First NYC Burger

The intention was to head to Shake Shack for one of its famous burgers but the queue was so long you would have expected at the end to get on a roller coaster and slide down the side of the burger into a river of diet coke (has to be diet to cancel out the burger calories). Been averse to queuing for food ever since I spent those years on the street frequenting Salvation Army soup kitchens I made my way two doors down to http://www.smithsbar.com/ where there were a few tables left.

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I selected the Hell’s Kitchen Burger and daughter number one had a childish notion to assemble two starters into a Macaroni Cheese and Chips to remember days gone by when that was all she ate. I also had a Bronx Ale in order to ‘fit in’ like a real ‘New Yorker’ because clearly that is what they must drink in the Bronx for it to be called that.

This was the burger:

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This was in another street but it was what I felt like I ate:

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and here was daughter’s children’s meal

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She obviously had the diet coke and therefore only felt like she ate one of these (also pictured outside waiting for the criminal who robbed me of fifty dollars. She was blond, about 5′ 6″ and had a waitress apron on).

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That’s a bit unfair – it was very tasty and filling and I would go again (with a voucher). Shake Shack will come another day and this will make a good comparison burger.

Pizza Night!

It’s not that I am not going to eat out every night but the cooker in the flat is broken at the moment and I am obliged to get a hot meal inside me just like my Granny always said. With that in mind daughter and I set off for a walk round Central Park to build up a calorie deficit to be hopefully filled by a pizza from http://www.angelospizzany.com/ in 57th Street. Not sure the walk achieved the aim.

Very pleasant welcome at this wee restaurant and surprisingly quiet at about quarter to six. We got a lovely seat upstairs overlooking 57th Street

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After some deliberation and some helpful advice from our waitress we went for a 17″ pizza with extra cheese and roasted peppers. Sounds a bit vegetarian? I also selected a classy sparkling water from the springs of Tuscany shipped directly to New York for my enjoyment. Daughter had a 7up from the bar.

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A lot of glasses there? Water was delivered regularly to the table to make sure we were able to polish off the feast. We didn’t really need to pay for a drink.

Then came the pizza……

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That’s right, it was the size of a baseball field. Here are some people seen playing on it when zoomed in…

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It was simply the best pizza I have tasted and that includes a slice of the Italian bread in Florence some years back. I would have liked to have added a couple more toppings but had to compromise with the sharing problem inherent in enormous pizza consumption. We could have gone for two 13″ pizzas but that would have destroyed me. As it is this is the Fire Department arriving to cut me out of my chair….

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After polishing off the last slice we fearfully awaited the bill and were delighted to learn that we had only totted up $32 worth of Italian gastronomic delight. That’s about 20 quid in old money.

Easily better than fifty dollars for a burger. Will remember this place.

Lunch

The New York subway is similar to the London Underground in one way, it’s mostly underground. In all other ways it is different. For a start you cannot assume that taking the subway to a particular station will result in you emerging at that station, and you cannot rely upon the roof of the station holding out long enough for you to get on the train. I would suggest it is New York’s equivalent of the London Dungeon apart from the fact that we know the horrors of the London Dungeon can’t really harm you. Great fun though!

Taking a trip today with daughter number one to the 911 memorial resulted in us surfacing somewhere on the lower east side where the street entertainers were NYPD traffic officers telling the drivers to ‘getthafugoutaheya’ as encouragement to ignore the red lights temporarily suspended so that Lafayette could be given over to cyclists for a summer day of fun in Lower Manhattan. The cops didn’t look like they were having much fun.

Anyway, we went round in circles for some time when suddenly the smells and sounds of the Orient gave us a clue as to our location. Walking through Chinatown past the vast array of little restaurants we found our way to Little Italy where the smell of garlic and freshly roasted tomatoes finally got to us. We were hungry and it was as close to lunch time as required to justify it. Chinese or Italian? Oh the decisions! We settled for Mexican.

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Two troughs of Nacho with Chicken were promptly ordered up and delivered by this stunning waitress…

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…or maybe that was later.

Anyway the food was, of course, delivered in vast barges capable of taking us across the Hudson.

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In fact we decided to use them to take a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to see that waitress again after she went home.

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She didn’t take her tray home of course

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But being burdened with enormous quantities of cheese, sour cream, guacamole and nachos we did sink the barges!

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Never mind, we were rescued at delivered safely home and I changed my name to Al to avoid any embarrassment if this story ever got out…

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Oh hang on. I just told everyone!

Lunch was ok! Twenty four dollars! For crisps! Would not go back here. In fact probably should have eaten Chinese or Italian in retrospect.

Little dogs, no biscuits and Chinese food.

A number of women in New York walk around with dogs the size of hamsters so that they can hide them in their purses and occasionally tuck them into their armpit to look angrily at the tourists. Only the dogs make eye contact, the women reserve their glances for 5th Avenue shopping and men who can afford it.

Speaking of small dogs, the hotdog vendor encountered on 8th Avenue on this morning’s shopping trip to Kmart provided me with what looks fairly substantial but took all of two mouthfuls to demolish.

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It was tasty and only $2.50 so I shouldn’t moan but didn’t someone say these were supposed to be sensational. Oh yes! The next vendor had sensational ones, for $6!

Never mind, dessert was much better even if it missed a biscuit base. Do these New Yorkers not know how we British like our traditional New York food?

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This little shop had pizza slices I will be back for and the cake display was worth a pic…

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Have a look at http://carve.cc/ – we are liking this place…

I had to wait the whole afternoon for dinner and by popular demand I decided we would have Chinese as long as I could ask for a ‘take-out’ and not tip the waiter to see if he would run after me with a samurai sword. (yes yes – samurai’s are Japanese – I’m an uneducated bum – just wait, it gets worse!)

The Tang Pavilion looked hopeful and only four blocks away. http://www.tangpavilionchinese.com/home-page/

Daughter number one and I perused the menu of Shanghai & Soo Chow Cuisine considering the plethora of delights such as Jelly Fish, Soo Chow Duck and Shrimp with Snowpea-Leaf. Finally we spotted the savoury delight that would tickle our tastbuds…

Chicken Curry

and…

boiled rice

and….

Stir Fried noodles…

…but wait! Oh no! Where oh where were they?

NO CHIPS!!

Again I say it. When will they learn that a Chinese takeaway menu only needs four lines…

Chicken Curry

Boiled or fried rice

Stir Fried Noodles

Chips!

All this lobster, black bean and eggplant nonsense surely ends up in the skips at the rear of the restaurant enough for them to realise.

Anyway it was a feast

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…and that was just one chicken curry, one noodles and one rice between two. You are seeing my half. Daughter had the same and there is a lunch left over.

THERE’S CHIPS ON THAT PLATE!!      Yes, I hear you shouting.

We nipped in here…

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That made everything right!

It tasted fine but nothing to write home about 😉

The main advantage of this restaurant is that it would deliver to my door and that makes it kind of tempting to use again. That being said I walk out the door and two blocks away I am on Broadway looking at a choice of food you would not believe. Why would I need it delivered?

Here was my fortune cookie…

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I going to read that as ‘it’s definitely a day for Chinese but not Tang Pavilion, so don’t be tempted’.

I just hope the Indian restaurants have the good sense to have chips on the menu. Do they know nothing about ethnic gastronomy?!

 

Bagels, Goodbyes, a Boat Ride and a Big Slice of Pizza!

It’s been a hard week eating poor quality food from the local mini-market and listening to daughter telling me about all the scoff she and her visitor from Toronto were demolishing. I sampled a frozen yoghurt from here (http://www.tfyogurt.com/) after it was rejected as being too healthy and I caught the scent of a burger at one point.

So as it was Friday I decided I would spend the day with daughter on the departure of her Mate-in-Manhattan who we saw onto the Greyhound Bus possibly ten pounds heavier than when she arrived. It had nothing to do with the fact that Mate-in-Manhattan had left several hours of her Citysightseeing ticket (http://www.city-sightseeing.com/) behind and I was going to get a free boat ride out of it. (For the record, daughter’s friend was a joy of a visitor and made an excellent daycare facility over the last three days).

Daughter and I stepped out at half eight and headed down 12th Avenue to find the pier where the boat was due to drop anchor from. On arrival I had the munchies and obtained a breakfast bagel and some tea from the small cafe. I drank the tea and tucked the bagel into my pocket to eat on board.

Steaming out into the Hudson I produced the cream cheese filled delight from my pocket and was surprised to learn it had most of the Philadelphia factory’s last shipping to New York wedged between the cartwheel-sized buns. I felt that the other passengers overreacted though:

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But to be honest, once I’d eaten the cheese out of the middle I had to throw the rest away.

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We saw some lovely sights on the way round but I won’t bore you with the details. It’s about the food.

I recovered from the bagel about five o’clock and as I had promised headed back to http://carve.cc/ for a slice of pizza. I actually deliberated with this place which is closer

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In fact I said something like ‘Holy Roasted Tomato Batman!’ when I saw it but the pizza display was disappointing.

It was a good decision. The Carve pizza slices were extraordinary!

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But not as great as the desserts.

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To be honest I haven’t got to the dessert yet. I am that bagged with pizza. The pizza tasted great when you consider it is reheated. I intend to eat the apple cake with some Maple Syrup kindly left by daughter’s carer from Canada who we dearly miss already.

Yes she was a joy to have and her boat ride was great fun too.

Breakfast in the Big Apple

New York’s street vendors are an interesting bunch, or ‘ a bunch of bloody chancers’ as we say in the mother tongue. Their prices are a tad more expensive than twice the cost of the equivalent product in a proper shop (and not the ‘I (heart) New York’ shops to be clear which are just as bad). This permits them to haggle with anyone who tries to walk away and you will almost certainly get the product for a only few dollars more than the actual value.

Ice cream and hotdog vendors have a interesting tactic of revealing the cost (including tax) only after you have been naive enough to take the product into your hand. Tax appears to vary between 10% to whatever number of dollars you are foolish enough to hand over. Of course you are really meant to tip as well…

But the street vendors I can handle, this is all part of the charm. I expect better from the restaurant chains.

Heading out with daughter number one for a trip to the http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/ today we decided a typical New York Breakfast would be the way to start the day. We wanted to go to http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/ but they had finished breakfast (at half ten?). The waiting staff here perform Broadway tunes while you wait and that makes more sense to me that sitting trying to make an origami swan out of the napkin to relieve the boredom of listening to my rumbling stomach. So two doors down was http://www.applebees.com/ who also do breakfast with a really long silence while you wait. That’s unfair, they are a bit quirky, they provide tea with chopsticks to stir it presumably thinking it is a Chinese thing.

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Remember this doorway, you may wish to avoid it.

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I ordered a double croissant with eggs ‘over easy’ (soft) smothered in Monterey Jack Cheese (Kraft cheese slice). Daughter number one ordered a ‘New York Slam’ (scrambled eggs with sausages and pancakes). Both had ‘Apple Potatoes On the Side’ (fried tatties).

They looked good

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Now I know I am beginning to sound like I am not enjoying the food that much but it wasn’t great. The tea was alright. One of my eggs was definitely ‘over hard’ and the Apple Potatoes were clearly made three days ago and fermented in a stew of sweet peppers overnight to achieve such an ‘fridge leftovers fry-up’ quality. I ate it, but I eat anything. I had to eat half of daughter number one’s who is more discerning.

If that doesn’t make you feel ill maybe this will

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Think about the poor guy on the ground!

Anyway, it was $26. The waitress got her tip because it wasn’t her fault the chef treats tourists like idiots.

But the next time they want my business they can sing for it!

Bangkok and Manhattan Cocktail – very Cosmopolitan!

Walking and sitting in Central Park doing not very much is not a waste of time in New York. You can listen to couples arguing, see young children stick their tongues out at you or blow bubbles in your face, fuss over a variety of dogs and watch baseball being kind of played. When you are with your daughter no time is wasted.

Lucky for http://www.topazthai.com that I am so easy going with my time given the wait for dinner.

We wrestled with the idea of burgers, more Chinese and even cast an eye over a Mexican before settling on this Thai restaurant on 56th Street. It was a good choice!

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This restaurant doesn’t leap out at you but the number of Oriental customers gave us a hint as to the quality. We ordered a Beef Satay and Thai Yellow Curry with rice along with a diet coke and an Amstel light beer. The frozen glass and bottle was another nice touch. Water was delivered whenever the glasses got low so no drinks were necessary.

…and then we waited….

….and waited…..

….and waited….

and waited.

When we ran out of conversation daughter number one pointed out that several customers had come and gone since we placed our order. On making enquiry with the very polite and welcoming staff we learned that the chef had ‘gone for a break’ and had forgotten to put out food on. Just before we had made out minds up to head for the quick and easy diner on the corner the waiter offered two free cocktails as appeasement. At ten dollars a pop daughter number one swooped in like a hawk.

That would be acceptable.

Daughter number one chose a ‘Cosmopolitan’ and I (obviously) chose a ‘Manhattan’ which I managed to get a sip of…

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The food was not long after that and I have to say it was excellent.

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We needed extra rice to scoop up the sauce from the curry which was exceptionally tasty and very spicy.

Our bill came to $43 dollars and the tip was added to the cost. Fine. Without the free cocktail I would have been unhappy. The food was terrific and every chef needs a break now and then. Daughter number one’s opinion is that he should have a break whenever he wants as long as the free cocktails flow in his absence.

Aside

Mickey and Milkshakes, brought to you by Matthew

Good evening dear, dear readers. Loyal followers of the Rev. Alastair Garrow MD, PhD, Esq. I regret to inform you that this evening’s broadcast will be brought to you by a guest writer. Myself. 

My food pilgrimage to the Americas began with a self-deprecating pasta dish- courtesy of British Airways-   Image 

Upon arriving in the land of opportunity, food became more and more self assured, as we were bombarded with numerous claimants to the ‘World’s Best’ of everything. 

On our travels we picked up a new friend, a bargain at $19. We may have freed him from captivity, but I am unsure as to where his loyalties lie. Image

 

Just to clarify, the friend that I bought is the monochrome gentleman in the hat. The girl was considerably more expensive. The girl in the picture is known to our regular writer as ‘daughter number two’. She is not know as this to me, however, for a number of reasons, the chief of which being that I do not have a first daughter.  

So, daughter number two (henceforth to be referred to as the accused… I mean Holly) and I (with the constant companionship of Steamboat Willy), stopped in a small pizzeria below Midtown Comics. In Midtown. The exterior of the shop hosted a sign proclaiming a single word- ‘Pizza’.  It was a small establishment with a ‘2 slice + soda for $5’ deal working in its favour. The pizza slices were excellent and pretty big, the full pizzas being around 18-20″. Holly  and I were very impressed and our wallets were not grieving the loss too badly. 

After a day dashing about (and definitely not singing, much) in the rain we decided that the time for dinner had come. We were told that the sacred ‘Shake Shack’ would probably be too busy and so we sought refuge with its lesser known cousin- ‘Steak n’ Shake’. 

This was the result- Image 

Despite Holly’s vegetarian burger being forced to mingle with our meaty one in captivity, the burgers themselves were rather tasty. I decided upon a BBQ and bacon chap, who did not let me down in the slightest. The sauce was smoky and the burger was neither too greasy, nor too pink. All in all, it was a good meal and I have it on good authority that their milkshakes pack a punch. Image

‘Shake Shack’ has much to live up to and as far as I am concerned ‘Steak and Shake’ can hold its head up high at the next family reunion of fast food restaurants that have Shake in their name. Its not a big family.  

I am glad that my first day in the promised land of the Mormons was such a food filled success. Lets hope that by name dropping the Mormons a few times I’ll get some free tickets to see their musical.