I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my New York posts, but there’s still lots more to go! There’s donuts, pizza and burgers – oh yes. No wonder I needed a detox when I got home!! Six days was definitely not long enough, especially since I lost a day with our unexpected 18 hour stopover in Fiji because of mechanical problems with our plane.
From the minute I stepped off the subway in Manhattan, everything felt familiar and right to me. I drastically overestimated my stomach space and only managed to visit about a quarter of the things on my very ambitious itinerary, but I just loved this city so much and I cannot wait to go back.
Empire State Building
I took a thousand and one photos from the observation deck, but I’ll spare you all of those. I figured I had to get my tourist on and visit this beautiful New York landmark. It was a really special experience that made me realise the sheer size and expanse of the city in every single direction. Stunning.
Just don’t do what I did… Being a warm July day I was wearing a dress. But it gets pretty breezy on the 86th floor, so while I was busily snapping photos, a gust of wind blew up my skirt and 100 tourists saw my underwear. Polka dots, of course. Awkward. But priceless.
Empire State Building, 350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118, United States
After hearing much hype about New York burger chain Shake Shack, I was intrigued to try it. It was on my list, but I actually ended up stumbling across their Theater District outpost while trying to escape the madness that is Times Square! The first thing I noticed was queue consisting of mostly tourists, which was pretty epic especially for the random time of 4pm. It must be absolutely crazy at lunch and dinner time.
I got the single Shack Burger, a New York style cheeseburger made with Angus beef, topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce on a super soft bun, with a side of crinkle cut fries and a refreshing but super sweet Blueberry Lemonade to beat the heat.
I quite liked the burger with the ubiquitous and quintessentially American yellow cheddar cheese, but I wouldn’t rate it as one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Give me a brioche bun and pickles any day. I would have loved to try the shakes or frozen custards that they are so famous for, but there’s no way I would have been able to finish one, they sound like a meal on their own!
Shake Shack, 691 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036, United States
I was lucky enough to catch up with Teresa from Eat Show and Tell, who has been living in New York for about 3 years, and some of her other Australian friends who moved over earlier this year. After a small hiccup on the subway involving an express train instead of a local (I soon learned the difference!) I headed over to Bushwick, and had a delicious Green Tea Mint Julep in a cute nearby bar while waiting for our table at Roberta’s.
I can understand why it’s so popular. It’s hipster central in here, drinks served in jars, lights strung up, a garden bar to the side. We felt a little out of place not having sleeve tattoos, but it had a great atmosphere.
It’s not just pizzas here – there are a variety of house-cured meats like the Duck Prosciutto (which is as good as it sounds, served with housemade bread) and a range of absolutely beautiful seasonal starters. The Grilled Snap Peas with Prosciutto, Egg and Mozzarella were definitely a joint favourite with the Squid with Meyer Lemons, Scallions and Chilli. Both were so simply prepared, fresh and summery!
Aren’t these pizzas things of beauty? Perfect crusts and charred edges, simple, seasonal toppings – it just doesn’t get better than this. It didn’t take long for me to get the ‘New York pizza fold’ downpat either. My favourites were the Heirloom Tomato special of the day and the ‘White and Greens’ which is as simple as it sounds, a mozzarella pizza that gets a tumble of mixed greens dressed with parmigiano and lemon thrown on top after cooking.
And for dessert, a lovely little Meyer Lemon Bar with Smoked Ricotta Ice Cream (very interesting!), blueberries and lemon thyme. The perfect sweet ending to a great dinner with old and new friends who did a great job convincing me to move to New York!!
Roberta’s, 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY, 11206
I’d heard from my cousin who had visited New York recently that she had amazing chicken and waffles at Sylvia’s in Harlem, and it wasn’t just the best thing she’d eaten in the city, but one of the best things she’d eaten ever. So obviously I had to try it!
Established by Sylvia Woods, the ‘queen of soul food’ in 1962, this is a Harlem institution. The service was great from the minute I stepped inside, and the menu was full of fantastic sounding southern fare complete with grits and biscuits. I got excited to see a local beer by the Harlem Brewing Company on the menu, but was told that it is so boutique that they never really know when they’ll have it in stock.
The complimentary cornbread was the best I’d ever had, hands down. But I was here for one thing, the chicken and waffles. I know how weird it probably sounds if you haven’t tried it before, but I urge you to. It’s a taste sensation!
I also ordered a totally unnecessary side dish of macaroni and cheese, which was unfortunately a little cold and bland. As you can see, the chicken and waffles was an enormous serving which I absolutely could not finish it, but it was delicious. And if you’re in Sydney and keen to try a great version of this dish locally, go and visit Jazz City Diner or Milk Bar.
Sylvia’s, 328 Malcom X Boulevard New York, NY 10027
I had a bittersweet feeling about my last night in New York – not at all ready to leave this city I’d fallen hard for, but excited about the next part of the trip and seeing my best friend Denéa in San Francisco. After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, I found myself outside New York institution Grimaldi’s Pizza… and faced with a massive queue. But remembering some sound advice from a friend, I went around the corner to Juliana’s, its sister restaurant which is actually the original location of Grimaldi’s and heralds the return of Patsy and Carol Grimaldi to the restaurant scene.
The staff were really lovely and sat me at the bar next to the pizza kitchen since I was dining solo. I enjoyed a beer from the nearby Brooklyn Brewery while watching the chefs at work making enormous New York style pizzas. I chose the ‘No. 4’ which I was told is one of their most popular pizzas, topped with tomatoes, proscuitto, rocket and mozzarella. The ‘small’ size was enormous, and it’s very hard to pick a favourite between Roberta’s and Juliana’s pizzas, both were really great.
Juliana’s Pizza, 19 Old Fulton St, New York, NY 11201
My last stop in New York was Doughnut Plant in Chelsea. I’d been following them on Facebook for about 12 months prior to the trip, loved the sound of their flavour combinations, and definitely had to visit one of their many city locations.
I downed my 700th cold brew coffee of the trip and picked up some yeast-free glazed cake doughnuts, as I was taking them with me to San Francisco and was told they’d travel better, but they also offer traditional yeasted doughnuts including the jam-filled square shaped ones and filled mini ‘dough seeds’ with some unique flavours like creme brulee and cashew orange blossom.
I picked Chocolate Chip, Tres Leches, and the summer specials Blueberry and Coconut and Lime. I was actually surprised that they were still very fresh two or three days after I bought them! My favourites were Blueberry, which was made with a fresh blueberry glaze and the Tres Leches. I’ve totally been craving their doughnuts since I got back home!
Doughnut Plant, 379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Stay tuned for recaps from San Francisco, LA and Hawaii coming up very soon! xx