Sunday, March 18, 2012

NYC Restaurant Trip

During this week's Friday night meal (which was non-blogworthy according to Jeanne, I disagreed), we decided that we should use this weekend to head to Manhattan.  We had to clear out of the house for a showing on Saturday and for an open house on Sunday, so the timing seemed right.

Things started out a bit rough.  First, I entered the hotel address (121 West 28th Street) into the GPS in Jeanne's car and a couple different "121 West 28th Streets" came up.  Not thinking much of it, I selected the first one in the list and we were on our way.  The GPS took us around Manhattan and deep into Brooklyn before we caught on that we were not heading to another 121 West 28th Street in Brooklyn (not Manhattan).  Not a big deal, a quick tweak to the GPS and we were back on our way.  We arrived only 30-45 minutes later than planned.

Then a larger issue came up.  After putting the car in a garage, we attempted to check in without any luck.  Apparently, I booked the room for the night of the 16th instead of the 17th and they now considered us a "no show" for the prior night (this error may have been due to one too many martinis during Friday night meal, but I admit to nothing!)  This meant no room for us, 40,000 Hilton Honors hotel points down the tubes and little chance of finding another room in the city due to the St. Patty's Day Parade (which we have now learned) is a big deal in NYC!

But all was not as bad as it first looked.  I called Hilton Honors and they found us another room at the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th Avenue.  Then (after asking for a manager) the first hotel agreed to credit us back half of the points we had lost due to the mix up.  Props to the Hilton Garden Inn on 28th Street in Manhattan!

With all that drama now behind us, now on to food.  I knew that Mario Batali's Eataly was near by, so we headed there for lunch.  Hard to describe all that is going on in Eataly, I encourage you to check out the website.  Essentially it's an Italian market, with booths selling small portions of everything (cheese, meats, gelato, coffee, wine, beer, cocktails, etc) and lots of first come, first serve seating.  You can buy and bring it home, or they will create a plate for you to eat in...and serve you a glass of wine or beer!  In addition there are multiple sit down "restaurants" you can choose from.

Given the drama getting to the city, we chose to sit down for lunch at Manzo within Eataly.  We started with the Mozzarella with Almonds, Brown Butter and Guanciale.  Jeanne had the Gnocchi with Spicy Tomato Sauce & Fresh Ricotta.  I had the Fusilli with Duck Ragu and Foie Gras.  The Foie Gras was grated over my dish at the table (like cheese would be over a pasta dish).  The foie melted into the dish as it was grated...very nice.  We shared a bottle (or two) of Italian wheat beer over lunch (a higher quality Blue Moon).  A great meal that brought me back into a good mood after the craziness of the morning....

After a bit too long walk against the crowd leaving the St. Patty's Day parade route (lots of drunkeness to be seen) we checked into the hotel and rested for a couple hours.  Then it was out to Bar Boulud for dinner.  We have been there before, but it was good and we were not in the mood to risk a bad experience!  This location is right across from Lincoln Center so the clientele is pretty well heeled.  But just as the first time we visited, they treated us just as one of the Manhattan elite (even in our jeans and without reservations). Jeanne started with the beet salad with goat cheese terrine and I went with the beef tartare.  Excellent.  Then for mains Jeanne had the Coq Au Vin and I had the Steelhead Salmon.  For dessert we shared the Gateau Basque which was a very high end custard pie.  With coffee, a perfect end to the evening.

In the morning we took our time getting ready then headed south towards our parking garage and more importantly....Brunch.  We went to The Breslin.  Very funky place, attached to the Ace Hotel.  The Breslin is one of April Broomfield's restaurants (Spotted Pig).  My first thought on entering was that I wanted to come back for a beer or cocktail at the bar.  But the brunch was awesome.  Jeanne had the 3 cheese grilled cheese with an egg and I had the baked eggs with spiced tomato and chorizo.  We shared a side of the Breslin's tremendous home fries.  I had a house bloody mary.  All was more than we expected.

During the drive home, there was our usual stop at  Frank Pepe's in Manchester,.CT for pizza and beer.  Pepe's is consistently our favorite restaurant pizza in the world!

All in all, a great trip.  We'd like to stay in the Chelsea NYC area again given the food options.  Maybe at the Ace Hotel or at the Hilton Garden Inn-Chelsea (if I don't mix up the reservation dates!)


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