24 October 2016

NYC Part I: Downtown Downpours

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you will probably know that I'm on holiday in New York with my family at the moment. We flew in on Thursday, arriving just after noon local time. My parents very kindly treated me to a Club World ticket, which made the flight all the more comfortable. The food was pretty nice too, especially the afternoon tea.

Although I usually stay downtown when I'm in New York for work or by myself, my parents usually prefer to stay near Central Park. This time, however, we are staying in SoHo — coincidentally, less than a block away from my company's old New York office and with a great very over Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge from my room on the 15th floor.

We only stayed in the hotel long enough to drop off our bags and then headed straight back out into SoHo, wandering up Broadway to Washington Square Park, one of my favourite parks in the city, and then stopping for coffee at the century-old Caffè Dante on MacDougal Street. My nitro cold brew was pretty good — and much needed to fend off the jet lag — and the café is located on one of the prettiest blocks in NoHo.

For dinner, we went to Parm, a cool but casual purveyor of Italian-American sandwiches and comfort food in Nolita. We all had the chicken parm sandwiches, which were huge but delicious, and which went very well with my negroni. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at McNally Jackson, a wonderful bookstore with a particularly good selection of stationery and magazines. I didn't mean to order a gin and absinthe cocktail in the very clubby club room bar at our hotel, but somehow it happened, and I can't say that I regret it. Certainly, I slept very well.

On Friday morning, we met at 7:00 and took the subway over to High Street, Brooklyn, which is the closest stop to Brooklyn Bridge. It was a warm but grey morning and the rain hadn't yet started, which made it very pleasant to stroll over the bridge (NB: it's definitely best to walk over the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, especially if you want to see those iconic skyline views). The low-hanging clouds gave the skyscrapers a slightly spooky appearance, which was rather apt given the approach of Halloween.

I took my parents for breakfast at Two Hands in Tribeca (this branch is more of a restaurant; the other location in Nolita is more of a cafe). As usual, I will blog about my coffee experiences in more detail at the end of the trip but my cortado and avocado toast were excellent, and Two Hands is a beautiful restaurant — perfect for a relaxed breakfast or brunch.

By the time we left Two Hands, the heavens had opened and we retreated to our hotel to rethink our plans for the day. My mum and I ended up doing a bit of department store hopping in Midtown, trying our best to keep dry, before she went for a manicure and I battled the elements by walking up to West 72nd to pay a visit to Box Kite, a tiny café that serves beans from a rotating selection of cult American roasters.

After a little window shopping on Columbus Avenue, I met up with my mum in Columbus Circle for a bit of non-window shopping and lunch at Whole Foods. Happily, by the time we got out of the subway at Canal Street, not only had the rain stopped but the sun had even come out. We celebrated with a coffee (an excellent Aeropress brew, in my case) at Everyman Espresso, one of my all-time favourite New York coffee bars (and not just because the SoHo location is so close to my old office).

We wandered up into SoHo, where I enjoyed browsing the hand-made jewellery, accessories and homewares at Broadway Market, had a quick drink with my parents at Fanelli's, another long-time family favourite and a real New York institution, and then went to meet some friends in the East Village. We went to Cienfuegos just in time for happy hour and enjoyed a giant metal bowl full of delicious rum punch, which kept us going for some hours, before heading to The Blind Barber, a cocktail bar inside a barber shop. I'd wanted to try the Walton Goggins cocktail (he and I share a name), but they were out of Goggins (or possibly Walton), so I settled for a Mood Ring — a sour, fruity gin concoction that tasted great. It did also obliterate any chance of me running in the morning, but it was a very fun night nonetheless.

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