A Taste of Broadway

I declare myself King of Broadway whose daughter number two shall be known as Princess Madison, her astonishing beauty is only shadowed by her astonishing appetite, and daughter number two’s chaperone (who hacked this blog once already this week) can be known as her Fatman…er…I mean her Footman.

Why?

Well a trip to http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/ explains it all.

I had no expectations other than the fact that someone who thinks they should be on Broadway would be screeching in my ear while I struggled to look enthralled by the quaint concept of waiters performing in between taking my order and serving my food. Oh I was wrong though.

This place is just terrific.

Here’s the food:

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Yes that is three burgers on that plate. They were listed on the bill of fare as ‘Matthew’s Sliders’ and I got them for the name only. I could not finish them and that was with Princess Madison taking all the fries off my plate to assist. The food was good enough but the waiters really were fantastic performers. This pair gave us a Grease medley in celebration of the amount of fat now clogging up my arteries

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and this chap gave one of the best performances of ‘Bring him Home’ I have heard.

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So how does this make ME the King of Broadway?

Well who else would have someone with this talent follow such a deeply moving performance by having them clear the plates from my table? And paying eighty dollars for three great meals plus entertainment of this standard is hardly compensation. In fact this is probably the cheapest Broadway show you can get … with food … and drinks … and no major queuing.

Of course Princess Madison had dessert

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…which her Fatman helped with.

 

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Hot on the Trail of Cold Food

85 degrees and 67% humidity today.

So hot fried food and other spicy delectables were off the menu. At least for lunch.

Instead we set out on an intended trip to the Downtown area in search of cold fare and riverside amusement which never got below 34th Street. The food was well below zero though!

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http://www.tfyogurt.com/ is a great concept and is barely two blocks from our base in 54th Street. You go in and pick up a cardboard barrel and fill it up with fresh frozen yoghurt in a wide variety of flavours. There’s chocolate, cheesecake, toffee, coconut, nutella, birthday cake, peanut butter, sausage, egg and chips! (Guess where I started exaggerating).

After filling the barrel you start topping it with chunks of other sweet delights such as walnuts, chocolate brownie, chewy sweets and so on and so on…

You then pop in on the scale and hopefully you will have change out of ten dollars

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You are then placed into the Tutti Frutti transporter where you are de-materialized and dispatched to heaven. The rest of the afternoon can be spent eating it and fighting brain freeze. You even get to choose the colour of your spoon!

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But that’s not all the cold food treats we encountered today before getting nowhere near our intended location (food is a wonderful diversion).

After spending some time in the Tutti Frutti world we are sent back to this magical place which turned out to be inside Grand Central Station

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Although the meatloaf mountain was a little over the top

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It was too hot in New York today to do what we wanted to do. In the end we just admired the views and tried to look coolImage

Some of us even succeeded.

 

Crying into my Yankees!

Being a native New Yorker you have to decide at some point where your baseball affiliation lies, the Yankees or the Mets. The main criteria for making this decision is rather obvious. The Yankees have cooler looking hats.

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So today suitably attired in NY cap together with daughter number two in a rather fetching Yankees t-shirt and Matthew in whatever he could find lying around, we set off for the Sunday match against Baltimore Orioles (not Oreos, Matthew!).

The stadium is way up in the Bronx but is easily reached if you are willing to take the ‘tunnel of terror’.

A short walk from the stop, looking down one’s noses at the cheap Yankee hat vendors outside like any genuine fan ought to, we came to the entrance where the genuine merchandise sellers were offering exactly the same stuff for five times the price. Reminder for next time to buy from the dodgy sellers. Only four dollars for a hat I was quoted!

Inside it was colossal

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Well the food certainly was and the stadium was quite impressive too

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By the way that tray of food was only after having the obligatory hotdog at the entrance and a swimming pool of diet coke. Prices weren’t great but that’s what you expect in a sports stadium. $5 for water?

If you got hungry or thirsty between meals there were plenty vendors shouting at you to eat and drink beer, candy floss, ‘crackerjacks’ and fill up with more water of course. There really was no excuse for getting bored.

And there was the baseball of course….

Sadly despite the Yankees being the greatest (in hat design), they lost 7-3 with two home runs to the Orioles wiping out a 3-0 lead after five innings. Now that sounds sufficiently like I know what I am talking about to now declare myself a real fan. And like any real fan I have to cry into my ‘yankee’ at the dreadful home defeat

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Bah! I’m over it.  Now I’m hungry – I’m off to get dinner.

 

Time Travelling Tacos

Okay, I lied. There were no tacos, I just needed another ‘T’ word for the alliteration to work. The time travelling part is the most important part of the title. Forget the tacos. Sorry.

So, time travelling- I am going to talk about a bagel I had today, a lunch I had two days ago and will end with my dinner yesterday. I could have just pretended that I ate them all on the same day, but that would be lying. And I respect you too much for that.

Breakfast- The Bagel, from 8th Avenue’s ‘Pick a Bagel’ (any Bagel… Was this your Bagel? Boom. Magic)

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This may look like the holey messiah (see, because It has a hole in it and it’s Jewish) but this is actually ‘Bagel Part II: The Revenge’. The first one came without the bacon that I had ordered. Once the bagel, that I ordered, arrived it was rather tasty. It also had cheese on it. That I didn’t order. So, a cheesy surprise or a lactose-intolerant death trap? YOU DECIDE. All in all, if you don’t mind what you end up with and see your food order as more of general guideline rather than what you actually expect to end up eating, then this is the place for you! But it did taste nice.

Luncheon- Steak Flat Bread. With Some kind of Spicy Mayo.

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The giant hands were a bit unexpected but the actual food wasn’t half bad. Bought from ‘Pax Wholesome Foods’ On 6th avenue, just round the corner from the New York Public Library. Pax also boasts a ‘make your own’ salad and pasta bar. Needless to say I only learned about these features after I’d left. My gazes were reserved for the sandwich counter, and all it’s glorious meat stuffs. The Flat Bread came with a tub of spicy mayonnaise that puts the humble British kebab shop’s array of sauces to shame.

The Finale- TACOS!! Sorry, I lied again. It was Burritos. Very different.
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These were good. Although, even for someone whose life depends on not mistaking the extra mild chilli sauce for the dreaded mild chilli sauce in Tesco, this was not rather spicy at all. And not nearly as saucy (steady on there) as one might expect from Mexican cuisine. For those westerners who have avoided Mexican food, for fear of angering the Belly God then this may be for you. If I were to fit a personality to the spiciness lever of this food then I would attribute it to a small mousy governess, trainer for spinsterhood, such as you might find in any Agatha  Christie novel. Any of them, go on, check.

This blog was written by Matthew. Not Alastair. He still thinks we had tacos, please don’t tell him.

Die Hard Yankees!

I have been having sleepless nights worrying about the state of the Yankees ever since that defeat on Sunday. Sure they have won since but I still feel that the shortstop was failing to exploit the pinch hitter and without a decent relief pitcher their chances of getting through the play-offs is looking grim 😀

Anyway it occurred to me that I may be an untapped wealth of talent given I have never tried baseball. You just never know!

To find out if I have ‘Babe Ruth’ blood running through my veins I scoured the city for a good, proper catcher’s mitt and a baseball for less than fifty dollars (my limit for verifying sporting talent). The professional shops failed to impress me with their three hundred dollar offerings (for a big glove?) and ten dollars for a ball is just daft.

I adjusted my expectations and found that softball was the way forward. A good way to check for talent without the same danger of broken bones and Kmart had the kit for the right price. Splendid!

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But it turns out I’m not any good.

In fact Matthew is better!

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….but he wouldn’t get a game either.

Anyway we both know that we are excellent at eating hot dogs and tracking down the best ones. We had it on good authority that the best ones are to be found at http://grayspapayanyc.com/ on 72nd and Broadway. Handy for us because after discovering with sweat, tears and just a little dirt under our nails that we would skip the trials for the next Yankees squad, this was but a few blocks walk away.

Matthew was concerned it might rain on the way though….

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…and there were others who appeared concerned about the possibility of a downfall…

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….but just as Columbus discovered this fair land, we discovered that rain was not going to happen today (tenuous link I know).

We set off and ‘discovered’ the hotdoggery of real New Yorkers.

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Now I don’t know about you but as soon as I saw this place there were alarm bells going off in my head. Something about the Nakatomi Tower? Or was it that incident as Dulles Airport the year after?

Nope it was the Federal Reserve Bank raid! Remember?

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…and when I got my food…

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…with a drink for $4.50, I could only express both my disappointment about the whole Yankees trial and my joy at discovering the best hotdog in New York in one way.

Yippee Kay Ay, Mutha f***a!

A Monthly Review

It is an empty feeling I have in my heart just now. It may be that both daughter number one and daughter number two have now flown this satellite nest in New York leaving me alone with days and days before sister number two arrives to fill the void (sister number one has chosen to avoid the food madness). That may be it (you know where this is going don’t you?) … but it may be more to do with the fact that I am not being treated to a complimentary seat at every dining table my visitors book.

That’s it, I am hungry of course.

I have undertaken to eat sensibly for a week and that kind of leaves this diary hanging. Perhaps a recap of the major eating achievements of the last month will keep you interested enough to bear with me while I detox.

Way back in the beginning daughter number one and I plotted a route to Shake Shack (they are not getting link – you will know why soon) and ended up at http://www.smithsbar.com/ where we treated well enough but kind of stung for not having walked enough streets to be handed a 40% off voucher. I would have sang its praises if I had gotten such a reduction. They are to be had I am told.

Shake Shack was later visited by Princess Madison and her Fatman and their disappointment undermined any thoughts I had for a visit. Big queues here to get half the burger and half the milkshake you can get at http://www.steaknshake.com which is much closer to me.

http://www.angelospizzany.com in 57th Street was just fantastic and a repeat visit with daughter number two reinforced that this is great pizza at very good prices. Service was again top notch.

Other pizzas have been had since of course but this is easily the best. A slice of pizza…yeah…yeah…so its New Yorky. I want the lot!

Mexican and Chinese efforts so far have not been worth it, but Thai was excellent at  http://www.topazthai.com although bear in mind that the cocktails were thrown in for nothing. This Thai has been the subject of much more discussion

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You have to make sure they know you are from Scotland, in case the accent is missed.

http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com has now also had two visits and it doesn’t grow old. It’s still great to be serenaded by your waiter while you wait for dinner and have them clean up after you. It’s just like being married.

Go on … ask my wife … she is treated like this all the time!

This will strike fear into her.

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She thought she was coming to New York for a break but I got this for sixty dollars delivered to my door!

http://www.tfyogurt.com/  is also worth reminding you of. This is the magical frozen yoghurt dispenser that whisks you to a frenzy. Been here twice now and the flavours had changed. No more sausage, Shepherd’s Pie added 😉

But the final word here has to go to the poorest serving I have come across. That of the New York Yankees.

I have in these last few days been treated to evening drinks and local conversation at two Queens bars that do not have websites (not that type of bars) and shall remain nameless (I want them for myself!). The inside track is… I should have ignored the hat design and gone for the Mets. Their stadium is better and they are playing a damn sight better.

It’s okay, I did not betray my loyalties. I had to remind them I am Scottish and that we are the proudest losing nation in the world! if the Yankees want to be cr*p that’s fine by me. I will be back for more. Not because I bought the tickets before I realised they were hopeless or because sister number two paid for them. I will go because I committed myself and I am confident they will fill the emptiness I will feel by the end of this detox week. I will go because I have faith, I have strength and I have a desire to see it through to the end.

I also have the hat.

Doggedly Searching for Bagels.

New Yorkers really do love their dogs!

And their dogs really do seem to love New York…

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….which is hardly surprising when the city is basically designed for their pleasure. Take these doggie friendly features:

A public loo every ten yards…

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Free nosh whenever your owner is not looking…

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… and plenty beauty treatments…

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Who’s that in the window?!

Dogs are so common on a Saturday New York excursion that you have to wonder where they all come from.

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This turned out not to be a topless bar on closer inspection and the furry lump at the bottom of the picture is a litter of three Malti Poo pups (whatever they are).

In fact my walk this morning through Chelsea and Greenwich was ‘dogged’ by so many canine distractions to the point that I almost forgot that I had intended to locate the best bagel in New York.

Greenwich Village in New York is very different to the Midtown area where I have spent most of my time. The streets are no longer on a grid, so it is much easier to get lost, and with so many things aimed at the furrier variety of mammal it is difficult to locate anything really great to eat.

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Yes this was hopeful but it wasn’t a bagel. I pushed onward.

In fact the deeper you get into the Village the more you realise why dogs are so popular. The people just act like balloons.

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That’s the queue for one dollar pizza!

Even the buskers are different.

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He had that piano in his backpack when I arrived 😉

Anyway the bagel was indeed located at http://www.murraysbagels.com/ where the queue was very long but not as bad as the queue for one dollar pizza. Once the item was secured for $10 including bottle of water and dollar tip, it was indeed excellent.

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This was one half of the bagel which took almost half an hour to demolish while sitting on a little bench outside trying to avoid the stare of the locals.

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‘Hey man, I’ve been tied here for three days with no food! Take me home will ya?’

West Side Sob Story

As a tough talking, Yankee supporting, kick-ass hardened New Yorker how do I approach the opening of this closet door?

Well here goes…..

I – like – romantic comedy!!!

In fact I think Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan should be married, I think Maid in Manhattan should be compulsory A-Level study and Sandra Bullock should be given an Oscar for her stunning portrayal of Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality. For heaven’s sake she even pulled it off in the sequel!

There, it’s out, and we can get on with the blog.

Having pushed aside my guilty secret I can now declare that I think the film ‘You’ve Got Mail’ featuring the incomparable Tom Hanks and the enchanting Meg Ryan (that Parkinson guy is a bully – so there!) is one of the most underrated movies of the last fifteen years. So much so that, under pressure to do a movie tour of New York, it was my number one choice. It also happens to be set in a very pleasant part of New York not too far from my doorstep.

It’s ok food fans – there’s eating involved!

Now there are a number of locations in this silver screen gem that have gained iconic status including the very romantic Riverside Park where they finally get together in the end (against all odds and you’re never quite sure if it will happen even after the eighth viewing).

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That’s not them. This couple just stood in the way of my shot of the final kiss, and when their battered and bleeding bodies are found nearby the NYPD will now know why! 😉

Just up from this spot is Meg Ryan’s house where I imagine she must have been sitting inside still worrying about her little Shop Around the Corner.

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Alright! Alright! It’s a bit boring chasing round looking at these romantic locations. To the food bits!

This is where I obtained a delicious slice of New York Cheesecake (with a biscuit base) and is also the location of an uncomfortable and squishy moment in the film featuring Tom and Meg.

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Interesting because the purchase of two slices of cheesecake from http://cafelalo.com was both squishy (deliciously so) and uncomfortable ($18!!).  Best I have had so far though and I got to walk up the same steps as Tom 😀 .

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I didn’t eat this until later of course. I had to take it out as the place was packed.

Next on the movie trail was http://www.zabars.com/ and I cannot praise this gourmet supermarket enough.  Another uncomfortable moment for poor Meg in the film but I felt perfectly comfortable amongst the grub in here. Cheese of every kind, freshly baked bread, cooked meats and meals I was able to take away for my dinner (still no cooker in the flat – microwaved this!)

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Got myself a curry for tomorrow!

On the way back I passed a familiar shop also featured near the end of the film and already pictured in a previous blog entry from another angle. Taken this time from the exact spot Bruce Willis received a call from Simple Simon in ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’.

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No phone there! How do these movie guys do it?

Had lunch here

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With juice for $4.50. How do these Gray’s Papaya guys do it?!

I then headed homeward past Leonard Bernstein’s setting for West Side Story but didn’t take a picture because I was so distracted. I felt as light as air with my head full of romance.

Suddenly I had an epiphany!

I can’t be known only for my love of romantic comedy. I’m not a girl!

I stopped and haggled (like a man) with a street seller for these boyish items

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$10 for all five!

I saw a really great T-Shirt that any real bloke would be proud to wear…

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But then I spotted a bag I know daughter number two would just love!

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What is happening to me??!!

Who’s been eating in my blog?

You know the story of the three bears…

Well there’s only one poor bear in this tale (me) and two Goldilocks (Sister number two and husband…)

Okay one Goldilocks. He can be a bear too….a big hairy, hungry one.

Back to the story…

One day a poor hungry bear went out to work (every day since they came in fact) and when he got home Goldilocks and the big, hairy hungry bear had done all the eating and the poor hungry bear had to do with the scraps from the fridge.

On the first day they went to Hot and Crusty on Broadway and West 88th. It has a website which is under construction (http://hotandcrusty.com/) much like their shop it seems

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The feast obtained here was a Pecan Danish which it seems was very nice and reasonably priced.

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The intrepid duo spent the day on the Upper West Side exploring the nooks and crannies, eating, relaxing, eating, watching the world go by, windows shopping and eating. The small nibble to this item is shown purely to fool you into thinking that they savoured it. The next bite demolished the rest.

In fact the big, hairy bear was hungry within moments and had to be told to pipe down

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In any case they headed to http://www.amysbread.com/ for a snack from their delicious looking array of pastries

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This was sufficient to keep him quiet for an hour or two.

Suddenly he cried, ‘COOKIES!’

And Goldilocks had no choice but to stop chatting up the truck drivers.

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But she conceded that all in all he did look rather hungry

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So that was it. They headed fresh next morning to Lower Manhattan to further explore the eating quarters engaging in activities not suitable for a blog of such conservative nature (the pictures to be shown only to a select few of like-minded reprobates).

Hunger struck before they got two blocks away and an excellent bagel with all you could ever want for breakfast was guzzled out of http://pickabagelbatterypark.com. This lot for less than $10!!

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Okay, I will admit that they did walk something like fifteen odd miles that day and were out for almost thirteen hours doing the Lower Manhattan thing. But was this really a sensible dinner?

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No that is not a picture of a tree harvest in a Canadian forest. It’s the chips you get with an enormous burger from http://www.fiveguys.com/.

Aw and the big, hairy bear could not cope with it all…

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Naw!! Only joking!!

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So when Papa Bear got home and saw this lot he could well have been forgiven for being annoyed. But really it just gives him a great wee list of options for further eating once they are gone. When they are tucking into piddly little fries from Mcdonalds back home, he’ll be having the logs from Five Guys! Ho Ho!

And they all lived heavily ever after.

A Big Load of Bull

As New York says au revoir to sister number two and her now grizzled tough guy husband (both a Yankee supporter and a bull-riding pro) it is worth saying that the Big Apple will miss them.  If this picture didn’t have the pretty face it would basically be a picture of a bridge.

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And if this bull didn’t have a grizzled bull-rider on it, it would just be a bull.

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Oh I forgot – he fell off it didn’t he?

Anyway, while a fond farewell is wished upon these weary travellers it is time to review their legacy for those that have a care to follow their route to the New World.

I mean what they ate in the last few days of course.

We shall start with what they thought they were going to eat at http://www.johnnyutahs.com/ the hostelry with the mechanical bull that needs milking after every five riders.

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That’s worrying isn’t it?

http://www.timeout.com/ was sold to me by a previous traveller as a good way to save money as they send cheap deals to your email account every so often. They neglected to say that you save money because the deal usually turns out to be crap. In the case of Johnny ‘Uvebinhad’ that was certainly the case.

A pitcher of beer, a burger and a bull ride! For $20 down from £40! Get it while it lasts!!

On presenting my voucher at said Johnny UrAMug’s we were confronted with complete confusion (possibly as we were the only people in the last ten years to have been conned by this offer) and then served a ‘glass of beer’ and a burger that must have required the skills of a keyhole surgeon using an electron microscope to pull together

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That’s it. The side plate was cracking under the weight of the tomato ketchup while the burger presumably shrank in fear at the thought of being drowned in it. No chips, nothing else. Enough food for a gnat on a cabbage diet.

The bull ride was free to anyone who cared to sign away their human rights should the repair man make a serious lapse of judgement.

The message is hopefully clear to future explorers of this concrete jungle, fair enough go and ride the bull and have a drink. But don’t waste your money on the food.

Thankfully the food handed over at http://www.theatrerowdiner.com/ for $20 recovered New York’s reputation as the home of great chow.

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And the crispy duck dish and ginger chicken at Q2 Thai on 9th and 53rd was exceptional enough to soften my anger at Johnny UMustBeJokin and meant this review would be less insulting than originally intended.

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It certainly prompted celebrations from some

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While others just wouldn’t let the ball drop

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Anyway – I fear we must accept that New York is one of those places where things are usually pretty great, but every now and again it is going to pick you up and then throw you down.

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She wasn’t going to show you the picture so I guess I had to!