Boston Restaurant Blog -- January, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
I took the first of several New York City trips that I have planned for the winter. This was the shortest of the trips, and one in which I met up with family in Manhattan, and over a whirlwind two-day period, we hit some decent restaurants, including a couple of real gems.
Soon after I arrived on Saturday morning, we headed over to a casual New American restaurant called Josie at the corner of Amsterdam Street and W 74th Street in the Upper West Side. The place was packed, but we were able to grab a prime corner window seat with a fantastic view of the city. Josie's prides itself on healthy dishes, and indeed, our breakfasts were filled with fresh, organic ingredients. My dish was especially tasty; the Josie's Special was a scrumptious mix of scrambled free range eggs, Brandt natural ground beef, mushrooms, and chopped Asian greens. At about $15.00, it wasn't cheap, but it was worth it considering the freshness of the ingredients. The other food didn't quite match up to this dish, but none of the food was of poor quality. Between the views, the bustling feel to the place, the friendliness of the staff, and the decent chow, I could definitely see the appeal of this nice little dining spot.
After our satisfying brunch at Josie's, we wandered down to Greenwich Village, enjoying the sights and sounds of Bleecker Street as well as some of the quieter side streets in the West Village. After a quick trip to McNulty's on Christopher Street to pick up some tea, we went back to Bleecker Street to have dinner at an Indian restaurant called Surya. Situated near the intersection of Bleecker and Seventh Avenue, Surya didn't look like much from the outside, and inside was only a little better, as the atmosphere was a little barren. But it was warm and comfortable, and more important, the food at this tiny Indian place was absolutely fabulous. From the smooth, mild mulligatawny soup to the paratha (a type of whole wheat bread) to the main entrees of chicken saag and chicken chettinad (chicken with a moderately hot mix of of herbs and spices), this was some of the best Indian food I have had in awhile.
We had eaten a lot of food at Surya, but we somehow found just enough room to have a small bite to eat and some drinks at Cafe Angelique, a coffee and pastry shop at the corner of Bleecker Street and Grove Street (more or less across the street from Surya). I've been to Cafe Angelique before, and find it a cozy place with the type of atmosphere that only a West Village dining spot could have. We dined on chocolate biscotti while sipping on hot drinks (my coffee was outstanding). If I have one complaint about Cafe Angelique, it is that the tables are too close together, but the street scenes from the windows and, indeed, the people watching within the place make it all worth it, in my opinion.
I woke up a bit late on Sunday morning, thanks in part to watching the Patriots game (it is strange watching the Pats in Manhattan), so I didn't have as much time to walk in the city as I had hoped. I did end up walking around Little Italy, stopping by Ferrara to grab some pastries to take home. Then it was back to the Upper West Side, and after have a rather average bagel at Fairway to tide me over, we eventually ended up at Viand Cafe at the corner of Broadway and W 75th Street. Viand Cafe is a local diner that I had been to before, and it's really just a simple, basic family restaurant that serves some pretty good food cheap. I ordered something called a cowboy wrap, which was an egg and cheese wrap with a few other items in it. Nothing special, but it was cheap and tasty, and helped keep my hunger at bay for a few hours, since we were looking at a late lunch that day.
After leaving the Viand Cafe, we visited The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine up by Amsterdam Avenue and 111th Street, then toured the Riverside Church up by Columbia University and the outskirts of Harlem. By the time we arrived in Times Square to head to lunch, it was well after 2:00, so we were pretty hungry when we arrived at John's Pizzeria. John's is located on W 44th Street in the Theater District, and it can get awfully crowded before or after shows. But our timing was perfect, and we were seated right away. There are three John's Pizzerias in Manhattan, with this one being by far the biggest, as it is two-plus stories high and has two large coal-fired pizza ovens. And those pizza ovens impart the most incredible flavor on the pizza, especially when you order them well done like we did. The charred thin crust, delicious sauce, and chewy mix of cheeses made for what was perhaps one of the best pizzas I have had anywhere in the country (yes, it was that good).
After filling our stomachs at John's, it was time for me to go. Usually I'm very sad when I leave New York City, but as I said before, I will be doing more trips there over the next several weeks. And what restaurants will I be trying on those trips? Stay tuned...
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