If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you could not have missed the play by play of my trip to NYC for my best friend’s 30th birthday. It was quite possibly one of the best trips I’ve ever taken – filled with tons of laughs, great friends, amazing food and lots and lots of delicious wine and champagne. Hey, you only turn 30 once, so might as well do it right. I think Sam was pretty happy. *winks*
One thing you may not know about my very smart, witty, classy, and beautiful BFF is that she has a major crush on… the Kardashians. Yes, you read right. The Kardashians. While I do not understand this very odd obsession, I thought it would be fabulous to stay at the same hotel where the girls lived while filming Kourtney & Kim Take New York. And so we did. We booked two deluxe rooms at Hotel Gansevoort on Park Avenue. This was the only unfortunate part of the trip. Lots of hype; lots of money; just not that great. I am not in the business of bad-mouthing businesses so I won’t go into detail, but they really missed the mark on a few instances and it resulted in frustrated and insulted guests, aka us. Long story short, I will never stay there again.
Our first night, I had to take Sam to the place where I used to hang out religiously: Pastis, the Meatpacking District French brasserie created by the NYC restaurateur, Keith McNally. They have the best French Martini I have ever had and the vibe in there is both
glamorous and quintessential. Example? Brooke Shields sat at the bustling bar enjoying her dinner with a girlfriend while couples and friends alike filled the room with laughter and elation. More than a decade after opening, Pastis, you’ve still got it. Afterwards, we attempted dinner drinks at The Ganesvoort rooftop – sadly that lasted about 20 minutes… Our first mishap with this overrated hotel.
Saturday was a beautiful 14-degree day and we sucked in the city vibes by walking through Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square – yes, I did more tousristy things than I ever have! However, Sam had also taken a lot of time to research where all the best restaurants were – one thing she searched high and low for was the best pizza in NYC. She came up with a tiny place in the East Village called Motorino. Watch this vlog…. Ever tried a clam pizza? Or brussels sprout pizza? Ya – they did it and did it really well….
Saturday night was the big night – the stroke of midnight would mark Sam’s 30th year. She chose a restaurant recommended to me by a good friend who still lives in NYC and happens to have the best job in the world (Senior VP of Communications for Hermes, anyone?) called Beauty & Essex. It was honestly a perfect choice. Everything from the food, to the service, the vibe, the crowd was perfect. I have rarely seen this in Toronto… the best part being the lack of pretension. Everyone was over-the-top friendly, even though there were famous artists and sports celebrities also enjoying the vibe. Everyone was equal here – no fakeness, no pretense. Food was outstanding and all bite size; one bite per person portioned according to the number of people at the table. It’s been a trend in NYC for as long as I can remember but for some reason, Toronto hasn’t jumped on this bite size menu style. We tried tomato tartare with quail egg (my favourite), chicken fried oysters, bone marrow to die for, lobster tacos, grilled cheese, smoked bacon & tomato soup dumplings and many more. The service was truly friendly and spot on – they didn’t miss a beat even though they were at capacity. Toronto supper clubs could learn a couple lessons from these guys… just sayin’.
The next day Sam woke up bright and early and came knocking – she was ready for more! We started off at Jane Restaurant for brunch. Holy moly. We both indulged in the lobster Benedict served on homemade biscuits. It was remarkable. The line around the corner of this Houston Street eatery proved we weren’t alone in loving this place. Next it was time to enjoy Soho – my favourite part of NYC. We walked the cobblestone streets, people-watched and shopped, of course ending up at Dash – the store the Kardashian sisters opened while filming in NYC. I thought Sam was going to die… it was very sweet and I actually bought a really cute playsuit that I can’t wait to break out in the spring. Ladies – Dash is definitely worth a visit, to my surprise!
Dinner that night was at The Dutch, a highly acclaimed restaurant whose menu includes fresh seafood, handmade pastas as well as local meats all uniquely put together. It was fantastic – that said, I do believe the menu was very similar to menus we enjoy Toronto. Service was top notch but maybe a little bit less friendly than the experience from the night before. I enjoyed scallops with sunchoke, bacon jam and Meyer lemon cream. Yikes it was delicious – so were the fried oyster sliders we enjoyed as our appetizer.
I can only imagine you may be drooling after reading this…. Writing it I am reliving each culinary moment and part of me wishes I still lived in NYC… but alas Toronto has been pretty good to me so I think I’ll stick around and leave the city that never sleeps for weekends of debauchery with my bestie – who by the way, is so awesome because she gives me presents like this beautiful collage of our trip. So sweet. 🙂
If you’re planning a trip to NYC soon – take note of these restaurants. They are all worth checking out…