newyorkcity2So, in thinking about sharing my weekend, I was wondering how best I might do this and after going back and forth with the details of every single thing, I thought that fast track, top line, and fewer details might suffice. I am also going to try to do this so you can read it in 60 seconds or less – I really really don’t think it’s possible but let’s try!  I actually think it is totally impossible!  Okay, here goes…

Arrived in New York for two things, one that I needed to be there on Monday for reviews, but more importantly, Lauren my old roommate has been in NYC working so we decided to catch up.  Sadly, change in the plan and I had to go to Stamford on Monday morning instead.  Oh well, train from Grand Central needed but it wasn’t going to affect my weekend.

Okay, arrived at the Waldorf, where Lauren was staying.  We were putting together our plan of action when we got a call from Kathleen, who had completely missed her flight to get back home to Boston to teach Irish dancing (her other job) due to being out until 6am – nothing good happens after 12am my friends!  I am not judging but she was a little bit, how shall I put this… a little delicate, and definitely not the prettiest I have seen her – Sorry Kathleen – you were not.  I am very sure she would have scared her little kiddies that she teaches. We left her to go back to bed and went for some lunch at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.  (see below for this review and many others).  What an incredibly cool place!  Who knew that under the train station there was an amazing food court with everything from Magnolia Bakery, to fabulous Pizza, to the Oyster Bar and so cool to walk around and check out all the little food bars and restaurants, and of course Grand Central is a stunning station architectural-wise.   I did also try a red velvet yummy cupcake from Magnolia.

After lunch we hit the insane overcrowded Fifth Avenue.  A little bit of shopping at Tiffany’s, a quick look at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree along with the other fifty million tourists!!!!  Kathleen then met us and we went for a snack at Houston’s.  I know it’s a strange place to go to in NYC, but we were hankering for the spinach dip.  Kathleen was up, she was down, she was up, and she was down.  It was very visible and quite amusing to watch.

Back to the hotel for a little disco nap before dinner.  As we were walking through the hotel lobby, I spotted a relatively attractive man, actually a very very hot man, so I was staring at him thinking “You’re a bit of all right.”   Unbeknownst to me, Lauren was squeezing Kathleen’s arm, and by this point the man was practically an inch away from me when I realized it was Brad Pitt.  Not a lie… it totally was Brad Pitt.  Lauren almost broke Kathleen’s arm trying to get her attention that Brad Pitt was right in front of us. This was my/our best celebrity sighting ever!  All of us were so stunned we didn’t even think to take a photo and of course now no-one believes us!  This is a true story!

Anyway, great gossip for dinner and the fact that none of us could contain ourselves, we went to Mesa Grill (see below for this review)  to talk about it even more.  The evening ended with a glass of red at the Waldorf bar, and if the truth be known, we were hoping for another glimpse of Mr. Pitt.  It didn’t happen – of course.

Sunday morning started with meeting another one of our friends, Luisa, at Pastis for brunch.  I love Pastis: noisy, bustling, crazy, always busy, fun place… and of course the food was very good.  Great brunch and super fun for the four of us to catch up.  No celebrity sightings this time but I have seen many a celebrity at Pastis.  Seriously, what could top Brad Pitt?

After brunch it was serious shopping and I do mean serious.  I am not going to say how much but I will say it was mostly shoes.  A pair of Louboutin’s, a pair of Chanel’s, a pair of Gucci’s and finally a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.  None of them for my teeny tiny feet :).   My little spending trip was in H&M – how funny!  I needed a couple of cardigans and H&M did not let me down.  I am coveting some Louboutin’s that I really want for my Christmas present to myself.   We shall see.

Even more to come, I think my 60 seconds may be up!  Back to the Waldorf for a glass of wine sans Kathleen who had to run to get the 5.30pm shuttle back to Boston.  We were however, joined by yet another old friend of mine, Chris, who I don’t see as often as I would like!  Chris walked into the Waldorf bar and the first thing I noticed is that her left hand had a distinct sparkle to it.  Gorgeous, beautiful, diamond ring.  Newly engaged of just a few weeks.  How exciting!  Congrats my friend.

So, now sans Lauren as she was travelling back to Kansas city.  Luisa, Chris and I decided to go to Fig & Olive for dinner.

I finally said goodbye to my final two friends and cozied up in the hotel alone to watch a really bad Lifetime movie.  I could have done some final last minute tweaks to my reviews but I really just wanted to end the weekend in a lovely relaxed way.

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So, to sum up… in far more than 60 seconds.  Lovely weekend, I miss my friends and I am very lucky to have them in my life when I can see them.  NYC is amazing for food, shopping (aka designer shoes – even if I was shopping vicariously), wine and of course star spotting – hello Brad Pitt!!!!

NYC Dining Fun…December 4-5, 2010

Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station
Saturday Lunch

I had no idea this place even existed.  To be honest, I never go to the station and I almost always fly into NYC.  I just have to note, this is one of the most stunning stations that I have ever seen – I love all the archways that lead to the different platforms and subways – it really is quite breathtaking.  Lauren had heard about the Grand Central Oyster Bar, so we decided to go and try it for lunch.  Upon arrival the queue was almost all the way down to the platforms – mostly tourists but I have heard it is frequented by the local work crowd and even the occasional celebrity.  The doors opened right at 12pm and everyone flooded into the cavernous restaurant.  The place is enormous. The beautiful ceramic tiled walls and high-ceilings remind me of a gigantic Victorian bathroom.  All the arches twinkle with little fairy lights that it make it look happy.   You just have to stare in awe at the architecture of the place, it really does have that “wow” factor.  We sat at one of the “diner” tables as the there was a huge line for the restaurant side.  

There is one wait-person for about 25 people sat around a u-shaped table.  They take everyone’s order all at the same time and it is like conveyor belt of food and drinks coming out.  The menu is huge and offers ever kind of seafood you can think of.  We started with some Kunimoto oysters, which were delicious, except that Lauren got one bad one.  There is really nothing worse than eating a bad oyster – nothing.  I then had the Tuna Nicoise Salad that was quite tasty and fresh and enough tuna to feed a family of five.  Lauren had the seafood pan roast and was again disappointed.  Such a shame as she was so excited about this place.  I seemed to have lucked out

Here is a fun fact about the GCOB… they have this thing called the “whispering gallery.”  The ceramic arches are designed in such a perfect way that if two people stand at diagonal arches and whisper into a corner, they should be able to hear each other as if they were face-to-face.  So cool!


Mesa Grill,  102 Fifth Avenue, (between 15 & 16 – Flatiron)
Saturday Dinner

Bobby Flay’s restaurant is still as good as the first time I went there two years ago.  Service is outstanding and the waitstaff are super friendly, maybe even a little over-friendly.  Sean, our waiter seemed to be very excited to be serving us.  He was like giddy school kid who had had too much sugar.Upon arrival we started with a cocktail at the bar while we waited for a table to be ready. I was a bit tired so went for the Espresso Martini.   We were still in overdrive from seeing Brad Pitt just 10 minutes earlier and told nearly everyone from the coat check person, to the hostess to the bartender.  Everyone’s seemed to be as excited about our sighting as we were, or they just indulged us silly tourist idiots – me thinks the latter J.  Mesa Grill is very colorful and bright with super high ceilings and two levels for dining.  Definitely a South American feel to the restaurant.   This time we were seated downstairs, which I actually didn’t like as much as it was a bit chilly and felt more casual.   Our waiter excitedly told us about his favorite dishes, which I have to say was almost everything on the menu.  We ordered a fantastic bottle of Syrah, which I don’t know the name of as it was Chef recommended, and had the “Mesa Grill” on the label. We started our meal with the Goat Cheese “Quesi Fundido” with Rajas & Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, which was so mouth-watering I couldn’t get enough of it.  I then had the striped bass with clam chowder sauce, clams and fingerling potatoes.  The bass just melted in your mouth and was very tasty and perfectly spiced.  I would have thought the chowder would make it heavy and too creamy but it wasn’t at all.  Both Lauren and Kathleen had steak dishes and I believe they were equally as good – their plates were empty and there were distinct yummy noises coming from that side of the table.  We shared some sides of Brussels sprouts with pomegranates and toasted pecans and twice baked potato.  I have to say I don’t like brussels sprouts, bad memories of being made to eat them when I was a kid, but these were fantastic!  The evening ended with a very decadent deep dish Banana Cream Pie with praline wafer and hazelnut brittle.  It was oh my goodness, good.  We then rolled ourselves out of the restaurant in order to head back to the hotel.  No disco dancing for us ladies on Saturday night! 

Fig & Olive, 808 Lexington Ave (between 62 and 63)
Sunday Evening

Fig & Olive is a darling little place.  My friend Chris picked it out as she thought I would love it, and I did.  I believe there are a few of them but she said this one was the coziest and perfect for a Sunday evening dinner.  The place was busy and bright with big paintings of figs, fruit and veggies on the walls. It reminded me of one of those restaurants where you can go in your big woolly sweater and furry boots in winter – I have no idea why.   It was also surrounded by olive oil bottles, which I believe you can buy.   As the name implies, figs and olive oil play a pivotal role in all their dishes.  All of their olive oils are imported from around the world, but mostly Europe.  As soon as we sat down, the waiter brought over some bread and three dipping olive oils; two from Australia and one from Spain – I honestly can’t remember what made them distinctive but I do know my favorite was the one from Spain.  We then shared three of the crostinis between the three of us – Manchego, fig spread, almond prosciutto, ricotta, olive, walnut (my favorite); mushroom, artichoke, truffle parmesan and finally eggplant, basil, sun-dried tomato, bell pepper, ricotta, caper and olive.  It was like a flavor explosion and believe it or not perfect for a tasting of each one – they were quite small so don’t be afraid to order lots.  For dinner I had the Penne Funghi Tartufo; cremini mushrooms, parmesan, black truffle paste, fresh parsley, scallions and truffle olive oil (I absolutely love truffle anything and everything!) – so much food it didn’t even look like I touched it, but it was absolutely delicious.  Luckily, it didn’t go to waste as Luisa took it home.  My friends both had the Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Nicoise with Pincholine Olive Oil and completely cleared their plates.   

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