New York and I have a delicate relationship. I’d like to say it is “Love/Hate,” but in reality it has often been “Frustrated/More Frustrated.” So, no one was more surprised than I was when I agreed to take a quick trip (very quick—only two days in the city) across country for an alumni meeting.
And I had quite a good time. Shocking! I felt like the experience had to be shared.
The first step in the right direction was something no one could have predicted: spring-like weather in February. The day I landed it was 55 and the day after it was 62. This might not seem like a revelation, but I used to work in NYC. I remember what February could be like there. This was a blessing.
I also have no doubt that one of the reasons my stay was so pleasant was the hotel: The Surrey located on 76th between Madison and 5th. I chose it because I went to the University of Surrey for a year (and the name brought back memories) and for the location. I didn’t think it was possible to merge old-world hospitality with modern accommodations, but The Surrey does it. It can be pricey, but there are deals to be had (Hotels.com runs some on this hotel, and you can always check the hotel’s website directly). They make a concerted effort before your stay to contact you and get any preferences you might have and the concierge can get you anything you want. Plus, the location is ideal for people in town for theater and shopping (UES Madison alone was a huge temptation).
While I did not eat in the hotel’s well-recommended restaurant, I did stop in at Bar Pleiades. I had been hesitant at first because I was traveling alone, and feared the assumption that I was an ugly hooker looking for work. I quickly got over the concern. The staff was very nice—even going out of their way to go down to the cellar to open another bottle of a Cote Du Rhone so that I could have my wine preference (believe me, I’ve been in places that just thank you for playing and tell you to choose a different wine). I decided to go the extra reward for the long flight, and enjoyed an amazing chocolate molten lava cake with French vanilla ice cream. Completely reasonable prices for a hotel bar, and it was the perfect place for me to unwind. It seemed quite popular with both the dating scene and the business set, and while the staff is attentive, they do not hover. Bonus points!
I continued my tour of the Upper East Side establishments the next night with my friend El. At her recommendation, we hit Uva Wine Bar & Restaurant at 77th and 2nd. It had terrific ambiance for dating, and yet completely comfortable for two friends catching up. Everything there is good, but I can particularly recommend the bruschetta and the tirami-su. In fact, I wish I had it right now!
As will become incredibly evident, I spent a lot of quality time sampling the baked goods of Manhattan. When I met a friend in a hidden lunch place off of Wall Street, Financier Patisserie, I headed straight for the pastries. It’s clear that I planned to fuel all of my meetings with chocolate. It’s hidden on Stone Street, but judging by the lines, the locals love it.
My final tour breaks all the assumptions you now have of me. I hit the Candle Café on 3rd near 75th for lunch one day. Now, I’m not vegan, so I was a little hesitant to try this place, but I was really pleasantly surprised. I ended up having the Mezze Plate (the hummus was amazing), but I saw a number of things on the menu that were really appealing. It’s a casual place that does get quite crowded when the lunch hour is in full swing, but no one rushes you out. It’s a great alternative for people who have mixed dietary lifestyles. Now I just wish I could go back to try their stir-fry!
For the first time, in a long time, I wish I had more time to spend exploring. Alas, the morning I left, the temperature was only 33. Obviously, it was time for me to head back to Los Angeles.