Wednesday, September 07, 2011

NYC trippin' and name droppin', part 2

>> Pictures from New York City (they're mostly beer-related, but not all. That's either a good thing or a sad thing, you decide.)

If you missed Part 1 yesterday, here's a handy link back to it to fill in the blanks, or not.

Financial District - the beginning of my second weekend visit to Patty in NYC began with a walking "tour" of lower Manhattan, taking a bunch of stock photos and walking the streets that I used to walk when I used to do more work in the Financial District. It's a bit of an odd place and not one that I particularly miss too terribly. But, yet fun for walking and sightseeing around.

Grand Central - I hopped the 4/5 subway line northbound and jumped off at Grand Central, taking more pictures along the way, and walking another 15 or so blocks before getting back on the subway to 86th Street. Why 86th Street? Next...

Papaya King - Everyone has their "thing". Since being introduced to Papaya King over 15 years ago by a friend, I like to stop in and grab the two hot dogs, fries, and smoothie drink special. There used to be more locations (including one in Philly's University City), but it appears that they're are now just down this original location as their sole Manhattan site. This one at 86th and 3rd is the nearly 80-year-old institution's original location and the perfect place to begin a zig-zagging walk south through Manhattan. Did I mention that it was another beautiful day?

Upper East Side - ah yes, the Upper East Side. Full of history, architecture, shopping, recreation, and a little bit of everything else. I don't know much of the Upper East Side's history -- other than that's where the Jefferson's moved to — but a leisurely and meandering walk through it is definitely recommended.

Eataly/Flatiron - I made my way to the Flatiron District whereupon I decided to check out what all the buzz is about surrounding the Eataly establishment. Holy cow....and fish, bread, coffee, gelato, wine, produce, pasta, restaurants, bars, and on and on and on. What doesn't this market have? While the wait for Birreria (the upstairs Sam Calagione/Leonardo DiVincenzo/Teo Musso joint brewpub effort) was too long for my liking and timetable, I soaked up the atmosphere downstairs in the sprawling market. Judging from others' comments, the brewpub may or may not impress, but my own impression was strongly formed in the ground floor market.

Gramercy - Just north of Union Square is Gramercy Park, one of the smaller and more attractive residential neighborhoods in NYC. The gated private park in the middle provides residents with their own secluded escape.

Union Square/Greenmarket - Into the autumn months, Greenmarket is a routine sight all around Union Square. Throughout the year, one of NYC's busiest and most eclectic and diverse public squares. For beer, a Heartland Brewery is just off the northwest corner.

Whole Foods/Union Square - The Whole Foods just off Union Square has a nice selection of beer, but no where near the volume and quality of Chelsea or Bowery locations. Still, the lower level where the beer is located gave me a chance to cool off from the increasing heat and a chance to watch the fileting of a grouper and opah and then sample the finished cooked product. So, there you go, a little tip of the day. When bouncing around a city and working up a sweat, duck into a market with a great beer selection to peruse and some free samples of food to enjoy.

Zum Schneider - Finally! After years of being told that this German bar in the East Village/Alphabet City would be well worth the mission to find it, I myself found it and an enjoyable hour or so atop a barstool with a couple of very nice beers. If I wasn't headed off to meet Patty for dinner, it certainly would have been the Schweinhaxen platter and more of the same in the glass. The thing about Zum Schneider is that it's not very close to a subway stop, at least not compared to many of the other beer destinations around the city. But, I'm guessing that, in fact, is what keeps it from becoming anything it doesn't want to be. Your best bet for getting there on foot (cheaters only need take a cab if it's raining!) is taking one of a few trains that stop at Astor Place (and walk east), the 1st Avenue stop along the L-train (and walk south), or the F-train to the 1st Avenue stop (and walk north). Any of these walks, though, will require roughly a 3/4 mile walk. A pleasant walk, but a walk nonetheless, and as I mentioned, I imagine that this is what keeps it from becoming overrun with tourists and ├╝ber beer geeks. And, that it was makes it so darn nice to visit. Oh, and their exclusive Traunstein beers. And the German staff. And the indoor tree that the building is constructed around. The outdoor umbrella'ed tables and the large windows that open out to them. But let's just keep this all amongst the few of reading this, okay? Sehr gut.

Whole Foods/Bowery - The last of Whole Foods stops in NYC this time around was at the site of the original best of the chain market's beer stores. On Houston Street (we all know it's pronounced How-sten, yes?), there's a full-sized marketplace, a coffee bar, cafe, cheese cave, and one of the city's best retail beer selections. For this Pennsylvania guy on Houston Street, it's never too difficult to find Captain Lawrence and Goose Island (not in PA at all) and limited distribution beers of NY and New England-based breweries that make it only sporadically in southeastern Pennsylavnia. Did I mention that it includes a six-tap growler filling station? Plus, the B- ,the F-, and the D-trains are all just steps away. And if Whole Foods doesn't have what you're looking for, just a few blocks away is New Beer Distributors, also one of Manhattan's better beer retailers.

After closing out the night with some waterfront dining, but nothing too interesting on the beer front (come to think of it, I switched over to wine), we rested up for what we knew would be an energetic day of city walking the following day.

The Spotted Pig - We began this particular Sunday with a solid and delicious brunch, albeit slightly a more expensive than you might imagine or hope for, at the country's oft-cited "first gastropub". I honestly still don't have a firm grasp on the exact criteria for gastropub, but nonetheless The Spotted Pig delivers quality food and beverage in a comfortable atmosphere. Perhaps the ambiance paired with the service made the final bill a bit more palatable...as did the cask-conditioned Sixpoint Autobahn IPA. But, a deviled egg (one deviled egg, sliced into two halves) for $4 and a 14-ounce (maybe 12-ounce, tough to tell) glass of local cask-conditioned beer both seemed high even by NYC standards, particularly gastropub standards.

The remainder of the day was spent walking. Walking the West Village. Walking The High Line. Walking Midtown. Oops, back up. The High Line -- what a great addition to the West Village, Meatpacking District, and Midtown. Stretching from roughly 14th Street to 30th Street and nearly hugging 10th Avenue the distance, the views and the serenity offer locals and tourists alike a respite from the busy streets and more photographic perspectives than you can imagine. Put it on your short list.

B&H electronics - This entry on my trip report has absolutely nothing to do with beer. We stopped in for a new telephoto lens for our camera. I'm not quite sure that in my wild imagination that I could stretch even something remote to tie to B&E Electronics. It just needs to be said that if you're on Manhattan in need of, oh say, anything with a chip in it or related to something with a chip in it, B&H is your place. Prices are fair, selection is astounding, and service is beyond top-notch in a retail culture that we live in today that accepts below-subpar service. It's at 34th and 9th. Wanna know more? Drop a note to me and I'd be glad to fill you in.

Stout - Before heading out on my train ride into an approaching tropical storm (or hurricane, or whatever it was called), Patty saw me off with a quick meal at Stout, just a block from Penn Station. If you're looking for the best beer option, with decent food, within spitting distance of the train station, Stout is it. Sure, you could walk another 5-15 minutes and be at Rattle 'n' Hum, Heartland, Ginger Man, or Pony Bar, but when time is of the essence (as it was for us at that time), Stout fills the need quite well. In our numerous times at Stout, there's never been a particular "wow factor", but that's not really a criticism. The food, the beers, and the service are all at least average, if not above average on some days, and that, on most days, will suit just fine.

That's all for now...

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