Ravenous in the Big Apple
Neighbourhood Nosh in NYC
It spread like an aching virus, the symptoms manifest in a short attention span, a growing grouchiness and a debilitating ability to make any decisions. I was suffering, I was hangry. In part, it’s a form of self affliction..you see I cannot settle on the nearest and first restaurant, cafe, stall, diner I set my eyes on, I live perpetual hope that there’s always somewhere better around the corner and the best is yet to come. NYC’s blocks are paved with a blistering choice of eateries, too many in fact as numerous as the stars and as diverse as net a porter’s winter collection. A little help from the Twitterati and the Dream Downtown’s concierge desk led us to Chelsea’s Rocking Horse Cafe on 8th Ave/West 19th a casual lounge restaurant fuelling its hungry patrons with inspired, contemporary Mexican interpretations, low key gastronomy with nothing to prove. As the accomplished brigade serve up knock-out dishes such as Mixiote, slow roasted Niman Ranch tender pork caressed by a red chile rub teetering on plantain purée and a splash of collard greens. A menu avoiding obvious Mexican clichés, thoroughly fresh and washed down with a citrusy bottle of Negra Modelo, no Mariachi bands or the feint sound of Santana, just the taste of modern Mexico.
Our hankering for spice continued into the next evening, but this time our hunger led us to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market a pan-Asian nod to finely crafted sharing plates which often means over-priced small portions of grub. But Vongerichten’s reputation for supremely spiced dishes led us to the well priced tasting menu, gentrified street food carefully balanced alongside refined Michelin starred morsels of Crispy Pork Belly Tamarind Nuoc Cham and Lobster Summer Roll Citrus-Dill Gelee, Sriracha Emulsion (I know...I’m not sure what the ‘emulsion’ is either but it’s divine). The result? Our desire for spice was well and truly satiated and a welcome absent bloated sensation led to a hankering for something short and sharp. We headed for 5 Ninth bar on (guess where?) 5 Ninth Avenue whose atmosphere was composed by a jazz duo and we happily left our thirst in the hands of tattooed Tony.
- Tip 1 Buy bottled water for the hotel room to avoid paying the equivalent in Eurozone debt for hotel H2O.
- Tip 2 Swap cocktails at Spice Market for a sharpener at 5 Ninth and chat with the bar’s owner, Vincent who’ll tell you what the Meat Packing District was really like.