I was lucky enough to venture to New York right before Christmas and literally couldn’t have been more excited. What a wonderful place during the festive season. Everyone is gearing up for the holidays, ice-skating in Central Park, admiring the decorations at Saks Fifth Avenue, and the tree at the Rockefeller, and heartily dining in NYC. It certainly is a season to be jolly.
Following Delta’s cancellation of our flights from Heathrow (several times), we finally made it over, via Amsterdam and Boston, on the 19 December!!! The Beard and I had decided to take his two grown up children over so see the sights of the Big Apple and it was their first time. I wanted to make sure we had a perfectly organized itinerary with a good variety of exciting and buzzy places to eat. Knowing that December in NYC would be crazily busy, I spent a couple of months researching where would be ideal for our visit. I thought I had the perfect plan. We would take them to a couple of ‘younger/hipper’ joints and then mix it up with some of our favourites.
If I am honest, I think I tried too hard and over-thought the whole thing. I mean, they are 16 and 19 years old and perhaps not as obsessed with where they eat as I am!
Buddakan (pan-Asian in Chelsea) and Beauty and Essex (a hipster place in the LES which you enter through a secret door at the back of a pawn brokers) were the ones I thought they would be most impressed with, but I think it turned out these were the ones they were more blasé about.
In actual fact, it was the restaurants that I felt were more ‘me’, that we all enjoyed the most.
The first was a no reservation colonial tavern in the LES called Freemans. I think everyone kind of liked the idea I wasn’t frog marching them to yet another booking, but I still slightly had to coerce everyone there – “I think it’s just one more block” I remember saying when I secretly knew it was another 3. And thankfully, going that extra mile was well worth it!
As we turned into Freemans alley, I could see the twinkly lights that awaited us at the end. It looked so inviting, so pretty and I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like inside. It was candlelit and cozy and made me want to explore. Freemans is made up of two dining rooms with a bar in each and the view of the kitchen in one. Taxidermy adorns the dark walls and there are a couple of romantic nooks and crannies you could lose yourself in.
We ate grilled cheddar toasts, hot artichoke dip, seared filet mignon which was superbly tender and served with creamy mashed potato, sweet and sour onions with horseradish cream, whole Eden brook trout with thyme, garlic and lemon and, for good measure, finished with a couple of apple crisp puddings with buttermilk ice cream. This was a wonderfully executed meal and the service thoroughly charming. Freeman’s is quite possibly is one on my favourite places on earth and I would eat here time and time again – perfect for a relaxed evening out.
On our last evening we decided on an old favourite – The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking district and part of the Andre Balazs Empire. This place is consistently good. There is a bar and a more casual eating area at the front and a smarter dining room at the rear. I had requested one of their red leather booths in the dining room and was delighted when we were seated there. The place buzzed with a smart fashionable crowd and was full of atmosphere.
We ate oysters, Cobb salad, king crab legs, shrimp cocktail followed by a huge 45oz porterhouse for 2 (The Beard & his son munched their way through the whole thing!), the ranch burger with cheese and a bourbon glazed pork chop with cheddar grits. A substantial amount of very well cooked, perfectly seasoned and presented food washed down with a few cocktails, some bubbles and a bottle of Pinot noir. It was the perfect ending to the perfect trip.
New York has so many great places to eat and drink it’s hard to choose from, but I guess it means I’ll just have to come back soon!
The Standard Grill
The Standard, High Line, 848 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014, United States
A meal for 4 including wine was $450
191 Chrystie Street #2F, New York, NY 10002, United States
A meal for 4 including wine was approx. $200
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