The understated Wallsé in the West Village is a great location - first-class food (with a Michelin star to boot) and an atmosphere that's convivial without being uncivilised. And once that's over, drinks a block away at the Spotted Pig are always nice.
344 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014 www.wallserestaurant.com
Great Asian restaurant steeped in New York cool, where you have a good chance of clapping your eyes on a genuine A-lister. Food, music and service all first class at quite reasonable prices. Amazing Kobe beef [again, reasonable prices], which is brought to your table with a steaming bowl of Miso soup, which you place the beef in to cook. A very imaginative cocktail menu, which includes the classy looking and tasty Nirvana. An all round great experience!
Madison Ave and 58th St. Manhattan
This restaurant is amazing. It is a mixture of American and Thai food. The best choice of vegetarian and vegan meals in a non-veggie restaurant I've ever seen. Everyone I have taken there has agreed. It is alway the first place I head for in New York.
RICE - Elizabeth Street between Bleeker and Houston and another one on the corner of Lexington and 27th or 28th Street.
When coming from London to NYC it'd be rude not to stay in The London, just to be able to confuse people back home. Lovely new hotel on W54th and 7th, perfectly located for an early morning jog round Central Park before meetings in the day, and real handy for 5th Avenue shopping and Broadway shows. Friendly staff and probably the best concierge in town. They also have Gordon Ramsey's restaurant there, and he does room service... so stick it on expenses and have a real treat.
West 54th St New York
A little hidden gem in Greenwich Village is Prune, a cosy neighbourhood restaurant that does the best brunch in New York, perfect for a Sunday morning in the city (yes some of us go there at weekends for business as well!) I've taken clients to this place a few times, and they're always impressed, as it feels like you really know the area, and feels like a real part of New York. It does get VERY busy for Sunday brunch so the earlier the better (I've arrived there before at midday on a Sunday to be told it was a 2 hour wait) - the wait however is worth it. This tiny little restaurant has a huge list of bloody marys and a delightful selection of brunch items which'll knock your socks off. I'm a big fan of their pear pancake. A little New York experience which may be small in stature but is huge on taste.
www.prunerestaurant.com54 E 1st St
Here are a few vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan that I've found worth the visit. Hangawi is a rather upmarket Korean restaurant serving only vegetarian food. The 'Emperor's Feast' is $35/person, but worth every penny (sorry, cent). The Chennai Garden is a vegetarian Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian food. I've taken numerous non-veggies there and no-one has ever complained. Good value for money, too.
Candle Cafe is a mostly vegan bistro on the Upper East Side. Very reasonably priced, although it can get crowded. Great veggie burgers and sandwiches.
New York City is THE city, it's got its reputation and it's always the one place I'm excited about visiting. Every visit is different and the city is constantly changing, there is so much to do and see!
It's one of those cities that on your first visit can be pretty daunting, so I thought I'd pop together a couple of tips that can help you on your first visit.
Leaving or Departing the City
JFK is normally my airport of choice but there's really not much in it. The easiest way into the city is to jump in a yellow cab, it costs a $45 flat rate, plus tips and tolls. Upon making your way to the taxi line you'll be offered all sorts of bus and limo services, ignore them, it's only the cabs that are properly licenced for this. You can of course also book your own car, I do this for the return back to the airport using Dial 7 who charge a decent rate and use fairly new sedans.
New York has so many hotels, so find one that's close to where you're going to be based. I normally use The London, which is well located on West 54th street, not far from the park and Times Square. It's a lovely new hotel with one of the best concierges in town. It's also home to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant, which is perfect for that dinner on expenses... But if you're paying yourself, go at lunch time, same food, half the price. Yum yum.
You could write a book on the places to eat in New York… in fact, hundreds of books are already out there, but for my money the top places for a business lunch or dinner are: Gordon Ramsey at The London, The River Café in Brooklyn, Prune for Brunch in The East Village and The Spotted Pig in the West Village. The Spotted Pig is probably the best Gastro Pub in New York, and a perfect places for fans of meat! The River Café has a simple but beautiful menu and offers incredible views over the river to downtown NYC… ask for a window table. Gordon Ramsey I've mentioned above and Prune is a delightful little local place that does THE best brunch in the city in my view... Complete with a huge menu of Bloody Marys. Get there early though or be prepared to wait an hour or so. Just down the road from Prune is Katz Deli which is always rammed and a classic NY food experience - give it a go.
If you're not too busy then why not pick up a jogging map from your hotel concierge and take a run round the park to stay in shape. I also love going to the Top Of The Rock at the Rockefeller Building, giving you stunning views of the city and especially usefully in getting to know it in your head if you’re a first time visitor. You can see where everything is and get a rough idea of distances. 5th Avenue is probably your best place for shopping with plenty of places to visit, including the maddening Abercrombie and Fitch which will give you a headache. But you can get your stuff much cheaper from there than in the UK. Department store-wise I find Bloomingdales always serves me best. Don't forget to go shopping in the village as well, Spring Street has some classic locations where you can find the most random of things. If you get a chance to see a Broadway show, rock up to the TKTS half price booth in Times Square and get into a show on the cheap. Spring Awakening seems to be one of the best shows on at the moment. And if you're there on a Friday you can pop into many of the big museums for free, MoMA being a great one to kill a few hours in.
The best thing about New York is that there is always something new, and it's the one place I've never got bored in despite many trips. So make the most of it.
The new place for doing business is the Bandra Kurla Complex; the Grand Hyatt is five minutes away and is very good, with an Italian restaurant that serves excellent pizza. The area’s a bit grungy but the hotel has its own ten-acre plot and once inside it has everything you’d want – including faxes in the rooms and Wi-Fi.
If you want to see a quiet and impressive part of the Great Wall, take a taxi to Simuatai (about two hours). Once you entered the Wall area, just before you about to climb on to the wall, walk through the wall and carry on the track for about 300 metres - you will come to the Dongpo Restaurant. It looks from the outside more like a shed but the owner is lovely and the Chinese food fantastic. An English menu is available, the owner will try her best to improve her English while talking to you.
This agritourism (organic farm) is convenient for the Villa del Casale mosaics and other sites. The dinner is fantastic, mainly beautiful fresh produce off the farm. We stayed three nights and had antipasti misto, pasta then a meat dish and salad, followed by dessert and fruit, plus wine. The cooking is extremely high quality. Breakfast included fresh figs straight off the tree. The drawback is that the beautiful swimming pool is open to the local teenagers in the afternoons and there's loud pop/disco music until six! Dinner (including wine) bed and breakfast cost 55 Euros each.
Just outside Piazza Armerina on the road to Caltigirone
Lovely restaurant in the town square, overlooked by the Norman cathedral. Had a breeze in July so very pleasant. Helpful and charming service, very good food with the wide range of dishes available using the day's catch explained as you choose your fish from the cabinet and it is weighed (and priced) on the spot.
Cefalu historic centre
The hotel Laura in Madrid is a great place for families in the very centre of this wonderful city. Modern and comfortable design, friendly staff and affordable. It's just a B&B so you have to explore the city for food. Go to the Latina district for tapas and avoid the Plaza Mayor for overpriced and badly cooked food.
Set in the Museum Quarter, the restaurant is only a stone's throw from the city's most popular museums and makes an ideal dinnertime stop. It is also fairly reasonably priced in what is otherwise a rather pricey area. The service was friendly, personal and relaxed. More importantly, the food was divine. Good quality, carefully cooked - relaxed dining as it should be on holiday.
Willemsparkweg 6, Museum Quarter
Tel: 020 662 62 06
If you're a member of a club back in London, check to see if it has a reciprocal with the Royal Bombay Yacht Club - if not, try blagging! Food and bar is very cheap - really nice views of the bay and it's got a 'last days of the Raj' feel to it.
Situated just off Haymarket, Mint Leaf serves seriously good Indian food. It'd definitely in the same category as some of the more celebrated options like Veeraswamy and Tamarind. Get a mix of main courses to share to make the most of the experience – a combination of chicken curry, lamb stew, pulao rice, bread basket, yellow lentils and aloo will certainly not disappoint.
J Sheekey has long been part of London’s eating scene - it dates back as far as 1896. However, it's only since its relaunch by the people behind the Ivy that it's really been worth a visit. The freshness and availability of all Sheekey’s ingredients mean they have no restaurant set menu; instead, a wonderful selection of dishes of the day served by some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff you could wish for. It's definitely worth booking as far in advance as you possibly can.
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