Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NYC Weekly Highlights: Family Weekend

Every time I plan on blogging more frequently, my busy life inevitably gets in the way. I've learned that posting quality content while working a full time job is nearly impossible, especially when you have visitors on the weekends. But I'm definitely not complaining! I'm having such an amazing time in New York City this summer and my internship at Martha Stewart Weddings couldn't be better! I'm writing a lot, which I love, but I also get to do fun stuff like go to photo shoots and make wedding favors. I even helped out at a wedding this past weekend!

Now onto my next NYC roundup. My parents and younger brother came to visit me recently (my sister was working), and the two-and-a-half days were full of fun events and activities. We ate at great restaurants, drank delicious beverages, walked around Central Park, and even saw the Book of Mormon on Broadway. The show was hilarious and had everyone in my family cracking up. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a comedy – as long as you don't get offended easily!

Here is my weekend in pictures:

While my dad and brother were at a Yankees game, my mom and I hit up Luzzo's in the East Village for some wine and drool-worthy pizza. The pizza gets a solid five stars – especially the hearty salami and fresh mozzarella!

I showed my family some of Central Park's major sights, including Belvedere Castle.

My parents went to the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. I would be jealous if I hadn't seen Billy in Syracuse this spring! While they were rocking out to Piano Man, I took my brother to Guy Fieri's restaurant in Times Square, called Guy's American Kitchen and Bar.  I got a chicken caesar salad and my brother got a bacon mac n' cheeseburger. He was practically drooling over the massive burger (pictured above) and said it was the best burger he's ever had! We also visited Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum –also at my brother's request – and had loads of fun checking out the exhibits.

We saw a 2 p.m. matinee showing of The Book of Mormon at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The show was hilariously amazing! I couldn't get the catchy tunes out of my head afterwards and my family kept joking about the funny scenes.

We ended the night, which happened to be Father's Day, with a nice meal at Benjamin's Steakhouse. I was treated to lobster bisque, a big ribeye steak, french fries, onion rings, and wine. Afterwards, I could barely move because I was so full! Benjamin's is the best steakhouse I've every been to, albeit an expensive one. The steaks were huge and perfectly cooked! 

I love having visitors in the city because it gives me an excuse to try new food and sightsee. My next visitor is my boyfriend, who is coming for Fourth of July weekend! Stay tuned for a post on our adventures.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Oldest Bar in New York City

After my dad and I ate at The Brindle Room last week, we stopped by McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village. The old-fashioned pub, established in 1854, is supposedly the oldest bar in New York City.

I’ve visited some pretty ancient pubs while studying in Europe, but most of them have been renovated for a more modern feel. McSorley’s, however, looks like it came straight out of 19th century Ireland – it even boasts some friendly Irish bartenders!  The tavern feels timeless and dated, but also relaxed and cozy enough to sit around a table with friends.
Faded photographs, trinkets, and newspaper clippings hang on the wooden walls.  McSorley’s embraces the old, and it works well – especially given its history. The pub didn't let women in until 1970 (what?!), and the some of the wall art is more than 100 years old. 
The venue isn’t huge, and it certainly was crowded for a Monday night. The first half of the place includes the bar, complete with rustic kegs and some tables. More tables are set up in the back for extra seating. My dad and I couldn't find empty seats when we arrived at 9 p.m. Monday night so we stood at the bar. We each ordered a beer, and the bartender gave us four total. I guess that’s protocol for McSorley’s – when you order a beer, you get two small glasses instead of one big one.
McSorley's only serves two types of beer: light ale and dark ale. We both ordered the lighter option, and I actually liked it a lot. I’m not the biggest beer fan but I would definitely order this again.

Another funny thing I noticed was sawdust covering the ground. I was obviously confused, so my dad  googled the answer. Apparently sawdust was used in the past to soak up any liquid on the bar floor... interesting. And dirty.
Verdict: If you don’t mind a loud, tourist-y bar, definitely check out McSorley’s! I’d say it’s a nice historic place to visit on a night of bar hopping.

Monday, June 15, 2015

NYC Weekly Highlights

I'm trying to take advantage of New York City as much as possible this summer, which means non-stop sightseeing every weekend. I absolutely love exploring the city! Every day I stumble across new and exciting shops, building, live music, and restaurants. While I'm planning to give each of my major adventures its own blog post, I want to document my smaller discoveries as well. That's where these "NYC Weekly Highlights" come into play. With these posts, I hope to give a snippet of my favorite things from the previous week and weekend. Let's get started!

1. Walking on the high line, an elevated railroad track turned into a walking path.
I found this painting of Einstein near the 16th street entrance!

2. Bracing the crowd at the Chelsea Market
Did you know the market has shops for books, bread, wine, cheese, chocolate, coffee, and even clothes? Sounds like my kind of place!

3. Exploring new areas of Central Park
I've only walked in the first half of Central Park before, from Columbus Circle to 72nd Street. This weekend I ventured further, walking from 80th street to 100th street. Some places are so secluded and forest-y that you almost forget you're in NYC!

 4. Relaxing in Washington Square Park
Although I always find many interesting people in this park, it's one of my favorite places to relax.

5. Window shopping in SoHo
Most shops in SoHo are way too expensive for a college student with an unpaid internship, but I still enjoy walking around the beautiful area.

Do you have any "must see" places in New York City?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Brindle Room

For my first New York City restaurant review, I'm talking about the home of the best burger in the Big Apple: The Brindle Room. A tiny yet semi-upscale restaurant in the East Village, The Brindle Room is a gastropub serving hearty American classics.

My dad made note of the restaurant after watching Guy Fieri drool over Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We decided to stop by Monday when he was in NYC for business. 
Approaching the East 10th Street location, the first thing we noticed was the size of the place. I understand that most local NYC restaurants are small, especially in residential areas like the East Village, but The Brindle Room has about 30 seats. Tiny tables flank the sides of the restaurant while the kitchen and bar sits in the rear. The tables are so close together that you hear every word of your neighbor's conversation. The set-up would be disastrous for anyone claustrophobic. The Brindle Room had a few diners when we first arrived (it was 7 p.m. Monday night) but the space filled up quickly and was packed when we left around 9 p.m.
To start, we ordered a bottle of La Tremenda wine. Instead of wine glasses, the waitress poured it into cute mason jars!
As adventurous foodies with the same palette, my dad and I decided on two appetizers: salmon tartare with potato chips, and warm Brie with sweet potato jam and crostini. Both small dishes tasted amazing. The salmon tartare had just the right texture and was cut into bite-size chinks for easy dipping with the chips. The warm Brie reminded me of cheese fondue. The sweet potato topping, which was mixed with grapes, tasted a little too sweet for me. I don't have much of a sweet tooth. However, the gooey, tasty Brie made up for the excess sugar.
Next on the menu was the duck confit poutine – fries, cheddar cheese curds, and gravy with chunks of duck meat. Despite living in the northern U.S., I've never had poutine before. I was a bit skeptical of the french fry and duck combo, but the poutine blew me away. All of the textures and flavors combined together so nicely. The french fries soaked up the gravy without becoming soggy, the duck was extra tender, and the gooey cheese tasted incredible (if you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of cheese). The dish reminded me of French onion soup, only with more flavor. I would go back to The Brindle room just for the poutine.
Finally, we ordered what drew us to The Brindle Room in the first place: Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger. The hamburger came medium topped with caramelized onion and American cheese. Given a burger this tasty, though, I didn't even need ketchup or mayonnaise. I can see what the hype is about – the steakhouse burger was tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Definitely one of the best burgers I've ever had! Even my dad, who has traveled worldwide and eaten at thousands of restaurants, ranked the burger in his top 10 list. The burger came with kale salad, which was good, but who needs kale when you have a juicy burger looking right you? :) At $15 a burger, the dish is reasonably priced for a nice restaurant in NYC. Keep in mind, though, that the patty is on the small-medium side. My dad and I were stuffed because of our appetizers, but hungry customers might be left wanting more.
The meal rounded out with some complimentary donuts.

Verdict: Go to The Brindle Room and order the duck poutine and the burger. You won't regret it. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

New York State of Mind

I'm in New York City! Last week, I packed my bags and relocated to the city for a summer internship at Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. I'll be here until the middle of August, crammed in a tiny dorm on the Lower East Side. I had an amazing experience living in New York City last summer and I'm beyond excited for the opportunity to work here again.

Last summer, I checked pretty much every NYC tourist trap off of my bucket list. Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Met, Coney Island... the list goes on. But on one of my last weekends in the Big Apple, my boyfriend and I decided to skip busy Midtown and try a Mexican restaurant in the less-touristy Lower East Side. The space was tiny and jammed with locals, but the great atmosphere and delicious tortas made the restaurant one of my favorites in Manhattan.  

This year, I'm determined to dig a little deeper into the real life and culture of New York City. Sure, I'll bring guests to Times Square and take walks in Central Park. And I'll check the last tourist attractions off of my list. But I also want to find the best coffee in Manhattan, eat at tiny restaurants with great cuisine, and explore the bar scene. 

Here is my bucket list for the summer:

1. Explore the Lower East Side. I can't believe I lived here last summer without taking advantage of the hip bar and restaurant scene. 

2. See a Broadway play (My parents are taking me to The Book of Mormon soon!) 

3. Go to Katz's Delicatessen – one of the most popular delis in NYC located in the Lower East Side

4. Eat at these restaurants, based on recommendations: Brindle RoomBarrio Chino, 5 Napkin Burger, The Commons Chelsea

5. Visit Roosevelt Island

6. Visit Governor's Island 

7. Walk on the campus of NYU and Columbia University

8. Meander around the Chelsea Market

9. Explore Brooklyn (I've been told to visit Williamsburg) 

10. Take the Staten Island Ferry

11. Have a picnic in Central Park

Let me know of any restaurants or activities I should add to my list!