So we've been home from the northeast USA for three weeks now and we've been knee-deep in house renovations since then. Winter has now arrived on the Canadian Prairies. Seasonal affective disorder appears to be in full swing. Everything all at once, I tell you! That's just how we roll.
Everyone's going to Manhattan!
The mad scramble to enter Lincoln Tunnel:
Our lovely hotel, The Warwick on W 54th and 6th.
One of the nicest hotels I have stayed in. Built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 for his mistress, Marion Davies, and all of their Hollywood friends to stay at while in New York. There are photos of Marion Davies all over the hotel, and other movie star stills:
Our hotel room was very Jackie Kennedy.
The hotel is in a great location, Hubs and I walked most places. The hotel staff were pleasant, the clientele was sophisticated, we enjoyed the luxury decor and the hotel was very quiet at night.
Loved this old-school cab outside our hotel one day:
Our hotel was not far from Central Park, so we walked there on our first day. I adored all the fine autumn colours.
Walking around, it felt like we were in a movie. There was the lone saxophonist playing autumn jazz standards that day in the park.
I wanted to go to the Central Park Boathouse. Badly.
I wasn't able to make a reservation on opentable.com but we decided we would show up at the restaurant anyway and see if we could get in. After a half hour wait in the bar, we were seated in the restaurant. The lunch was lovely and well worth the wait.
The San Remo apartment building views never disappoint.
After 7 years, we finally made it to The Russian Tea Room for dinner.
The Chicken Kiev dinner was okay...just okay. Seriously though, I have made better chicken kiev at home (and those frozen chicken kievs I sometimes buy from Co-op that I bake in the oven tasted about the same as what I had at the restaurant!) It was certainly very overpriced and even though we are willing to splurge on vacation (as you will see below), everything -- quality, food, decor, service, ambience -- has to be worth it. There weren't any Christmas decorations hanging up around the restaurant like you see on youtube videos, aside from the red bulbs on the chandeliers. That was a stretch and a bit misleading for me. I did enjoy my vodka martini though - From Russia With Love. I'm sure the restaurant was the place in its heyday, everyone has a story from there and if you want to go once, go....but it won't be a place you would go to regularly, at least not for me. But I pretended the bartender's name was Ivan and the hostess's name was Natasha and we chalked it up to an experience.
So, I will recommend the following places to dine:
The Central Park Boathouse, above.
Le Parisien. It's a neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall French bistro, seats 30 people max. Hubs and I discovered it on our last holiday to NYC in 2011 when we needed a place to eat on Thanksgiving Day. We chose Le Parisien as it received great reviews on opentable.com, served Thanksgiving food at a reasonable prix-fixe menu price and wasn't far from our hotel on that particular vacation (The Kitano on 38th & Park Ave, the bistro is in the Murray Hill area. Not far from Grand Central Terminal). Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious and we decided to go back to Le Parisien on our next visit. So, on our final night in the city, we went back there, and our meals were absolutely delicious (the best of our vacation, actually) and fairly priced. The French posters, old feel and coziness of the bistro lend authenticity to the experience:
Our favorite restaurant, 21 Club:
It's really hard to take good photos inside 21 Club (you can still see me with my cosmopolitan though -- 21 Club has the best cocktails....the gimlets are good too)
Hubs and I first came here on our honeymoon in 2006 and we've come back on every NYC holiday since. I've written about it previously here. It's just one of those places that we love...old-school New York with so much character and history. The people-watching is great, too. So interesting. We've always been treated so well there by the staff. Of course, when you dine at 21 Club, it's an experience, and you will pay for that experience.....but it is so worth it. There is nothing like it back home and you will talk about it for years to come.
On a side note, we were sad to hear about the passing of The Reverend, Mr. Lorenzo Robinson, who was the men's restroom attendant for several years at 21. Hubs met The Rev (as he was known) twice previously and said that The Rev was one of the most interesting people he had ever met. The Rev showed Hubs his prized cuff-links -- one from President Reagan, and the other from JFK (which was given to him by a family member who had also worked at 21 Club before him).
Unfortunately, he passed away on the Thursday evening when we first went for dinner at 21. At the time, he was attending his sister-in-law's funeral and passed away after the funeral (after giving the eulogy!) When we returned for a drink on the Monday night and Hubs asked if the The Rev was back at work, the maitre 'd sadly advised us The Rev had passed away the prior Thursday evening. Our server for the evening told us some great stories about The Rev, you could sense the sadness in the air.....it was a quiet evening at 21 Club, like an end of an era....
On our last day, we dined for lunch at Michaels, a NY institution where movers and shakers make deals, hedge fund operators, execs from media conglomerates, UES charity donors and NY celebs congregate, the restaurant is featured regularly on David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary (particularly the famed Wednesday lunches for some reason -- names most always featured: Da Boyz: Dr. Imber, Michael Kramer, Andrew Bergman, Jerry Della Femina and Jeff Greenfield, Charlie Rose (we missed seeing him by a day), Media Executive Barry Diller (DVF's husband), Dylan Lauren, Star Jones, Debbie Bancroft, Fern Mallis, Sandra Lee, Bonnie Fuller, Desiree Gruber (Mrs. Kyle MacLachlan), Tory Burch....the list goes on and on. Mr. Michael McCarty himself was in town that day for an evening event, this is the second time we've met him at Michaels. He also has a restaurant in Santa Monica. He stops at every table and greets his patrons. (When I showed my boss his business card, he asked to photocopy it. My $5 says Da Boss will lunch there on his next NYC vacation, which I am sure will be next year sometime. He can't stand it when his staff travels more than he does, as he now has a deficit after a failed Chicago vacation which didn't materialize last year).
The interior of Michaels, which looks charmingly like 1992. I love it.
We took in Lady Day (a musical about Billie Holliday), featuring the magnificent Grammy Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater:
And a classical performance at Carnegie Hall by the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony. 11-year-old piano prodigy Daniela Liebman stole the show as the featured pianist. She gave two encores and wowed the audience in her debut performance. So professional, so brilliant. Everyone was thinking the same thing.... "11 years old and playing Carnegie Hall? Wow."
Carnegie Hall..... what a venue! New York City has some spectacular performing venues (Carnegie Hall, David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, to name a few) ....and what about all those Broadway theaters? I love them all and I feel very privileged to have witnessed some fantastic performances in all of them.
After the performance, we toured the gallery of artifacts.
On a quiet Sunday evening, we strolled around 5th Avenue. It always amazes me how quiet NYC is on Sunday nights.... if you want a cocktail, the only places open are hotel lounges.
Pardon me while I window shop at night:
My favorite store, Henri Bendel, on 5th Avenue.
Hubs's requested visit to Wall Street.
Views from Battery Park:
The Freedom Tower is almost completed:
I always say to people, New York City has something for everyone ...
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I had a panic moment last Sunday when I accidentally deleted the Bethenny episode from our PVR. I was trying to make room for the epic long Gone With the Wind, The Party and all the upcoming JFK specials (in HD) which were airing that evening that I deleted the wrong episode. Panic ensued. I dove for my laptop and thankfully found the episode online (free download). I immediately saved it to a USB drive and created extra room on our PVR! Win-win. Here we are on the top right hand corner at the taping (2nd row from the top).
Speaking of JFK, of course this Friday marks the 50th Anniversary of the assassination. "JFK: The Final Hours" on National Geographic was quite good, did anyone else watch it?
Next up, photos from another beautiful city we briefly visited on our vacation (and JFK's hometown) -- Boston, MA.