A Long Weekend in New York

Posted on July 22, 2017

A Long Weekend in New York

Thursday Evening

We flew into LaGuardia and took an Uber into the city. Pro tip: Although you have to take a shuttle to the designated Uber pickup location, which is offsite, do not wait until arriving at the location to request a ride. Instead, order it after boarding the shuttle. That trick will save 15 or 20 minutes.

The Standard High Line

We stayed at the Standard High Line. Our lovely wife, who knows the city better than us, wanted to stay in the West Village. We sought to oblige her but had trouble locating an ideal spot. Firstly, NYC hotels aren’t cheap. Secondly, this neighborhood, being more residential, offered fewer hotel options. And, the Airbnb’s were rather scarce yet still expensive.

Thank heavens, we found the Standard. Located in the Meatpacking District, it might have been a bit off the beaten path. This is Manhattan, though, and nothing is remote. And, on Saturday, the area was teeming—TEEMING—with people. So, what we really mean is that it required a hike for the subway.

We loved the Standard. It was gratuitously chic with a frenetic vibe. Around the hotel were various restaurants and bars affiliated with the hotel but perhaps even hipper than the hotel itself. We booked a Deluxe Queen room for about $300 a night. That’s expensive, yes. But, it’s wholly reasonable for NYC. And, they upgraded us to a Deluxe King room.

This portends to be a fabulous weekend! #nyc #instatravel #traveler

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We checked in, unpacked, got situated, and admired our room’s distinctly Mid-Century Modern decor. By NYC standards, the room was spacious with a separate bench sitting area and table. The bathroom had a rainfall shower and a jacuzzi tub. The best feature were the stunning views from the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows, i.e., the Hudson River to the west, Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower to the south. A set of shutters between the jacuzzi tub and the main room open allowing one to behold the view while soaking.

Le Bain

A friend met us at the Standard, then we headed to the rooftop. What a first impression! The views resembled those from our room but from a higher elevation. And, in the open air. And, with lots of strangers, most of whom looked more attractive and better dressed than us.

We arrived in time to watch the sunset while sipping a watermelon cocktail. In retrospect, hitting Le Bain on Thursday proved unwittingly brilliant. It was slammed over the weekend, and Midwestern schleps like us might not have gained entry.

Le Bain at the Standard High Line

Foragers Table

For our next round, we hit a nondescript bar on the way to dinner at Foragers Table at 22nd Street and 8th Avenue. Foragers Table came recommended in the Lonely Planet, which we learned to trust as Peace Corps volunteers in Eastern Europe. Whenever we travel anywhere, we buy the Lonely Planet guide. It might be overkill, especially given the crowdsourced power of internet reviews, but it always proves handy and insightful. Foragers Table was solid. We shared a delicious burrata and grilled vegetable appetizer. Our waiter recommended the pork chop. Disappointingly, it was overdone and dry, but the balsamic sauce on top and polenta on the side were both on point. And, the cocktails got us where we wanted to be.

After dinner, we finished our night at Fat Cat in Greenwich Village. This enormous basement bar has much to offer, particularly live jazz, ping pong, billiards, and shuffleboard.

Friday morning

Our Friday morning moved a bit slow. Rain poured outside. And, New York in the rain, scratch that, New York in a monsoon isn’t a place where one should get caught outside. So, we stayed in the hotel and relaxed until lunchtime when we grabbed a sandwich from High Street on Hudson. The menu billed it as the “Best Grilled Cheese Ever”. It satisfied, but that claim was evidently hyperbolic.

Friday afternoon

We headed to Midtown and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met used to be free. Admission now requires a ticket that costs however much money the visitor wants to pay for the ticket. If we had no shame, we guess, the Met could still be free. Shame, though, we have in spades.

We don’t understand art. That’s not true. We just have no skill at interpreting and appreciating it. We’ve not studied particular artists or the complex social, political and religious times in which they lived. For example, we know what Impressionism is, but we don’t know why Impressionism was. Nevertheless, we enjoyed viewing works by Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent and Thomas Hart Benton. We really dug El Greco, though we failed to snap any photos of his stuff.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Exiting the Met, we strolled across Central Park, snapping a photo when coming across this renowned lagoon.

Central Park

Friday evening

We met friends at Amelie near Washington Square for happy hour drinks. This cozy, well-liked wine bar was near their respective workplaces and close to our dinner reservations.

The Musket Room

Afterward, we headed to the Musket Room. Followers of G@H know that we love food. We enjoy homey food. We enjoy rustic food. We enjoy diverse food. But, we also like fancy food, and from time to time, we splurge. We rarely visit NYC, so we’ve got to make it count, right? Spending months researching where to go, we especially wanted something unique, something innovative. We kept seeing the Musket Room. A MICHELIN Star restaurant, its run by a genuine New Zealander who makes sophisticated food inspired by his homeland. Unique, check. Innovative, check.

We opted for the “short story” tasting menu. We added the standard wine pairing. Wow! We’ve never tasted more delicious quail. The beef arrived perfectly cooked. The coconut, mango, lemon grass ice cream stole the show. A dark horse, it tasted otherworldly. And, though it was dessert, it wasn’t the only one: the desserts kept coming, and all were sensational.

The meal came with a hefty price tag, but it made for a worthy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Only once. We can’t afford to do it again. But, can we get that ice cream a la carte? Pretty please.

Saturday morning

The High Line

In New York, the city converted an elevated set of train tracks into a park. And, it’s one helluva park. The High Line stretches over 20 blocks weaving between buildings and above streets until finishing next to the Hudson River. It serves as a walking trail but also a nature preserve of sorts. The trail is bracketed by planned yet lightly manicured beds of wildflowers, grasses, trees and other vegetation. We spotted cornflowers, asters, milkweed, honeysuckle, switchgrass, etc. It reminded us of our mother’s backyard, except in New York, and elevated, and filled with strangers. (Lots of strangers in NYC.)

The High Line

The High Line literally runs through the Standard Hotel, hence the name Standard High Line. So, we jumped on and headed north to Chelsea Market (see below) for brunch, then continued until its end on 34th Street.

The High Line

Chelsea Market

In a town where you can find everything, a surprising number of those things, especially the food things, reside under one roof at Chelsea Market. Artisan bread. Crepes. Currywurst. Milkshakes. Hamburgers. Oysters. Lobster. Doughnuts. Vietnamese sandwiches. Noddles. And, more. Sure, more authentic, more imaginative, grittier versions of these places exist elsewhere, But, here, they reside together. Foodie heaven, it made for the perfect brunch spot.

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

Saturday afternoon

Hamilton: An American Musical

We came to NYC to see Hamilton. Everything else was gravy. Months earlier, we had received an email from the Richard Rodgers Theatre saying that it was releasing future tickets. We jumped online. The site crashed, and crashed, and crashed again. Eventually, we scored tickets for a Saturday matinee.

Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

The show exceeds expectations. The music, of course, is smart and fun and catchy. We had already listened to the soundtrack. But, we were still astounded. The visuals and particular actors add much to the experience. We only wish that we could’ve seen Lin-Manuel Miranda, but the current cast was excessively talented in their own right.

Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

Saturday evening

Our wife has New York friends. They are fun. They live in Brooklyn, though. And, left to their devices, they lure us back to Brooklyn. We met them on Stone Street, a cobblestone alley in Manhattan’s Financial District that transforms into a huge outdoor beer garden.

Stone Street in the Financial District

“Have you been to Red Hook?” a friend asked.

“What’s a Red Hook?” we responded.

Soon after, we boarded a ferry headed across New York Harbor. The eclectic neighborhood of Red Hook Brooklyn mixes maritime, industrial and mild gentrification. The streets stand eerily empty, but people fill the disbursed eating and drinking establishments—all nautically themed.

Ferry from the Financial District to Red Hook Brooklyn

We ate seafood at Brooklyn Crab. Then, we listened to a bluegrass jam session at Sunny’s. Finally, we meandered our way to The Red Hook Bait and Tackle. We never did see Popeye the Sailor Man, but he surely frequents the area with Olive Oil.


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Sunday morning

We would’ve loved to stay. Frankly, though, we couldn’t afford to. We sauntered to Brooklyn Bagel for coffee and, well, bagels. Then, we caught an Uber to LaGuardia. Until next time, NYC!

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