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Another "Theater Mania" weekend...A Mother/Daughter Duo return to NYC

Another "Theater Mania" weekend...A Mother/Daughter Duo return to NYC

Apr 3rd, 2009, 05:32 AM
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Another "Theater Mania" weekend...A Mother/Daughter Duo return to NYC

Before I get into the trip report I want to send out a thank you to all the Fodorites who posted information about the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (particularly yk). If I hadn't read about it here I would never have known about this terrific museum.

And as always thanks to NeoPatrick for being my "go to" guy for NYC restaurant recommendations...I have list a mile long with all your great restaurant reviews that I put to use this trip.

Brief background: This was the 3rd trip in 10 months mom and I took to NYC. We are orginally from around that area and have enjoyed going back and exploring old familiar places. Here's how we spent a long weekend in March...

We left Savannah on Friday afternoon took the non-stop flight into LaGuardia and landed at about 2:30pm. By 2:50pm we were in our Carmel Car Service car zipping into the city...thank God the driver took a different route...traffic was backed up like a snake but he maneuvered us to the mid-town tunnel and we were at the hotel just after 3pm.

And the hotel...I got a GREAT deal on hotwire. I'm always hesitant to use hotwire since it's an opaque website and you have to pay with a credit card before they "reveal" which hotel it is. BUT when the hotwire search came up with $162 per night at a 4 star hotel in the theater district I jumped on it and was VERY HAPPY to get the Crowne Plaza Times Square. And the funny thing is that this is a hotel I used to work at! It's been 16 years and a fabulous renovation since I was last there but it was the perfect location... Broadway between 48th & 49th.

After taking a quick breather we headed to the subway station at 50th street, bought a $7.00 metro card and hopped on the #1 train heading downtown.

We had a 5pm reservation at Centro Vinoteca (http://www.centrovinoteca.com/) on 7th Ave. South between Bleeker and Barrow Streets. We arrived a few minutes early and sat at the bar to have a drink. I had a prosecco...one of my favorites...why not celebrate, we were in NYC! Mom had a Pinot Grigio.

Shortly after 5pm we were seated. The restaurant was not very crowded at this time, but I picked this time for 2 reasons. One: the 5pm time slot was worth 1,000 points on Open Table and, two: we had an 8pm show to see.

A little background on this restaurant. I made this reservation a while back because I had this restaurant on my NYC "list" from last year when I was doing research for my NYC trips. It was on my list because of good recommendations and (at that time) the chef was Anne Burrell, a protege of Mario Batalli. After making the reservation I was watching an episode of last season's Top Chef when I saw the name Centro Vinoteca listed under Leah Cohen's name...to my surprise, Leah (a Top Chef contestant) is the chef (or one of them) at this restaurant. And yes, she was there when we were there...although she did not stop at our table, actually she didn't stop at anyone's table, even though she walked through the dinning room several times.

Now that I've digressed...here is the "low-down" on Centro Vinoteca. One of the things this place is known for is it's Picolini menu (aka tapas). After we were seated we ordered the roasted baby eggplant picolini special and the arancina (fried rice balls). Both were very good, but the arancina were exceptionally good. So good in fact, that we got a second order.

For our entrees, I had the buccatini alla amertriciana (this was an Anne Burrell speciality, which they kept on the menu...a smart move!)...it was delicious. Mom had the sausage stuffed chicken on a bed of mushrooms (this was a Leah specialty) and it was excellent.

Our server was absolutely terrific...the best of any of the restaurants we ate at all weekend. He even brought us a round of drinks on the house! That was nice...have no idea why...maybe my alluring smile!

We finished things off with an orange cake on ricotta with olive oil gelato. It was perfectly light and not too sweet. With 2 double espressos we were 2 happy ladies. The total bill came to $100, but I had a $20 Open Table coupon so it came to $80...we thought that was a good deal for everything we had!

After a terrific meal we had some time so we stopped in a little shop near the restaurant to browse. The shop (Pylones) is a French chain (we saw them in Paris last fall) with some interestingly bright colored stuff...all kinds of things....plates, cutlery, kids toys. I purchased a cute little change purse for my travels and a matching luggage tag. Then we hopped back on the subway and headed uptown to the Barrymore Theater to see Exit The King.

Exit the King starred Jeffrey Rush (who played the role in Australia to rave reviews) and Susan Sarandon along with Andrea Martin. Truly a great cast. The show was excellent. It is by no means light hearted since it deals with death, but Jeffrey Rush was really phenomenal...his actions really made you believe he was at death's door.

When the show ended we walked back to the hotel and called it a night. Saturday morning we would head back downtown.

By 10am Saturday morning we were ready to go so we walked a couple blocks across town to catch the F train going downtown. Our destination this morning was the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street (108 Orchard Street is the museum store). The museum website is http://www.tenement.org/.

The visit to this museum was a highlight of our weekend! You must book a tour to see the museum and there are several different tours to choose from. We decided to take 2 tours and I booked them several weeks before we left home. I highly recommend booking in advance because many of the tours book up.

This museum tells the story of immigrant families through the apartments they lived in. The first tour we went on was called the Moores and it told the story of an Irish family that lived in the building. The second tour we went on was called Getting By and it told the story of a Jewish/German family and an Italian family that lived in the building at 2 different times. The guides for each tour were terrific and although the website says each tour lasts 1 hour both tours went about 15-20 minutes longer.

After about 2.5 hours at the museum we were hungry. Fortunately just down the street was a terrific little cafe called 88 Orchard. We ordered a couple sandwiches and sat down to rest our feet!

Once we were sufficiently full and rested we decided to walk across town to the SOHO area and wander around and into a few shops.

Later that afternoon we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest and then a light dinner at Pigalle (on 8th Ave. at 48th Street, right down the street from our hotel). The restaurant's website is http://www.pigallenyc.com/

We had another good meal. We started with a wine for mom and a Kir Royale for me. Mom had the grilled vegetable plate with shrimp and I had the monkfish medallions on a bed of spinach. Since we had tickets for an 8pm show we kept it simple and took a pass on dessert. I don't remember exactly, but the bill was around $80, we had 2 rounds of drinks.

Tonight's show was Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury and Rupert Everett. It was fantastic. Angela Lansbury was wonderful and Rupert Everett was hilarious. It was another get evening!

Sunday morning we had nothing planned except to sleep in and brunch at noon. We had heard good things about a restaurant named Telepan on 69th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue (http://www.telepan-ny.com/). We walked uptown in the drizzling rain and were ready for a hot cup of anything by the time we go to the restaurant.

One of Telepan's claims to fame is their cheeseburger, so mom ordered it and I had the hangar steak with frites. The brunch is a pre-fixe menu for $28 and included a starter and main dish. For starters mom had the Tuscan bread and vegetable soup and I had the seasonal salad. All the food was very good. The dinner menu here looked fabulous, we'd like to have dinner here next time we are in town.

After lunch we scooted back down to the theater district in the rain for the matinee of August: Osage County. Now, I know this show has won awards and received alot of acclaim, but it just didn't do it for me. It was a long show at 3.5 hours and there were some funny parts and the acting was terrific, but I just couldn't "get into" it.

About a week before our trip, I got an email about a new show that was in previews that looked really funny. It was an off-Broadway show, but sometimes those are better then what's on Broadway! After reading the show description I ordered tickets. So, on Sunday after August: Osage County we rushed over to the New World Stages on 50th Street to see...Toxic Avenger...the Musical! It was just as funny as we thought it would be.

The music was written by a founding member of Bon Jovi and the show was adapted from the cult movie Toxic Avenger...and set in New Jersey. It was side-splitting funny. However, if you haven't lived in the NY/NJ area, some of the references may be lost. I really wanted to buy the show soundtrack, I loved the music that much, but it's not available yet. I have found out it will be released in May!

We had a late dinner after Toxic Avenger at Maria Pia, just around the corner from the theater on 51st Street. This restaurant is owned/operated by the same restaurant group as Roberto Passon, which is a favorite NYC restaurant of mine. Maria Pia did not disappoint, the meal was great! We started with the eggplant parmesan appetizer and it was delicious. Mom had the veal saltimbocca and didn't even need a knife to cut it. I had the homemade paparadelle with mushrooms, which was my favorite meal of the whole weekend!

Monday morning rolled around all to quickly and we were up early enough to pop up to Maison at Broadway and 53rd for breakfast. Our Carmel Car picked us up at the hotel at 11:30am and we were at LaGuardia by noon for our flight home.

It was a great weekend full of good food, history and great theater!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 05:48 AM
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Very nice report - Broadway and dining - my kind of weekend! I really enjoyed Blithe Spirit too.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:02 AM
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Thank you for sharing! I must say I am envious - I have shared I am dying (no pun intended LOL ) to see Blithe Spirit! Lucky on the hotwire! You and your Mom are blessed. I am going to make an effort to see that museum on my next trip to the city.
MomDDTravel is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:17 AM
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Hi

I've enjoyed taking my Mom to NYC too! Glad you had a good time. Good resto recos, I will have to check them out on my next visit.

I am curious - given that you are from the NYC area, how hard was it to adjust to a slower pace of life in the Savannah/Bluffton area? I occasionally contemplate a move down there (since I already have the house) but I don't know if I'd end up really missing the DC area. (if you'd rather email me, that's fine - sorry to thread hijack!)
flygirl is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:36 AM
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Great trip report, but you give me too much credit for restaurants. Several of yours (like Telepan and Centro Vinoteca) are on my list, but I haven't made them yet. And if the buccatini ala Amatriciana is JUST LIKE at Lupa -- "CV" just moved to the top of my list!

I'm stunned that you didn't care for August/Osage, which still gives me chills when I think about it. Just goes to show we can all have different taste.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:45 AM
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yk
 
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Hi LCI - Thanks for the trip report and the shout-out! I'm glad both you and your mom enjoyed the Tenement museum tours. What a great weekend with food and theatres!
yk is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:54 AM
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Neo...

I've now had the buccatini alla amatriciana at both Lupa and Centro Vinoteca and I have to say I thought the CV version was my favorite of the two!

Flygirl...

No problem hi-jacking the thread...here are my thoughts on adjusting to SC. I was born and raised in northern NJ and spent alot of time as a kid/teenager in NYC and then worked in the city for 2.5 years before moving south. I've lived here now for 16 years and for the first year I lived in SC I kept saying if my old NY boss called me back and said she had a job for me I would go. So, it took me about a year to adjust to being here. For the first 8-9 years here I didn't travel alot, now in the last 5-6 years I've been traveling more and have realized that this probably isn't the place I want to stay for the rest of my life. Yes, it is beautiful, yes, I have some great friends...but what's the old saying..."you can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl"! Sorry if that was bording on TMI! If you'd like to discuss it more we can "chat" via email my email address is fitms at hargray dot com.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 07:58 AM
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opps forgot to mention..

Neo...we had a really hard time hearing some of the actors in August/Osage. Maybe that was part of why we felt the way we did. It seemed like the actors weren't miced-up, but at the second intermission we saw some people coming back to their seats with headphones...probably should have looked into getting them too. It's too bad because we were really looking forward to that show!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 09:45 AM
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Hi There,
We're going to visit the Tenement Museum next week. Which tour did you like better?
LOVED your trip report!
Tammy
tamtot is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Hi Tammy...

I think alot depends on the tour guide you have. Both of ours were good, but the guide we had for the Getting By tour was outstanding and so I preferred that one just a little bit more.
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Thanks for posting LCI. I've never heard anyone do 2 tours at the Tenement Museum on the same visit. Was it hard to arrange? Did you have to pay twice? Always looking for good reviews for off Broadway so Toxic Avenger sounds like fun. Are the inside jokes more New Joisy or more NYC?
mclaurie is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:28 AM
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yk
 
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mclaurie - on the Tenement museum website, if you go to Tours, it says "Multiple Tours: Same day, discounted tickets available at the Shop."

However, it sounds like LCI just purchased 2 separate tours for 2 separate times on the same day. I suppose if you show up in person you can get a discount based on the website.
http://www.tenement.org/tours.html
yk is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:39 AM
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Yes, I purchased 2 separate tours at 2 separate times through the museum website. I didn't realize there was a discount option, but it sounds like that's only if you show up at the shop and I didn't want to chance not getting in. They were very busy when they first opened and I think I heard someone say all the early tours were booked.

The first tour we did was at 11:15 the second at 12:30. I would however recommend if anyone plans to do that to leave more time in between. I bought the tickets based on the info on the website that said the tours were one hour long. I thought the first tour would be over by 12:15 and that would give us plenty of time for the 2nd tour at 12:30. But the 11:15 tour went 15 minutes long and we just made it to the 12:30 tour.

mclaurie...I think New Yorkers will also like Toxic Avenger...especially because of the stereotypical "Joisy" references!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Apr 6th, 2009, 02:57 AM
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Great report, thanks for sharing.
bfrac is offline  
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