I’ve been to New York City too many times to count, but each time I go my goal is to have a difference experience. Even with a big city like New York, it’s easy to slip into a routine when you visit that same destination more than once, especially when you liked what you experienced the first time. You loved everything about that restaurant so you go back right? You absolutely had the time of your life when you went to that one jazz club so you revisited the experience. I get it. But the reality is, we never get to experience anything new if we don’t stray away from the comfort of what we know we like, to find something perhaps even better. That was my experience this past weekend.
The weekend started with my first stay on the Upper West Side. Most often when I’ve traveled to New York and I didn’t stay with one of my friends, I’ve stayed in a hotel in midtown Manhattan closest to the train station. This time, my traveling buddy (aka my mom) and I decided to venture off the beaten path and take the recommendation of a friend of a friend to stay at Nylo, a boutique hotel within walking distance of Central Park. (And we’re talking real walking distance, not the New Yorker’s version of walking distance.)
One of the first things I appreciated was that upon check in, the front desk clerk presented us with two complimentary drink tickets at the snazzy hotel bar. They had me at FREE. It just goes to show you that a little can take you a long way. Upon entering the room, we also noticed something very different than most of the standard rooms in which we’ve stayed in New York – it was actually pretty spacious! The rooms were also very well decorated, comfortable, and had a nice size bathroom and tub as well. The bar/lounge area reminds you of a friend’s comfy living room, complete with a chess set, and during the late night hours, you can find a small band with a vocalist crooning some of your favorite tunes. The hotel also boasts an award-winning restaurant, Serafina, which we didn’t get to try but perhaps we’ll have an opportunity on our next stay.
That night, my New Yorker friends took me to a fish bar called Crave a few blocks away. I’m typically not one for an entire meal of cold food but the salmon sashimi salad and the Whale platter, a tower of crustacean delights, was quite delicious. When in Rome, right? They serve a number of cooked items as well, including the Jamaican jerk spare ribs, which we had as an appetizer and they were quite tasty, especially with the sauce that accompanied them.
The next morning I found myself back in foodie heaven for brunch at a hidden treasure above the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle called Robert. Not only was each dish delightful in its own right (I’ll get to my lobster benedict in a moment), the beautiful décor and stunning views of the city may have me bending my own rule a little bit and returning for more. Now onto my love affair with this lobster benedict. It was so beautifully prepared on my plate, I almost didn’t want to eat it but my grumbling stomach said otherwise. It had to be one of my top benedicts of all time, and I’ve had quite a few. My dining partners loved their plates as well – endive salad with pears and apples topped with salmon and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, bagel and asparagus. Delicious!
Of course the highlight of our trip was getting to experience what we came there for – Whipped Cream, the ballet featuring Misty Copeland! Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love to dance and experience it, especially live. [See Beyond the Barre] And having been a Misty Copeland fan ever since I knew she existed, it was a real treat for me to get to see her perform for the first time. Having seen a number of ballets, I can say that this was one of my favorite performances. The backdrops, the choreography, the music were all colorful and upbeat and had an overall joyful tone. In addition to Misty, who was absolutely amazing, I was also very impressed by the talented ensemble of dancers, especially the male lead. Considering Misty is only in four of the performances, you might not get to see her in this particular run but if you have a chance to check out Whipped Cream, you will not be disappointed.
We concluded our trip with a wonderful dinner at Keen’s Steakhouse, not too far from Penn Station. If you are a meat lover like me and mom, this place is for you. My mom and I opted to split the 24 oz T-bone steak, which was way more than enough for the two of us but believe it or not, they had an even larger steak and chops for couples to share. It was perfectly prepared and seasoned and the hand cut fries and green beans were the perfect complement. If you are a wine lover, they have a nice wine selection as well. Despite almost burning down the place (once with my mom’s scarf catching the flame of our table candle and the second time with my menu burning as I unknowingly held it over the flame moments later) we had an enjoyable evening lol. Hey at least we got great service because our waiter wanted to keep an eye out on us!
Next time you’re in New York, do yourself a favor and live a little and experience some of those off the beaten path joys that make the city so nice they had to name it twice.