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Notes from the Road – New York City, August 2009

New York, New York - I had a chance to travel to one of the greatest cities in the world for some meetings, while also dining and experiencing all that the city had to offer.  I made sure to sample some of the long standing favorites as well as hitting some of the newer hot spots.  All in all, it was quite an adventure and a heck of a time.



After arriving on Saturday morning and getting settled, we headed over to check out Spitzer’s Corner ( in the East Village.  This funky little neighborhood joint has no shortage of beers on tap (over 40) and a killer menu when you wouldn’t expect it.  I was able to enjoy Pork Trotter Eggs Benedict with Grain Mustard Hollandaise on a Brioche bun.  Wow, what a way to have brunch!  We wrapped up brunch by walking down the street to Rice to Riches (, where they offer over 20 varieties of rice pudding and at least 40 toppings.  I went for the Roasted Caramel rice pudding with Roasted Strawberries.  For those diabetics in the group, don’t go there!


To start the evening we made it to Andrew Carmellini’s new spot, Locanda Verde ( for cocktails, which was a perfect place to begin with a cocktail with Aperol as the base spirit.  We then walked over to Landmarc (, one of my favorite restaurants’ in New York.  Five of us took over the bar, grubbing on Chicken Liver Pate with Bacon Compote, Hangar Steak with Salad, Roasted Sweetbreads, Smoked Mozzarella & Ricotta Fritters, etc.  Damn, now that was fun, especially when paired with a ½ bottle of Beckmen Rose of Grenache and a Rioja.


The real reason for the Saturday night fun was our next stop to Madison Square Garden to see our buddies O.A.R. perform ( in front of 14,000 people!  Now, if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy their music, you better go to their website and listen now!  The boys brought down the house during the encore with a selection of songs including Robert Randolph, DJ Logic and Matt Nathanson sitting in.  We were able to follow up this crazy experience with another crazy (culinary) experience, by hitting Blue Ribbon ( for a late night dining adventure.  I can only say WOW because we did it right including West Coast Oysters, Fried Chicken, BBQ Ribs, Roasted Sweetbreads and Bone Marrow.  We washed it down with 2 bottles of our buddy Abrie’s wine, Kanonkop Pinotage 2006 from South Africa.



When we finally recovered from our food coma on Sunday morning, we headed out to Flushing Meadows to check out the new Mets stadium, Citi Field (  To be honest, we weren’t really there to see the game but check out the killer food offering!  And, the stadium didn’t disappoint, starting us off were some Brooklyn lagers (out of the can, no less) and then over to El Verano Taqueria (, the taco stand by Floyd Cardoz, Executive Chef of Tabla.  I was able to sample the Pork Carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa and let me tell you, they are some of the best tacos I’ve had in a long time!


After another nap, which was well needed, the evening started at Dovetail ( on the Upper West Side to see an OPC alumni friend of mine (Mad Props Tara!)for appetizers and wine.  This was quite the pleasant surprise of culinary offerings with the risotto with forrest mushrooms, squid and shrimp a la plancha and the baby beet tartlet capturing my attention.  With great service from Joe the bartender/sommelier, a ‘smuggled’ in Carvel Ice Cream Cake and miniature red velvet cupcakes, the night was killer.


Next stop on the tour de NYC was to get our cocktail on at Employees Only (   This true cocktail den throwback was perfect for our group, which went from between 5 to 15.  I was able to celebrate National Rum Day (yes, there is actually such a day), starting with a proper Dark n’ Stormy, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Ginger Beer and a lime.  This was awesome!  The cocktails kept flowing until we made the dubious (?) decision to head to Momofuku Ssam Bar ( for late night Pork Buns, which were sweet, salty, meaty and FANTASTIC!  I can’t wait to go back and eat the full menu.



Made the decision to head back to SoHo for some neighborhood walking and we stumbled into Hundred Acres ( for lunch.  After ordering a killer beer XXX, we began the meal with salt and pepper octopus (not calamari and much, much better).  I then hit up a culotte steak salad with roasted red onions and softened blue cheese, a great choice on a hot New York afternoon.


We enjoyed afternoon cocktails before we went out at Metrazur ( and La Fonda del Sol, both good spots at Grand Central for a post-work drink or to meet up with friends.  That night was the celebration of our buddy Sujit Kundu’s (of S.K.A.M. Artists) birthday beginning with dinner at STK ( in the Meatpacking District and Greenhouse Nightclub ( for some extracurricular fun times.  Just another night with way too much Patron, DJ’s, beautiful women and New York City’s finest.  I can’t write what happened, you’ll just have to ask me in person!



After a recovery morning, we made our way to the new Aureole at One Bryant Park ( to check out their lunch menu in the Grill Room.  It did not disappoint, with Summer flavors being carried throughout our Steak Tartare, Tuna Tartare off the Dinner menu (gotta love good friends), Diver Sea Scallops, Roasted Octopus a la Plancha and Pastrami Pork Belly Sliders.  It is a beautiful room and restaurant, right around the corner from Times Square and should be busy for years to come, best of luck!


Before we left, we had a chance to make some quick stops along the way including the Smith & Wollensky’s on 49th & 3rd ( for their Private Label Rogue Red Ale with another OPC alum (great stuff Ed!) and a New York must visit to the Grand Central Oyster Bar (!  Here we did a selection of West Coast Oysters and Cherrystone Clams paired with some Oregon Pinot Gris and Magic Hat #9.


All in all, the entire experience was AMAZING and it’s always great to make it back to New York for great friends, restaurants, cocktails and fun.  The next adventure is just around the corner, so stay tuned for the upcoming blog.  Also, if there is a city/adventure that you think I should be checking out, shoot me a note and I’ll try to make it happen!  Enjoy your September and don’t forget to Keep Eating and Drinking!


blogCraig Nyman