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.


Where to Eat Now in New York City: Healthy and Not So Much

Hawaiian poke is a newish trend in New York City – it’s healthy, fresh, and relatively inexpensive.  Try Pokeworks on 37th and 6th, next to a restaurant that’s anything but healthy, Chick-fil-a. You start by picking your fish – tuna, salmon, shrimp (or even chicken), add toppings like seaweed, pineapple, and garlic flakes, and create a personalized bowl that’s far superior to those quinoa or salad bar things.

Sushi Nakazawa and O-Ya – two splurge-y restaurants for sushi and fish.  You can request no meat dishes and have an outrageous omakase (chef’s choice) meal.  Sushi Nakazawa is on Barrow Street in the Village.  O-Ya is in Murray Hill. Both feature superstar food talents, Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, a protégé of Japan’s acclaimed Jiro Ono and the O-Ya team from Boston,  Tim and Nancy Cushman.

Chicken is high on everyone’s list for healthy foods.  Le Coq Rico in the Flatiron District is Antoine Westermann’s tribute to the bird.  He brings his French-Alsatian expertise from Paris to NYC with chicken sourced from the farms of New York.  Roasted, it’s a healthy alternative to that breaded or fried version. I’d save my calories for Chef’s wonderful Ile Flôtante.

I always like finding the small bistros that really make you feel at home.  Little Frog sits quietly on busy East 86th Street, an authentic French bistro from people you should know from their time at Balthazar, and also from Minetta Tavern.  Order all seafood – try their amazing oysters — or splurge on the fab coq au vin, and you’ll have a wonderful cozy meal. It’s a quick walk from the new Second Avenue subway stop, too.

Indian cuisine has always been notable for offering wondrous vegetarian dishes, and NYC has a Michelin-starred one that takes Indian cooking to a new level.  Tulsi, on East 46th Street, brings cooking from Goa, mixes it up with street food, resulting in a showcase of unusual takes on somewhat familiar dishes.  Here, it’s worth saving room (and calories) for dessert as well. The creations from Chef Eric McCarthy (yes, that’s really his name and he IS from Goa) are anything but ordinary.

For that special occasion, serene but sensational dinner, book a table at Gabriel Kreuther.  The former chef at The Modern, Chef Kreuther serves up a meticulous menu of Alsatian dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. If you don’t want to have the full set menu every night, there’s a separate bar with its own menu where you can order the tarte flambée, a pizza-like creation with sweet onions, smoked bacon and fromage blanc that put this chef on the map.  The restaurant is an oasis across from Bryant Park and has an extraordinary wine list, too.

And speaking about wine, how about a wine bar and a tapas bar that’s so small that you’re advised to arrive by 5:30?  Desnuda on the Lower East Side on East 7th Street will thrill you with its tiny space and its chef’s prowess and creativity. Tea-smoked oysters are sensational — it looks like they’re being cooked in a bong — as are the ceviches.

If a scene is more your speed, head to the back of the NoMad, to the NoMad Bar in the city’s newly coined NoMad district (north of Union Square), where the bar is lively and the menu is pure comfort.  In cold weather, the perfectly indulgent chicken pot pie with foie gras and truffles is a knockout, as is Chef Daniel Humm’s Humm dog, a hot dog unlike any you’ve had before. Trying to eat healthy?  The carrot tartare, originally on the menu at sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park, is an exceptional vegetarian dish, with the consistency and ingredients of its meat-based counterparts sans the meat.  Add a touch of caraway seeds, horseradish, apples and … because we’re talking about carrots after all.  It’s pretty and delicious.

And, finally, one of the newest “hot” restaurants on the Manhattan scene is in Midtown, just behind Bryant Park. Coffeemania is NOT a coffee shop.  Rather it’s a Euro-Russian-American eatery that’s chic and has unusual choices in both beverages and food. The menu is so creative that you can eat healthy (or not, as you wish).  I love the Hamachi tartare (very healthy) but also the bone marrow (definitely not healthy). Teas from around the world are as creatively curated as the wine list.

Happy eating!

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Off-Broadway is Good for Laughs and Talent – See These 2 Fab Shows

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Not that Jewish.  In fact, the play is really a celebration of family values, family love, and family challenges.  Monica Piper, the writer, is a comedian who has written for the likes of Mad about You, Rugrats and Roseanne. She’s also a stand-up comedienne who began her career teaching English but quickly segueing into the world of improv via Second City in Chicago.

So what has being Jewish got to do with the show?  Well, the cultural richesse passed down from generation to generation among Jewish families lends itself to the creation of language and ritual fodder, making for neuroses, laughs, and, of course, family entanglements.

The play travels the life path of Ms. Piper’s beginnings as the daughter of a comedian through her passages as a single mother, as an adult encountering the old age issues of her parents, and through the successes of her career. It is both humorous and tender, touching and riveting, while hitting a chord with anyone who has endured the rituals of family.  Do you need to be Jewish to understand it?  Not really.  The touchstones are relevant to all, although knowing some of the Yiddishisms will certainly enhance your experience.  (A glossary is handed out along with the Playbill to help you understand the intricacies of this rich, rich but dying language).

Ms. Piper performs the 90-minute show seven times a week at the New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street.  Tickets are available at www.telecharge.com. www.notthatjewish.com.

For Spamilton, it does help if you’ve seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant history-making show Hamilton. www.hamiltonbroadway.com. The inside jokes take life from knowledge of the play, its foibles, its characters, and its songs.  They also incorporate a dose of pure Broadway, including some of the nuances that assume a fairly broad knowledge of what makes theater on the Great White Way endearing as well as annoying (or trite).

Written by Forbidden Broadway creator, Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton is the consummate parody of a popular show. It exploits every nuance, every endearing or annoying gesture that you’ve come to love or hate about Broadway and about Hamilton in particular.

The show, which is extending its reach to Chicago this month, concurrent with the opening of the real Hamilton in that city, depicts all of Hamilton’s lead characters, from the Schuyler sisters to George Washington, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton himself with a frighteningly close degree of talent and dexterity.  The rapping is unmistakable. The lyrics implausibly phenomenal. If you are familiar with Hamilton, you will be howling non-stop while also remarking at the extraordinary talent of the cast. These actors are so good that you could easily imagine them assuming the Broadway roles of the characters they spoof.

My recommendation?  See this show after you’ve seen Hamilton. Or at least after you’ve listened to the cast album a few times. But given the luxurious price of these tickets compared to the inflated Hamilton ones, you can easily see this show over and over and gain something new from it each time. I can’t wait to see it again. And this time I know I’ll be in the room where it happened, up close and personal, and not perched in a mezzanine seat at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Spamilton plays eight shows a week at the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street, on the Upper West Side. Tickets are cheap. A two-drink minimum is required, as this is, after all, a cabaret, a cozy room where it will happen. http://www.triadnyc.com/buy-tickets www.spamilton.com.

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Plan Ahead for BroadwayCon 2018 — Take a Look at BroadwayCon 2017

If you weren’t able to travel to BroadwayCon in NYC, here’s what you missed. The conference at the Jacob Javits Center attracted several thousand Broadway fans of all ages, from all parts of the world. Enjoy TheaterMania’s condensed version of the 45-minute opening number.

(A plea to the Jacob Javits Center: Could you please add some real restaurants for those of us attending a three-day conference like this that goes long into the night?  Those pre-packaged, dried-out chicken wraps are really awful. Twizzlers for dinner just doesn’t cut it.)

BroadwayCon 2017 Opening

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Give Your Regards to Broadway at BroadwayCon 2017

If you watched the Golden Globes and applauded the many awards earned by La La Land, there’s a good chance you’re a theater junkie.  Mark yourself a ‘yes’ if you’ve ever wanted to do any of these:

(1)    Stand at the stage door and get autographs from your favorite Broadway stars

(2)    Learn how to dance like a Broadway hoofer or belt like a Broadway diva

(3)    Score the first tickets for upcoming Broadway shows

(4)    Flaunt your knowledge of all things theatrical at a Broadway trivia contest

(5)    Meet like-minded fans in social gatherings about your favorites Broadway  topics

Or, if you just really love Broadway and want to be immersed in all aspects of the Broadway experience for an entire weekend.

The second year of BroadwayCon is coming up in less than three weeks. Plan a weekend in New York City around this dazzling fan convention and you’ll be the first to know everything about the 2017 Broadway season (and some good information about Broadway in general).

With workshops about sound design, improv and casting, for starters; cosplay; photobooth sessions with Broadway stars; singalongs to Broadway standards; panels about all kinds of Broadway topics; and, of course, performances, BroadwayCon 2017 is a dream convention for lovers of the Great White Way.

The conference is scheduled from Friday, January 27 through Sunday January 29 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  You can attend all three days or any one/two of the days during the weekend.  Starting at 9am on Friday, BroadwayCon winds up Sunday night at 7pm. Hotel accommodations are available at a special rate at the Marriott Marquis.  More information is available on the BroadwayCon2017 website at http://www.broadwaycon.com/.  Download the app so you can customize your schedule for each day.

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Bye, Bye 2016: Let’s Toast with a Hangover Brunch at Little Frog

There’s a new culinary force on the Upper East Side and they’re hoping to make your New Year’s hangover a little sweeter.  Little Frog, the new Parisian bistro, is debuting their New Year’s Day Hangover Frogger Platter on Sunday. The platter is a work of art: Rosti Eggs Benedict, boudin sausage, grilled steak, breakfast sausage, Vermont bacon, truffle egg en cocotte, jalapeño grilled cheese sandwich, papas bravas – yes, that’s all on one platter! And it’s only $20.17. Happy New Year!  Add beer for some ‘hair of the dog’, and the price rises to a whopping $26.17. I know I’ll be there!

Photo by Marzi Daoust (Little Frog)

If a more moderate hangover remedy is in order, Chef Xavier Monge offers you his Frogger Burger, a creation honed after a decade at Minetta Tavern which, in my opinion, still has one of the best burgers in the city with their dry-aged beef Black Label Burger.

Photo by Marzi Daoust (Little Frog)

Stayed out too late saying good riddance to 2016? Don’t worry if you’re not up early. Brunch will be served from 11:30-3:30pm. Bring the kids, too. There’s a special menu for them plus an à la carte menu for you so you can sample some of the other bistro fare.

Photo by Marzi Daoust (Little Frog)

Little Frog Bistro & Bar, 322 East 86th Street, 347-537-5786, www.littlefrognyc.com.

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Say Goodbye to 2016 at Good Riddance Day on December 28

I’ve only done the “watch the ball drop” thing once in person, and I’ll never be that crazy again (although I do love the fireworks celebration in Central Park and the Midnight Run which leaves from Rumsey Playfield). But, if you’re determined to include Times Square in your New Year’s itinerary and you’re not just thinking about going to a Broadway show, Good Riddance Day and the Times Square Wishing Wall are two unique celebrations to consider.

On December 28, it will be out with the old, in with the new in Times Square as visitors shred their worst memories from 2016 by disposing of them in a giant shredder. After letting go of 2016 and the less-than-jolly news of this year, guests can record a wish for 2017 on a piece of paper that will be added to the confetti that accompanies the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Think Wishfetti!  Just stop by Duffy Square (47th Street and 7th Avenue, Manhattan) between 11am and 8pm to post your wish on the wall. You can also contribute online to the Virtual Wishing Wall. All online wishes will be turned into confetti as well.  Use the hashtag #confettiwish if you’re writing your wishes on Twitter or Instagram.

Feel free to toast early with a nice glass of bubbly or a hot apple cider (spiked with rum)!

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