My faint memories from the first NYC trip were finding a way to piece themselves back together as I entered the city last December after 5 whole years. This time, I stayed at Hamilton Heights in Upper Manhattan, a neighbourhood I was not familiar with. Despite initial worries about the long commute downtown every day and the safety of the area, we soon got used to taking the metro and the district turned out to be quite safe after all. We also got a decently large AirBnB for its price compared to the ones in midtown and downtown Manhattan, and which came with amazing views of the sunrise – something which I hardly caught.
Although I was fighting off the cold which I will always find unbearable and a jetlag which attempted to close my eyes by dusk and force them shut by 10pm, I think I did cover much area in the city. Something I didn’t manage to do the previous time. So I brought together some images and recommendations of some of my favourite stops, in no particular order.
La Mercerie – 53 Howard Street, New York, NY 10013
This French café cum furniture shop housed in one large space is an eye-stunner. I have always been a minimalist, yet I was amazed at how every corner of the space could be purposefully decorated with elegance and not feel cluttered at the same time. The Homemade Smoked Salmon here could not be compared to the one from Russ & Daughters, but everything else we had was satisfyingly good – Oeuf A La Coque (Buttered Soldiers), Maple Croissant (the French and their pastries!!), and even my Latte. The smaller than expected portions and inattentive wait staff were a pity.
Happy Bones – 394 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
The space here was smaller than I expected with space just for 3 round marble tables, but the modern industrial vibes were right on point. The cafe also seemed good for doing work. I adored the coffee, and the pastries were alright, just that the banana bread was on the dry side.
Flatiron Building – 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010
This was my second time beneath the Flatiron, which serves as an office building. I find it hard to even appreciate architectural pieces of work, but I love looking at this building.
Maman – 205 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013
When I had a meet up with an Instagram friend, we decided to meet at the latest outpost of famed bakery Maman. The rustic theme of Maman was a charm – the old-looking wooden tables and blue-and-white motifs on their plates, paper cups and coffee machine stood out to me the most. I only tried the quiche here and it was up to standard.
Reynard – 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
This modern American-style restaurant is located in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. I had a weird combination of this duck porridge dish (which the waitress recommended) and a mimosa. The duck porridge was very Asian, very comforting, and it reminded me of home immediately. After our meal, we explored the hipster and partially gentrified neighborhood of Williamsburg. I loved the flea markets, book shops and independent clothing stores – all antique and vintage. There are also some notable stores we visited, namely Mast Brothers Chocolates and Le Labo (luxury perfumes, scents, oils). We grabbed some chocolates from Mast Brothers and I was surprised at how organic the chocolates tasted. In a good way of course.
The Oculus – Church St, New York, NY 10006
Also known as the World Trade Centre Mall, The Oculus oddly felt like a mixture of VivoCity and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands – the high ceiling allowing daylight to shine through, luxury boutique stores and lots of tourists. Though we didn’t get anything here, we snapped the same-photo-that-everyone-takes-here and took a look at the 9/11 Memorial right outside.
Russ & Daughters Café – 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
We had not expected the 1 hour wait on a weekday afternoon, but we waited anyway. We then walked around LES to kill time, stopping by the instagram famous Freeman Alley which goes up to Freeman’s Restaurant, until we got called. It turned out that the wait was worth it. The Classic (smoked salmon along with bagels) was so memorable, I can hardly remember our other order of Sturgeon, Eggs and Onion. I could almost taste the sea in the smoked salmon, that was how fresh it was. My best brunch (turned mid-afternoon lunch) in NYC yet.
Empire State Building – 20th West 34th St, New York, NY 10001
In consideration of the 2-hour queue ahead of us and my nearly empty stomach, we decided to ball and get the express pass up the Empire State – a decision we did not regret. Going on a cloudy day seemed better for less glare on blue light reflected on the buildings.