Below, an email exchange that began last summer.
June 17th, 2008
My wife is a long time fan of your blog. She loves it. In fact, apart from work e-mail and Alma's Soul Food, she uses her laptop for little else.
We are planning a trip to Manhattan for a weekend in late November. It's my wife's first time (I've been a few times).
I thought - who better to ask than yourself for advice on the matter. We know the options are countless, however I would like to know what you would recommend.
What makes a great Manhattan weekend?
June 17th, 2008
Wow, what a compliment!
Do you and your wife like music? Jazz? Art museums? Quiet dinners, ethnic food? Do you mind loud places? Are you early risers or night-owls? Do you drink? I am terrible with money and spend it even when I don't have it, so if I'm not careful, I'll keep pointing you in the direction of my favorite expensive restaurants. However, I also know of some inexpensive places that are quiet good.
Please email me back and tell me what sort of experience you and your wife would like to have.
I'm not one to know about the tourist spots, i.e. Statue of Liberty and so on, but I can help if you're interested in the New York less traveled.
Look forward to hearing from you.
June 19th, 2008
Money not so much of an issue.
Want to have some great dining opportunities- quiet, dim, love Italian & south Asian, or NY renowned, cold tea maybe?
Yes, Jazz would be good or folksy.
Cafes (with their own unique signature whatever).
Classic Breakfast Diners.
Art galleries (emphasis on film would be good).
If we were to do a touristy thing what would be one highlight that delivers?
We'll probably gravitate to the lower West side.
We're not clubbers but any other night life activities you might think of (late night galleries perhaps or other original happenings).
We want to walk lots - where should we walk, or even a recommended route(s) over 2 days.
Yep we drink! Interesting funky lounge bars would please.
Big Thanks for this!
July 24th, 2008
I realized I was waiting to send you the information until I had perfected it, but I think it's better I send you what I have now, then I can suggest more as I think of things.
With few exceptions, I have a real disliking for Broadway theatre. With that said, Patti Lapone just won the TONY Award for her memorable performance in the musical, Gypsy, so you might want to check that out. Unfortunately, Sam Sheppard’s play, Kicking a Dead Horse, will have a limited run and will be closed by the time you get here, but you never know, we should check closer to the time in case they extend it.
Latanzzi is my favorite Italian restaurant. It’s in the theatre district, so you should couple that with seeing a show since there’s nothing else to do in that neighborhood. You’ll need a reservation, ask for the corner table in the indoor patio for more intimacy. Phone: 212-315-0980.
One of my favorite restaurants is The Little Owl. It’s in my favorite neighborhood (West Village) small and very sweet. You’ll need a reservation, and if you can, ask for the corner window table that faces Bedford Street. (The lamb chops are a specialty.)
River café in Brooklyn is beautiful, up-scale, romantic, situated on the water under the Brooklyn Bridge with a view of Manhattan. You can take a taxi there.
I’ve never been, but The Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center is supposed to be good for Cocktails, dinner, dancing.
My favorite place to walk is the West village west of 6th Ave around Christopher Street. It’s old New York: Cherry Lane Theatre, homes of Edna St. Vincent Milay, and Walt Whitman. There’s also an inexpensive but very good Turkish restaurant there that I like for lunch called Moustache, just a few doors down from The Little Owl on Bedford Street. No reservation needed there. Other places to walk are the Wall Street area, Trinity Church, Battery Park etc. It’s old NY, great architecture, and of course, Central Park.
Touristy that delivers:
Top of the Empire State Building at sunset.
One of my favorite things to do on a date is to listen to jazz at the Blue Note, then walk around the corner to MacDougal Street and have cappuccinos at Café Reggio. After that, we might even head back to West 3rd Street for a “Dollar-a-minute massage.” Ask for “Lulu."
I’m afraid the days of the classic diners are long gone, now there are trendy breakfast places that will keep you waiting forever, or the usual and very average Greek diners. I’ll keep investigating.
PS: Charlie Haden is playing at the Blue Note in November.
December 2, 2008:
Well Katie with your help, my wife and I had a blast in NY this past Weekend! We agree that it was our best vacation time together ever.
We stayed at The Muse on 46th which was central to all our destinations and though in a garish area, as an introduction it was fun for Christina to see the city in it's loudest form.
The Owl - for lunch, loved it, reminded us of old Montreal, in fact we sat beside some Montrealers.
Blue Note - Dave Brubeck, simply amazing we shared a table with a couple from Long Island (who we laughed so much with we should've been kicked out, we were sitting a foot from Brubeck's back and made a little too much noise) Our new friends even insisted on buying the drinks and dinner - crazy. We will not forget that night.
Grease - My wife, for nostalgic reasons, took me to wittiness the perfection of a NY Broadway production, remarkable timing (good inspiration for editing, it's all in the cut\beat, right?)
Latanzzi's prior to Broadway, we can see why it's your favorite, friendly, warm.
MOMA - saw the night themed van Gogh exhibit (it was in Toronto not long ago but we missed it), excellent and good shopping.
Walked 5th, Saks, Tiffany's and Park Plaza - at Christmas, it delivers.
Walked Central Park and the Mall in the rain, hardly a soul around, also ideal.
Walked Mulberry, this is awfully touristy but we had a decent espresso in an Italian restaurant run by South Americans - lol. All the Christmas lights at night amongst all the original buildings in the rain made it well worth it.
Walked Greenwich, easily our favorite area, (good to see Bleeker Street again, I stayed in an apartment there a few days a few years ago).
Rainbow Room - night, wonderful view and cozy.
River Cafe - it was that foggy Sunday night, perfect lighting indoors and of the view of the bridge (incredible), one of the best meals to date.
So to say the least, this was a perfect intro to the city for my wife, and I can see us coming back frequently. Especially since we didn't make it to all your suggested locations. It amazes me how a city with New York's over-the-top reputation can live up to such mythology and yet it does.
Thanks again for all your help! It would not have been the same without your input.