27 October 2016

NYC Part III: Halloween in the Air

The sun finally came out on Sunday morning and my brother and I went for a brisk run along the waterfront, looping south down the Hudson River Park from Canal Street on the west side, through Battery Park and then back up to the Williamsburg Bridge on the east side. Although it was windy, it was a gorgeous morning for a run and the views of New York's most iconic triplet of bridges — Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg — were superb.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for coffee at El Rey on Stanton Street, which I'd been meaning to try for a while. My cortado was very nice and the banana and sesame bread was excellent. My brother's cold brew was good too, although on such a cold morning, it cooled him down more than he was expecting. We also picked up some bagels at the famous Katz's Deli on Houston Street. I first visited Katz's in 2003, soon after the end of my decade of vegetarianism, and, intimidated by the menu and the size of the sandwiches, ordered a hot dog. I rather like pastrami sandwiches now but not at 8.30 am and I still found the experience a little intimidating.

After changing and picking up another coffee, from Ground Support (another of my all-time favourite New York coffee bars), we walked up to the Meatpacking District where we were meeting some family friends for brunch in their hotel, the Gansevoort. My cheeseburger was very tasty but the service and ambience was a little disappointing. We headed back down to Washington Square Park, which was a hive of activity. There was a craft market, a student performance of The Twelfth Night, and a Halloween dog parade. The latter was particularly impressive — or bonkers, depending on your point of view.

I spent a few hours shopping in the Flat Iron district and then caught the subway to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, to meet a friend of mine. We went for cocktails at Clover Club, which has to be one of the best bars I've visited in New York. The drinks are excellent — I tried the eponymous Clover Club (a gin, raspberry and lemon concoction) and the Apple Turnover (which really did taste like an apple turnover) — and there is a lovely relaxed vibe. It's the kind of unpretentious neighbourhood bar every neighbourhood needs.

We walked back to the subway via some of the more residential streets of Boerum Hill, where the Halloween decorations were out in full force. The best had to be the haunted 666 bus, complete with terrified pumpkin passengers (one even had a red pepper as its tongue). We definitely don't get Halloween like this in the UK.

For dinner, I met my parents at Mighty Quinn's, a hip, casual BBQ joint in the West Village. The three of us shared some brisket, pulled pork, ribs and various sides. Everything tasted fab, especially the brisket and the dirty fries. Fine dining this ain't, but the food is good and it's a great experience. We finished the night with a trip to the Barnes & Noble on Union Square, which is still hanging on after all of these years. I picked up a couple of books as gifts and was intrigued by the 'mystery book' packages they were selling: what a nice gift idea.

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