Alan and I love New York City. So, on December 31st last year, when I suddenly realized my chance to redeem some airline points was going to expire within hours, I jumped on the phone and booked two round-trip tickets to the Big Apple for a long weekend. I glanced at the calendar and saw a weekend that was open, not realizing at the time it was Easter weekend. But, what the heck? We don’t have children and so don’t have to be home to greet the Easter Bunny, so Easter in New York City sounded like a fine idea.
In addition to loving New York, I also love Times Square. I am a terrible sleeper and I just love to see those dizzying lights outside my hotel window when I invariably wake up in the middle of the night. Alan booked us a room at the Marriott Marquis, one of our favorite NYC hotels. “You have a room with a beautiful Times Square view,” the clerk said as we checked in. Yay!
I had left it to Alan to pick the plays and the eateries we’d visit. And we set off for a wonderful holiday. Here are our recommendations, in case you are planning a trip of your own there.
We like to book a meal at at least one “classic” restaurant when we visit a city. In Chicago, for instance, it was Gene and Georgetti (click here for a report on our Chicago trip); in D.C., it was The Monocle (click here for a post about that trip) This trip, our classic restaurant was the Russian Tea Room.
For my main course, I chose kulebiaka, which is salmon with slow cooked onions, mushrooms and vegetables wrapped in pastry, served with mixed pattypan squash, pearl onions and baby carrots in a yogurt dill sauce. It was the better of the two entrees we ordered. But, unfortunately, it did not photograph well. So you will just have to go there and order it!
Our fallback wine to order these days is pinot grigio because we like its clean, crisp taste and it goes well with seafood, which we normally order. So, when we told the sommelier, Jane Brock, that we wanted a pinot grigio, we were a little surprised when she discouraged us. “Let me recommend something that is like pinot grigio, but with more personality,” she said. How could we resist? This Vernaccia di San Gimiguano from Tuscany is what we got. And we loved it. Thanks, Jane!
Although we were going to see “Wicked” on Friday night, we were set to see “Death of a Salesman” as a Saturday matinee the next day. Its star was Philip Seymour Hoffman. I swear, I think Hoffman was eating at the Russian Tea Room on Friday night. Alan says Hoffman wouldn’t have been there before a performance at 8 on Friday night, but . . . See what you think.
Jane, our friendly sommelier, went to his table to take a closer peek and said she didn’t think it was him. But she did say that Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke had been in the Russian Tea Room the previous night!
Then it was on to “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theatre. This play opened on Broadway in 2003 and on last Friday night had filled the 1,900-seat theater once again. It is the 12th longest-running show on Broadway. Photos of the show are not allowed, but we did take a quick one of a dragon above the proscenium before the curtains went up. We loved the play and highly recommend.
We happened to be in New York during a fundraiser called Broadway Cares, which raises money for AIDS and breast cancer charities. After the plays, actors in costumes (usually extras) stood in the lobbies collecting donations.
Then it was back to our hotel to enjoy the lights of Times Square.
We knew Saturday would be jam packed so we opted for a room service breakfast, which was fabulous. We took our time getting ready to go out, watching the folks on Times Square and checking in on the goings on in Knoxville, of course, through the great new-ish iPad app for the News Sentinel’s E-Edition.
By brunch time, we selected a raved-about restaurant in the Theatre District called Becco. The line outside when we arrived there before it opened signaled to us that we had made a wise choice.
Be advised that this play by Arthur Miller, one of my favorite playwrights, is very dark. We recommend seeing it as a matinee for sure. As for us, we went back to our hotel, by way of Times Square of course, for a nap.
Another restaurant tradition we have, in addition to eating at a classic restaurant in each city, is to eat at the restaurant of a celebrity chef. This time we chose Adour by Alain Ducasse located at the St. Regis Hotel at Two East 55th Street.
We had a picturesque walk to dinner.
About a half-hour too early. What to do? Well, the famous King Cole Bar at the St. Regis was open.
Finally, the doors opened at Adour at 6 p.m. Our reservations were at 6:30.
Alan ordered some kind of decadent chocolate dessert that didn’t photograph well but was delicious. An unexpected little surprise was this plate of melt-in-your-mouth cookies that appeared. We ate two and took the rest back to the room.
If there is a revolving bar in your hotel — the ONLY revolving bar in New York City, to boot — don’t you just HAVE to go there? Of course!
Easter Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and after a room service breakfast, more people watching out our window at Times Square and catching up on Knoxville news again, we stored our bags with the bell captain and checked out of the hotel. Our 1:30 brunch reservation was at Ai Fiori in Midtown’s Setai Hotel, which would turn out to be the best eatery of our trip. Easter brunch was a prix fixe menu ($94 per person) and it was worth every cent.
My friends Madge and Barry Cleveland are total foodies. They play a fun game whenever they go on a trip. They challenge each other to name the “best bite” of the entire excursion. If I were playing that game, the dish that follows would have been my choice for “best bite.”
We headed back towards Times Square to pick up our luggage and head to the airport. The scenery was so peaceful and happy.
And then, when we got to Times Square, cops swarmed in. They stopped traffic. They erected barricades. As we tried to cross Times Square to get to the Marriott Marquis and our luggage, a police officer stopped us and said we would have to turn around and go around Times Square to approach the hotel from the other side. “What’s going on?” I asked him. “A bomb threat,” he said. “Now turn around and leave.”
We did as instructed and walked around to the Marriott from the non-Times Square side. I met one woman on the sidewalk who said she had been evacuated from a department store holding an armful of clothes she had planned to try on. “I’ll never find those clothes again,” she said sadly. We both knew that, if the worst happened, the clothes wouldn’t matter. Neither would our luggage.
It was a jolt. I thought the sign we saw as we left “Wicked” was very appropriate.
Well, obviously it was a false alarm, thank goodness. The media must have an agreement not to report bomb threats because we saw nothing about it on the news. We got our luggage and made it to the airport and home, just a little more sobered and saddened by the end of our great weekend.
But, on a lighter note, remember those souvenirs I said we bought? We used them in a trivia contest when we got back to the Moxley Carmichael office on Monday. Account executive Amanda Shell won the grand prize. She models it in the photo below.