28 October 2016

NYC Part IV: Brooklyn Coffee Tour and Walking 42nd Street

My dad had an early appointment in Newark on Monday morning, so my mum and I went out for breakfast. It was a cool but sunny day and I was beginning to regret not running until I ordered breakfast at Jack's Wife Freda, a Middle-Eastern-influenced pair of cafés in Soho and the West Village. I'd tried to go for brunch before but the queue was too long. However, at 8:31 on a Monday morning, we were the first diners through the door; there wasn't an empty seat by the time we left. I had a cortado, made with Stumptown coffee, and the rosewater waffle with yoghurt and (giant) berries, which was delicious. We also shared a side of duck bacon. If I hadn't known it was duck bacon, I'm not sure I'd have guessed, but it did have a distinctive taste.

Afterwards, I walked up to Union Square to do a bit of shopping, stopping off on the way in Washington Square Park, where there was a lovely rainbow, and the gorgeous Washington Mews.

I hopped on an L train to Bergen Street, Brooklyn, for the first stop of my self-guided coffee tour. I will be writing about my latest New York coffee experiences separately, but — spoiler alert — the Brooklyn cafés I hit up were: Walter's (the Breaking Bad-themed coffee shop and roastery); Supercrown Coffee Roasters (whose royal blue espresso machine and hot pink hoppers might be my favourite coffee bar set-up yet); the lovely, sunny Colombian Devociòn; and Sweatshop, a hip, Aussie spot with fab doughnuts (not to be confused with The Sweatshop).

After six coffees (including an early-morning cortado at Everyman) in about five hours, even I was in need of a break. I stopped for lunch at La Superior, a small but authentic Mexican restaurant in south Williamsburg. I tried a few tacos but the fried fish tacos were the best. I didn't have room for guacamole but it looked great.

I headed back to Manhattan and met up with my family for some photographs, including the obligatory red sunglasses shot, at the Rockefeller Center. The ice rink was already installed even though just three days earlier it had been 29 degrees Celsius!

We skipped the skating this time and instead went on a mini-oyster crawl, starting at Red Hook Lobster inside the awesome Urban Space food court on Vanderbilt Avenue, and ending up at the subterranean oyster bar in Grand Central Terminus. It's always fun to walk through Grand Central during rush hour and the oysters were pretty good. We had our main courses back downtown at an Italian restaurant called Il Mulino Prime, just opposite our hotel. My veal milanese was excellent but the rowdy atmosphere wasn't ideal for a Monday night family get-together.

I woke up on Tuesday morning to the best sunrise yet. I am already missing the amazing view of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge from my 15th floor room at the Soho Grand. I did another run along the waterfront, which was, I later found out, a great six-mile circuit.

This time I stopped for coffee at Ludlow Coffee Supply on Ludlow Street. The cortado and the banana-walnut muffin were both very good.

After packing up and checking out of the hotel, we caught the subway to 42nd Street to do a self-guided walking tour along the length of 42nd Street. There are, of course, great views of the Chrysler Building — probably my favourite New York building — and it's interesting to watch the character of the street change from the UN Building and Tudor City on the East Side, past Grand Central and Times Square, all the way over to Hell's Kitchen.

Our final lunch was at a family favourite of ours — Fanelli's Cafe, a real SoHo institution. It's very relaxed and characterful, and a great place for a burger and a beer or some good ol' comfort food. I just had time for a couple more coffee shops — to Happy Bones on Broome Street and a return to the new Café Integral on Elizabeth Street.

Although I had to work on Wednesday afternoon, I did at least manage to get some sleep on the plane. Most of the time, I would rather take economy flights to several destinations than a single business class flight, but it was a real luxury to have a flat bed on the way back this time. We also managed to nab seats in the front row upstairs, so I was right next to the cockpit.

I know how lucky I am to have spent over five full days in New York, but I'm already missing the city. Fortunately, I am hoping to return for a few days in February ahead of a conference so I won't have to wait too long before I'm back.

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