My parents have always had one thing to say about New York City – choose nearly any restaurant at random, and chances are, it’s going to be good. I have many fond fine-dining memories from visiting the city with my parents when I was younger.
In terms of food and restaurants, there is more variety than I know what to do with in New York. In the same weekend, I sipped a chocolate martini, tried Korean fried chicken in Koreatown, and dined on perfectly al dente pasta at an Italian market. I could not have been happier (and more stuffed).
Here’s a rundown of my meals over the weekend. Enjoy! And while you’re at it, listen to your parents. They usually know what they’re talking about.
The Grey Dog – This is a cozy little coffee spot near the corner of 16th and 8th Avenue. I tried the homemade granola with yogurt, accompanied by sliced strawberries, bananas and blueberries (pictured, left). The granola was spot-on, neither too sweet nor too bland. The free refills of coffee were also a nice touch.
Caffe Gratzie – Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this small but classy restaurant is expensive, but what do you expect? (It’s New York City and it’s the Upper East Side!) I felt a little out of place amongst the well-dressed ladies on lunch dates. However, my Parma panini with prosciutto, mozzarella and a black olive tapenade was quite tasty.
Chelsea Market – There is more food here than I could ever imagine. Literally, this market has it all – fresh seafood, a chocolatier, a creperie, multiple bakeries, a fromagerie (cheese store), a kitchen supply store, a butcher, cupcakes, thai food, vegan/raw food, a nuts, candies and spices shop, and more. Yes, there is still more. I bought a housemade hot dog topped with beefy from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. It was messy, but delicious. This was no Oscar Meyer wiener.
Ayza Chocolate and Wine Bar – A small, low-lit dining room with very limited seating (thankfully, my friends and I had reservations) near Penn Station, Ayza serves chocolate truffles and chocolate infused libations and beverages in addition to its dinner menu. My chocolate martini, although $16 (yipes), was delicious. With my martini came a Jacques Torres (a famous chocolatier) cappuccino chocolate truffle. I also tried a chocolate wine. The food is good as well, but the highlight of this place is clearly the chocolate.
Eataly – Located on 5th avenue, this is an indoor Italian market owned by Chef Mario Batalli. He’s a well-known name around New York, and own numerous restaurants in city. He has also appeared on television multiple times, namely as one of the master chefs on Iron Chef America. What I love the most about Eataly is the atmosphere. The large, open space is divided into mini-restaurants – pizza and pasta, fish, vegetables and a wine bar that offers standing tables. I decided on pasta and dined at the bar (the tables were a 30-45 minutes wait!), right in front of the grill and food prep area. As a culinary student, I could not ask for a better seat. To be able to watch the cooks prepare my food before I enjoyed it was a treat. Around the restaurants is a market selling fresh fish, produce, pasta, cheese, olives, bread, and more. I have heard you can buy a glass of wine from the bar and do your food shopping at the same time. I approve.
Bon Chon – Near Penn Station is a small collection of streets known as Koreatown, is a collection of restaurants serving up everything from Korean fried chicken to Korean barbecue to pho. I’ve heard of Chinatown, but never Koreatown. I’m not sure why my friends and I decided on Bon Chon, a fast-food restaurant specializing in fried chicken. However, my chicken tenders and sweet potato fries were more than satisfying at 2 a.m.
Pommes Frites – Known for their Belgian style french fries and unique dipping sauces, Pommes Frites is a tiny place
near the East Village. Fries are ordered at a counter and prepared to order. Open until 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, the line is often out the door (perhaps to remedy a case of the drunk munchies?). Vietnamese pineapple mayo, rosemary garlic mayo, dill lemon mayo, peanut satay and curry ketchup are among the unique selection of dipping sauces that Pommes Frites offers. I tried the rosemary garlic mayo with my frites. The mayo took an already perfect combination of flavors (rosemary and potatoes) to whole new level of awesomeness.