Tag Archives: Manhattan

Please Don’t Tell

10 Aug

YOU try not telling.  I’m no Peter Pettigrew, but it’s hard not to get a little razzle-dazzled by a suave secret bar hidden in a hot dog joint.

How do you get in?  Try Crif Dogs at St Mark’s. Try the vintage phone booth in the corner.  Try dialing a number on the old-school phone and try NOT squealing when what you thought was the wall swings open to reveal a low-lit bar full of cocktail-swillers.

Speakeasy gimmicks aside, Please Don’t Tell is a sexy place. The cocktails, while steep, are a delicious take on Prohibition classics (Old Fashioned made from bacon-flavoured bourbon, anyone?) and they look pretty-as-hell. And the menu features Crif Dog’s deep fried and sour cream-schmeared classics, as well as a tasty miniburger and the momofuku tribute Chang Dog. Extra kimchee please!

Who comes here? Not the hipsters, thank God, ’cause this place is old news.  Duh. But if you want to impress the out-of-towners, or, um, yourself, then get your ass here because unless you’re stupid, you know that drinking cocktails and eating hotdogs is a Good Thing.

Image courtesy of Please Don’t Tell.


Barcibo Enoteca

8 Jul

You kind of (really) want to be on a date here.   You want to be that woman in the LBD – even more glamorous in the dim lighting – leaning towards her handsome beau across a marble-topped table, sipping a glass of regional something.

Or you want to be the Italian woman at the table next to us, happy solo, nibbling on some crispy bruschetta post-theatre. (How how the hell does she pull that off?)

Or, more likely, you want to be with your favourite eating friends, wallets feeling portly and appetites crescendoing.  Fingers crossed they live in the Upper West Side though because Barcibo Enoteca is a decidedly Neighbourhood Establishment, and I think we’ve established that you want to belong here.

Barcibo is all small plates and wine list, and also happens to be one of the best-looking wine bars north of 14th street.  Alfresco patrons are sheltered by topiary box hedges that keep Broadway’s hustle and bustle at a sophisticated distance, while inside candle light and neutral tones work wonders on the parties of twos and threes sharing platters of Italian cured meats and cheeses.

Following in the footsteps of its big sister, the nearby Bin 71, Barcibo offers a whopping 40 different Italian wines by the glass. Feel like something subtle from Apuglia? Sure thing. An unusual red from Sardinia? Nessun problema, bella. Or if you’re feeling all enoteca-shmeca, just order a craft beer already.

For the peckish there’s the aforementioned salami, perhaps a codfish crostini, marinated calamari salad or even a crunchy panini. Or go all out with something bigger, like the sweet sausage and artichoke risotto.

Dateful or not, you’ll be totally loved up after a Sicilian pistachio gelato or good old-fashioned raw tiramisu.  And no matter how the night pans out, there’ll always be Barcino’s excellent selection of artisanal bourbons just waiting to help you drown your sorrows.  Or, more likely, toast your new flame.

All images from Barcibo Enoteca

Center for Book Arts

2 Jun

How about this slice of Robert The‘s delicious book art at the Center for Book Arts?

The Center is a hybrid of workshop, museum and office on totally un-famous and un-booky West 37th street.  It’s wedged between a dodgy-looking travel agent and a one-dollar store – the windows of which are filled with chipped mannequins strewn with tatty feather boas.

It’s kinda like getting into St Mungo’s – except maybe less awesome.

Once you’re in there, check out their current exhibition which combines the two most excellent things: food and books.  According to them: “With Food in Mind looks at artists’ use of food as subject matter or medium in book arts, print, and digital media.”  (This means recipes, a video of a guy butchering a pig, and ultimately, cakebooks.)

Want more?  Hit their blog.  (It’s cute.)  Want book guns? K!

Tea Spot

30 May

Sure it looks blurry, but this is just about the second coolest place I’ve been to in New York.  (More on the first tomorrow.)  Beleaguered by unemployment woes and cabin fever, we braved the rain and the lunch-time buskers on the L line for a soothing pot of everything-will-be-ok at Tea Spot.  And it was so much more than ok.

This is not a fancy tea house.  The floors are polished but worn.  A jazz station crackles gently on the stereo.  Rows of shiny tins of loose leaf tea stand to attention, their faded labels peeling off.  The air is pungent.  And the NUTELLA CHEESECAKE…To avoid superlatives, I have never had a more pure slice of cheesecake heaven.*

While there didn’t seem to be an old person in sight (this is Greenwich, after all), Tea Spot is so cosy that one feels there SHOULD be.   There are 80 high-end teas to choose from and the staff are crazy knowledgable.  My strict instructions to steep my Rooibos chai for six minutes resulted in one of the richest, most deliciously aromatic experiences of my life.

If you fancy your body as some kind of place of worship, get involved with the HealthTEA selection.  There’s a hot, caffeineted drink for every affliction it seems.

If that’s not enough: the wifi is free, and you can swig on something harder downstairs at Wine Spot.  But that deserves a separate post.  (And a second slice of cheesecake.)

Tea Spot

127 MacDougal Street, New York, NY 10012. P: 212 505-0969

* Think: layer of not-too-crumbly and pleasingly moist biscuit base.  Add a whole mouthful of just-firm nutella.  Then top it off with perfectly light baked cheesecake and a smoosh of cream.  If you’re not weeping with joy, we won’t be friends.

Ultimate Chinese Whispers

28 May

Not a queue of people.  A queue of CHINESE WHISPERERS hanging out on the temporarily shortened High Line waiting to turn words into actions and spiritual transformation through a sequence of individuals… whatever.  It was Chinese Whispers gone mental and Salman Rushdie was playing!

Being brokelyn means that I only considered the free events at the PEN Festival – but gala shmala I say. Next in line to me was two (nearly three) year old Clara, whose message: “FOCUS STAR FOCUS!” morphed into “Follow the glass stone” from the original (and slightly more poetic): “Like a shimmering star, or a flickering lamp.”

There’s a what goes around comes around message in there but I was more excited about the honking dungchens and nearly 200 books, right next door.

Nurse Bettie

26 May
If I owned an actual fur coat and had been able to squeeze it in my suitcase, I definitely could have worn it last night to Nurse Bettie.  Less so to Backroom, the opulent speakeasy where we were headed, and where fur-clad girls’ birthdays are ruined on a regular basis, apparently.

Just as we were high fiving after NOT being foiled by the red herring signage (Lower East Side Toy Co – chuh) and NOT being stabbed by a junky in the pitch black alley, some not-so-well-heeled Manhattenites careened down the steps behind us, rattled a door and announced drunkenly that Backroom was closed.

And so we were welcomed into the buxom breast of Backroom’s smuttier next door neighbour, Nurse Bettie. NB is quite the classy dive – all exposed brick, low lighting and top shelf offerings.  An extended happy hour including cheap but oh-so-classy cocktails ensure that clientele is a mix of tipsy ladies with smudged red lipstick and gentlemen dapper in their (second-hand) suits.  And of course us, and a dishevelled German tourist who stumbled in later: the waylaid Backroom-seekers.

Pin-up bars are few and far between, and the novelty of peeing under the watch of a host of smouldering Bettie Paige angels warrants a visit to the bathroom at least.  Anywhere you can sprawl on leather couches and drink a G&T for $5 without having to watch a football match is worth a visit in my book – and at $14 a creamy Night Nurse cocktail is hardly a splurge.  Best of all, Bettie has a healthy weeknight dance floor culture that flourishes under the watch of a bevy of handsome bartenders.

It’s the suavest cheap drinking in the Lower East Side.  Or so say the people who haven’t made it next door…

Nurse Bettie
106 Norfolk Street
Lower East Side, NY

Image: Club Planet, Tom Sibley Photography