29 September 2013

New York City for Work and Play

I had to go to New York City for work recently for a few days.  I decided to extend the stay through the weekend to take advantage of already being out there.  I booked a few restaurants and planned some museum and show time as well.

I flew to Newark Airport and used the New Jersey transit trains to get to Midtown Manhattan.  Usually this goes pretty smoothly.  The exception is when the Newark Airport Airtrain decides they need to do maintenance and they make you change trains in the middle of the trip to the Railink station.  But we had landed early and I had plenty of time to make a planned dinner reservation.  I had heard of a place called Suite 306 (www.suitethreeohsix.com) which does periodic vegetarian meals.  They happened to have planned a guest chef to do a dinner on my arrival day.  I arrived at the door right on time and the person who answered was perplexed as to why I was there.  I showed my email with the reservation details and payment confirmation.  It turns out the guest chef had rescheduled and moved the date to October.  However, I never received the change notification.  They apologized and promised to refund my payment (which they promptly did).  After that, my prospects for getting a dinner spot somewhere interesting and popular were not very good since it was well into the dinner hour already.  I tried walking in to abc Cocina and they did have food service at the bar, but I didn't want to wait.  I ended up not too far away at Zen Palate, which Ii used to visit often when in New York.

My work week ended on Thursday, so I lined up a meal at Atera (www.atera.com).  This would be a revisit, as I had dined their about 14 months prior when it was relatively new and before it received its Michelin stars.  I had a very nice meal, which you can read about here.

These were three of the courses I had at Atera.  I went for a late dinner at 9:30 pm.  Over three hours later, I left after a very nice meal experience.

SInce the last visit, they moved from a simple reservation system to a pre-payment /ticket system.  At the time of dining, you just pay for the beverages you decide to order.

The next day, I headed to Brooklyn to visit the New York Transit Museum. From the start, it is a very interesting place to go.  It's actually located in a subway station that is not in service.  I took the 4 train from Manhattan to Borough St. Station. I walked a few blocks and then saw a subway entrance to Court St. that was the entrance to the museum.  For $7, you can see exhibits related to the history of public transit in New York City.  I learned that New York had cable cars just like San Francisco.  It also had an extensive elevated rail system.  And I finally understood how the current subway routes came into being.  But the best part was being able to walk into several old subway and elevated cars, each with the original advertisements and maps from the time.

There are signs everywhere that say the station in an active station.  That is true in the sense that there are active 3rd rails running at full voltage.  That is the only way they can keep the subway cars lit up.  Otherwise, there are no moving trains through the station.

There are also exhibits on the history of their subway tokens and of the turnstiles used to collect the fares.

I found all of this fascinating. . . . More information on NYTM

I had a nice dessert break at my favorite dessert bar Chikalicious in the East Village (Chickalicious Dessert Bar).

For the evening, I had scheduled an early dinner at a relatively new place called Juni.  The food was good and the write-up is available here.

The meal concluded in time for me to get to the show I had scheduled for later in the evening. It was called Chamber Magic and is performed in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria (The Towers, to be precise). It is performed in front of no more than 40 people, up close and interactively.  I had heard about it from a prior visit to New York where some people I sat next to at dinner had just come from the show and highly recommended it.  It really was very entertaining and well worth seeing.  I purchased a front-row ticket and I was amazed by the show, even when sitting up that close.  Information and booking can be found at www.chambermagic.com.

Form my final day in New York, I scheduled lunch at Momofuku ko, which is kind of my go-to place if I have time for a nice weekend lunch (more information).  It was as good as always.  For the evening, I booked a ticket to see "Buyer & Cellar", a one-man show starring Michael Urie.  I found it funny and very entertaining.

The next day, I flew home from Newark Airport, ending my week of food and fun in NY.

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