NYC restaurants and culinary delights

As I noted in my post last week, I had the great pleasure of having a few days off in NYC before I arrived in Australia where I am currently.

New York has always held a special place in my heart and is somewhere where I have always taken advantage of the massive amount of choice available to all, many establishments providing interesting dishes at prices available to all.

As I make a point of seeing NYC on a near annual basis, I try not to cram too much into my time there, instead I try and savor what I can and see things slightly off the beaten track, including restaurants.

On my latest trip, three places that I tried out included the infamous Carnegie Deli on 55th Street and 7th Avenue. The place is known as one of Manhattan’s premier spots to have a bite to eat. The walls in the Midtown restaurant are quite literally teeming with politicians, celebrities, sportsmen and others who have a connection with New York on the States in general. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mayor Bloomberg’s picture beside Deon Sanders who I believe once played for the Dallas Cowboys.

I had a standard breakfast of pouched eggs, American bacon, some pumpernickel toast (bit flash, I know) and coffee.  The service was excellent, as you come to expect in the States with the lady who served me being both courteous and friendly without being over familiar, however, I found the decor and surroundings to be somewhat dated and probably in need of a bit of make-over. I would not say that this in anyway effected my time there but if the deli/cafe wants to stay a landmark it will need to invest some more into it’s environ.

All in all, I would give my time there a 3 out of 5. The staff were excellent, surroundings ok and the breakfast was fine but not earth shattering. It’s in a nice location and easy to get to and you can see many other landmarks from there too.

Next on my list of venues is Fanelli Cafe in SoHo, on 94 Prince Street. I came across it as I was walking down town for a spot of late lunch Friday week ago on a blisteringly beautiful day. It is an old style, traditional SoHo bar which always seems too small for the amount of people who want to go to it. Dark, hard wood everywhere and lots of liquor about, the bar is a hive of somewhat up market European tourists, locals and workers from Wall Street looking for somewhere off the main drag that is Broadway where the staff are relaxed, the food is hearty and priced accordingly, but where you can also sample something a bit different, yet familiar.

I had a Portobello burger which is a portobello mushroom on a home made burger roll, topped with half of a bell pepper and some onion. This came with a choice of salad or fries and I accompanied it with a pint of Brooklyn larger which is now available back home in the North either in Boojum or the Vineyard Off Licence on the Ormeau Road.

The burger itself was very nice, the first time I have had a vegetarian option for a burger and something I will have again. Beer was excellent and quite hoppy, complimenting the mushroom itself. The atmosphere was very interesting to say the least. I was there at about 3pm on a Friday and there were a number of people bringing friends out for something to eat or enjoying an early start to the weekend. Also, it would seem to be popular for Guinness judging by the number of people, Americans specifically, who ordered the drink (I was sitting at the bar). It’s consistency seemed fine, the head wasn’t too big and they kept coming back for more.

The service was excellent again with great decor to boot. For me, I would give the Fanelli 4.5 out of 5. I went in with no preconceptions and had a very pleasant late afternoon lunch. The atmosphere was all hustle and bustle but that only added to a great meal, with a quality espresso to top it all off.

Finally, and away from Manhattan, I was in Brooklyn on a Wednesday night with friends and due to a flash blizzard we were limited to where we could actually go. With that in mind, we shuffled our way through the snow to Brooklyn Label on Franklin Street and Greenpoint Avenue in what I believe is the area of Williamsburg, which seems to be something of a hipster Mecca at the moment what with its many artists, designers and alternative folk all taking advantage of its location close to Manhattan but with rents a whole lot less.

I was taking a very good friend out for dinner who happens to be a vegetarian. She had a nice pinot grigio with the Kale Salad (blue cheese, macadamia and figs) while I had a local stout or red ale together with a brie burger and some fries. The food was excellent, the service was great and somewhat more personal as our waiter, Sean, was quite relaxed and happy to see customers on a night such as the one we had and had been working in the restaurant since it opened and was clearly proud of how the place had come along and also the fare that they offered.

I would have to say that Brooklyn Label was my favorite spot of them all as in many ways, it reminded me of home and some of the great places I have ate in Belfast. The service was timely, efficient and great, a staple in the States. The food was tasty and I rolled out of there as I had no room for a dessert of any kind. I will give it 4.5 out of 5 as I did not get to see what it would be like when busy as was the case in Fanelli’s but I am sure I will when I am back in NYC in 2013.

So, is there anywhere in particular you have been to in NYC or elsewhere in the States that you would recommend any of the readers or I try out? Have they any specialty dishes that have to be sampled? Just let us know below.

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2 responses to “NYC restaurants and culinary delights

  1. Great blog.
    If it was me in NYC, I would head for Anthony Bourdain’s place.no question.
    I have spent over 15 years in food service etc. Your blog is great because you illustrate the service culture in NYC as well as the ambience and food quality. Great stuff.
    Answer me one question please. Did the Waiters/Waitresses make eye contact? I think you may know why I ask

    • Hi BD,

      Thanks for the compliment. I’ve heard of Anthony’s Bourdain, have put on my ‘to do’ list for my return in 2013.

      Each waiter/waitress made eye contact, yes. They were a pretty excellent lot, Sean in Brooklyn Label being the stand out server on my travels.

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