During September, we had reason to celebrate my birthday and our 15th wedding anniversary. In past years, we’ve celebrated these big milestones with everything from jewelry to long weekends. But these past couple years really taught us two things: ONE, how much we cherish quiet time together, which was quite limited last year. And TWO, how much we love food, and missed eating out. So it was only natural that we celebrated our special occasions last week by eating our way through New York City.
Parking garage, quick bag drop in the hotel room… and we’re off! Like the horses in a Saratoga summer, it didn’t take us much time at all to arrive at our first stop. For the record, our old faithful EVERY TIME WE GO TO NY lunch stop is the original P.J. Clarke’s for oysters. Sadly, their Monday lunch closure was the first reminder of the staff shortages in NYC caused by covid. But that’s okay! Because we’re in NY, and lunch at Balthazar is nothing to scoff at. For traditions’ sake, and because we LOVE a good oyster, we kicked off our food marathon with a variety of fabulous oysters, all different but equally amazing.
I followed up my oysters with some of the best onion soup gratinée. (When do I NOT take advantage of a French onion soup option?) We both finished with salads, knowing we had a long day ahead of us. David ordered the salad Niçoise because when in Rome… I mean Paris. The salad Niçoise was only slightly better than my recipe, LOL.
MAKING TIME FOR (WINDOW) SHOPPING
And it wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without just a little shopping. Even if it’s only window shopping. We spent a few hours settling our bellies and walking through SOHO. What our shopping in NYC normally looks like: me, popping into every other storefront, (usually coming out empty-handed) while David takes work calls from the street. What I love about this scene is that he has no interest in shopping, but simply loves being there. And especially loves seeing how excited I get when I get to touch and feel all the new season’s styles. So this time I HAD to pop into Chloé to see and feel one of Gabriela Hearst’s amazing new 80’s-inspired ponchos. (A girl can dream, right?)
LATE AFTERNOON REFUEL
Late afternoons in NYC bring the need for caffeine and quiet. A few years back, a friend who had recently moved from NYC told me that I HAD to stop at her favorite espresso bar during our next trip. The rest is history. We were SO worried that Zibetto would be closed after the covid shut down, but were THRILLED to see the sandwich board as we turned the corner of 56th and 6th. As always, he orders an espresso, and me an Americano. Accompanied by one of those fun little cookies (that I’m SURE have some sexy Italian name). Once I got my sugar and caffeine fix, it was back to the hotel room for a couple hours of work and a shower.
A DINNER THAT DID NOT DISAPPOINT
“UBER! Take us to 20th and Park”! Because we were a bit early for our 8PM res, we stopped into Il Mulino Prime to toast to being back in NYC. It was super quiet and we had the bar to ourselves, which was a bonus. As soon as that drink was finished, it was time to cross the street to Gramercy Tavern.
Gramercy Tavern was NOT the Gramercy we’d been to in the past, with hour long waits and a bar crowd three people deep. In fact, the bar was closed. When I asked the maître d’ why (not), it was my second reminder that covid-induced staff shortages are not exclusive to Saratoga. HOWEVER, the food was the same absolutely amazing, too good to explain food that we had remembered. But I’ll try.
From the perfectly dressed salads made with the freshest of produce, to the interesting-yet-not-too-foofie flavors, our appetizers were a great start to the meal. For our main course, we did what we often do. A trade-sy. Because we had remembered the Tavern bacon burger being one of the best in class, that entrée was non-negotiable. We rounded the course off with the wood-fired tilefish, which was melt in your mouth perfection.
MAKING ROOM FOR THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE
I COULDN’T FIT ANOTHER THING. That is, until the cutest of birthday layer cakes came out on a silver pedestal, pre-arranged by my hubs. “I’ll just have a taste.” Until I HAD the taste of what was truly the best coconut cake ever. Then, taking a page out of the Meyers boys’ playbook, there was suddenly room for dessert.
THE BREAKFAST BOMBSHELL
After sleeping off our whirlwind feast, we had every intention of starting our day with a quick stop at our very favorite breakfast spot, 74th St. Cafe at Fairway Market. I’ll be honest, I did think it was odd, when David took me for the first time, that a café was right smack in the middle of a grocery store. Until we shared the lox platter. And one of their amazing omelets. David had been eating there faithfully since the 90’s, and I could understand why.
So you could imagine our sadness when we excitedly climbed the stairs to find the cafe’s LIGHTS OUT. “Until further notice”, they said. Nothing but a sandwich board plastered with covid protocols. Oh, how this made us sad. So many great breakfasts and fun memories (like the time the boys first saw the size of the pancakes…). Crossing our fingers that the “further notice” actually does arrive.
We were SO happy to get away for a night. Something that’s becoming tougher and tougher to do as the boys get older. Even if there were a few unexpected hiccups. Even if Gramercy wasn’t seating people at the bar. Even if we had to show our vaccination cards everywhere we entered, it was SO WORTH IT.
Every couple needs just a little “quiet time”, no matter what that may look like. For us, that means a few hours of closed laptops, free of bickering boys, and surrounded by great food.
And the realization that I need to add a few extra workouts the following week.