New York: A culinary tour from street food to fine dining
Greg Dillon is a native Brit who has been fortunate enough to live in the Big Apple for the past three months. He has been working hard touring around and trying out all the culinary delights that this famous city has to offer, from street vending to the fine dining scene. Greg has narrowed them down to his Top 3 just for us!
Best burger: Shake Shack in Madison Park
Shake Shack is quite literally a shack in a park. A strange destination for dinner you may think. The shear greatness of their burgers and milkshakes, however, means although you are guaranteed to be queuing to order for at least twenty minutes – it’s completely worth it.
The menu sports words such as ‘concrete’ to describe a type of drink (frozen custard… not too sure about that) and ‘shrooms’ to describe their vegetarian option. The anxious wait for your order to be freshly prepared is a test of anyone’s nerves, but when your pager vibrates wildly saying your Shack and Shake are ready it is quite a feeling. You can choose whether you want to take it back to your hotel to eat or sit in the park on the metal seats they provide. I suggest you go for the latter – sit down quick, open the bag and take that first momentous bite of what I would happily describe as the best burger in NYC. Buttery bun, freshly cooked burger (medium as standard), lettuce, tomato, American cheese and special Shake sauce. Heaven.
The only thing you will be asking yourself when you finish your burger, thoughtfully sucking on your thick yet creamy peanut butter milkshake, is whether or not you can justify queuing up again to purchase another?
Best steak: Uncle Jacks on 56th
This has been in my top two restaurants for about four years now. I was given the heads up by someone I used to work with saying ‘it’s pretty good for steak’ – that was nowhere near how this fine establishment should be described.
A more adequate description would be: Frankly, this place does the best steak in the World.
The menu is not for herbivores; this is an emporium of beef with an array of cuts that would make Gaucho Grill look like McDonalds. My usual consists of a lobster salad to start, followed by sharing a large Kobe beef steak, accompanied by garlic mushrooms, creamed spinach and sweet potato fries.
This is definitely a place you want to go if you are celebrating an anniversary or if you fancy indulging in very fine yet reasonably priced food. It is worth mentioning that the service is phenomenal, my most recent visit was to celebrate an anniversary and I could not have been looked after better, all the staff wished us congratulations, we were given a free bottle of champagne and a desert selection to finish the evening – all with loving smiles.
Best fine dining: The River Café under Brooklyn Bridge
The River Café is a restaurant to be enjoyed sparingly because once you discover this place; you will want to experience the magic every time you visit NYC.
My advice would be to get a taxi to the restaurant as it is just the other side of Brooklyn Bridge and you can enjoy being driven up the private driveway straight to the door. You will be greeted by a friendly doorman who genuinely takes an interest in how your day has been and shows you in past a vast display of fresh flowers.
Once your coat has been taken you head over a small bridge into the main restaurant where you are invited to enjoy a cocktail before taking your table. Upon taking your seat you soon realise that you are sitting in the only restaurant that boasts the entire Manhattan skyline as it’s view; from Lady Liberty on the left right through Downtown, Brooklyn Bridge and over to the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building on the right.
The food is simply incredible, it is up to you whether you do the six-course tasting menu or freestyle it and choose your own courses – I have indulged in both and can only say: wow.
My personal favourites are the steak tartar and quail’s egg to start, which is prepared with herbs and spices at the table (to the envy of all those who did not choose this dish) followed by the whole lobster that is prepared and de-shelled for you, finishing with the sticky toffee pudding with pistachio ice cream.
The food, the view, the service – all are simply superb. I did warn you it’s hard not to keep going back!
A couple of other ideas:
Best for pizza: Grimaldis under Brooklyn Bridge
Best for quintessential NY sandwiches: Lenny’s on 23rd and Broadway
Best for great bar food: Johnny Foxes on 80th and 2nd
Best for breakfast: Ellen’s Stardust at the top of Times Square
Best for brunch: Pastis on 9th
Follow Greg on twitter for more food for thought and musings on life in NYC. So you have more money to spend on steaks and shakes we have a great New York airfare available for you from £279 return. Click here or call 0208 045 4186 to book.