As my first 30 Posts of Travel this must have to be the easiest one to answer.
New York. I first visited New York on the 28th August 1997 (not that I remember this stuff) at the start of a coast to coast US trip and like everyone always seems to say it was more New York than I ever imaged. Fire hydrants, yellow school busses, steam coming from the pavements, the Empire State in the distance. I was ticking off every NYC cliché.
I’ve been to New York since then about 35 times since that first trip. Sometimes I travel with friends, the other half and quite often by myself and I never get bored of the place. In the last twenty years I think I’ve ticked off all the tourist sights I have any desire to see, although out of all these I never get bored of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, along the Highline or looking over the whole city from Top of the Rock. That is one view that constantly amazes and humbles me. In New York, as with most cities I’ll visit the real feel of the place is discovered just walking the avenues and streets finding that random little mom and pop restaurant the guide books never tell you about, or seeing a random bit of architecture or street art. You miss this zooming on the Subway from one tourist tick off to another.
One aspect of the city I will never catch up with is the dining scene which is, in my mind, the best in the World. From three Michelin star tasting menus to hole in the wall Mom and Pop joints New York has it all and with New Yorkers being an ever fickle bunch there is always somewhere new to try. Keeping apace with all the new restaurant openings is an impossible task but I try my best aided by some great review sites The Infatuation and TimeOut New York.
There are so many restaurants to choose from but some of my favourites are:
Cowgirl A great little tex mex restaurant I’ve been going to for years that serves great wings, ribs and killer margaritas.
Fedora A typical American restaurant the US does so well. Great gutsy food (they always do great things with pork) wonderful shoestring fries and a great vibe that just feels special and little bit secret.
Pearl Oyster Bar Oysters, chilled, fried, and lots of other seafood.
Big Gay Ice Cream Great, camp, little ice cream shop in the West Village that does great things with soft serve. My favourite has to be vanilla with dulche de leche swirl, peanuts, sea salt and chocolate dip. Yum.
Babbo My absolute favourite restaurant in the whole world and the only I’ll always visit every trip without fail (often more than once). I always sit at the bar – best seats in the house and you get to chat to the great staff – many who I’ve known for years – and an interesting mix of other diners who are always so happy to chat when they hear my Queen’s English. The Italian American food is great and getting better but for me the x factor is the atmosphere of the place. Not stuffy, bustling, great conversation and people watching and a great soundtrack of Prince, Rolling Stones and other music you wouldn’t expect in a Michelin star restaurant. I never leave there anything other than completely happy (and often fairly drunk after the obligatory one or two for the road). I was there this New Year’s Eve as it happens and I couldn’t happier letting in the New Year sat at the bar with some fine food and some free prosecco.