Stuff to Do

AllNY.com's look at things to do in NYC written by New Yorkers for New Yorkers and serious New York tourists.


Two exciting exhibits are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The first, “Play It Loud” is a must-see for anyone who fancies himself or herself a rock ‘n roll fan. The exhibit consists of rooms and rooms tracing the history of iconic instruments of rock ‘n roll from 1939-2017 with many used by musicians like Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett and Lady Gaga. While there are more than 130 instruments on display, the exhibit is not surprisingly guitar-heavy.

If you’ve been curious about the origin of the electric guitar, the evolution of Stratocasters, and other guitar paraphernalia, the exhibit gives you more information than you’ve probably ever imagined. It’s all an interesting path through one of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century, and the videos with explanations of the power of guitar work and music by Keith Richards and Eddie van Halen add some real-life star power to the show.

Music plays in each room, illustrating the time period shown. In the first room, you’ll need to pause a moment to take in the actual Beatles drum set and guitars dating from 1963, a powerful trip down memory lane. Many of the display items representing instruments from more than 80 musicians are on loan from notables like Paul McCartney, so it’s a rare chance to see these up close.

There’s a lot more than guitars, although the guitars on display are pretty fabulous. You’ll see costumes worn by Prince and Jimmy Page. There’s a sculpture made from pieces of the smashed remnants of Pete Townshend’s electric guitars, the purpose-built multi-neck guitars of Don Felder and Jimmy Page, a Moog synthesizer customized by Keith Emerson along with his electric tone-wheel organ, an electric piano, and the pianos played by Lady Gaga on the Jimmy Fallon Show and a vintage gold-painted one played by Jerry Lee Lewis. Design fans will love the psychedelic hand-painted guitar from Keith Richards who admits to have painted it while high, St. Vincent’s personally designed guitar, Bo Didley’s red “Twang Machine,” the drums from Keith Moon’s colorful “Pictures of Lily” drum set and Jimi Hendrix’s notable “Love Drops” electric Gibson. Concert fans have a treat in store. The room of vintage concert posters spans the globe. It’s almost inconceivable to note that the Rolling Stones played at Carnegie Hall and tickets cost a mere $3.50. Or that there was a concert with a lineup of The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rascals, all together at Flushing Meadow Park, again for only $3.50 per ticket.

And, of course, there’s a room with footage of a variety of important concerts where you’ll want to soak in the atmosphere and stay and watch multiple times.

A special MetFriday evening celebrating rock and roll will include performances, talks, lectures, screening and workshops on September 13. Organized by The Met Museum’s Department of Musical Instruments and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Play It Loud” is the first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to iconic instruments of rock and roll. “Play It Loud” runs through October 1. #MetRockandRoll.

Before you leave the museum, head up to the Cantor Roof Garden where the new outdoor installation has just been unveiled. Named ParaPivot I and II, the massive dual pieces were designed by Alicja Kwade, a well-known artist from Berlin who exhibits regularly at Gallery 303 in New York City and has shown at exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale.

Set against the backdrop of Central Park and Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Central Park South and Central Park West skyline, the site-specific sculpture makes a dramatic setting for a day or evening out, particularly in the warmer months when the roof turns into a cocktail party in the evening.

As described by the artist herself, the installation is a consideration of the world, noting how “it’s amazing that we are a full world spinning on a ball.” Thinking about that, she added nine spheres as key elements to her powder-coated steel frames. The frames intersect at oblique angles, creating transparent boxes through which you can contemplate the world as well as the New York cityscape beyond. The placement of the massive globes on the frames gives the impression of looking at the orbital pathways of the globe.

You have until October 27 to take a look.

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Slow Down and Smell the Orchids at the New York Botanical Gardens This Week. Then Enjoy an Evening of Food, Drink, Dance and Music

The Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden is in full bloom with its daffodils, azaleas and tulips. But it’s the Garden’s exotic orchid show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its after-dark program, “Orchid Evenings” that add a special something to programming this spring. This year’s orchid show with its thousands of delicate orchids is a tribute to Singapore, the “City in a Garden” where orchids are a vital part of the culture and landscape. Orchids from Singapore as well as from the Bronx collection are on display in full dazzling colors and shapes.

There’s still one more week to enjoy the beauty of these Singaporean orchids and indulge in a fun evening reminiscent of Asian night markets. Dancers, live DJs and outdoor food and drink vendors are as enticing as the flowers. Plan your timing so that you can explore the gardens outdoors by day, enjoy the orchids in their indoor setting as dusk falls, and then indulge in the outdoor fun that will have you smiling until late. You can also reserve an early-evening table at the Hudson Garden Grill (last reservation is at 5:30pm).

The show was developed in partnership with Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. Some of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ signature Arches make their appearance here in specially designed versions, adorned with thousands of orchids and other tropical flowers. Gardens by the Sea has contributed their Supertrees, amazing vertical shapes dripping with orchids of all colors created especially for the New York Botanical Garden. The trees have another function as well; they are embedded with photovoltaic cells that harvest solar energy, not as important within the confines of the Conservatory in the Bronx but important in Singapore.

Tickets can be purchased online for either day entry to see the orchids or for the full evening experience.

Evening tickets are available for the weekend fun, with entry times at 7pm, 7:30pm or 8pm, on April 26 and 27. No one under 21 is allowed.

2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, 718-817-8700

https://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/

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Enjoy the Last Weeks of Patio Dining and Drinks in Brooklyn and Manhattan

Now that Hurricane Florence has finally passed and glorious weather is upon us, it’s time to dine outdoors again while the temperatures are still lovely. Here are some wonderful restaurants and bars with patios perfect for people-watching and soaking up the rays in these last few months before fall hits.

Brooklyn

Pig Beach, 480 Union St. Gowanus; www.pigbeachnyc.com

Pig Beach is the critically acclaimed outdoor barbecue restaurant located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn from Chef Matt Abdoo (Del Posto) and award-winning barbecue teams, Salty Rinse and Ribdiculous Bar-B-Krewe. The all-star team here brings an eclectic barbecue-focused menu to the Gowanus waterfront showcasing barbecue varieties from around the United States. If you’re chilly, there’s also a large indoor space, now open year-round. Come here, first, for a canoe trip on the Gowanus – it’s an experience you’re unlikely to forget.

Gran Electrica, 5 Front St. DUMBO; http://granelectrica.com

Another Brooklyn favorite, Gran Electrica is the Bib Gourmand Mexican restaurant located underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. Gran Electric offers an authentic and market-driven Mexican menu inspired by traditional Mexican street fare. From hand-pressed heirloom corn tortillas made daily stuffed with lengua, cilantro, onion and radish, to day boat scallops marinated in aguachile, the cooking shows diversity of the many regions of Mexico. The beverage program incorporates Mexican flavors with seasonal ingredients and also features an expansive agave list with more than 50 types of tequila, mezcal, racilla and sotol. The large outdoor area has a breathtaking view of the Brooklyn Bridge. To get here, rent a Citi Bike from Chinatown and bike over the Manhattan Bridge.

Sauvage, 905 Lorimer St, Greenpoint; www.sauvageny.com

Sauvage, meaning wild in French, is a neighborhood restaurant in Greenpoint, founded by the team behind James Beard Award-winning oyster bar and cocktail den Maison Premiere. The decor, cocktails, and wine all add to the restaurant’s distinct dining experience, creating an outdoor “natural” environment with a lush profusion of planted herbs and botanicals filling the restaurant. Facing nearby McCarren Park, the sun-filled restaurant has a lovely outdoor seating

Manhattan

The Smith Restaurant & Bar, Lincoln Square, Upper West Side; https://thesmithrestaurant.com

The Smith offers a wonderful choice for patio dining after an evening at any of the ballet, music and theater venues at Lincoln Center or Jazz at Lincoln Center on Columbus Circle. Under the direction of Executive Chef Brian Ellis, The Smith’s menu features bistro classics and seasonal fare from local farmers and purveyors. The restaurant has a popular craft cocktail program with house-made ingredients featured and an extensive wine selection which includes more than 20 wines by the glass or carafe.

Bowery Road & Library of Distilled Spirits, Union Square;

www.boweryroad.comwww.libraryofdistilledspirits.com

Taking its inspiration as well as ingredients from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket, Bowery Road is an all-day restaurant serving market-driven fare from Chef Ron Rosselli.  Some of the seasonal appetizers include pinto bean hummus with mole spice, seeds and flatbread; roasted carrots with pine nut cream and garlic-honey vinaigrette; marinated beet salad with avocado cream, pomelo, hearts of palm, and almond dukkah. Main courses mix vegetarian with meat-centric choices such as the Union Square Market grain bowl with farro, quinoa, lentils, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms, and sunflower; or Niman pork adobo with mango, radish, onion and corn crepes.

Together with adjacent craft-cocktail destination Library of Distilled Spirits, where more than 1200 different spirits are offered, Bowery Road gives a Manhattan sidewalk-patio dining experience that’s unusual in its spaciousness. Happy hour is popular here as a stop en route to the nearby subway hub, serving up a menu of well-priced cocktails, wines , beer and a shareable bucket and beer filled with fried chicken, two draught beers and snacks.

Vinatería, 2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem; www.vinaterianyc.com

At this beloved Harlem neighborhood restaurant, market-driven and vibrant dishes celebrate the rich culinary traditions of Italy and Spain. Cult favorites like spicy veal meatballs with creamy parmigiano polenta, or fresh rosemary pappardelle with lamb ragu attract a clientele of both locals and visitors. Vinateria’s expansive wine list is chosen from small producers and is full of surprising yet accessible finds, while the artisan cocktail program uses house-made tinctures, seasonal produce and fresh-grown herbs from the restaurant’s own garden. A large outside patio wraps around the restaurant (a corner building), seating 40.

Tavern on the Green, Outdoor Courtyard, Upper West Side; www.tavernonthegreen.com

Tavern on the Green’s outdoor courtyard is the perfect Central Park location for brunch, lunch, and dinner under the soft glow of string lights. Seasonal dishes from Chef Bill Peet include seared yellowfin tuna nicoise salad, miso marinated glazed marrow bone, wild mushroom toast on brioche, and smoked salmon tartine, with trout caviar. The bar at the top of the courtyard offers a separate setting for beer, wine, and cocktails such as white peach sangria, and the refreshing Hot as a Cucumber craft cocktail made with vodka, jalapeño, fennel, and cucumber. Enjoy a wonderful walk in the park to get here – the restaurant is located off Central Park West at West 67th Street or via the interior roadway encircling the park.

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Off-Broadway Week: 2-for-1 Tickets Starting September 24 on Sale Now

Off-Broadway fans will love NYC & Company’s 10th Off-Broadway Week, from September 24 through October 7.  Tickets are now on sale at 2-for -1 pricing for 38 productions. If you’ve never seen an Off-Broadway show, this is the time to try out something new. Theater in NYC is much more than blockbuster musicals and long-running plays on Broadway – there’s much to love about the creative productions often set in much smaller, more intimate theaters. And the values are terrific.

Some of the shows offered include critically acclaimed musical Avenue Q, formerly on Broadway, Drunk Shakespeare, revivals of Jersey Boys and Smokey Joe’s Café, and fan favorites Gazillion Bubble Show, Puffs and STOMP.

All tickets are subject to availability, so hurry to purchase yours now. Tickets for the 10th NYC Off-Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/off-broadway-week.

The 38 shows participating in NYC Off-Broadway Week Fall 2018 are:

  • Apologia
  • Avenue Q
  • Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson
  • Blue Man Group
  • The Book of Merman
  • Desperate Measures
  • Drunk Shakespeare
  • El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba
  • Final Follies
  • Gazillion Bubble Show
  • Gloria: A Life
  • I Was Most Alive with You
  • The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
  • India Pale Ale
  • Jersey Boys
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes
  • Midnight at The Never Get
  • Monday Night Magic
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • NEWSical The Musical
  • Neurosis: A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • On Beckett
  • Perfect Crime
  • Popcorn Falls
  • Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic
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The Weather Is Great: Let’s Dine Outdoors in NYC

They’re promising that the temperature will drop in the next day or two. So? It’s time to score a seat at some of the best outdoor dining options in New York City. These seats are notoriously the hardest to book, so don’t delay. We can still enjoy dining al fresco at least until early November.

Akrotiri (29-20 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY, (718) 726-2447, www.akrotiritaverna.com)

Escape the chaos of Manhattan and take the N or W train to Astoria’s hottest Greek restaurant, Akrotiri. The 45-seat outdoor area in front of the Queens restaurant is the perfect place for serious people-watching while enjoying dishes by Chef Nicholas Poulmentis, a Greek native who studied at Le Cordon Bleu. I suggest his modern take on traditional Greek taramosalata, which he infuses here with herring roe, truffles and squid ink; or the popular goggizes, goat cheese pasta in aji amarillo beurre blanc topped with Brazilian lobster and Mangalitsa bacon. Take in the warm temperatures while sipping on a glass of Greek wine from their extensive list of organic and natural wines.

The Cannibal (113 East 29th Street, NYC, (212) 685-5585, cannibalnyc.com)

For those scorching “Indian summer” days when it’s just too hot to sit outside, spend your time in The Cannibal’s enclosed beer garden instead. The space is decorated with communal-style tables and backyard greenery so you’ll feel like you’re sitting outdoors even though you’re staying cool inside. Dine in the hidden backyard and indulge in meat-centric dishes like The Royalton Burger with dry-aged Wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, smoked tomato, Vermont cheddar and frisee. Don’t worry, though, the name belies the restaurant’s farm and veggie orientation as well.

DaDong (3 Bryant Park, NYC, (212) 355-9600, dadongny.com)

Relax under DaDong’s second-floor wooden pergolas and take in the views of the Bryant Park and Theater District while drinking and dining on the Garden Terrace. The expansive 150-seat terrace features an outdoor bar, dining and lounge space, serving as a veritable oasis in midtown Manhattan. You can cool down with a frosé cocktail and chilled oysters on the half shell from the Raw Bar. A tranquil reflecting pool is at the center of the terrace, surrounded by potted plants and water sculptures by Chinese artist Zheng Lu. If you’re looking for a quieter evening, head to the Chef’s Tasting Floor on the third level, where you can dine al fresco in DaDong’s intimate balcony while enjoying a special multi-course Chinese feast with distinctive wine and tea pairings.

Merakia (5 West 21st Street, NYC, 212 380-1950, merakia.com)

Newly re-opened, Flatiron’s Greek Steakhouse, Merakia is a destination for superb wining, dining and people watching. The doors that line the front of the restaurant open out into the street so you can enjoy an indoor-outdoor dining experience. Be sure to try Merakia’s signature keftedes and spit-roasted lamb. If you’re not familiar with Greek wines, this is the place to experiment – the wine list is expansive.

Zen Taco (522 Columbus Avenue, NYC, (212) 787-3473, zentacousa.com)

It’s always summer where Latin meets Asian fare at Zen Taco. Sit outdoors and pretend you’re on the Riviera Maya while you sample fusion dishes including signature tacos, noodles and bowls. Popsicle-inspired Poptail cocktails keep the summer momentum going like the Strawberry Fressada, a strawberry lemonade Popsicle in a glass of tequila and strawberry liqueur. Or have a Peach Sangria, a sangria popsicle in a glass of peach liqueur.

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It’s Broadway Week! Time for Two-for-one Broadway Tickets and Great Eats

Broadway Week, from September 3-16, lets you buy two-for-one tickets to 24 of Broadway’s hottest shows. Several of the shows are already sold out, but some of the hottest ones available include SpongeBob SquarePants (catch it before it closes this month), My Fair Lady (at Lincoln Center), The Play That Goes Wrong (hilarious British farce), Tony-award winner Once on This Island, Waitress and family-fave Wicked. https://www.nycgo.com/broadway-week

There are many places where you can dine near the theaters, but here are some of my favorites for both family and date-night dining.

Sen Sakana (28 West 44th Street, 212-221-9560)

New York City’s first modern Nikkei restaurant is set in an expansive two-level restaurant closer to the Sixth Avenue theaters. Offering a four-course prix-fixe menu from 5pm-6:30pm Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday, Sen Sakana invites you to start with either chicken or miso soup; select an appetizer from a list including house-crafted tofu, Japanese chicken curry empanadas, spicy tuna maki and Black Feather chicken wings (my personal favorite). For the main course, Chicken Nanban is a must-order as well as the sushi combination plate or ton katsu. The restaurant has an extensive craft cocktail menu including a variety of sakes and piscos, complementing the mix of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine served, along with a global list of wines. The perfect ending? Sen Sakana’s unusual ice creams.

Green Fig (570 Tenth Avenue, 646-449-7790)

A short walk from the Broadway theaters, Green Fig in the Yotel has a beautiful outdoor rooftop and indoor space for dining on Mediterranean fare. The menu features dishes such as fried cauliflower, flatbreads, kebabs and salads. The terrace also has a new grill where you can order grilled watermelon steak (it’s amazing), burgers, hot dogs and more. Refreshing cocktails like The Purple Bee, a gin, lemon juice and honey-lavender syrup potion; and the Watermelon Moonlight made with watermelon, ruby red moonshine and lemon juice are popular choices. Take a few minutes to check out the cabaret entertainment line-up at Green Room 42 on the same floor as the main dining room.

Carmine’s (200 West 44th Street, 212-221-3800)

Legendary Carmine’s Italian Restaurant is the go-to for family dining. Known for their large portions, Carmine’s serves all dishes family-style including meatballs, chicken parmigiana, and gluten-free and regular pastas, and veal dishes. Just as huge and every bit as popular is their enormous Titanic ice cream sundae for dessert. Plan to bring your appetites and enjoy! Carmine’s is close to most of the Broadway theaters as well – perfect for kids!

Virgil’s (152 West 44th Street, 212-921-9494)

Sister restaurant to Carmine’s and also set in the center of Times Square, Virgil’s specializes in real BBQ with Southern (and Midwest) flavors. All Virgil’s meats are slow cooked over indirect heat for maximum tenderness and flavor. Around-the-country favorites include Memphis-style pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Carolina pulled pork and Kansas City fried chicken. For the kids, place mats for coloring and a special menu will keep them satisfied before their Broadway experience.

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