Not all those who wander are lost. Sometimes, you find the most unexpected and pleasant surprises along the way.
163 E 33rd St (b/w Lex & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10016
I don’t really like east Manhattan – too difficult to get to, not enough subway lines, too pretentious (upper east), too grungy (lower east). And too Frat Row (Murray Hill) – those same boys who are still hanging on to what was their undergrad. BUT, sometimes, Murray Hill surprises me. Like with Le Parisienne – a little French restaurant tucked away on 33rd that serves good French bistro food. It’s not life changing, but it’s solid – a great go-to for when I need a quick-fix, and when the next Air France flight is over $1000 and 6 hours away.
My 2 accomplices and I aggressively tackled the menu. Grilled pork tenderloin, poached pear, potato puree and sage sauce. Filet of sole, french beans, toasted almonds and lemon butter sauce. Seared Atlantic salmon with french lentils and mustard sauce.
Followed by an equally impressive dive at the desserts. Tarte tatin. Creme brulee. Bread pudding.
The Le Parisienne menu offers enough variety to make even the choosiest eaters happy. All 3 main courses were well done – nothing over cooked, everything correctly seasoned, good consistency. The dessert, I thought, had area for improvement, such as a flakier tarte tatin and a less bland (and one-dimensional) creme brulee. The overall experience was quite authentic – small tables packed into close quarters; affordable wines by the glass; stick-to-your-ribs and no-frill French food. I think a lot of the French restaurants in Manhattan are really pretentious (as are a lot of Parisian bistros), but it’s the little friendly and personable neighborhood joints that keep you coming back.
53 W 19th St (b/w 5th & 6th ave)
New York, NY 10011
On another occasion, I stepped into the doors of Boqueria, a well known Spanish tapas restaurant in the Flatiron. The menu is pretty reminiscent of the little bars in Barcelona that serve cute small plates of assorted goodies such as tortilla espanola (egg omelet of confit potatoes), datiles con beicon (bacon wrapped dates), and patatas bravas (roasted potatoes). The rich warm ambiance is enough to bring you back to La Rambla, and the TV screens flashing images of David Villa or Iker Casillas (my ultimate soccer crushes!) make the experience that much more authentic.
Bombas de la Barceloneta
Beef and potato croquettes with salsa and garlic aioli
Grilled shrimp, organic mixed greens, avocado, yuzu, blood oranges, and citrus vinaigrette
Boqueria is also another restaurant on my go-to list, when I’m on a date or catching up with a friend. It can get very crowded (and noisy), so be prepared to wait, and then cozy up with your companions. But between the small plates and delicious Spanish wines, I’m sure you won’t mind the intimacy that is Boqueria.
My recent wanderings in New York City are helping me feel more connected with the city. I’m becoming a more active participant of the city, rather than just a spectator or tourist. Last week, I joined a flower arrangement course down at Studio Sweet Pea. Aren’t these absolutely lovely? I am looking forward to trying different color and texture combinations, more pictures to come!
Roses, Hyacinth, Sweet William, Calla Lilly
(Thank you Lisa from Studio Sweet Pea)
Additionally, to make me feel more rooted, I’ve also tried to decorate my apartment with more plants (sorry for bad plant-pun). So last Sunday, I started my very first terrarium, with the help of succulents from Sprout Brooklyn, and a vase from West Elm. It was so much fun, I can’t wait to buy more vases and plants, and create a few more mini landscapes. These little vases of happiness really cheer me up, and I feel less like a transient passerby. Suddenly, I have a legitimate reason for being here. I have roots!
I am also considering joining an adult kick-ball league – you know… like when we were in grade school, except now the game will be followed by considerable amounts of liquor at the nearest bar. Or perhaps a group fitness class, maybe Muey Thai or Bikram Yoga – something to expand my connections to the city…
I hope you’ve enjoyed these wanderings. Perhaps if you’re in New York City, you can also try these wanderings and expand your connections to the city, and let me know how they go?