New York in December – where we ate

Staying in Chelsea meant we had some of the best eateries on our doorstop, and on at least one of the nights, we spent a good half an hour weighing up options.

For our first night, we walked over to the next block to the Meatpacking District location of Dos Caminos for some amazing Mexican food. The small guac and chips was huge, which made me glad that I only ordered a small plate (chicken taquitos which were amazing). I hit a wall pretty early that evening after our long flight, so couldn’t manage dessert which I’m very sad about as the Mexican hot fudge sundae looks incredible. We really liked the atmosphere in the restaurant and we were really tempted to visit again on this trip.

Our first full day featured a crazy amount of walking (10 miles) and I can’t remember stopping to eat lunch. I do remember wanting to have some kakigōri (Japanese shaved ice) from Bonsai Kakigori in Canal Street Market. I wanted this so much that I made us do something we would never normally do – wait for the place to open. And how were we rewarded? The freaking store didn’t have any ice. WHY!? I’m still angry about it.

After wandering all over SoHo and Greenwich Village, we popped back to the hotel to drop off our shopping, and for Husband to research some shoes he wanted to buy. After buying said shoes, we stopped by Dough Doughnuts on W 19th Street to pick up a snack for later. Although they were very good doughnuts, they weren’t the best doughnuts of the trip…

Dinner that night was just around the corner from our hotel at Bare Burger 8th Ave. Aside from the fact we were sat at high stools (I hate high stools!), this was a great meal, although we ordered way too much and had to waddle back to our room. So good.

Day two featured even more walking (16 miles!!) and again, we didn’t stop for a ‘proper’ lunch, but we did stop for my favourite doughnuts in New York – Underwest Donuts. We found this tiny little store on our last trip and I was overjoyed to eat the most delicious doughnut in such an un-expected location – a car wash!

This was the day we struggled to make a decision for dinner as is so much choice, but I lobbied hard for the Meatball Shop which turned out to be one of the best restaurant decisions we’ve ever made. These guys do meatballs, and they do them well – different types of ball (even meat-free!) matched with different sauces, supplemented by a great selection of sides. I could eat here every day for the rest of my life and not get bored. The staff were wonderful, and helped out with menu recommendations which was definitely needed as it’s surprisingly hard to decide on a meatball combination!

We decided to skip dessert here again – although their ice cream sandwiches were tempting – because I had my eye on a different prize. Chip NYC were in the Gansevoort market when we visited although I think they’ve now closed that branch to move to a bigger location in the West Village. I have never had a cookie like it, and I doubt I’ll have anything like it again. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside and just absolute perfection. We visited just before they closed so they only had a couple left – I had Funfetti and Husband had White Chocolate Macadamia but they bake different cookies on different days.

So of course, we had to go back the following afternoon to try more of their menu. I mentioned earlier that I don’t wait for things to open; well, neither do I queue for food. But for Chip cookies, I would queue for an hour. We actually only queued for 15 minutes and were rewarded with warm, doughy goodness (a hot fudge sundae, and a strawberry cheesecake). We found a ledge at the back of Gansevoort Market to perch and try not to make a terrible mess of ourselves with the gooeyness (we failed).

The cookies were a pre-trip home treat, but we had also treated ourselves to a proper breakfast on our final morning – something that has become a bit of a tradition for our final mornings. We had intended to visit Chelsea Market more over the course of our three day trip, but the whole place was constantly over-crowded. Sunday morning was gloriously quiet however, so we stopped by our favourite brunch location – Friedmans. We were a little too far away from our usual location in Hell’s Kitchen, but fortunately they have a small store in Chelsea Market so I was able to order my favourite – eggs with style.

Now, how can I get Deliveroo or Uber Eats to fly over some of those meatballs?

Starbucks Reserve Roastery – New York


I wouldn’t normally review a Starbucks – I will happily admit that I visit Starbucks a lot (they have the best mochas) but they’re all essentially the same and mostly indistinct. However, a Roastery opened up in New York a few weeks before we visited which is very different to the average store so I thought I’d get a blog post out of it!

The Roastery in New York is the fourth store to open globally, with two further sites planned. It’s located next to Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue, right opposite our hotel, so I had assumed we’d visit on a couple of occasions. It’s huge, with many websites reporting on the 23,000 square footage, three separate coffee bars, a bakery, a scooping bar, and plenty of merch to buy. All this, plus the roastery of course – where coffee beans are roasted on site in very fancy industrial equipment.

Every time we walked by it, the queue snaked around the block, controlled by bouncers on the doors. I don’t know if it was because it had only been opened a couple of weeks but it was crazy. However, one morning we were up early and we noticed that there was no queue, so we popped in to see what the fuss was about.

As soon as you get through the heavy wooden doors, I was overwhelmed. There is so much going on, but I saw the main bar directly in front of us, so aimed for that as a place to start. The main bar seems to involve a lot of confusing equipment, but this is where you get your standard Starbucks drinks. They serve Princi pastries which all looked delicious, so in addition to our normal drinks – a latte and a mocha – we added a chocolate brioche and blueberry muffin to our order.

I then had a heart attack when the total came to $28. Holy crap, this had better be good.

Things then got very chaotic as we waited for the drinks, and it took about 15 minutes for them to come out. There are an insane amount of staff milling about (with ridiculous, almost patronising uniforms – think Peaky Blinders meets Get Out) and whilst many people would enjoy the buzz that this creates, it was too much for me. In the time we waited, the place had started to fill up, and we realised that despite the size of the building, there really wasn’t very much seating around. I sent Husband off to see if there was additional seating down at the “Experience Bar” (fortunately there was, and it was quieter).

The Experience Bar is where to go if you want something unusual – glass bottles full of coffee heated by complicated lamps, flights of espresso with different flavours. Above this is the third bar called Arriviamo serving cocktails – this was closed when we visited (understandably as we were there early) but looked pretty interesting, if not expensive.

And of course, there’s a lot of merchandise, although I think they need to pare it back a bit. As mentioned, I visit Starbucks a lot so have a few re-useable cups which are light enough to carry in my purse but I couldn’t find anything like that here – there was a lot of high end products, elaborate coffee kit, even things unrelated to Starbucks, and I found it quite frustrating.

So was our breakfast worth $28? Hell no. I found the whole thing quite stressful, too busy, and entirely unnecessary. The Princi pastries were nice and I’d love the regular stores to start selling them, and Husband noted that his latte was delicious, but my mocha was tasteless and really not worth whatever they charge for it. As we sat with our drinks, a member of staff came around offering sparkling water which got topped up, so that was a nice touch. The furniture was beautifully made, and I lusted after the wooden chairs, and it definitely felt like we were in a more luxurious store, but is all this a good reason to visit?

I don’t understand why people would queue for this store, especially not in the depths of a New York Winter – I just don’t get why you need a bigger and way more expensive version of a Starbucks. I can’t see that the staff from the Google offices opposite would visit this every day (or maybe they would, maybe I’m wrong) so I guess they’re relying on tourists like me visiting for the novelty value.

If you are in desperate need for a Starbucks (and there’s no queue) go in and have a look, but be prepared to spend some $$$. If there is a queue, turn around, cross the road, and get your latte from the regular store opposite. Then sit in the window and shake your head with incredulity at the people willing to queue up for the Roastery, as you sip smugly on your significantly cheaper drink.

New York in December – where we stayed

I love spending time in Greenwich Village and Chelsea, so as we were only going to be in NYC for three days, we treated ourselves to a hotel in the area rather than staying in our usual hotel in Midtown. I can’t remember where I saw it first, but I have fantasised about staying in the Maritime Hotel, pretty much opposite Chelsea Market, for a very long time. The iconic porthole windows, the sophisticated decor – it was my dream NYC location. Once we had booked our flights, I started obsessively scouring the internet to find the best room price, and stumbled across Tablet Hotels who had a great sale on, so my dream was finally being realised.

The first thing that you notice when you get to the hotel is the amazing scent – the lobby area smells beautiful. I don’t know what it was, but every time we walked through, it made me happy. I love a well-scented hotel.

The lobby doesn’t just smell good – it also looks stunning – dark wood, warm lighting, gorgeous furniture. They have a very pleasing aesthetic, very hyggelig. We didn’t get a chance to experience the restaurant just off the lobby during our trip, but it was shortly about to close for renovations so perhaps we should have been visited. The problem is that there is too much choice for where to eat in the area.

We had a standard room (called Superior on the website) which was a pretty average size for New York (by that, I mean small) but that’s just to be expected. Having just experienced exceptional Texan hospitality at The Archer in Austin the month before, my expectations were sky high so the room and service did leave me a little underwhelmed. Perhaps I was judging them too harshly but I just wanted a little more more than what was on offer. I’m hard to please when it comes to hotels.

Those porthole windows though.

I will say that we slept well every night in a very comfortable bed, and I really appreciated the bathroom stocked full of my favourite Co Bigelow toiletries. Every room faces the same way, so you’re guaranteed a good view and we spent ages just watching the world go by. You can see the High Line in the distance which was super helpful when deciding when to visit – Saturday afternoon was rammed, whereas we couldn’t see anyone on it Sunday morning.

I didn’t get any good photos of the room, but they look exactly as they do on the website – that same dark wood and blue colour scheme with really unusual decor on the armchairs. They could easily have gone too kitsch with the theming, but they pitched it just right.

We were on the 10th floor so weren’t bothered by any significant noise. Apparently, on the lower floors you can sometimes hear noise from the club below the hotel but all we heard was classic New York car horns.

Taken from the High Line – I asked Husband to run back to the room to wave at me. He said no.

It truly is in the best area of Manhattan. More blogs will follow which will cover the rest of our trip, but I loved every second of being in Chelsea. Restaurants, shops, nightlife – whatever you’re into, Chelsea has it with the benefit of being away from most of the tourists (Chelsea Market aside, which I still adore but was constantly busy). When I visited NY for the second time in 2015, spending time in Chelsea made me finally “get” the city. This was where I fell in love with it and is the reason why I keep going back. Just sorting through photos is giving me wanderlust again, and I’ve only been back home for three weeks.

Why can’t I live in New York?

I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America

I had two full days in New York entirely to myself – utter freedom to do as little or as much as I wanted.  I stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites near Penn Station which was perfect – perfect room, perfect location, perfect staff.  Plus I had the above view from my room – I didn’t ever close the curtains as I couldn’t get enough of it.  Waking up to that view each day was so memorable.

I decided to split the island, take the west side first and the east second.  After a quick diversion for roadworks, I made my way to the High Line – my favourite space in New York.  I hoped to walk around the Hudson Yards considering this was closed on our last trip thanks to Snowmageddon 2015.  But again, it was still not to be.

Much less snow in 2017, but still closed.  It only snowed for about 5 minutes on this visit, but they hadn’t been able to clear the snow from a few days before so kept the Hudson Yards closed.  A bit disappointed, I made my way down the rest of the High Line which was blissfully quiet, if not a bit windy.  There’s a lot of construction work around 30th St so some of the High Line is under cover – I guess there’s going to be a lot of new apartments and offices within the next couple of years (also a lot of ugly looking buildings…)

I dropped down to street level at 14th St to visit Chelsea Market – another favourite place of mine.  I had a sticky bun and some lemonade from Amy’s Bread whilst texting Husband, feeling really homesick for him at this point as we’d visited Amy’s in 2015.  As much as I enjoyed my solo trip around NY, I did experience a few pangs of sehnsucht for him.

After a further wander round the market, I carried on south to the iconic Bleecker Street.  I am in love with the whole of Greenwich Village, and Bleecker even more so.  It was so peaceful and so different to Midtown.  I decided to just give in and be a cliched tourist.  I hit Kate Spade (where I experienced the best customer service I’ve ever had), Co Bigelow, Sephora, and you guessed it, Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.  I was having the best me-time.

So cheesy, but LOOK!  CARRIE LIVES HERE!  There were some British tourists taking selfies in front of her stoop whilst I pretended I was a local, just out for spot of shopping.  It’s such a beautiful street and whilst I felt a bit guilty for traipsing down a regular residential street, I tried to be very respectful of this.

I’m such a dork.

So after buying a beautiful Kate Spade bag and some Co Bigelow goodies, I walked back up 6th Avenue, popping in to the Container Store to see what all the fuss is about, before picking up a very late lunch from Lenwich.  I intended to have a quick nap before going out for some evening shopping, but I ended up getting sucked into TV.  The bed was too comfy, so I snuggled in and watched the sun set.

Leaving New York, never easy

NY2015_lDay five in New York and I finally managed to sleep in.  Hooray!  We didn’t have to worry about packing as we’d done it the night before, so we were able to check out pretty soon after we woke up.  After being ignored by the doorman (grr), we left our bags at the hotel and walked down 10th Avenue to the 30th street entrance to the High Line.

I loved visiting the High Line last year despite it being crowded and grey, and couldn’t wait to see it in the snow.  We checked their Twitter to make sure they were open, and whilst the new bit wasn’t open (the loop around the train yard), the rest of it was clear.  Both of ice and people – it was amazing!

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Walking the High Line is the best meditation.  We passed maybe a dozen people on the whole walk, and at times, there were more volunteers clearing the snow than visitors.  I am sad we didn’t get to walk around the railway yards – it wasn’t open last year and was underneath a good few inches of snow this time – but one day we’ll go back and see the whole thing.  And in warmer weather hopefully.

It was completely worth braving the crazy gridlocked 10th Avenue (yes, New York had got back to normal after its two days of silence) and the wicked wind whipping off the Hudson.  If I lived here, I would be at the park every day.  Bliss.

My Mother-in-law had recommended Chelsea Market to us, so we forfeited the last couple of blocks of the park to visit the market on 16th Street.  Wow.  I want Chelsea Market as my local grocery store.  Once again, we managed to avoid the crowds and had the pleasure of walking through in relative peace and quiet.  We stopped off at the High Line pop-up store and bought a magnet (although I was very tempted by the Diane Von Furstenberg/High Line notebooks) and browsed the wonderful Posman Books.  There were so many places to choose from for coffee and brunch, but we decided on a sticky bun and apple cake from Amy’s Bread.

Sitting outside the bakery, we watched the Google crowds coming in to pick up their lunch and I finally got it.  I got New York.  After my first visit, I said ‘I didn’t get the immediate “Oh my goodness, I want to stay here forever” feeling’ but Chelsea Market, the Meatpacking District, the High Line – they have my heart.  I was all wrong!  Now, I just need Husband to get a job at Google and we’re golden.

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We dragged ourselves away and started the very sad trek north up 8th Avenue.  We went passed the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre where I screeched “IT’S AMY’S THEATRE!” (I don’t know if I was expecting Amy to appear or something), passed the US Postal Service building which is insanely grandiose, before we realised that at the rate we were walking, we’d be back at the hotel far too early to go to the airport.  So, short notice plan, we changed direction and headed towards the East River.

We stumbled across Grand Central Station, and I popped in to use the bathroom (that’s what it was built for, right?).  We did think about eating in one of the five billion amazing eateries in the terminal but it was crazy busy.  So instead, we went back outside and kept walking until we reached the UN building.  For no reason.  We didn’t really have time to go in, although Husband would have dearly liked to, so we just peered at it from the pavement.  We then carried on up 1st Avenue, where I got the insane giggles at the amazingly named UN Piece Cleaners dry cleaning store.

Give me a minute, laughing at it again.  I’ve just googled it, and no one on the internet is finding this funny.  What’s the matter with people?

Anyway, we’d spent enough time wandering around, so we crossed back to the hotel to be ignored again whilst trying to collect our bags (grr).  It was around lunchtime and the streets were packed with city workers grabbing lunch, but fortunately we didn’t have too far to go to get to the Subway.  We settled in and hoped for a quiet 45 minute journey to Sutphin Boulevard.  Sadly, it was not to be.

About two stations in, a group of teenagers got on, started blaring music, then having a dance battle for money.  This went on for a couple of stops, and we managed to do our best impression of awkward British people by staring straight ahead.  We breathed a sigh of relief when they finally switched the music off and left the train, only to realise they had been replaced by a couple of guys with huge drums.  By the end of the journey, we were beyond relieved to escape the chaos.

Security at JFK was a nightmare.  They only had a couple of those ridiculous millimeter wave body scanners so the queues were snaking round for what felt like hours.  I wasn’t particularly happy about going through the scanner but I couldn’t actually see any female agents around who would do a pat down, so I knew I’d have to wait an insane amount of time.  I just sucked it up and walked through.  I grumbled about it for a good few hours afterwards.

We then walked around the airport several times for something to do, before settling down with a Shake Shack, as per our JFK tradition.  We even pushed the boat out and got a concrete each – mine was an extremely yummy chocolate thing with about fifty extra chocolate trimmings, and Husband got the much healthier (!) granola vanilla raspberry version.  Despite worrying about whether our plane would be cancelled (after everything was cancelled the day before) we boarded and took off on time.  We had an exit row and the space was obscene – I could pretty much lie on the floor.

In flight entertainment for me this time was While You Were Sleeping and a nap through Divergent.  Annoyingly, this meant I slept through breakfast, but woke with enough time to watch a 4 episodes of Brooklyn-99.  Classic plane media.

The flight wasn’t without worry though.  About two hours in, I suddenly became aware of a kerfuffle in the row behind.  A flight attendant was saying quite loudly: “Sir!  SIR!  Are you OK?”  I tried to subtly listen in to what was happening, getting concerned for the elderly guy sat directly behind me who was flapping about.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the elderly man; it was the young guy behind Husband.  The attendant rushed him into the bathroom, and shortly afterwards the call went out to see if there was a doctor on board.  I really thought that we’d be turned around as we were still closer to the US than the UK and whilst I felt bad for the man, my heart sank.  We’d managed to escape snowpocalypse; surely we couldn’t fail now!

No doctor appeared, and after about 15 minutes, the guy came out of the bathroom, said “Oh, I’m fine now” and sat down.  WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?!  Did you just need a poop or something?  After the mini-drama, everyone settled down and it actually felt like a really short flight.   Soon enough we were back in Heathrow and waiting for the bus to the car park.

Jet lag caught me pretty much as soon as we got home, and the cold that had threatened Husband grabbed him on Thursday and me on Saturday.  I can’t help feeling that having a cold would be much more easy to handle in Chelsea Market, with a sticky bun and homemade lemonade.  Stupid UK.