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Trip Report First Anniversary Trip to NYC

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Last February 16 we were married in NYC, so this year we did a long weekend to celebrate our first anniversary.
We stayed at the Fifth Avenue Andaz by Hyatt, which is at 41st and Fifth Avenue facing the NY Public Library. We used three free nights we got with our Hyatt credit cards. When we had checked, the lowest discount rate for Valentine's Day weekend was $495 -- closer to $600 with taxes! So that was a great start.

We're in Lambertville, NJ, about 2 hours from the city. Peter works in Somerset, about half way there. So the plan was for me to take the bus into the city on Friday, and then he'd park at Edison (near his work) and take the train in to join me after work on Friday. But more snow on Thursday and Thursday night, so he decided to work from home on Friday -- which was great as we could then leave together -- but we still chose to drive to Edison, park, and take the train. Well, the train got "stuck" behind a disabled train just after we got on it. We sat for one hours watiing. That meant we arrived in NYC at 7 rather than 6. We walked from Penn Station to our hotel quickly, dropped our bags rather than check in, and headed to the nearby Strip House for our 7:30 dinner reservation.

Our first date back in 2010 was in Naples, Fl -- at The Strip House which was at the Waldorf Hotel there (formerly The Registry). To date it remains one of our favorite restaurants of all time -- although maybe the superb company of that meal overshadowed everything else. But not only were their steaks and side dishes amazing, but the room was quiet, very spacious, and we had a huge, private, table with oversized comfortable chairs. And Peter ordered a Great wine for us -- Silver Oak Napa Cabernet -- a 2007,. But I digress -- that Strip House is now closed -- so we thought we'd do the next best thing -- One of the two in NYC -- this one near our hotel on 44th. Well, the porterhouse for two WAS amazing --yes, rivaling Peter Luger's in my book, and the sides were astounding -- their Strip House potatoes, sort of like a twice baked but in a casserole and gratineed are wonderful, as was the truffled creamed spinach. We repeated our Silver Oak (but Alexander, not Napa). But the place is noisy and crowded (like most steak houses) and our waiter was classless and bordered on rude -- particularly to the well-heeled Mexican couple next to us. When they tried to order 5 desserts the waiter told them they were crazy and it was too much food. They said that was OK they wanted to sample all of them. Again the waiter told them it was too much. Finally Peter hearing this battle said, "Just bring them what they order and we'll eat the rest". The waiter left and the man thanked us. They ended up ordering two extra plates and shared, although we tried insisting we were only trying to help. Nice couple, (they own hotels in Mexico and we exchanged information) but rude waiter.

Saturday we did some coffee and croissants from the Shop (that's what it's called) downstairs in the hotel -- back in our room. Then we put on our "wedding suits" and took a taxi to Bar Boulud for 11:00 brunch. We weren't very hungry after last night, but I managed to scarf down an amazing duck confit hash with poached eggs, while Peter did a smoked salmon plate. Nice -- wonderful food.

Our matinee at the Metropolitan Opera of Die Fledermaus was at 12:30. Through the snow coming down -- glad we were right across the street. The Opera was great. We were in the front row of the balcony which was just fine for both sound and sight! This new production is visually stunning -- set in Vienna on New Year's Eve 1899 rather than the earlier year it was writtten, which afforded great Art Noveau sets and glorius costumes. Voices were great and a new script (it's all in English) was VERY funny. Broadway actor Danny Burstein plays the drunken jailer at the beginning of Act III and he was extremely funny -- I wondered if some of it was improvised as it was very modern, but funny. We had a complimentary champagne at intermission.

After the opera we walked -- through the slush and new snow to the Mandarin Oriental. We had 6:30 dinner reservations at Asiate and the plan was to relax for the two hours before in the wonderful bar. Reminder to self -- don't count on that lounge, as they said it was fully reserved for hotel guests -- this has happened to me before. There is a smaller bar to the side without a view, but it was jammed and loud -- no place to sit. So instead we wandered the shops of the Time Warner Center, and had a cocktail at Center Bar on the fourth floor.

Back to Asiate for our reservation. Of course we had requested a window table (or "quiet and more private table" when we made the reservation, but those tables were filled. On the other hand it was sleeting and foggy out and frankly there was no real view! Meanwhile, the hostess asked if we'd like one of the big private booths -- and of course we jumped at it. Very nice. Dinner was superb. We drank a nice Sancerre while we had Hamachi sashimi, steak tartare, then a halibut dish and a branzino dish -- all were wonderful. We shared a dessert, which escapes me for the moment, not being much of a dessert eater myself, but Peter loved it.

Sunday we repeated the coffee and pastry in our room. Then took the subway down to the West Village. We walked for about an hour killing time before our 11:45 brunch reservation at One If By Land. OK, while OIBL is considered one of NYC's most romantic restaurants, and it is, the food is nothing special. But jazz brunch seemed particularly mediocre. We had a $50 gift certificate which is much of the reason we chose to go there. Peter had a very bland and mediocre pappardelle with pesto, while I had skirt steak and eggs. Who ever heard of serviing a poached egg (yes, just one) without a speck of salt or pepper. None on the table either and I ended up eating it while waiting to spot a waiter so I could at least ask for salt and pepper. Didn't happen. Overpriced, mediocre, and tiny watery mimosa and bloody Mary (only $10 each, so I guess you're not supposed to complain). Still the ocmpany was superb and the atmosphere and live jazz were nice.

Back up to midtown by subway, and looked for earmuffs for Peter. He hates wearing a hat as they cause bad hair days -- LOL -- but those wrap around ear muff things didn't seem to reach around far enough to fully cover his ears. Coffee at Starbucks warmed us up from our walking. After Midnight with k.d.lang matinee was wonderful. I had seen the show a couple months ago with Fantasia, and couldn't quite figure out how k.d.lang was going to fit in to an all black Cotton Club show as the guest artist. But it was amazing. Her voice is pure silk, and she sang the same four songs that Fantasia did, but it a totally different way. Her costumes were men's tuxes and it was just all so classy and elegant as is the entire show. We both loved it.

We then headed to the new Hyatt Times Square and had coctails at Bar 54 on the 54th floor now the highest lounge in NYC. Very elegant and nice -- cocktails of course were $23 each, but still very nice! We also shared some cauliflower fritters which were quite good.

Back down to the Village for our dinner at Annisa at 8. What a wonderful place. Tiny -- about 15 tables -- and very quite -- dare I say it again -- romantic. Chef Anita Loo serves wonderful food with great flavors, somewhat Asian in tone. We shared foie gras with soup dumplings (her specialty and the best dish of the night), black sea bass sashimi, then mains of Saddle of Rabbit with Pistachio, Mint and Grape Leaves and a grilled pork loin with various flavors (a special, so I can't check exactly what it was). We drank a Chateuneuf du Pape white. A really great meal.

Monday, President's Day, Peter was off, so we relaxed in the room most of the morning, got some coffee and chocolate croissants from downstairs and checked out around 11. Took the train back to Edison to retrieve our car and had lunch in Edison at a really good Malaysian restaurant called Penang. Then home to relax for the rest of the day.

Great weekend despite the rocky start with the train, and the pretty lousy weather. Having an anniversary over Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend isn't so bad, actually as it also gives us a long weekend.

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