redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for new york

MY NY EATS – SUNDAY

sarabethsi

In New York, I was clearly a pop culture tourist. Pointing out landmarks I’d seen in movies, television, documentaries, or mentioned in books. As I was in New York with two of my close gal pals, we of course wanted to capture the ‘Sex in the City’ memories. Sort of. More of the city than the sex, but one of those included visiting Sarabeth’s. A New York restaurant staple, which I’m not even sure is mentioned on Sex in the City.  But our friend assumed it was. Yet I know for a fact was mentioned several times on Gossip Girl, apparently it was a reason Serena couldn’t live anywhere else than the Upper East Side.

After 3 hours of karaoke and lots of frosty mugs of beer Saturday night, Sunday brunch was not only necessary for nourishment but recovery purposes as well. But like all trendy, popular, Manhattan restaurants there was a wait. We waited for a solid 30 minutes, before being seated. A mixture of locals and tourist, the waiting area poured outside. By the time we were seated, we had all reviewed the menu and knew exactly what we were going to order. Sarabeth’s has a mint blue interior and on the wall hangs portraits of old Hollywood movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and James Dean. Its décor very afternoon tea. As it was very busy the service was ok, nothing special. Considering half the table had a hangover, the fact we needed to get the waiters attention for our water and coffee to be refilled docked some points.

We ordered a pastry basket, since Sarabeth’s it known for their scones and preserves, and the basket was ok. I order tomato soup as a starter. The creamy tomato soup was the highlight of my meal, not too acidic and flavored well with simple spices. We also started off with a crab guacamole that was ok, but lacked that little something extra. For my main breakfast course I got the crab cake sandwich as I really wanted French fries, and it came out covered in a lemon dill tartar sauce. I scraped most of it off. The side salad that came with the meal was dripping in a lemon vinaigrette, I had one bite and ignored the rest.  French fries, good.

brunch at sarabeths new york

Looks can be deceiving 

The thing about places like Sarabeth’s, where the wait is forever, and the reputation precedes it. They don’t have to do anything special to be considered special anymore. Sure, at one point they probably did have the best brunch menu in New York but now the food is mediocre and overpriced. It’s not bad food. It’s not disgusting. It’s just ok. And in my personal opinion nothing is worse than being average, and mediocre. Except for their English muffin, its dense dry and the size of a hockey puck. It gets no love from me.

My advice for good eats while traveling is to go to places the locals eat. This is not surprising advice.  But most locals will not tell you where they go, they mention places they think you should go to eat. Places that are staples of the city. Those staples, in my experience loose a luster because everyone goes to them. They don’t need to try hard, because the rent is being paid by tourist.  Ask the locals the last place they went to dinner or brunch. Have they recently found a new café next to their favorite vintage shop? Look for restaurants that have been recently opened by new hungry chefs, not restaurants where the kitchen is being operated from afar. I really believe half of flavor comes from passion, and Sarabeth’s lacked any heart.

Though I guess when I came home and watched the episode where Blair uses the restaurant as a bargaining tool in Gossip Girl, I did smirk at the fact I had gone there. Can’t deny there exist a small part of fanny pack tourism in me.

blair walforf gossip girl you get what you want

I know Blair, and that is how I feel about food.

I just want to find the best places, where the flavor is equal to the price.  

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MY NY EATS – FRIDAY

I went to New York to have an epic weekend, that would be kicked off by a girls’ night at the Barclay Center seeing Katy Perry. A magical night filled with glitter, prisms, laser lights, and a giant rotating cake. I took the red eye into NY on Thursday, and arrived at 8:00 am Friday morning on the East Coast. My friend who I was staying with, a talented photographer Wei, hosted us (my awesome friend Liz was there too) and wanted us to experience delicious food and the energy of NY. We first stopped at Wei’s for a nap, Liz was exhausted and I don’t advise trying to arrive well rested from sleeping on a plane. Sleeping into the afternoon we woke up starved, and Wei suggest Dim Sum.

Walking through a crowded China town dodging small children, rolling luggage, and patrons waiting for their street vendor egg rolls. We were on the hunt for a Dim Sum restaurant called the Golden Unicorn, because it was named after a unicorn. Unfortunately due to low blood sugar, and a misguided sense of direction, we ended up at Wei’s favorite Dim Sum place, Jing Fong. Standing in front of the wrong restaurant hunger decided for us, and we rod up a long escalator illuminated by an opulent chandelier. Seated immediately, what was more surprising was the quick delivery of our delicious dumplings. One usually waits at least five minutes before a  cart full of steaming buns rolls by, but our hunger must have been throwing off signals, cause in seconds we had a table full of 5 to 7 dumplings.

To the point that when another women passed by and dropped by some char siu bao, she complained that we did not even have a card on the table to mark down the items we had requested.  Eventually one gentlemen and two women speaking in a different language discussed the error in a hushed passionate way by our table, and we were good to go.

I even said I would be willing to try chicken feet, but while the cart passed by Wei shared why she had lost her appetite for the item, and well I’d lost my adventurous appetite too.

dim sum chinatown ny adventure

After China Town we passed by Little Italy where I picked up a street cannoli. It was probably the best cannoli I have ever had in my life, or will ever have. Unless I travel to Italy. The crust was firm, it snapped in my mouth without hurting my teeth and the filling was a light sweet cheese accented by mini chocolate chips. Perfect dessert to eat while dodging people. Walking in New York is like a video game, just remind me to not be there during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Fast forward to after Katy Perry, because I don’t think my dinner of Prestel, Cheap American Beer, and Red Bull is anything to write home about. We ventured from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side to the Meatball Shop. Passing by an amazing old building with an inane amount of graffiti. Its exterior did not fit the gorgeous architecture or the rest of neighborhood. Wei’s awesome friend remembered me telling him about this building, and shared with me a story about it. I knew that building was special without knowing anything about it.

Back to food, walking into The Meatball Shop there was a small bar with stools, a communal table that ran down the middle, and a few single tables lining the walls. As you can assume the menu was filled with meatballs. I wanted to test all the combinations of balls and sauces, so I opted for their sliders.  A chicken meatball with pesto sauce, spicy pork meatball with spicy marinara, beef meatball with a mushroom sauce, and another I can’t remember. They are served on the perfect bun. It doesn’t absorb too much of the sauce, and allows the flavors to just burst. I feel like it might have been potato bread. My favorite was the spicy pork, and spicy marinara.  Also the pesto is worth mentioning as it had a nice hint of pine nuts and was not too oily. I also had a side of mashed potatoes, great texture, fluffy and buttery.

The restaurant had just got is liquor license, which apparently according to a story I heard on Good Food is very important to the success of an NY restaurant. I ordered a Moscow mule, and I’m sad to report it was disappointing. It tasted watered down, and I questioned if there was any vodka in it at all. But my friend ordered an Old Cuban that had me envious. Not only cause you could tell it wasn’t virgin, but it tasted really yummy too. After throwing back a few of those, one might go home with an old Cuban.

the meatball shop ny adventure

We headed back to my friends place after dinner, which by the way was at 2am. In NY you apparently sit down for dinner when LA bars are closing. Now at nearly 900 words, I won’t even attempt to include Saturday or Sunday meals in one post.

So basically till next time…yum yum get in my tum!

Have you visited any of these places?

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