheese, creamy horseradish coleslaw all between a marbled rye bread that would make Jerry Seinfeld jealous. And, that was just one of our shared appetizers.
Good thing we had elastic waist pants on because we went on to devour, along with warm buttered popovers, the Chopped Vegetable Salad, the Polo Bar Salad, the Crab & Asparagus Salad, Minted Pea Soup and best of all, the surreally scrumptious Polo Bar Burger (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles, cheddar & crispy bacon with hand-cut fries) and THE Chocolate Cake to end all chocolate cakes, layers and layers of moist cake and smooth icing. Honestly, there are no words to describe how full and happy we were after this meal, how we dreamt of riding off horseback into the sunset with Ralph.
Then, we woke up, went to Laguardia and returned to our lives in Toronto.