L. E. Travel Tip: The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

L. E. Travel Tip: The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

The stunningly beautiful New York Botanical Garden

L. E. Travel Tips: LIC Market in Long Island City

L. E. Travel Tips: LIC Market in Long Island City

The Cheers of Queens 'where everyone knows your name.' Friendly staff and amazing fresh seasonal food.

L. E. Travel Tips: NYC's Chelsea Market

L. E. Travel Tips: NYC's Chelsea Market

Loved by locals and tourists alike, this amazing market is one of the best in the world.

L.E. Travel Tip: The Lobby Bar & Garden at The Ludlow Hotel

L.E. Travel Tip: The Lobby Bar & Garden at The Ludlow Hotel

Chic, comfortable, and intimate setting with indoor and garden seating. A great meeting spot before or after brunch or dinner.

L. E. Travel Tip: Navy in Soho

L. E. Travel Tip: Navy in Soho

The team that brought us Smith & Mills opens this local's gem.

L. E. Travel Tips: Amazing Homestyle cooking at Casa Enrique

L. E. Travel Tips: Amazing Homestyle cooking at Casa Enrique

Great food, service, and cocktails in a friendly, neighborhood spot in LIC.

L. E. Travel Tips: Cocotte - A Lovely Slice of France in Soho

I first stopped in Cocotte while shopping in Soho two years ago. At the time, I had never heard of the restaurant, however I was drawn by the look and feel of the place. More importantly, they had a good crowd which is always a great sign when selecting a restaurant.

Shortly after being seated, I noticed that the busy staff was speaking almost entirely in French. As it turns out, the chef and owner, Sebastien Pourrat, is from Paris where he previously owned a restaurant in Le Marais. The staff is almost entire French, though don't let any previously conceived notions about the French stop you from visiting Cocotte as everyone is extremely friendly and helpful.

The menu is ideal in length with a good selection of traditional French basque dishes and some modern french bistro plates as well. The Cocotte Burger is quite simply one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. Perfectly juicy, fresh, and served uniquely on focaccia bread.

I've been back on a number of occasions for lunch and dinner and the food is always delicious. Their cocotte of sautéd potatoes with duck fat is a perfect compliment to any meal. The duck confit rustic pate is out of this world. I've tried many of their specials as well and I've never been anything but pleased. They also have pulled together an impressive list of craft beers mostly from Spain. 

Stop by and give this place a try. You will feel like you stepped out of NYC and into a great French bistro in Paris!

L. E. Travel Tips: L'Artusi, L'Apicio, and Dell'anima

If opening and maintaining one successful restaurant deserves applause, then opening 3 spots deserves nothing less than a standing O!

My standing O goes to Epicurean Management for what they have done in terms of italian restaurants in NYC.

A brief timeline... In October of 2007, they opened Dell'anima on 8th Ave. in the West Village. Cool spot, amazing italian food, fun atmosphere. In December 2008, they followed that up with another West Village restaurant on W. 10th St. called L'Artusi. Larger restaurant (yet still intimate), amazing food, cosy bar, stellar wine list beautifully broken out by region, and a gorgeous private dinner room (called the Wine Cellar). In the Fall of 2012, they extended their network outside of the West Village with a East Village spot called L'Apicio. Another cool, intimate spot, great bar, amazing food, fantastic brunch, causal and relaxing "living room" space which is great for pre-dinner drinks, and tasty cocktails.

When I lived in the West Village, L'Artusi was my go-to Italian restaurant. However, since moving to the East Village, L'Apicio now fills that role.

All three places fill up night after night even though they've been at it for years. There are similarities in the their food across the 3 restaurants, but also enough differences to make all three worthy of frequent visits.

The management company seems to know how to keep talent as I see the same faces in these places year after year. And they also know the importance of the customer as they clearly promote a friendly environment where people remember your name and your face.

I haven't tried brunch at L'Artusi, but I hear it is fantastic. They also opened a bar/lounge in May of 2010 called Anfora which is located 2 doors down from Dell'anima. Both are on my to-do list! 

L. E. Daily Tips: The Roof @ The Viceroy Hotel

In a city like NYC, rooftop bars are essential and highly sought after during the summer. There something serene about being above all of the craziness and noise of the packed streets and sidewalks. Add in some spectacular views, a little music, great furniture, and tasty food and drinks and you are that much closer to heaven.

The gorgeous view of Central Park from The Roof

I recently visited The Roof at Viceroy Hotel in NYC with some friends and was blown away by its commanding view of Central Park, Columbus Circle, 57th St below, and several other buildings that stand between Viceroy and Central Park including the new condo building One57 (where the Penthouse is selling for $90M+). 

The cocktails are pricey, but you can easily get wine or beer for the same prices people are paying at street level. This is an excellent spot to escape it all for a couple of post-work drinks or mid afternoon on the weekends. Just beat the crowd, get a seat and enjoy the view!

More pictures of the view from The Roof:

And the reflection on the Solow Building just down 57th St:

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L. E. Daily Tips: Neue Galerie, NYC Restaurant Week, and Ristorante Morini

Highlights on this post:

  • The Neue Galerie
  • NYC Restaurant Week running from July 21st - August 15th
  • Ristorante Morini 

The Neue Galerie is located just around the corner of Ristorante Morini which is an amazing restaurant participating in NYC Restaurant Week. A great place for a bite before or after a trip to the Neue Galerie.

The Neue Galerie

Entrance into the Neue Galerie's Degenerate Art exhibit

This beautiful museum, located on the Museum Mile, is a true gem of NYC. Especially for those that are turned off by the size of large museums like the MET and The Louvre.

The Neue Galerie showcases early twentieth-century German and Austrian art in building which was originally the home of industrialist William Starr Miller. Built in 1914, the one time mansion opened its doors as the Neue Galerie in 2001.

The permanent collection of the museum features Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and other works from Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and their contemporaries. A small, but extraordinary collection. The current exhibition, which was recently extended through Sept 1, is called "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937." This powerful exhibit focuses on the confiscation, infamous display, and destruction of modern art by the Nazis in the late 1930s. As well as the impact to the modern art community of that era. Read the full review of this exhibit in the NY Times here.

NYC Restaurant Week:

From July 21st - August 15th, 314 restaurants in NYC offer 3-course lunch and dinner menus for $25 and $38 respectively. This offer presents a brilliant time to get out for some amazing meals at affordable prices. And there are some really great restaurants on this list. Some of my favorites include: Perry Street, Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, five of Bobby Van's restaurants, Casa Mono, Dovetail, Esca, Fig & Olive, The Harrison, Lafayette, Lupa Osteria Romana, Mr Chow, and the list goes on and on. See the full list here.

Ristorante Morini:

I happened to stop by this lovely restaurant to grab lunch with my Mom before taking her to the Neue Galerie. We wanted to eat at the Café Sabarsky, which is located in the museum, but the wait was too long. Luckily for us, Ristorante Morini had a table available outside on Madison Avenue and they were offering their NYC Restaurant Week lunch menu. The food here is delicious, modern, and a very good deal considering the $25 3-course lunch offering. I started with calamari with mozzarella, charred lancinato kale, and olivada. Then, I had the pasta with rock shrimp, summer squash, basil, and cherry tomatoes. A perfect lunch for a sunny summer day. I finished off the meal with toasted vanilla meringue with lady finger, peach sorbetto, fior di latte gelato, and basil. If you haven't been, definitely worth a visit!

L. E. Daily Tips: A Celebration of Italian Artisan Culture - Il Buco, Il Buco Alimertari & Vineria, and Il Buco Vita

I don't recall the first time I went to Il Buco or how I ended up going there, but I do know it became an important part of my NYC experience from my very first visit. The space is rustic, warm, and authentic; the people are friendly, welcoming, and relaxed; the food is fresh, delicious, and innovative; and the wine list is simply outstanding.  

The front patio at il buco on Bond St

The front patio at il buco on Bond St

It is hard to believe, but the restaurant opened as an antique store 20 years ago this year. As the story goes, shoppers would often join the staff for pranzo, or lunch, that was prepared in the tiny back kitchen of the shop. 6 months later, the antique store was transformed into an delectable enoteca. Over the years, the chef and the staff have changed, but the watchful eyes of owner Donna Lennard has ensured a consistently warm, friendly, and delicious experience. Donna entrusted the kitchen to Chef Joel Hough who embodies the brand and the legacy of this treasured NoHo restaurant.

A couple of years ago when I heard that they were opening another location one block north, I was excited as this would certainly make it easier to get a reservation at the always full Il Buco. During an afternoon run many months later, i happened to run down Great Jones St and stumbled upon the new spot called Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. I stopped and stepped in to check it out. While it was only operating in soft launch, the staff was kind enough to give me a tour of the new restaurant. A market in the front of the house with a large dining room in the back and another dining room upstairs. The enthusiasm and excitement of the staff was contagious and I just knew it would be special. I returned for dinner a couple of weeks later and I was in love once again. The spot felt different, but for all the right reasons. The menu is simple and straight-forward, however the food is bold and delicious. The chef, Justin Smillie, like his peer at Il Buco is a student of Chef John Waxman (Barbuto) and equally talented. The restaurant earned NY Times' highly coveted 3-star rating in 2012.

Molto bravo to Donna and her talented team for creating two amazing restaurants. Sadly, reservations at both restaurant are extremely tough to secure. Plan ahead!

The entrance into Il Buco Vita

The entrance into Il Buco Vita

This spring, on another afternoon run in late April, I happened to run down Bond St and after peering into Il Buco, I noticed a sign on the street for Il Buco Vita just a few doors down. I stopped in my tracks in wonder. Another restaurant? Some type of pop-up restaurant? I climbed the staircase and to my delight, I discovered a world of beautiful artisan products and antiques. Another masterful concept by Donna and her team. This 3rd edition to the Il Buco brand is a series of artisan products hand selected from a series of small artisans from Central and Southern Italy. These products are core to what makes the Il Buco restaurants special and inviting. And now, you can buy them for your home. Below are a couple of pictures I took during a recent visit.


I can't wait to see what is next!!

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L. E. Daily Tip: Films on the Green

There's something really magical about grabbing a blanket, a couple of pillows, some vino, and food and heading to the park to catch a film. Even better on a perfect night weather-wise in NYC and with a great film.

The French Embassy is hosting a series of Films on the Green throughout NYC Parks May - September of this year. All the films are French and they are free. 

We arrived about an hour before showtime and a lot of the best seats were already taken. By showtime, the area around the temporary screen was packed with a couple hundred people. The city somehow seemed silent for the hour and a half long movie. I felt as if I were in a field in the middle of the countryside. 

We saw La Haine in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. A great film and a great evening. Check out the following site for the schedule and make sure you see at least one film:

L. E. Daily Tips: A Frenchie's Must-haves in NYC

Profile: France C. - A Frenchwoman in NYC

I think it is fair to say the French know a thing or two about food and wine. Thus, today I profile a wonderful lady and a dear friend named France. She recently moved to NYC from London with her husband. France however is aptly named, as she is French born, raised, and educated.

Professionally, she is a talented freelance digital producer, but outside of the office she has a great appreciation for life in the city and a love for food, cooking, and wine. Thus, upon arriving in NYC last year, she quickly sought out her French staples. Here's a list of her recommendations from around the city:

Q: Let's start with the obvious... Where do you get your baguettes?

A: I buy my bread at Kayser, only for the Monge baguette or pain. Monge is actually the name of a little place in the 5th arrondissement, which I love. It's not far from the Sorbonne.

Q: The French also love their croissants, where do you get yours?

A: Yes we do. Balthazar is where I buy croissants. (Union Market in LES has very good croissants as well.)

Q: I personally love really good salt, especially for cooking. What do you use?

A: Big Salt from Guerande. It's really wonderful and you can get it at Sur La Table.

Q: Other French staples to share with our readers?

A: I get Maille Cornichons and Comte cheese at Union Market. They have a few great French products. And there is this delicious goat cheese (from Connecticut) at the Union Square Market on Mondays and Fridays. Also, A L'Olivier fig vinegar is really wonderful on salads and for cooking. I get it at Whole Foods.

Q:  As we both know, food in Paris is really wonderful. That being said, what are some areas where NYC shines?

A:  So far, I'd say that the sushi and Japanese cuisine is much better in NYC! I think NYC is an amazing place for exotic restaurants, which we lack in France. I also absolutely love the farmers markets and the heirloom tomatoes are outstanding.
I also love the variety of nuts, kale, and butternut squash you find in NYC! You just can’t find such varieties in France. I go to Chelsea Market's Nut Box to buy my nuts.

Q: Any unexpected finds in NYC?

A: Well, September Wine Shop is my go-to wine shop in my neighborhood. But, that’s not the unexpected part. What is however is a NY wine I tried there from the Brooklyn-based Red Hook Winery. I never would have guessed it was from NY. You must give it a try!

Oh and they do a Calvados ice cream at the Laboratorio del Gelato. It takes me back to my Normandy roots!


Thanks so much France for sharing your French favorites in NYC! Allez les Bleus!!!!

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L. E. Daily Tips: Edi and the Wolf and the World Cup!

I've always loved Edi and the Wolf as it is a cozy, bright, and airy restaurant with delicious food, but pour in a little World Cup action and this Alphabet City spot is taken to a whole new level. The service is outstanding, the space is comfortable and the food, beer, and wine are excellent. It is especially good for any and all Germany matches when Edi and his staff squeeze in as many chairs as possible and happily snake through them to delivery beers and bites to their hungry customers.

For the Germany v Ghana match, the house was full and German fans were standing outside along the railing glued to the tight match. A fantastic atmosphere only the World Cup can produce!! 

Reservations are encouraged. If you don't have a reservation, try to get there 30-60 mins before the match. If you can't get in, their sister bar, The Third Man, is only a block away and is a fine option. If you like a more raucous scene for the World Cup matches, Zum Schneider, located just across the street from Edi and the Wolf, can't be beat.


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Fans glued to the Germany v Ghana match

Fans glued to the Germany v Ghana match

Full house means World Cup fans stand along the railing in front of Edi and the Wolf

L. E. Daily Tips: The Blind Barber

Looking for a great place in NYC for cocktails, craft beers, or wine with a cool vibe, music, and attractive people? Give The Blind Barber a try if you haven't already. Be it a night out with friends or a date, this place is fantastic for drinks pre-dinner, post-dinner, or late night. 

If you haven't been before, don't be confused by the barber shop at the front of the shop. The drinks are in the back room. Speakeasy-ness decor, mostly black and white, with mood lighting and a variety of music depending upon the night. 

They have three locations... LA, the East Village, and earlier this year they opened their third location in Brooklyn. Hours and food options vary per location.

They always have different things happen at each location, so follow them on Facebook to keep up-to-date. For example, the LA location, which celebrated it's 2nd anniversary in May, has a live music series called UNWIND which started this month.

They also have a hair product line that can be purchased at their shops or at Barney's. Oh, and you can also get a haircut which comes with one free drink! 

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