The Modern Mother’s Guide to NEW YORK CITY!
I have a ton of lucky friends travelling to New York City in the next couple of months who are all after tips on where to stay, eat, shop and chill. NYC is my favourite city in the world and luckily I get to visit there nearly every year. I thought I’d pass on my recommendations in blog-form, in the hope that some of you other Big Apple aficionados may wish to add to the list. Wish I was coming with you!
The Greenwich Hotel 377 Greenwich St NYC Tel + 212 941 8900 This may be my favourite hotel in the world. The rooms are cosy and luxe, the spa and pool/yoga zone zen and the food, from it’s own restaurant Locanda Verde, seriously out of this world. Don’t get me started on the guest-only drawing room. After-hours fun is spent snuggled in overstuffed chairs around the fireplace sipping red wine and devouring big bowls of pasta or their signature roast chicken for two. Our fellow guests each night were almost as stellar as the food – Jeremy Irons, Bradley Cooper, Russell Brand, Richard Gere, The Edge, Mary Kate Olsen, Jason Bateman and our gracious host and owner, Bob De Niro. Rid-ic-u-lous! *kid-friendly, if you are Suri Cruise. This is where Tom stays when he comes to visit – but don’t let that put you off.
The Standard Highline 848 Washington St NYC Tel +1 212-645-4646 I holed up here last year when Hurricane Sandy hit. Even without power, hot water and food it still rocked! The hotel is beautifully located between Jeffrey NYC (tiny but fab high-end department store) and Pastis and hovers under and around The Highline. Choose a room peering straight at DVF and McQueen (OMG!) or overlooking The Whitney, which is currently being built, and right out to the HRH The Statue of Liberty. Did I mention the service is A1. Don’t forget to rock the Boom Boom Room late into the night (if you can locate your 20-something inner-self). Coolness personified.
The Highline An amble along The Highline is one of the most exciting newish additions to New York City. A disused, vaulted railway line has been converted into a green (depending on the season), winding path through downtown New York and is a Big Apple must-do. The kids love running around the open spaces. Make sure you end up at Chelsea Markets for coffee or lunch. *kid-friendly
The Museum of Natural History Central Park West, NYC Tel +1 212 769 5100 The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue NYC Tel (212) 535 7710 These are both musts. The Natural History Museum is “Night at The Museum” heaven and a guaranteed smash. The Met, well it’s massive so don’t plan to do it all at once or you will simply expire. If taking kids, hit the modern art gallery and the Egyptian Temple pronto. They’ll have a ball. *kid-friendly
The Bronx Zoo 2300 Southern Blvd Bronx, Tel +1 718 220 5100 This is a big, seriously well-put together zoo complete with dancing flamingoes, shifty looking lizards and grumpy monkeys. Expect to spend the whole day here and be sure to pack a picnic lunch. *kid-friendly
Picnic in Central Park Nip into Wholefoods downstairs at Columbus Circle, grab a picnic lunch then dart across the road to the park. Nothing beats it. *kids love it!
Magnolia Bakery 401 Bleecker St NYC Tel +1 212-462-2572 Honestly, the cakes are way too sweet for me, but the kids LOVE them, plus it’s fun to see mega-cake making in action (watch video above)! *kids-only! A good way to break up the day if you are shopping Bleeker Street.
Chelsea Art District is one of the most important and exciting global centres of modern art. Brimming with galleries representing both respected and young emerging artists, skulk the streets and discover the most inspirational, coveted and downright breathtaking art this borough has to offer. On the way, stop in at super-cool stores like Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons for a buy, a window shop or just to ogle their breathtaking interiors.
Neue Gallerie 1048 5th Ave NYC Tel +1 212-628-6200 I only discovered Neue Gallerie a couple of years ago but it now holds a permanent place on my NY must-do list. Located on the upper West-side and housed in a gorgous old multi-level building, it features wonderful Twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design. Be sure to grab a head-set tour, it makes all the difference. Afterwards grab a table in Café Sabarsky, a heavenly little eatery inspired by traditional Viennese cafes and try and choose between classic dishes like creamed spätzle with wild mushrooms, peas, carrots & tarragon or chilled smoked trout crêpes & horseradish crème fraîche. Or just order the Goulash. Amazing. *most definitely not kid-friendly. They will literally die of boredom.
Woody Allen at the Carlyle I can’t describe the sheer excitement of watching Mr Allen and his band jazz-it-up in this glamourous NYC institution. The food is old school – veteran waiters in white aprons serving Dover Sole and authentic cocktails. It is really hard to get a seat so you’ll have to be organised and cunning about it. Here’s a little taste of what you don’t want to miss out on (see video above).
MoMA 11 W 53rd St NYC Tel +1 212-708-9400 Big, bold, colourful and fabulous, MoMA is a winner for everybody – art lover or not. Be sure to check out the sculpture courtyard and the gallery’s most iconic and important works including Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, along with more recent works by Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Murray and Cindy Sherman. If kids are in tow, head straight to the top for the children’s gallery. The cafe is fab for lunch too. *Kid-friendly
New York City Ballet 10 Lincoln Center Plaza Tel +1 212-875-5456 A trip to The Lincoln Centre to see the New York City Ballet is a mandatory treat. Be sure to order your intermission champagne on arrival. Grab a pair of signed dancer’s ballet shoes (just $10) from the gift store – they make a great present. If you have an Angelina Ballerina in the house, enrol her in a kid’s workshop where she can meet a Prima Ballerina, check out the rehearsal studios and take a dance class. Afterwards grab a matinee performance together. A truly special and memorable experience for you and her. *kid-friendly
Go the Yankees! A Yankee’s game is a really fun outing if you are on a family holiday. Jump on the subway and head out to the Bronx for Major League Baseball heaven. Buy a scary hot dog, suck on a soda and stare obsessively at A-Rod as I did. We left before full time – it was realllly long – but a great experience for all of us. *kid-friendly
A day in Brooklyn Ok, this is the kid’s/tourist version and it’s so much fun! Make sure you allow a full day. It doesn’t matter how old they are, they must walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It bustles with lots of activity, makes for great people watching (check out the Maybelline NYC shoot we ran into!) and best of all, it provides a gorgeous view of Liberty herself. Once you reach the other side, (it takes around an hour) hit historic Grimaldi’s Pizzeria then walk to the pier to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for a sweet hit, and take in Manhattan from a completely different perspective. Forget walking back – jump a taxi or hit the subway and head on home. A GREAT DAY! *Absolutely kid-friendly
Pastis 9 9th Avenue NYC Tel (212) 929 4844 Sure, it’s cliche but I don’t give a toss. Think authentic French bistro right in the heart of the Meatpacking District. The atmosphere is unbeatable, the food fab and they cater brilliantly for children. I just love it. *kid-friendly
Foragers City Grocer 3300 W 22nd St NYC Tel +1 212-243-8888 Foragers is a farmer’s market with a modern Asian bent. Browse the endless aisles of seasonal greenmarket produce, sustainable fish and local meats before grabbing a coffee (and they’re really good!) and freshly baked pastry-to-go. This is a brilliant pit-stop if you are doing the Chelsea Art District.
Eataly 200 5th Avenue NYC Tel +212 229 2560 The city’s greatest food mecca Eataly is run by the king of the New York food scene Mario Batali. An Aladdin’s cave of restaurants, cafes and fresh produce, it is an Italian gourmand’s delight with every kitchen tool, cured meat, cheese, fruit and vegetable known to man. Oh and the coffee is incredible! Must-go. *kid-friendly
Velselka 144 2nd Ave NYC Tel +1 212-228-9682 Who said Manhattan doesn’t serve up soul food? Veselka, serves up authentic Ukrainian cuisine in its East Village establishment, and has been a favourite haunt for the villages’ Ukrainian community. Do order The Borscht – Ukranian beet soup and opt for the chilled version. Follow with homemade fried Pierogi oozing with sweet potato, arugula and goats cheese with a side dish of sweet-sautéed onions, apple sauce and sour cream. Veselka is known for their Blintzes – light crepes filled with sweet cream cheese and finished with a drizzle of fresh raspberry sauce. For dessert, go the cinnamon-scented apple crumb pie straight from the oven with a generous dollop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream. * surprisingly, yes, kid-friendly
Afternoon Tea at Bergdorf Goodman 5th Avenue at 58th Street NYC Tel 1.800.558.1855 Shop then drop for a well-earned glass of champagne, an elegant high tea and a chance to take-in Decorating Queen Kelly Wrester’s luxe interior – all a-top fabulous BG. Brill! *well-behaved kid-friendly
Freeman’s 191 Chrystie St East Village Tel +1 212-420-0012 This is a true gem. Book for dinner, jump a taxi and head downtown. There you will find a hidden alley way strewn with fairy lights that leads you to Freeman’s – a quirky cross between a hunting lodge and an old English pub. The menu is modern American meets English comfort food – think devils on horseback, five cheese macaroni, red wine braised lamb shank cheddar grits and charred onion lamb jus … and for dessert, stout sticky toffee cake and whipped cream.
Prune 54 E 1st St NYC Tel+1 212-677-6221 Fab place to go for brunch! Think marvellously peppery spaghetti carbonara, a killer Monte Cristo with a side of fried eggs and red-currant jelly and grilled lamb sausages with Malpeque oysters. Their signature Prune juice is a must – a fresh-squeezed blend of Meyer lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit. Heaven.
Chelsea Markets 75 9th Ave NYC Tel +1 212 243 6005 Chelsea Market is housed in The National Biscuit Company complex that was founded in the 1890’s that once whipped up everything from Oreos to Saltines. It has been expertly and exquisitely transformed into a market place housing a fabulous array of food, books and home wares to-die-for. Watch bread and bagels being baked at Amy’s Bread, pick over fresh lobsters, marvel over the chicest of cookies at Eleni’s, pick up a brownie or three at the Fat Witch and wander through endless aisles of incredible Italian produce. Be sure to hit it for a little fashion too. Nicole Farhi is there as is Anthropologie which I can’t resist for quirky jewellery and fab tableware. *kid-friendly
Spice Market 403 West 13th Street NYC Tel +212 675 2322 Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s takes street cuisine to a new level serving it up in a casual, sexy atmosphere in the heart of The Meatpacking District. Think peekytoe crab dumplings with sugar snap peas and aromatic spices, Maine lobster, red curried duck and spicy Thai slaw with Asian pear crispy shallots and mint.
Locanda Verde Foyer level The Greenwich Hotel (details at top) Robert De Niro’s chic but easy-going neighbourhood restaurant in TriBeCa is a perfect pit-stop any time of day. If breakfast is the go, start with Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with sea salt and herbs, follow with the Scampi Ravioli with rock shrimp, zucchini and toasted garlic and finish with a slice of luscious Fig and Honey Upside-down Cake.
Barney Greengrass 541 Amsterdam Ave NYC Tel +1 212-724-4707 Lawd it was a mistake taking the kids here! Perhaps it was the pong of sturgeon, smoked salmon and Nova at 9am that turned them off? Well I loved it! This is traditional Jewish deli-heaven at its best. Toss them a plain bagel and live it up fish-lovers!
Shake Shack Madison Square Park near Madison Ave. and E.23rd St. NYC Tel 212 889 6600 For a quick lunch, make your way to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Yeah the queue is crazy but the wait isn’t. Think crinkle-cut fried, succulent burgers, Root Beer Floats and Verbena and Raspberry ice cream. Eat it fast though all the squirrels will beat you to it! *kid-friendly? You betcha!
Grape and Grain 620 E 6th Street NYC Tel +212 420 0002 The perfect post-Broadway supper spot, sit beneath the pressed-tin ceiling and Victorian-style chandeliers and sip a glass of wine or two, nibble on delectable morsels like shiitake-mushroom tart perfumed with black-truffle oil, tuna carpaccio with a jalapeño-infused citrus vinaigrette and the meatball and caramelised onion pizza.
Balthazar 80 Spring Street NYC Tel +212 965 1414 Don’t listen to anyone who tells you this is a tourist trap. Like Pastis, it is an NYC gem and a brilliant place for brunch before you hit Spring Street for a shopping blitz. The coffee is awesome too. *Kid-friendly
Momofuku 207 Second Avenue NYC Tel +212 777 7773 David Chang’s famous pork buns and Christina Tosi’s cutting-edge, to-die-for desserts – what’s not to love here? Chow down on said buns and other Asian delights then nip into the Milk Bar for a sip of Cereal Milk and a slither of Grasshopper Pie. The kids will LOVE IT (and so, secretly, will you.) *kid-friendly
Per Se Restaurant 10 Columbus Circle NYC Tel +212 823 9335 Restaurants Magazine named Per Se the best restaurant in the world and it has a permanent spot on the Top 50 restaurants in the world list. It’s vast, overlooks Central Park and busy Columbus Circle and the food is immaculate. Thomas Keller is to the food world what Bono is to music. He is genius and innovative and this may be the best dinner you ever have. Book ahead…. way ahead and get thee there.
Chinatown Brasserie 380 Lafayette Street NYC Tel +212 533 7000 You have to hit Chinatown to believe it and the place to eat is Chinatown Brasserie. This is an NYC institution and why? It was Nora Ephon’s favourite. Enough said.
Grand Central Oyster Bar Grand Central Terminal 402 West 43rd Street NYC Tel +212 564 7272 After checking out the majestic ceiling at Grand Central Station, head straight for the Oyster Bar where you will receive the worst service ever, but slurp the best chowder and suck on the freshest, most succulent oysters you may ever eat. It just has to be done – stat. *kid-friendly (there is more than oysters here)
Elio’s 1621 2nd Ave, btw 84th and 86th NYC Tel +1 212-772-2242 This is one of New York’s most classic uptown, old-school eateries. A favourite of Joan Didion, Jerry Seinfeld and Gwyneth Paltrow, prepare to savour the best Italian food outside of Italy! This is one to book, enjoy and remember.
Bemelman’s Bar at The Carlyle Hotel 35 E 76th St NYC Tel +1 212-744-1600 Settle in for a cocktail and take in the discreet and elegant charm of this iconic bastion of post-war decadence. Think white-jacket waiters, 24-karat gold leaf ceilings, nickel- trimmed glass tables and leather banquettes. You will adore the murals of frolicking animals painted by bar namesake and former Carlyle Hotel resident Ludwig Bemelmans (the author of the Madeleine series of children’s books). I like to hit here for a cocktail after doing Madison Ave, around 6ish. It’s buzzy, the piano is playing and all is just perfect with the world.
Madison Avenue – Stroll this glorious Manhattan shopping mecca, spending up at Barney’s, Tom Ford, Proenza Schouler, Dylan’s Candy Bar (for the kids!), Prada and chic multi-brand store Fivestorys.
Soho – For cool multi-brand boutiques head to Soho and shop cool fashion at Curve and Kirna Zabete. Then snap up homewares at Global Table.
Meatpacking District – Take a skulk through the cobbled streets (wear flats!) of The Meatpacking District, shopping Jeffrey (the world’s most intimate and fabulous mini-department store) and a host of high fashion boutiques including Diane Von Furstenberg and Alexander McQueen.
Fifth Avenue – Head uptown and shop-up stellar fashion names from Gucci to YSL, department stores Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. Pick up toys at kids-heaven FAO Schwartz, teen fashion at Abercrombie & Fitch, high-street pics at H&M and diamonds at Tiffany & Co.
TriBeCa – This is one hip neighbourhood and the shopping is a little bit different too. I really like the well-edited mix of labels at Otte, Bu the Duck for the kids and the fantastic vintage at What Goes Around Comes Around.
Bleecker street – This is home to Marc Jacobs! Shop his bookshop BookMarc, his cheap and cheerful shop Marc, diffusion store Marc by Marc Jacobs, men’s and women’s Marc Jacobs and super-cute Marc Jacobs Kids — phew! Peruse quaint and curious antique stores and well-edited multi-brand fashion stores like Intermix all whilst trying not to run into local Sarah-Jessica Parker. For a good lunch, hit the Pearl Oyster Bar. You can graze on fresh oysters or a lobster roll and they can chow down on a Sundae!
Look forward to hearing your thoughts New York lovers!