A Squared: NYC Part Three: Friends & Food

Saturday, October 6, 2012

NYC Part Three: Friends & Food

I'm a sucker for my little niece!
This it the third and final installment of my series of New York City posts and I think I truly saved the best for last.  While I love architecture, two of my favorite things in life are friends and food.  This post covers both-- New York City style.  You may remember that I did write a post about my foodie travels in New York back in January... this time I actually remembered to photograph the whole thing too!

On Friday afternoon after a marathon morning of sightseeing Alex and I ducked into 'Wichcraft near Columbus Circle just before the rain started to pour.  I may have mentioned this before, but I am obsessed with Top Chef and that I have a bit of a crush of Chef Tom Colicchio.  Strange, I know, since he's a bit chubby and bald, but I just think he's so charming and adorable!  'Wichcraft is Chef Colicchio's sandwich chain and he has locations all over Manhattan (and a few in San Francisco and Las Vegas too).

The restaurant reminded me a lot of Graham Elliot's Grahamwich here in Chicago-- an opportunity to eat a top chef's food for a fraction of the cost of one of their high end restaurants.  I had a delicious half goat cheese sandwich with celery, walnut pesto, and watercress and a cup of tomato soup while Alex had a blackened flank steak panini with cheddar cheese and romesco.  A perfect lunch.

After a lot more walking through Midtown we had tired feet and a few hours to kill before dinner so we decided to take a break.  We had made it to the Flatiron Building and right across the street is one of my favorite places in New York: Eataly.  Eataly is a fantastic market co-owned by Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich that sells real Italian and European foods dotted with little restaurants, each specializing in a different kind of Italian dish: vegetables, sandwiches, fish, coffee, etc.  They have a great little gelateria so we grabbed some gelato and relaxed in Madison Square Park until it was time to make our way back uptown for dinner.  They have a fantastic hazelnut gelato that I would highly recommend.

We ended our first full day in New York at a dinner with our good friends Jim and Ali.  Jim and Ali are friends from back when we all lived in Boston who have since moved to Manhattan-- they suggested dinner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.  What a cool space!  It's tucked into the lower level of Grand Central Station under these beautiful tiled arches.  Running through the train station I would never know that this big restaurant is just inside.

Crab Salad
 One of the things that I miss most about living on the east coast is the availability of fresh (and reasonably priced) seafood.  So when Jim sent us a list of restaurant suggestions we jumped at the chance to try the Oyster Bar.  Ambiance aside, the food was also very good.  Granted, it is an oyster bar and I don't do oysters (although Ali ordered a few) but they do have a really diverse menu with many different (and cooked, thankfully) seafood options.  I had an excellent lump crab salad with butter lettuce and avocado.  Alex had a huge plate of fried sea scallops that looked amazing and we finished the meal with one of his favorites: key lime pie.

This was a great restaurant for out of towners like us-- you get a real New York experience since you're dining in one of the most famous buildings in the city, but it didn't feel like a Times Square tourist trip.  Excellent choice, friends-- and great to spend some time catching up with you too!

Artichoke's Pizza with Tomato Vodka Sauce
On Saturday we finally got to spend some quality time with Meghan-- it felt like we were there forever staying at her place and didn't even see her until then!  Our first stop on the tour that day was The High Line, but we got a late start and knew we'd be looking for some food almost as soon as we got there.  When I spotted an Artichoke Basille's Pizza below from the High Line I knew where I wanted to eat.  On my last trip to New York Meghan introduced me to the spinach artichoke pizza at the East Village, which is just a little carryout place.  The Chelsea location is actually a sit down restaurant with a larger menu and we had an amazing pizza with Vodka sauce.  I just love this place.  I'm so glad there isn't on in Chicago yet.  I'd be really fat.

And what is better after a big pizza lunch than ice cream?  We were walking through the West Village when Meghan spotted the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Truck and basically sprinted over to get some.  She ordered hr favorite-- the Earl Gray (very interesting), I tried the Gianduja (hazelnut and chocolate), and Alex had the Mint Chip.  It's more of a custard-style ice cream so the texture is rich and they're made with all natural flavors which gives the ice cream a really fresh "real" taste. Yum.

We returned to Meghan's place in Long Island City to relax for a bit after our second day of touristy activities and were more exhausted than we thought so we decided to hang out in LIC that night.  We stopped for dinner at Skinny's Cantina, which was definitely an experience-- I won't get into details on this one, but all you need to know is that a deranged bar patron and potential food poisoning were involved.  Decent tacos though.  And we finished off our evening with drinks on the patio at L.I.C. Bar.  It was great to spend some time catching up with two of my very best friends over cocktails (and Alex and Will too, of course)!

Lisa, me, and Meghan out in Long Island City

Our fun weekend finally came to a close on Sunday and we started the day out with a really delicious late brunch.  We met up at Nook, a cute and tiny little cafe in Hell's Kitchen.  The whole place probably seats about 25 people so we waited out on 9th Ave. for a while until the only table that could accommodate the 5 of us was available.  It was definitely worth the wait and we got seated just in time too.  It was a sunny and beautiful morning, but there was a freak downpour about 15 minutes later.  I had a really delicious goat cheese and vegetable quiche with mixed greens and then I ate probably half of Alex's rosemary fries that came along with his burger.  They were so good!  We finished up with a slice of peanut butter pie with 5 forks.  According to all the reviews we read this dish is a must order and I would have to agree!

And in a nutshell, that's how we ate our way through New York City.  We returned home totally exhausted, which is always an indicator that it was a really good weekend.  Although I think it was a little overwhelming for Alex at first (who isn't overwhelmed by NYC on their first visit?), he navigated the city like a pro-- better than me, actually.  And we've already started a list of what we want to do on our next trip including visits to the Astoria biergarten, Brooklyn flea market, and since Alex never did get to try the original on our roadtrip to Syracuse: Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem.  I guess we'll be doing some cross-borough exploration next time.  Can't wait!

Looking for more NYC? Check out these posts:

Empellon Taqueria, New York City
NYC on the Horizon
NYC Part One: Uptown & Midtown
NYC Part Two: Downtown
Start Spreading The News
My Very Own NYC Food Tour 


  1. Artichoke Pizza is my favorite!!! I used to go to the one in the East Village all the time. Once I bought it back to Chicago with me so Charles could try it. People on the flight looked at me like I was nuts....

  2. That isn't nuts, it is brilliant! Their pizza is truly amazing.

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