The New York dream!

New York, “the city that never sleeps”, appeals to everyone’s imagination, and the Valhallah for foodies. Time to travel to The Big Apple again!

After an enjoyable flight with Brussels Airlines, we put up at an AirBnB near Central Park. It is the third week of January and the icy wind is sweeping past our ears! We are all wrapped up and have some nice to-do’s and to -sees on the planning.

The streets of New York see lovely addresses and yummy food stores back-to-back. There is you don’t want to miss out on when visiting this metropole. Looking for delicious addresses in New York? I’ll gladly guide you through my experiences, tips and tricks (if you look closely, you will count about 40).

We want more bagels! Because one can never get enough of bagels…

  • Entering Black Seed is like entering a workshop - the kitchen adjoins the front door – and you end up in the very nucleus of activity. Take a seat and relax! The bagels are fresh and as they ought to be. This is a no-nonsense store with a positive vibe. Number one bagel store in town if you ask me! It just, urgently, needs some TLC.

  • In the Kips Bay neighbourhood, in the centre of East Side Manhattan, we spot a genuine ‘Snapple Bagel Truck’: an old-school truck travelling about in New York. The middle aged staffgive you the all American service. The low prices and the truck’s charming appearance make it very accessible for both New Yorkers and tourists. It’s surplus in charm makes you wink at the quality that is a bit less.
  • For an American experience you should head for established name Murry’s Bagels in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. In that alternative burrow many hip joints have seen the light of day. It kind of looks like those typical American diners: a tavern where you can have breakfast in 50’s style. So what can you expect?
    • Brewed coffee, the American ‘Americano’, dried-outviennoiserieand a worn-out interior.
    • Wide variety of fresh bagels like nature, sesame and poppy seeds, raisins… You can compose your bagel, sandwich and/or salad to your own taste. A well-known marketing technique to consciously advertise a low basic price.
    • Merchandising on point: personalized take away options and wrapping paper for the win!
    • Friendly and helpful service aims for a smooth service (even though it is very busy in here).

  • At the Absolute Bagels chain we have some savoury bagels, and the spreads are full of flavours and colours. Because of the use of fat in the baking process, they are quite a bit heavier on the stomach.

  • Put together your own bagel or salad at take away shop Nussbaum & Wu: strawberry cream cheese, cream cheese of sun-dried tomatoes or olives … Bring it on!
  • An awe-inspiring bagel shop, that’s Zucker’s Bakery, an Israeli chain of bagel shops. They present themselves as makers of the authentic NY bagels, which of course is music to our ears. Here we taste the cinnamon rolls. Extremely delicious! The setting, the atmosphere, the staff: all picture perfect! Late June 2018 this location closed down after seven years. But never mind, they still have 4 other stores over town.
  • For over a century caterer of fishy appetizers, delicacies, bagels and Jewish love: Russ and Daughters. The interior has never been changed, which makes this business one of the touristic hotspots!
  • At The Davidovich Bakery you get to choose both your bagel and schmears. They offer seven different cream cheese flavours. We choose The Elvis Bagel (with peanut butter, banana & honey) & The Davidovich Bagel (lox, cream cheese, romaine lettuce, capers, red onion and tomato). Lovely!
  • Let yourself be enticed by the sweets at The Little Cupcake Bakeshop. The big American Pies are abundantly on display here. They even sell an Everything Bagel with cream cheese inside, and yet it doesn’t look like a bagel. Pity!

And there’s more …. food!

  • You might say Chelsea Market is kind of a food Walhalla. A quote that mirrors the mall’s spirit: “I’m not having one glass, I’m having three, it’s called a tasting + it’s classy”. Enjoy the abundant range and the edible treasures.
  • Live it up at The Fat Witch. Here you’ll find homemade brownies, crumble-cookies chocolate sweets. Let PB & J Witch brownie (raspberry jam & peanut butter) & Vegan Witch Brownies seduce. Perfect flavour!

  • Breathe in the oriental atmosphere at Seed & Mill for home-made halva & tahini. Halva is a sweet with sesame seed as its main ingredient. It is roasted and mixed with sugar, honey and vegetable oil. You can’t miss out on this Turkish sweet! Tahini is sesame paste like the Dutch peanut butter.
  • The delightful farm stand and the though Dickson’s. The Whole animal butcher charcuterie & kitchen knows how to perfectly combine a store with a food bar. The branding reinforced by the Salt & pepper Beef Jerky’s and oversized hoodies. If you were thinking we Belgians could not compete with The Big Apple, well, think again. Prominently showcased here are: “Brussels sprouts with Grana Padano” (hard Italian cheese). Tasted deee-licious!

  • Away from the bustle you’ll find Los Mariscos, a scrumptious fish & chips bar. Worth your visit! Caviar, dozens of types of oyster, salmons … everything presented lightly tasteful.
  • Welcome at Indie Fresh! A concept with fresh as its middle name (I’m ever so jealous!). We had an acaí protein bowl. The plastic bucket-like package may have been rather unfortunate, but is was perfect in taste! Conceptually though, there’s nothing much to it, very industrial and based on take away for the business segment. Then again, with Google’s headquarters nearby, this concept is in the right spot.
  • The Green Roll for sushi, sushi and more sushi! All fresh as can be.
  • Chalait is the place for matcha, coffee, breakfast and lunch!
  • The Cookshop was, despite all the online recommendations, not a success for us. The quality didn’t match the price and also the combinations were disappointing (but that’s a personal opinion).
  • Dressing smartly to go out for dinner at Dovetail’s. Commenting on it would be sheer decadence!
  • The premises of The City Bakery in Midtown Manhattan are large and high, and fire one’s imagination. Like many businesses here, it is a to-and-fro of customers, mostly takeaway. The fame of their homemade pretzel croissants reaches beyond NYC’s borders and they excel in hot chocolate (I think they have the smallest chocolate room in the world). Unfortunately, we read online that The City Bakery filed its petition in October 2019.
  • For lunch you ought to be at The Butcher’s Daughter: innovative, fresh products and a homely atmosphere. A perfect match with the Sanseveria philosophy! We go for a smashed avocado toast with a bunny side up egg. The seven-grain bread tastes idiosyncratic, specialty of the house! Afterwards we also have a spicy kale Caesar salad: divine!

  • Visit one of the Wafels & Dinges, a Belgian concept. Hats of for what he has accomplished! You can see it is well received by the Americans and I must say: the sweet ‘Dinges’ perfectly agree with the ‘Wafel’. Congrats!
  • The vegan spot Champs Diner in Brooklyn has a gorgeous interior! It looks like Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons. The ambience is great, exactly what I’m looking for! The American fries with eggs Benedict & ham, the pancakes with bacon & hotdogs are a hit. This is Brooklyn! Tip for the fans: the coffee is bottomless (unlimited refills).
  • In The Featherweight, a speakeasy bar in Downtown Brooklyn, you almost literally bump into a steel graffiti door with a feather and a red spot on it. We descend into the underworld and enjoy some extraordinary cocktails!
  • At Maman, don’t be afraid to pronounce it the way the French do, you eat delicious quiches, quinoa and fresh soup. The old style of les campagnes de douce France even continues in the bathroom
  • Have a delicious steak at Peter Luger. Pricy yet heavenly for meat lovers! You’ll find their original restaurant on Broadway.
  • The pressed juicery shops probably won’t go unnoticed when you’re in town. Each one offers lovely cold pressed juicesthat taste like perfection. Feels like a salad in a bottle!
  • On Broadway 2880 you have brunch at The Community. We allowed ourselves to be seduced by classic pancakes & Huevos Rancheros, a sublime Mexican dish with black beans, eggs, guacamole, Iceberg lettuce & tortillas.

  • Recommended by several blogs: Levain’ Bakery, since 1995 an established namein New York for their daily fresh cookies, the dough being their absolute favourite. Since a couple of years, this bakery chain also has branches in Europe (among which one in Brussels).
  • Near Central Park you’ll find Le Pain Quotidien. Belgium is second to none. It is fantastic to have a stop-over for a coffee and steal some winter sun! In the most southern point of the park, we allow ourselves to be enticed by the ice-cream van of Wafels & Dinges (second time :)
  • Toro is a Spanish tapas concept in Chelsea where we enjoyed the food. In a rush, as it is customary here when dining out in a restaurant.
  • A quick bit? G to the tiny Superiority burgers for takeaway. You don’t have to tell us that one can move a mountain in a confined space. But to cosily squeeze a company of four into two square meters, that’s something we had never seen before! Four burgers, grilled yuba in a boat or on a roll and two salads. We count four staff members on… 30 square meters. It works, hats off!
  • You cannot go to New York and not visit Katz’s Delicatessen. Go for an outstanding diner (there’s room for about 100 persons). Mind you, on the main touristic days one has to queue here. I’m having a Pastrami sandwich, which is exactly as it should be. The concept is cool, authentic American and hipper than ever. Visit this for the concept and not so much for the meal!

  • In the Noho neighbourhood we taste a Jewish Special Knish at Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery. They have been serving the Jewish onion potato special since 1910 and time kind of stood still here…
  • Entirely in sync with the French style, we are having a Bloody Mary at Cherche Midi. We have read contradictory reviews, but considered it a success!
  • One of New York’s best Burger Joints is to be found in Le Parker Meridien Hotel. And it defies your wildest imagination: a 4-star classification in the upper-scale segment. You discover this cracker behind a big curtain. “Spot on”, succeeded in all languages. Here we enjoyed the lovely greasiness of the food and had tons of fun. It felt very much like Mc Donald’s, yet so much more authentic and better.
  • It was finger lickin’ good at Tratorria Italienne. Yes, you are reading it correctly, you don’t often get that round here! Then again, prices appeared to be a bit higher.
  • Queue (for quite a while) at Jack’s Wife Frieda. It looks as if everybody is coming here for brunch (we are here on a Saturday). The Rosewater Waffle with Lebanese yoghurt, The Mediterranean Breakfast with labne and pita bread, toast avocado and some eggs and drinks were fantastic! We absolutely recommend a visit to this joint. You’ll find them in West Village, as well as in Soho and Chelsea.

To do’s en to sees you can’t miss!

  • Oreos! You do know them, don’t you? Spot the old Oreo factory (today’s Chelsea Market). This is the ultimate American treat like we have Lotus.

  • The impressive buildings of global giant Google.
  • De Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a roman-catholic church, is worth a visit!
  • Discover High Line Park, a vast park on the elevated railroad tracks in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Apart from the many panoramas, you’ll also find a lot of art on this route. An oasis of peace and quiet in the midst of the business of the city and in summer the ideal place for a lunch in the open air.
  • On 5th Avenue make sure to stop at the New York Library and the Central Station of New York. These are iconic buildings that are still in use and hence very busy!
    • With almost 70 tracks and 44 platforms, this main station is the pacesetter around here!
    • At Meyers Bageri you’ll feast on delicious Grab & Go toasts. I have rarely seen so many delicacies being on display so attractively in a Grab & Go shop

  • I don’t need to convince you that Ground Zero and The 9/11 Memorial & Museum leaves a lasting impression. It makes you go quiet for a minute.
  • Pay a visit to The Channel Gardens, also at the Rockefeller Center. This business district is incredibly busy at dusk!
  • Behold the Trump Tower skyscraper.
  • While you’re on Broadway, take in one of the musicals at The Ambassador Theatre. We imagined ourselves in the twenties and enjoyed the musical Chicago. A show like that easily last about 2.5 hour and prices start at 80 dollar. There are shows 5 days a week and sometimes several performances a day.
  • Enjoy the memory of Times Square by night!

  • The neighbourhood of Nolita. This neighbourhood is described by the New Yorkers as trendy, chic and full of unique boutiques and interior design stores. Over the weekend you traditionally spot a lot of street vendors in Prince Street. Love it or …!
  • Ever spotted a store that is specialized in cash registers? Well, you’ll spot it at Grand Street near number 244. Two generations of entrepreneurs entertain you with their stories and the history of the city. Dozens of cash registers are on display, sometimes as high as 6 layers on top of each other. It’s almost like a museum!

Good to know!

  • To the American, bagels are in origin linked to street food. We see huge billboards advertising fast food deals at dumping prices everywhere and yet it doesn’t really bother us. It is obviously part of The Big Apple.
  • Schmears is the Germanic word for what you spread on your bagel, . The variety is usually rather wide!
  • New York is the city of business people, glitter and glamour. Never compare it to our food culture. Whereas we more often tend to enjoy dining, the ambience and the dishes, the New Yorkers often see it as a business-related and practical matter. It all goes a lot quicker than we are used to at home. Let them know if you feel like dining more relaxed and persist. The pressure bothered us.
  • Every hip joint here is equipped with Apple Pay and the latest gadgets for cash desk systems. If you wish to receive the ticket, you can choose to have it sent by email. No more paperwork!
  • Do not underestimate the density of city traffic. The subway is a good alternative and gets you everywhere. An Uber, on the other hand, brings you even closer to your destination.
  • Cars are often parked on top of each other by means of an ingenious parking system.
  • New York bezit een aantal private hospitals. Amerikanen genieten niet de sociale zekerheid zoals wij dit kennen in België. De private ziekenhuizen zijn vaak al voor welgestelde New Yorkers.
  • Spot de vele dog sitters & dog walkers! Hilarious! Er staat duidelijk geen maximum op het aantal honden per wandeling.
  • Cars often parked on top of each other by means of an ingenious parking system.
  • New York has a number of private hospitals. Americans don’t enjoy social security as we know it in Belgium. Private hospitals are often for the New Yorker that is well-to-do.
  • Spot the many dog sitters & dog walkers! Hilarious! There obviously is no limit to the number of dogs one can take for a walk.
  • Everything seems hugein The Big Apple. Big billboards are seen everywhere. Quite impressive, especially on Time Square! Also, you get to see lots of glitter and glamour. Think of Frank Sinatra’s New York: the cinemas, the nightlife, the concerts, cabarets …

  • Always take into consideration the (obligatory) tips when visiting a bar, restaurant or hotel. According to your level of satisfaction, you tip between 7% and 20% of the total bill. The staff will be grateful!

Written on 31/01/2017 by Bert