By The Husband
A passion for food and fine fragrance seems to be a common combination in a lot of people, be it fumeheads, perfumers, foodies or chefs. I don’t think I can honestly count myself to belong into any of these categories (definitely not the first two) but I like a good meal and I have cooked a few decent ones.
If you expect a review of a few top NYC restaurants you might just as well skip this post and read something more interesting, because I don’t like fancy, hip or chic. As I said, I enjoy a good meal and thus this NYC trip was meant to (re)visit certain classics, which I felt I had an obligation to go to at least once in my life or which have a special place in my heart for personal reasons.
Let’s start off with the Bright Star Diner in Central Valley, NY. The first visit to this place a few years ago was born out of the necessity to find something edible on Thanksgiving evening, which is not an easy task. The menu is quite large and the burgers as well as the sandwiches come with crispy fries, coleslaw and some great pickles.
All in all, you won’t be dissapointed by either food, service or cost. Is it the world’s greatest or most unusual fare? No, especially not if you are American, but we will surely go there every single time we are in the vicinity and enjoy it as well, for old times sake just as much as for the fact that a really good burger is not easily found in Austria.
Our Black Friday breakfast was a quick stop at the Hampton Inn’s included breakfast buffet at 6:00am. Not expecting much, we were surprised to find a huge selection of bagels, English muffins, donuts, cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon, waffles and homefries along with a wide variety of jellies, pb, and cream cheese along with various teas, coffee, and juices. Should you ever find yourself in need of a hotel in Central Valley, New York, the Hampton Inn is the place to go to.
Friday lunch was not memorable as the food court at the Shopping Center isn’t one of the great ones. But necessity drove us to eat there.
New York City beckoned ad that evening we had dinner at Katz’s Deli.
Matzoh ball soup for all, a hot dog with sauerkraut for Birgit and half a pastrami sandwich for me. Meg Ryan seemed to like it (That famous scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed at Katz’s Deli) and while it wasn’t bad, I had hoped for more. Not more food, that is, because portions are generous. The pastrami was good and I am sure I could make a great sandwich with it, I am just not that into a pound of meat between two thin slices of grease-soggy bread. Pickles were great, though. One of the reasons to go to Katz’s was that I hoped to find something to replace Wolfie Cohen’s in Miami. It can’t be done I fear. At least not at Katz’s.
On to Carnegie Deli for breakfast on Saturday.
I had some Nova lox and a bagel and to my surprise I foud out that a pound of lox and a pound of cream cheese all on one bagel can be eaten. At least by me. For purely scientific reasons, we had to taste the famous house-recipe cheesecake and it was very good indeed. Actually, it was close to perfect. Of course it was way too much and a breakfast for two shouldn’t come to around 70$ but the food was worth it and you only live once after all.
As I already mentioned in a comment before, I had a large lobster bisque at the Soup Man (Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi) during the Real Kramer’s Seinfeld tour.
I recommend both if you like either lobster bisque or Seinfeld.
Saturday night was steak night. I had a filet (9oz plus about 4oz of Birgit’s) plus a baked potato and a house salad with blue cheese dressing on the side. It was one of those “remember the times when we were young and free to do what we want (within a certain budget) ” evenings so, for old time’s sake, it had to take place at the Outback Steakhouse on 3rd Ave. I have had many better steaks in my life (the chocolate-chili filet at Motto’s in Vienna for instance) but old memories made the evening special.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast at The National on Madison Avenue, where once again I had to try the lox and bagel – “Twice in a row?” you may ask, but I have had eggs, sausage, toast and homefries too many times in my life and I have worked in an American kitchen long enough, to not particularly crave it any more.
I do like a side of bacon though, so naturally I ordered some. It was a mistake – and I didn’t think bacon could ever be a mistake. The bacon was crispy alright and didn’t bother me at breakfast. In retrospect it was a little greasy and slightly undercooked.
For the rest of the morning I didn’t feel so good. I felt bad enough, not to have any snack before noon – not even a street vendor hot dog. Around one I took a cab down to the Chelsea market and had only 9 oysters and a bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well, hence only the light lunch. (Editor’s Note: despite appearances the husband is – astoundingly – neither obese nor greedy, although the latter is open for debate.)
The last evening of our trip, we went to Shun Lee Palace, an old and top rated Chinese place which is not in Chinatown, but on East 55th Street.
Having dinner there is like being in a time warp: suited waiters, silverware in the true sense of being made from silver, and vintage Oscar de la Renta dishes. The meal, which was hot and sour soup, beef hunan style and Chan-Do Chicken was magnificent and the whole evening turned out to be the one we look forward to repeat next time.
Monday breakfast was just a couple of Dunkin Donuts (I can’t get a decent chocolate frosted donut around here) – lunch a slice of plain cheese pizza and a diet coke. A throrougly wholesome American diet…
Of course we could have done Smith and Wollensky’s, Peter Luger’s or Wolfgang’s for steak – or go to Chinatown – or skip Katz’s. We didn’t want to, because the memories associated with a dining experience need not necessarily be “this was the best, the fanciest, or the hardest to get a table at”. Most of the time a decent meal in company of someone special will leave the best memories.