When locals flee for the beach, a New York City summer weekend is a great time to try new restaurants and score cheap hotel rooms.
There’s something about a New York City summer weekend, especially on a holiday.
Most Manhattanites flee the city for the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore, turning the normally hectic metropolis into a more laid back town where it’s easy to find affordable Manhattan hotels and book prime-time dinner reservations at popular restaurants. This is why we left Philadelphia, the headquarters for the 4th of July, for a quick weekend getaway.
As many of you may already know, we live in the up-and-coming city of Philadelphia, a mere 90 miles from NYC. The New York Times recently ranked Philly 3rd in its places to go in 2015, the popular Pope Francis will be visiting here in September, and our city will host the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The sounds and sights of construction are everywhere, with future hotels and office buildings dotting the landscape.
Don’t get us wrong. We love our home city. But, after stepping out of our room at the Duane Street Hotel and looking at the buildings rising into the Manhattan sky, we realized how lucky we are to be just a couple hours from NYC. With its endless skyline, dense neighborhoods, cornucopia of entertainment and ubiquitous dining, New York is the epitome of urban life around the world.
Duane Street Hotel is located at 130 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013, United States.
Lunch at Dominique Ansel Kitchen
After breezing up the turnpike through the almost nonexistent mid-weekend holiday traffic, we parked on the street (free and ample street parking is another advantage to New York holiday weekend travel), checked into our cosy Tribeca hotel room and immediately headed to our first stop – the newly opened Dominique Ansel Kitchen.
Some of our readers may recall our previous holiday visit to Dominique Ansel Bakery, a mecca for food-obsessed fans who lined up around the block for the ridiculously popular cronut last year. Since the spring opening of Dominique Ansel Kitchen, Chef Ansel has expanded his culinary portfolio to include savory items like tartines and grilled sandwiches. The cafe, with its small amount of indoor tiered benches and outdoor seating, provides quick service for on-the-go city dwellers as well as for hungry travelers such as ourselves.
No exaggeration here – Ansell’s croque monsieur is the best that we’ve ever tasted, even in France. Thick, house-made bread provides a platform for savory country ham and funky gruyere cheese. After a visit to the grill, juices from the cheese and meat liquefy the artisan bread slices, creating a melty, oozy wonder. Plus, the cheesy sandwich is more than big enough to share.
A visit to DA Kitchen would be incomplete without dessert. We opted for the enormous Extra Fluff Mille Feuille. This dessert proved to be more spectacle than substance – a difficult to eat mess that somehow lacked the delicacy normally found in a great Napoleon. Next time, we will instead share a DKA, Ansell’s take on a Koughin Amann or the 1:1 Lemon Yuzu Butter Tart. Or maybe we’ll try the burrata ice cream.
Dominique Ansel Kitchen is located at 137 7th Avenue S, New York, NY 10014, United States.
Dinner at Bâtard
As we exited Bâtard, Daryl couldn’t help but notice the shiny metal duck press stationed by the restaurant’s front door window. “It’s for decoration,” the manager standing at the door stated. But after our sensational meal we couldn’t help but ponder whether this laser skilled kitchen couldn’t put the press to good use.
Restaurateur Drew Nieporent’s Bâtard is classic New York dining at its finest, featuring meticulous dishes created by James Beard winner, Chef Markus Glocker. The cutting edge food at Bâtard manages to maintain a comforting accessibility and affordablilty while showcasing the best flavors of both America and Glocker’s native country of Austria. Situated in a trendy Tribeca spot formerly occupied by Nieporent’s previous restaurants Montrachet and Corton, the restaurant’s relaxed square dining room features monotone relief sculptured walls bathed in a subtle orange light that makes the dining experience feel special.
Dinner at Bâtard is a great value for a luxurious New York City dining experience. We shared a total of six courses between the two of us beginning with a thick, tender slice of pastrami spiced octopus and rich fennel tagliatelle dotted with delicate sturgeon caviar.We would be remiss not to mention the rare veal tenderloin wrapped in a butter pastry crust, the simple yet perfect roasted Amish chicken and the coffee and milk “kardinal” signature dessert. We enjoyed the meal with a food friendly Beajolais from Bâtard’s comprehensive, eclectic wine list.
We missed the fireworks, but, with food like this, we didn’t mind. Also, we’ll be there with bells on if the restaurant ever starts using the duck press.
Bâtard is located at 239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013, United States.
The pace of construction remaking the once destroyed area at ground zero in Lower Manhattan is daunting. As we looked at the thorny spires of the future entrance to the Path train terminal, we realized that only a world capital like New York could engage in something so ambitious.
Visiting during a holiday weekend afforded us a peek at the moving monument at the site of the original twin towers without throngs of tourists. The moving square black holes, adorned with all the names of the victims in the September 11 attack, feature walls of water that flow into an abyssful exit at the bottom.
Breakfast at Russ & Daughters Cafe
Russ & Daughters has long been a go-to location for the finest sliced lox, but making your own sandwiches can be cumbersome when you’re staying at a hotel.
Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper solved this problem when they opened Russ & Daughters Cafe last year in the heart of the Lower East Side neighborhood. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but this is not an issue on a holiday weekend. (Note the theme here.) That being said, a wait isn’t such a bad thing when you can walk around the formerly poor, currently upscale neighborhood while you wait for a text that your table is ready.
We recommend that you commence your meal by sharing a nosh, the Super Heebster Bagel Toast – a toasted bagel slice topped with a generous amount of whitefish and salmon salad and garnished with wasabi-infused roe and horseradish dill. Did we like the crunchy, toasted bagel half with savory smoky mash of fish topped with tiny, spicy pearl of caviar? Yes we did – enough to order a second one in lieu of dessert.
We also shared The Classic, a board with Gaspé Nova Scotia smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers. This dish brought back fond memories of our youth with lox sliced so thin you could see through it. We also noticed that the bagel boards expand to feed larger crowds of diners as witnessed by the generous board filled with all varieties of smoked delicacies that fed a party of six seated across from us.
Though still bummed by the closure of the original Ess-A-Bagel shop, we’re encouraged by the opening of Russ & Daughters Cafe – a great development for bagel and lox lovers such as ourselves.
Russ & Daughters Cafe is located at 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States.
Late Lunch at Lolo’s Seafood Shack
For our last meal of the weekend, we headed uptown to Harlem for some lip-smacking Caribbean soul food. Lolo’s Seafood Shack is another new-ish restaurant in Manhattan that is bringing excitement to the dining scene. Helmed by Raymond Mohan and Leticia Young, this restaurant was the perfect place to end our New York City holiday weekend.
Located in a former Chinese take-away restaurant, Lolo’s Seafood Shack looks small on the outside, but the restaurant sports a delightful backyard garden with picnic tables and funky decor. If you squint your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself transported to an island eatery.
At the end of the day, what makes Lolo’s Seafood Shack special is the food. The flavors of the various dishes are spot-on from the fresh seafood pots to the island snacks. Chef Mohan grew up in Guyana, and he brings the tastes of his childhood to New York City. The restaurant serves up a slew of zesty sauces to accompany the food, including a lethally hot sauce made from spicy ghost chili peppers.
Lolo’s Seafood Shack is located at 303 W 116th Street, New York, NY 10026, United States.
One weekend. Four new restaurants. One boutique hotel room. Not a lot of money spent. This is our kind of New York City summer weekend!