Leaving politics at the door for the next ten minutes: I’d been to New York three times before we went again at the end of last month. We’re talking aged 10, 12 and 21 – so let’s just say: it had been a while. Despite my three-timer status, I’m still a novice and I still get caught out by $22 G&Ts and tasteless breakfast grits. That said, my city-break skills have improved with age, so I like to think I really got some things nailed, this time. Things like:
The beer. Hands down, it’s got to be Brooklyn’s Tørst – largely thanks to its drinking vessels, but also thanks to its delightfully Danish-inspired interiors, an extensive and varied beer list, knowledgeable staff and tasty bar snacks (plus a seasonal tasting menu offered out the back to those in the know – but you don’t need to splash out in there to make the most of the rest). Meanwhile, over on the edge of Manhattan’s East Village, nip into McSorleys Old Ale House for a taste of the real thing.
Pizza to die for. You know what they say: if it’s good enough for Beckham and Beyoncé, it’s good enough for me. With that in mind, get yourself to Lucali on Henry Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, don’t be late, and order everything (I mean it). Without doubt: my favourite pizza experience ever – and I’ve been to Naples. We also happened to be staying around the corner from Roberta’s which doesn’t rival Lucali but beats anything I’ve been lucky enough to find in London.
The steak. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be steak in NYC if you didn’t a) eat it in Manhattan and b) have to dive into your savings to pay for it. Tick and tick at Keens. Perfect service & perfect food served to our white-linen clad table in the cosy booth we didn’t even have to ask for. For the win. My only regret is that were off to a gig so I couldn’t take my leftovers (there were many) with me.
Falafel. Sorry, we’re still on food. But if you’re crazy for a bit of the chickpea good-stuff (who isn’t?), head to Taïm and watch the Nolita (or West Village – there’s one there too) world go by. We found it to be the perfect lunch-time pit-stop – for those times when you’re ravenous from all that shopping, dinner’s still hours away and you’re after excellent, tasty value for money.
The bridges. Okay, okay. So Brooklyn Bridge just has to be done. I’ve trod its boards four times now and it’s true – it’s iconic and makes you feel like you’ve really arrived. However, can I just bang on about the Williamsburg Bridge for a moment? It may be long, but it’s also gun grey and bubblegum pink and all kinds of brilliant industrial mastery. Aka: love at first sight.
A view. Controversial though it may be, Top of The Rock still wins for me. It’s a great view of Central Park from the Empire State, granted. One World Observatory would’ve been a better view on a better day (hello, haze) but overall feels like one big up-sell. It’s Top of The Rock, I’m afraid. There’s something about that fresh air, all the way up there, and those uninterrupted views that the glass surround allows. Meanwhile, for a Brooklyn → Manhattan view, while you’re actually sipping a Brooklyn View (Greenhook gin, Velvet Falernum, grapefruit, bubbles), I know just the place…
The Wythe Hotel. Unfortunately a bit out-of-my-league when it comes to being an actual hotel – but that doesn’t stop me soaking up the frankly breathtaking view from the Ides Bar (as mentioned above), dropping in for brunch at the Reynard, and picking up a (very sturdy, can I just say) tote bag from the shop in the lobby. I can at least pretend.
The shopping. Far too many to mention, so I’ll make it quick. The totally delightful, wanted-everything In God We Trust in Brooklyn. Shout out to the super-helpful staff in the Williamsburg branch. And in Manhattan: The Frankie Shop – which apparently has a Parisian pop-up sister. Far closer to home and the perfect excuse for nipping to Paris ASAP. À bientôt!