NYC Food a Mini Guide Cover Green copy 3

If there’s anywhere that has my heart it’s New York. Four holidays, the most recent in April 2015, and a stint living and working there and I’m already thinking about when I’m going back and where I’m eating next. I like to keep my days open, explore my favourite neighbourhoods and hop from one eating experience to the next.  Great eating is everywhere in New York. It’s not confined to two or three foodie neighbourhoods, although, in my experience, the best meals are rarely at places I’ve stumbled into off the street and, as a rule of thumb, I avoid eating in Times Square.

My favourite places change every time I visit. I go to places suggested by friends when they say the five words that pique every foodie’s interest, `I know this great place’. I go to places I’ve read about and schlep there to try their signature dish. I go to places I’ve stalked on Instragram. I go to places I’ve been to before and remember why I like them.

These are some of my current favourites. Some of them are not the most obvious places, although I agree with Anthony Bourdian that Katz’s Deli and Russ and Daughters are places to eat before you die even if it is just to go to Katz’s, sit in the seat from When Harry Met Sally and say, `I’ll have what she’s having’ and to soak up New York’s immigrant history with a bagel and a schmear at Russ and Daughters. These are the places I suggest when friends say, `Where do you like to eat in New York?’. I hope they become some of your favourites too.

 

BREAKFAST

 

BluestoneLane New York FINALBrunch at Bluestone Lane


Bluestone Lane

55 Greenwich Ave at Perry St

For the city that never sleeps it can be hard to find a decent breakfast before 10am. Brunch in New York is typically a weekend affair, which doesn’t start until mid morning and is often boozy. Bluestone Lane is one of several cafes bringing a touch of Australia to New York. Owner Nick Stone originally hails from Melbourne. His West Village café opens at 8am and does all day breakfast, seven days a week. The dishes, including the now ubiquitous smashed avocado on toast, are small by American standards and more expensive than most. But they’re fresh, seasonal and relatively healthy compared to some breakfast offerings in the city.  Go early and order a flat white.  Bluestone Lane also has coffee shops in Midtown East, Bryant Park, Noho and the Financial District.

 

blackseedbagels New York FINALBlack Seed Bagels store front

 

Black Seed Bagels

170 Elizabeth St at Kenmare St

This tiny Nolita bagel shop is another good early morning breakfast option, but, be warned, they’re not afraid to push the bagel boundaries. Case in point they celebrated their first birthday recently with pizza bagels. It sounds terrible but they actually looked quite good. Weekly guest chef collaborations also continue in the same vein. Danny Bowien and Angela Dimayuga from Mission Chinese recently created a squid-ink bagel sandwich, topped with anchovy butter and Ibérico ham. Traditionalists needn’t worry. Black Seed hand rolls and oven bakes their bagels and there’s plenty of smoked fish and cream cheese if a bagel with a schmear and smoked salmon is more your thing.

 

LUNCH AND DINNER

 

The NoMad

1170 Broadway at W28th

If you’re going to have one splurge dinner in New York make it the NoMad. In a hotel of the same name and owned by chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara of three Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park, NoMad is relaxed fine dining at its best.  This Flatiron District restaurant  is famous for its roast chicken, a whole bird designed for two people to share. Think crispy skin and super moist meat thanks to a combination of foie gras, black truffle and brioche. The chicken is brought to the table whole in a cast iron pan before being taken away, carved and plated. The breast is served with lentils, brussel sprouts and cotecchino (cured Italian pork sausage), while the darker meat is shredded and served with a burnt butter sabayon and a few outer brussel sprout leaves. Stunning.

 

spottedpig New York FINALThe entrance at The Spotted Pig


The Spotted Pig

314 W11th St at Greenwich St

This super cool gastro pub in the West Village was one of the first restaurants in New York not to take bookings. Chef April Bloomfield is known for her love of vegetables, which feature heavily in her seasonal British and Italian fare. The electric pig and vegetable-themed décor even extends to the bathrooms.  I’ve had the sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi every time I’ve been. Think super light, but super rich, balls of gnudi in a pool of brown butter finished with crispy sage. The burger with shoe string fries is also famous.  The Spotted Pig is extremely popular, with wait times of more than an hour at night. Either go about 5pm, put your name down and have a drink at the bar until 5.30pm when they start seating people for dinner. If you want to make things even easier, go for lunch.

 

abckitchen New York FINALInside at abc kitchen


abc kitchen

35 E18th St at Broadway

To say abc kitchen does seasonal, farm-to-table slow food is an understatement. Its list of producers is the most comprehensive I’ve seen and longer than the menu itself. Literally every ingredient – from the pretzels in the pretzel-dusted calamari to the farm which supplies their milk – is detailed.  The menu is free of every nasty you did and didn’t know existed. We had a lovely low key lunch and shared the line caught tuna marinated with ginger and mint, pretzel-dusted calamari, marinara and mustard aioli and akaushi cheeseburger with herbed mayo and pickled jalapenos.  The restaurant is headed by one of New York’s most well-known chefs, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is in the same building as multi storey homewares mecca abc carpet & home. All the crockery, cutlery, glassware, tables and chairs used in the restaurant are for sale at abc carpet & home.  The $32 prix fixe lunch is great value for three courses. abc kitchen is also one of the rare places in New York where you can book for brunch.

 

Momofuku Saam Bar

207 Second Ave at 13th St

David Chang’s casual restaurant has a big following thanks to its now iconic pork buns. The menu is split into a raw bar, small dishes, fish dishes and meat dishes and is designed to share.  This East Village hotspot is more dark and noisy den than a quiet candlelit dinner for two.  It doesn’t take bookings so go early or be prepared to wait at least an hour. Finish with dessert at the original Momofuku Milk Bar across the street. Chef Christina Tosi is known for her crazy creations including cereal milk (literally as it sounds), birthday cake truffles, compost cookies and crack pie. There are also Milk Bars in Midtown West, the Upper West Side, Soho, Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens.

smorgasburg New York FINALVisitors at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg

smorgasburg New York FINALGet it while it’s hot

smorgasburg New York FINALPorchetta on offer at Smorgasburg

smorgasburg New York FINALThe visitors and skyline at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn

smorgasburg asiadogs New York FINALThe Asia Dogs stall at Smorgasburg


Smorgasburg 

Saturdays in Williamsburg 90 Kent Ave at N 7th St

Sundays in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Pier 5

Open April to November

Brooklyn seasonal food market Smorgasburg’s acceptance rate for would-be stallholders is reportedly on par with some top American universities. The Wall Street Journal reported last year Smorgasburg accepted 8.5 to 11.4 per cent of applicants, which rivalled Brown University’s acceptance rate of 9.6 per cent. In keeping with Brooklyn’s reputation as a hipster haven, the 100 or so stallholders place a big emphasis on small batch and artisan made. Not surprisingly a lot of the latest food trends and fads feature prominently. Think pulled pork, lobster rolls and doughnuts. There are also stalls selling hand pulled salt water taffy, spaghetti burgers, porchetta and Asia Dogs, a rift on New York’s street cart hot dog with Asian-inspired toppings like kimchi, pork belly and sesame slaw. Gates open at 11am and it tends to be packed by 1pm. Bring cash so you don’t have to queue at the one ATM. You can catch the East River Ferry back to Manhattan.

 

SWEET THINGS AND SOUVENIRS

There’s no shortage of sugar in the Big Apple but these are some of my favourites.

 

Sprinkles

780 Lexington Ave at 60th St and Brookfield Place, 225 Liberty St

Sprinkles takes the mantra pick one thing and do it well and it does cupcakes very well.  This cupcake-only bakery started in LA and has outposts across America. They use Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon vanilla and Callebaut chocolate to create super sophisticated cupcakes. The menu features a range of classics like red velvet and dark chocolate along with a rotating selection of monthly specials, which are posted online in advance.  But, in all honesty, Sprinkles is worth a visit just for the Cupcake ATM, which dispenses freshly-baked cupcakes at all hours of the day and night.

 

Dean and Deluca New York FINALInside at Dean & Deluca


Dean & Deluca

560 Broadway at Prince St

Dean & Deluca is one of New York’s original foodie hotspots, opening in 1977.  Part cafe, part food store and part supermarket, the original location in Soho is still my favourite.  It has several locations in New York and has also expanded to other states and other countries including Japan, Singapore and Thailand.   It has a fantastic range of local and imported chocolates and lollies, which make great gifts, along with some quirkier items like goat’s milk caramel.

 

MagnoliaBakery New York FINAL

 

Magnolia Bakery

Various locations including 401 Bleecker St at W11th St

The story about Magnolia Bakery’s rise to fame after its cupcakes featured in Sex and the City is well known.  Perhaps less well known is how good the banana pudding is! I tend to order that over the cupcakes, which include traditional flavours like chocolate, vanilla and red velvet along with rotating specials.  There are also Magnolia Bakery locations at Bloomingdale’s, Grand Central Terminal, the Rockefeller Center and the Upper West Side. The Bleecker St location in the charming West Village is still my favourite.  Sex and the City fans can eat their treats at the Bleeker St playground just like Carrie and Miranda.

 

biggayicecream New York FINALOutside Big Gay Ice Cream

 

big gay ice cream New York FINALThe bounty on offer at Big Gay Ice Cream

big gay ice cream salty pimp New York FINALThe Salty Pimp straight up from Big Gay Ice Cream


Big Gay Ice Cream

125 E7th St between 1st Ave and Ave A and 61 Grove St at 7th Ave South

A soft serve shop with a twist! Big Gay Ice Cream (BGIC) originally started out as a food truck and they’ve since set up two bricks and mortar stores selling their playful ice creams. I always order the Salty Pimp, a combination of vanilla soft serve, salt, dulce de leche and chocolate dip. Like many popular food places, BGIC gets busy, particularly when it’s hot.

 

mast brothers New York FINALThe chocolate offerings await at Mast Brothers


Mast Brothers chocolate

111 N3rd St, Brooklyn

Mast Brothers counts top American chefs Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) and Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) among its biggest fans.  This high end chocolate brand produces single estate and single origin chocolate. The Williamsburg factory and store are industrial chic and the offerings simple. There’s about a dozen different bars in coloured paper wrapping with varieties including maple, sea salt and a collaboration with Stumptown coffee. There’s also a handful of chocolates filled with ganache, including goats milk, olive oil and almond. Mast Brothers have 500 stockists if you don’t find yourself in Williamsburg.

 

dough New York FINALThe ‘Mocca’ Doughnut from Dough close up

 dough New York FINALMore doughy deliciousness from Dough


Dough

14 W19th St at 5th Ave, 448 Layfayette St, Brooklyn, and City Kitchen NYC at 700 8th Ave at W45th

Dough is a doughnut store with a difference. Yeast doughnuts are fried and then glazed with quirky toppings including hibiscus, chocolate with early grey, tropical chili and lemon poppy seed. They’ve also got more traditional flavours like cinnamon sugar and mixed berry. The owners of Melbourne’s Short Stop Doughnuts visited Dough’s original store in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighbourhood, better known as Bed-Stuy, as part of their research. Dough is also a long standing stallholder at Smorgasburg. They’ve also recently opened in the Flatiron District and at food hall City Kitchen NYC.

 

dough New York FINALThe dough at Dough


Dylan’s Candy Bar

1011 3rd Ave at 60th St

Dylan’s Candy Bar is nothing short of a sweet tooth heaven.  This three floor lolly emporium owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan has a great range of pick ‘n’ mix along with a fudge station, their own range of chocolate bars and hand-dipped popcorn. The fillables make great gifts. Dylan’s is a five-minute walk from Sprinkles if you feel like a sweet tour of the Upper East Side

 

Economy Candy

108 Rivington St between Essex St and Ludlow St

The expression like a kid in a candy store has never rung more true than at Economy Candy. This Lower East Side store, opened in 1937, groans with floor to celling candy. Adults and children will delight in the range of nostalgic candies, classic American chocolate bars and loose by the pound offerings.

 

Images and words by Amelia Harris

 

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