|Cheeseburger, Shake Shack, Madison Square Park|
No matter how many times you visit the Big Apple, the food scene in the city moves so fast, there's always a new cuisine to try or a novel food experience to sink your teeth into. These are my 10 favourite food experiences of this trip - some of them old favourites, some new (to me) discoveries. Do let me know your own NYC favourites in the comments section below. And if you've never visited, what would be first on your New York hit list?
1. Queue for a cheeseburger at Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
London has its share of excellent burger joints (and obsessive burger fans) but to me, nothing matches up to the life-affirming patties from Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Come prepared to queue, but know that the wait will be worth it - top quality Angus beef, liberally seasoned, and crowned with a slick of American cheese, stuffed inside a golden, squishy patty. Divine. And cheap, at just $4.05 for a single cheeseburger. If you really hate queues, Shake Shack now has other branches across Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn, but this is the original.
|Chelsea Market, NYC|
A Victorian-era cookie factory turned indoor food playground, Chelsea Market is a great place for a wander with a growling tummy. Pull up a stool at Lobster Place for some bisque, grab a coffee from Ninth Street Espresso or linger over an egg white scramble with avocado and golden hash browns at Friedmans. This indoor market is home to Italian grocers, working bakeries, and the Food Network studios.
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave, NYC
3. A picnic in Central Park
Grab a Reuben sandwich or bagel with turkey and Swiss (pickle optional) from an Upper West Side deli, then find a shady spot in the park. Note: Do not try this on Memorial Day, when the whole of Manhattan has the same idea.
|The Spotted Pig, photo copyright Adam Kuban|
4. Brunch at the Spotted Pig
This West Village gastropub is still one of New York's hottest restaurants with gangly-limbed model types packing both pub and pavement every night of the week. Quite what all those models do with chef April Bloomfield's hearty gastro-grub, I'm not sure. If, like me, you're not organised to make a reservation two months in advance for a 5.30pm table, go for brunch instead. We got a walk-in and ate the best brunch of the whole trip - fluffy biscuits with the creamiest scrambled eggs and crispiest bacon, and poached eggs with suckling pig hash.
314 West 11th Street, NYC
5. Lunch from a food truck
New York's food truck scene is well-established and you're bound to run across a few as you explore the city. I like the Milk Truck, which does mac and cheese, and an excellent grilled cheese with pickles, made with aged Wisconsin gruyere on Balthazar levain pullman bread. You'll find the truck in a different location every weekday, and at Smorgasburg on Saturdays and the Williamsburg Flea on Sundays. Check Milktruckgrilledcheese.com for locations.
6. Dinner at Betel
This Malaysian-ish spot in the West Village was one of my favourite restaurants of the trip, and came highly recommended by friends in the city. A duck and lychee Vietnamese pancake, Striped bass stir-fried with chilli jam, cashews and Thai basil, jungle curry with pulled rabbit and apple eggplant - everything that touched our lips was sensational. Including several potent lychee margaritas.
51 Grove Street, NYC
|Eataly, photo copyright Samantha Decker|
7. Eat your way around Eataly
Eataly is an incredible indoor Italian marketplace and restaurant complex by the Flatiron building. It's part-owned by top NY chef Mario Batali, and really is something to see. The ground-floor food hall features cookery school rooms, stalls and concessions selling amazing gelato, cheeses, organic vegetables and meats. There are bars throughout where you can linger over a glass of Prosecco or a plate of prosciutto. The restaurant on the roof, Birreria, has its own microbrewery and (partial) views of the Empire State Building.
Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue, NYC
|Vintage dinnerware, Fishes Eddy (photo copyright Fishs Eddy)|
8. Find vintage plates at Fishs Eddy
After you've finished your Shake Shack burger or gorged on hams and cheese at Eataly, pop into Fishs Eddy, nearby on Broadway. This shop is a treasure trove of kitchen and dinnerware both new and old. I had to be dragged away from the vintage restaurant-ware and plates from 60s airlines (how Mad Men).
Fishs Eddy, 889 Broadway at 19th Street, NYC
9. Get stuffed at Smorgasburg
Smorgasburg is the food market off-shoot of the excellent Brooklyn Flea market. Find it on Saturdays at the East River State Park in Williamsburg and a smaller version at the Brooklyn Flea in the same park on Sundays. Eat your way around the world with Asian hot dogs, Danish-Japanese open sandwiches and El Salvadorian pupusas (grilled corn patties). This being Brooklyn, you'll find a liberal dose of pickles (the whole Borough is pickling mad) and quinoa falafel.
|Rose Water, Park Slope|
10. Dinner on the terrace at Rose Water, Park Slope
Rose Water is possibly my favourite restaurant in the whole world. I came across it four years ago, when I was writing a piece on Brooklyn for Waitrose Food Illustrated. It's a little spot on a brownstone-lined street in Park Slope, and has the most lovely, romantic terrace. Sit out there at dusk, surrounded by tealights, tumbling strawberry plants and geraniums, and you will not want to board your flight home. The food - seasonal, new American, mostly sourced from good farms on Long Island, is sensational, too.
Rose Water, 787 Union Street, Brooklyn NYC