13 February 2017

NYC I: Snow Business

From balmy Barcelona, I landed in nippy New York on Friday afternoon (technically, I returned to London first but only for long enough to swap my sunglasses for snow boots and return to the airport). I was worried that Winter Storm Niko was going to spoil my plans to spend a long weekend in New York before two days in my company's Manhattan office, followed by a few days at a conference in Boston, altogether. Indeed, my original flight to JFK was cancelled but I was rebooked onto the pricier BA-operated flight I had wanted to take in the first place. We took off an hour late but magically landed on time and, thanks to the automated portals at JFK, I got through immigration very quickly but then had a long wait for my suitcase.

I took the subway into the city, which is, I learned, a bad idea on a snow day and it was a slow journey. Although I sometimes stay in Midtown when I'm with my family, when I'm travelling alone or for work, I usually try to stay as close to Soho as possible. My company's office has now relocated from Soho to the Financial District, however, and so I'll be staying there for the work part of this trip. I didn't plan to stay in the FiDi, as it is now known, for the weekend too but it turns out that this part of town is not particularly popular with tourists on weekends in February (who knew?!) and I got a great deal on a room at the Gild Hall Hotel on Gold Street. 

After checking in to my comfortable, sleek room, and accepting a glass of champagne from the friendly guys on reception (why not?!), I went straight back out to meet a friend from work. We took an Uber Pool up to Harlem for dinner, a slow, if entertaining, ride during which we were joined by a series of fellow passengers, none of whom seemed to be able to find the designated pick-up point. We dined at Red Rooster, a fun and lively spot for American comfort food. I had meatballs and a side of cornbread, and the food was tasty if a little expensive. I took the subway back downtown and then trudged through the thawing snow to my hotel for the best night's sleep I had had all week.

I was up early on Saturday and went for a run to clear out the cobwebs. My hotel was only a few blocks from the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge but, as usual, I ran up to the Manhattan Bridge instead, crossing over into Brooklyn and returning over Brooklyn Bridge to make the most of those amazing views. No matter how many times I walk or run across Brooklyn Bridge, I still always take dozens of photos along the way. 

Back in Manhattan, I went for breakfast at Black Fox Coffee, an antipodean-style coffee shop on the ground floor of a fancy residential building on Pine Street. Black Fox is a large and airy space and serves coffee from several cult roasters, including Portland-based Heart and Vancouver-based 49th Parallel. I had a cortado from Aussie roaster Small Batch and a slice of walnut-banana bread. As usual, I will do some more detailed coffee posts when I'm back home.

I returned to my hotel to shower and change and then headed back out into the snow. I should note that although the snow was cleared from the pavements and roads pretty quickly, there were still mounds of snow and ice at the kerbs and in the parks at this stage. The next coffee shop on my list was closed, so I waited until I got to Tribeca before I had my second coffee, a Counter Culture pourover at Gotan, a cosy cafe on Franklin Street. The breakfast menu looked great but I just had the coffee, which was very good.

Soho itself could perhaps have been renamed SnowHo. The cobbled roads and pavements were still pretty snowy and I narrowly missed having a large chunk of ice fall on my head, which meant I spent most of the day looking upwards in a suspicious manner. I spent some time shopping in Soho, joined a march for Planned Parenthood in Washington Square and then walked up into the West Village. I stopped for a quick cortado at Terremoto Coffee, a petite but perfectly formed coffee shop on West 15th Street, which has a beautiful copper espresso machine.

I walked along the High Line for a few blocks before descending at West 20th Street to go to a restaurant called Cookshop for brunch. I had a bloody amazing BLT Mary (yes, with bacon) and a delicious fried egg sandwich. You can see the High Line from the restaurant and it's a great brunch spot (booking is advised). After that feast, I needed to do some more walking and, after popping into a favourite shop of mine, Story, I climbed back onto the High Line, following it all the way to its northern extent at West 34th Street.

I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around the Flatiron District, stopping by the lovely Rizzoli Bookstore, and several of my favourite clothing retailers, before looping down into the East Village. The Coffee Project, on East 5th Street, is most famous for its 'deconstructed latte' and has been on my list for a while. The small cafe was bustling when I arrived and I had to wait a little while before I could nab a seat in the window. I did, of course, order the deconstructed latte (a shot of espresso — a Brazilian/Guatemalan blend roasted in Brooklyn — a shot of 'raw' milk and a mini latte). It was fun to try but I'm not sure I'll be regular piccolo/pourover order just yet.

Brindle Room in the East Village is rumoured to have one of the best burgers in New York — if not the world — and I had been wanting to try it for some time. I couldn't get a reservation until 8.15, though, so I returned to my hotel to drop off my shopping and rest my feet for a while before heading back out. When booking my hotel, I hadn't quite factored in having to return to my hotel more than once during the day — those 25-minute hikes to get to Soho soon start to add up, but there are worse cities to walk around in. 

As for the burger, well, it really was rather good: juicy and meaty, and served with American cheese and caramelised onions. It was on the small side, but that suited me fine as I was still recovering from brunch, and they also gave me a couple of complimentary doughnut holes (one with salted caramel, which was wonderful). Brindle Room itself is a lovely, relaxed gastropub on a quieter street in the East Village. The Canadian family sitting next to me had only good things to say about the poutine, too.

NB: Although I have my DSLR with me on this trip, I only have my work laptop, which lacks any photo editing software, so the images on this trip are in their 'raw' (jpeg) form.

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