Eating NYC: amazing ABC Kitchen

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When I was in New York in August I met up with two friends I know from London. One has moved there for the first time, and one has moved back. And they both recommended ABC Kitchen to me. As I trust these friends, I made a reservation that day. For the same evening!

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So off we went, Sinead, her friend Hazel from home, and I. After waiting only a few minutes at the bar our table was ready (which was good as it proved near impossible to get a drink at the bar). As we walked through the restaurant I noticed the lovely interior. Part Scandi chic with lots of clean lines and white, part romantic with a few rustic touches and pretty pastel flowers.

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We ordered wine and some starters and really enjoyed our dishes. My crab toast with lemon aioli was lovely and fresh. And Sinead’s salad of roasted carrots, avocado, crunchy seeds and citrus was amazing! (I got a little food envy actually.)

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Hazel’s heritage tomato toast was simple but nice. Good produce goes a long way.

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For her main course Hazel had the lovely fettucine with peas, sweet onions and basil and pistachio pesto.

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Sinead had the fried chicken with collard greens and a basil and hot sauce butter. A little spicy but really nice.

I decided to go all out with a whole baked lobster with oregano and a lemon and chilli vinaigrette. And mash on the side. Maybe not the most conventional choice but the kind waiter assured me plenty of people order lobster and mash. The lobster was seasoned very differently to what I’m used to but stunning! Can’t wait to come back here on my next New York trip.

ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

Eating NYC: Emilio’s Ballato

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When my friend Sinead and I arrived in New York, all we had booked was the flights and the first hotel. It was easily the most unplanned trip I’ve ever been on, but it was fun to try to travel like this (it was so last minute and we were so busy we didn’t have time to plan beforehand) and also strangely liberating.

Our first night in the city we had dinner quite late, without booking and just tried our luck at  Emilio’s Ballato, an Italian restaurant food writer Diana Henry recommended in her New York special in The Telegraph.  

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The interior was charmingly dishevelled in a New York sort of way and we could tell the guests were enjoying themselves; drinking wine, sharing both stories and food. We shared a bottle of wine and dove straight into the starters as they arrived just a few minutes after the waiter had taken our order. Sinead had this huge portion of crispy, warm calamari and was almost too full for the next course.

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My starter, baked clams with breadcrumbs, parsley, butter and a little garlic, was a lot smaller but just as nice.

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We both chose pasta for the main course; Sinead had the excellent Pnne all’Arrabbiata…

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…while I enjoyed spaghetti with a summery ‘raw’ tomato sauce. It was all really nice and well-cooked but not outstanding. But despite this, I really liked the place. It all comes together as one really nice experience; the food, the ambiance, the interior, the staff.

Emilio’s Ballato, 55 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012

New York: Picnic from Bouchon Bakery and Magnolia Bakery

One day when walking around Rockefeller Plaza I noticed the Bouchon Bakery and got really excited. I absolutely adore Thomas Keller and his cookbooks.

So when we wanted to have picnic in Central Park on our second to last day in New York, we went here to buy sandwiches and to the famous Magnolia Bakery fpr cupcakes and cookies.

Some Sundays the roads in Centeral Park are closed for car traffic so it is perfect to go here then. And as you can see, we were not exactly alone.

Picnic!

The sandwiches from Bouchon Bakery were delicious! Sour dough ciabattas filled with a moist chicken salad with apple and cranberries. Such a great sarnie!

Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. Red Velvet at the top and German Chocolate cupcakes underneath. I have to say it is hard for me to write this, but I was sooo  very disappointed with these cupcakes. The actual cake was a bit dryish and not exactly full of flavour, and the red velvet frosting tasted artificial with an after taste of margarine. The German chocolate topping was nicer (sticky syrup and shredded coconut) but far from amazing.

I just don’t understand how the Magnolia Bakery can be so popular with ordinary bakes like this?! I expected something more along the lines of British Hummingbird Bakery, but these were not even close to being that good. I actually think Tesco make nice cupcakes than Magnolia Bakery…

We also had some cookies from the bakery and thankfully they were a lot better than the cupcakes. Well, the chocolate chip cookie was average too, but the brown sugar cookies (left) were very nice.

New York: Lunch at Battery Gardens

The first whole day in New York, when we went for our super long walk, we stopped for lunch in Battery Park. It is a lovely park just by the water front but there weren’t many food options. Mainly a few kiosks that only sold snacks and then the proper restaurant Battery Gardens. It could have been a real tourist trap, but I think it was a bit too expensive to be that, luckily.

We started off with a glass of white each, a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zeeland that was very refreshing.

We sat out on the patio underneath an umbrella and shading trees and it felt like a real oasis in the August heat. Really nice surroundings!

Claes had the spaghetti bolognese, and he was very pleased with it. It looks really good, don’t you think?!

I had a cobb salad with cold smoked salmon and roquefort, which was a great combination. It also came with a boiled egg in slices and avocado which made it more substantial. The only thing I thought odd was the bacon which I actually removed. I don’t know, salmon and bacon, does that work?

Emma also had a salad, with very succulent chicken confit and quinoa.

Happy campers!

All the food was very frash and nice, but what really made it such a nice lunch was the ambiance and stunning surroundings.

Battery Gardens Restaurant
Inside Battery Park ,  Opposite 17 State Street
On The Water,  New York, NY 10004

 

New York: Brunch at Norma’s

When I ask my ex-New Yorker friend Caroline what she’s been up to at the weekend or when she’s been in New York, I always get the same answer: We went for brunch. So I understand that this is a big thing in the Big Apple. Located in the same hotel as Burger Joint, you find the restaurant Norma’s who offer of course, brunch.

We went to Norma’s at 09.05 in the morning, as we had a table booked for 9am, but it wasn’t ready until 15 minutes later. The staff was apologetic and we were not the only ones waiting. but when starving after a night out the day before, waiting was the last thing we wanted to do.

The waiter was then quick to offer us tea, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice and a complimentary mini blueberry smoothie. We ordered our food and then the waiting began. It took the kitchen about 40 (!) minutes to get our food on the table. It was nothing complicated or something not on the menu, so we still wonder how it could take so long.

And for the kitchen to be backed up at 9 in the morning, that just shows that something isn’t right. The waiting staff was very apologetic, and quite embarrassed but it was out of their control.

The food was actually very good, but it couldn’t make up for the bad experience we had here. I really do hope it gets sorted out as Norma’s has great potential.

But back to the food. Emma’s granola with berries and yoghurt was a huge portion with the yoghurt on the side and lovely homemade granola. The boys had Belgian waffles that were huge, served with whipped cream, berries and a caramel sauce. I wanted something savoury first thing and had a breakfast quesadilla with crambled eggs, crispy bacon, cheese, avocado and salsa. Really yummy!

To summarize: greta food, good waiting staff, nice ambiance, but very slow kitchen and way too long to wait.

Norma’s
Le Parker Meridien Hotel
119 West 56th Street  
New York, NY 10019

New York: Great burgers at Burger Joint

Going to NYC without having a burger is just not an option, so I did some research and although I found quite a few good ones, we only had time for one this time. Will save the others for next trip (there will be a next trip!).

The place we did have time for is called Burger Joint, a small restaurant within a glamorous hotel. The restaurant (not the rest of the hotel) has writing on the walls and feels quite grunge, reminding me of London’s MeatLiquor and MeatMarket.

The menu is very short and not very elaborate. You can choose a burger, witho or with out cheese, decide how you want it cooked and what toppings you like. They also have fries and drinks but that’s all.

I had a rare burger with cheese and the works( mayo, mustard, pickles – really nice, lettuce, tomato, onions etc), a coke and some fries.

The burgers weren’t massive ones, instead they were a good size and really tasty! The patty was juicy and full of flavour, the brioche style bun soft and buttery and that’s all you need really, apart from the toppings. The pickles were homemade and really nice and fresh, also very thin slices which I prefer. Hands down it was the best burger I’ve had.

Burger Joint
Le Parker Meridien Hotel
119 West 56th Street  
New York, NY 10019

New York: The Highline and Meatpacking District

It wasn’t just the first day we walked a lot in New York; we thought it was the best way to get around town. And when the feet got sore, we could easily just jump in a cab.

Cool wall painting

There is A LOT to see in NYC and although we did a lot, there is still so much we didn’t have time for. One thing Emma really wanted to do, and that we all appreciated, was to walk The Highline, a park situated on an old railway track above ground between Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District and West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenue. We started on West 34th Street and walked towards MPD. It was a lovely walk andyou get a different perspective from above ground than in between tall buildings at street level. We saw a lot of cool modern buildings, the waterfront, Empire State Building and when getting closer to MPD a lot of cute cafées and restaurants.

Empire State

Cool design

Skyline

The waterfront

We also walked around Meat Packing District for a while and got a feel for the area – so cosy! We also walked straight onto Chelsea Market and had a look. It is a big food market with mainly restaurants (some sell Maine lobsters – yay), book shops, cook shops and bakeries.

Chelsea Market

Funny cupcakes at Chelsea Market

I had time for a little shopping in the cookshop and finally bought myself a Microplane grater, some escargot tongs and forks.