NYC Trip Report: overspending and overeating

Old May 31st, 2006, 05:40 PM
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NYC Trip Report: overspending and overeating

Well, another trip to NYC has come and gone... What is it about that city that makes me spend money like water and eat to no end?! Here is a snapshot of my trip:

Getting to NYC:
US Air from BUF to LGA. Cab to hotel was $32 w/ tip.

Hotel:
Marriott Couryard Midtown East - 3rd Ave at 52nd
Great location, $207 nonrefundable rate, spacious room on 31st floor with queen beds (not doubles!), nice view of Chrysler building.

Restaurants:
Morning Star Cafe - 2nd Ave near 51st
Good diner food

Buttercup Bake Shop -2nd Ave near 53rd
Very disappointing cupcakes (tried the Red Velvet and Chocolate and both were dry)

Frankie & Johnny's - 45th near 8th
One of the worst steakhouses I've ever been to! Do yourself a favor and avoid this overpriced tourist trap. Mistake #1 was probably ordering the pork chops. Mistake #2 was making my reservation on opentable.com, not realizing that I made reservations at the 37th St location, being seated at the 45th St location anyways and having rushed service. The au gratin potatoes tasted like flour and the potato pancakes were really hush puppies.

Balthazar - Spring St in Soho
Perfect French bistro. Noisy, crowded tables did not bother me. Wonderful food (had the Spaghetti Carbonara and Banana Ricotta Tart).

Isabella's - Columbus at 77th
Would return because of the great food (had the Spinach Gnocchi and Apple Profiteroles) but the service needs improvement. We were seated in the "back of the bus" - the table in the rear of the restaurant next to the bathroom. Our waitress changed twice and neither was polite.

Norma's - Inside Parker Meridien
Excellent food, huge portions, rather pricey but worth every penny. The smoothie of the day was delicious, as was the Chocolate Banana Waffle Napoleon

Activities:
Faith Healer - Still undecided as to whether I liked this play. I'd love to hear opinions from others who have seen it. The "soliloquy" style made the play drag in some parts and difficult to follow in others. The Manager, Teddy played by Ian McDiarmid, was the highlight. If not for the laughs provided by his character, I would have been depressed all night. Even more of a highlight was seeing Ralph Fiennes sign autographs.

Foods of NY Meatpacking District Tour -
A fantastic tour!! Highly recommended! I have taken the FONY Greenwich Tour and cannot decide which I prefer. I was so amazed at the gems found inside the Chelsea market. Ronnybrook Farms was one, as was The French Oven.

Central Park Zoo -
Wonderful small zoo. I have never seen puffins before and was so excited to see them swimming and diving. The zoo has a nice array of animals (snow monkeys, penguins, red pandas) and thankfully none of the large animals (like giraffes or elephants) that require a lot of space.

Washington Square Art Show -
Takes place every Memorial weekend and even though there seems to be the same vendors each year, we cannot resist going. I did see an artist there whose work I loved. He was at an art show in Buffalo but I lost his business card.

Canal St - 20 watches for $135! I know, the battery is worth more than the watch.

Madison Ave street fair - 11 cashmere scarves for $99 - buying in bulk pays off!

The only other comment I have is that the subway saves a ton of money on cabs, but can be a pain for a non-native. We ended up in Brooklyn instead of 8th Ave one day and the train we wanted to take was sitting in the station broken down on another day. Basically, you just have to pad in extra time to allow for problems that could arise.

Thanks to all of the fodorites who provided me with advice while planning this trip, and to those who read this trip report.

kcapuani is offline  
Old May 31st, 2006, 07:22 PM
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yk
 
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Just wondering, why do you need 20 watches and 11 "cashmere" scraves?
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Old May 31st, 2006, 07:29 PM
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You ask about Faith Healer. We found it mesmerizing. But it's not everyone.
HowardR is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 12:57 AM
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Nice trip report. Thanks for sharing NYC with us.

You can never have too many watches or too many cashmere scarves ... ask me how I know.

We took the Greenwich Village Food Tour two or three years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I tried to contact them a month or so ago, but the telephone number was no longer in service.

I'd appreciate it if you could give me their website info.

Nina
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 01:02 AM
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http://www.foodsofny.com/
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 04:12 AM
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Loved your report and glad to hear you had a good time. But what made you go to Frankie & Johnny's? Surely, no one on this board could have sent you there.

Curious to hear more about the food tour. Besides the Chelsea Market, where else did they take you?
mclaurie is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 04:29 AM
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Thanks for the report! Also would like to hear more about the food tour. Although, we have booked the Greenwich Village one already.

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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 05:42 AM
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I realized I never posted the dates of my trip: 5/26/06-5/29/06.

The guide on our FONY Meatpacking Tour was very knowledgable. You could tell she had a lot of pride in the area, but was also somewhat chagrinned that it has become such a high priced neighborhood. We spent from 11am - 1:30pm in the Chelsea market. That included about 30 mins to shop. From there, we exited on 10th Ave and walked into a lovely park next to the West Side highway. We viewed the Highline and walked over to the actual meatpacking district. Of course the meatpackers had long gone home. The tour ended at 2pm.

Frankie & Johnny's was recommended to my cousin by someone. She actually enjoyed her meal (filet) but I'd never go back!

As for why we needed such an inordinate amount of watches/scarves, there were 3 of us that pooled our purchases for a better rate. My cousin bought 14 of the 20 watches for souvenirs for her co-workers. The cashmere scarves will make great stocking stuffers for Xmas. I honestly wish I would have bought more! They came in such a beautiful assortment of colors.


kcapuani is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 06:23 AM
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Faith Healer requires some concentration from the audience. You have to make some committment to the Hardy character to listen. It's like reading a good book instead of People magazine. Very little is required of audiences normally in terms of concentration.

Teddy the manager is very funny, entertaining (no concentration required) and lightens the mood of the play but gives the audience another viewpoint in a very convincing way.

Grace (Cherry Jones) was very difficult to listen to for 1/2 hour. Her accent was wrong and from hearing Hardy refer to her she didn't seem to fit the description. She was supposed to be a daughter of a wealthy sophisticated Irish family. I don't see how any of that polish came through with Cherry Jone's performance.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 06:29 AM
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Great report!

Subway tip: The Bronx or Uptown is North and Brooklyn or Downtown is south!

Beware of express trains to Brooklyn!
 
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 07:15 AM
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FYI Chinatown watches often die within weeks/months of purchase, but if you simply replace the batteries, they'll usually last for years. I have a watch that I paid $10 for and have put in two $8 batteries over the past several years.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 08:01 AM
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Sounds as though they ran into trouble on the L, in which case Brooklyn would be East
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Also beware of weekend work/maintenance on subway lines. Service is frquently interrupted on weekends. This is posted on the MTA website, and there are sign in the train stations, but frequently you don't see the signs until after you've gone through the turnstiles.

During the week, the subways generally run quite weel, and do get you around quickly. Off hours and weekends it varies.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 10:07 AM
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Yes, we took the L from Union Sq into Brooklyn instead of towards 8th Ave! Unfortunately, it was some sort of express train or we would have realized sooner that we were heading in the wrong direction.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Ah yes...I love it when they decide to announce that it's express after the doors have closed. I take the train from Union Square to 1st Avenue everyday as part of my work commute, and there's nothing like a surprise trip to Brooklyn to cap off a workday.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 01:47 PM
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Great report! Thanks for commenting on the food tour - we made reservations for the Greenwich Village tour after you posted about it!
grantop is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 06:26 PM
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I, too, saw "Faith Healer". Disappointed! Cherry Jones miscast. The play could have used some cutting. The author is not one of my favorites, but I wanted to see Fiennes. Loved "The History Boys".
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