As referenced in my previous post, I just spent a long weekend in New York. I planned the trip as a celebration of my husband’s 40th birthday. While the trip alone was a great celebration; even better was the fact that three other friends travelled from Richmond, and two additional from New Jersey to celebrate with us!
On Thursday, in addition to using my train time to blog, I also read TrustNeely’s Guide to Brooklyn, since one of the few definite stops on our birthday itinerary was Brooklyn Brewery. The author’s descriptions and beautiful photography made me instantly even more excited for all the goodness that just a subway ride away from our hotel. So much so, that after checking in, we headed straight for Chavela’s where the house made tortillas and creamy guacamole were just as good as promised. From there we headed to the TKTS booth in downtown Brooklyn were there was no line. For those of you familiar with the Times Square TKTS experience I’ll repeat that: no line. That night we watched Jerry Lee Lewis kick piano benches across the stage from our up close and personal half-price seats at Million Dollar Quartet.
Then we returned to our hotel (Ink 48 ) to find a brown paper package, tied up in string (well, orange ribbon) in our room. Seems that tiny note I made on our reservation was truly heeded, as the next night we returned to a bottle of wine. This attention to the detail about our birthday celebration was the icing on a cake made of fabulously appointed rooms, impressive city views (see am/pm skylines above), complimentary wine happy hours, and great deals for those willing to book early. I already sought Kimpton hotels out – but now I may never stay anywhere else.
Friday highlights included danish and turnovers at the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights; followed by a stop for coffee which we sipped while walking the grounds of Columbia University. Then it was off to the Museum of Art & Design, where there seemed to be fabulous things tucked into every corner (see above: glassware on a side stairwell and happy foam people lining the wall above the main stairs). Two of our Richmond friends had arrived in town by happy hour and we met at The Pony Bar, where we scored the kind of real estate at the bar that can only be cornered by those on vacation (or not bound to a 5:oo end of the workday). We finished the evening at Birreria, where I enjoyed a beer brewed with thyme and this amazing concoction of cheese, grilled mushrooms and brussel sprouts.
Saturday was . . . drumroll please . . . . the BIRTHDAY! We started off with a hearty breakfast, which we instinctively knew was the right thing to do before embarking on Brooklyn Brewery. We arrived near 1:00 and by 2:00 the tasting room was packed. We were now a party of 8 — complete with the New Jersey friends, the Richmond friends, and one Richmonder’s sister, who lives in Brooklyn. The birthday boy and a few others took a brewery tour, while the rest of us held down the table, which was being eyed longingly by several other large parties. Post-tour, we headed next door to the thrice recommended Brooklyn Bowl (the aforementioned Neely, our hotel staff and the Brooklyn sister all endorsed it). There’s really no way to put the experience into words other than to say – go. See it for yourself. And order the fried chicken.
Next up, at the Brooklyn sister’s recommendation, was a nearby restaurant that served fabulous Italian food and then my favorite kind of cozy bar with great music (the kind that only a local can recommend). Between the beer, the excited conversation among friends, and my utter confidence in the recommendations, I somehow failed to adequately take in the name of these two places. I remember the tang of the tomato sauce, the fact that the pasta seemed perfectly imperfect in the way fresh pasta should. I remember the dim light in the bar, the chatter, the laughter. These are the details that my fiction writer’s mind remembers. I’m pretty sure that means I would make a lousy travel writer.
But it also means that it was a birthday well celebrated!