Margie Nichols at Marea, a Michelin Star Italian eatery that we just loved.
We went to New York and we ate like we were in Europe. I swear. Every restaurant we booked was either French or Italian. I’m not complaining, mind you. Just observing.
It was all by choice, after all. Normally, when we go to New York City, we try to discover some great new places. But, since this annual trip that we take with the Clarence Brown Theatre group had been postponed two years, we had a hankering to visit some of our old favorites. They just happened to be Continental in style.
If you’d like to read about the plays we saw, click here for the previous post. This post will cover our non-theater adventures, including a museum, jazz — and food, food, food! (Don’t read this if you are hungry!)
Our first meal in New York was at Marea, an Italian Michelin Star place that Margie Nichols turned us on to during a previous visit. The food and drinks are always delicious. But what makes it one of our favorites is the service. The attentive wait staff makes you feel like you are having dinner with friends.
Of course, we actually were having dinner with friends! But the wait staff made us feel like friends, as well. From left, Alan Carmichael, me, Margie Nichols, John Gill, Jane and Kenneth Creed. (Thanks to the nice passerby who took this photo!)
Marea is a beautiful, bustling restaurant located at 240 Central Park South.
Margie had her heart set on Marea’s soft-shelled crab before she left Knoxville!
Squid ink lobster ravioli. (I had it on a previous visit and it is fantastic!)
Some of our other courses, clockwise from top left, grilled prawns, gnocchetti with shrimp, seared sea scallops and grilled octopus.
Of course, Alan wasn’t leaving without dessert!
I just love this photo I took of John Gill as we left Marea. Doesn’t it just scream, “New York?”
Jane and Kenneth Creed like jazz music as much as we do. So, when I told them that the legendary venue Birdland was right across the street from our hotel, we didn’t have to convince them!
Birdland is located at 315 W. 44th St. The night we were there, there was a $40 per person cover charge and a $20 per person food and drink minimum. Well worth it.
We were there for the last set of the Bill Charlap Trio. Grammy winner Bill Charlap is on keyboard; bassist is Peter Washington and drummer is Kenny Washington.
The next morning, we got up, had an OK breakfast at the hotel and high-tailed it to the Meatpacking District for our 10:30 a.m. reservation at the Whitney Museum of American Art. We recommend you pay a visit — especially if you enjoy modern art.
Two floors are dedicated to art involving the Native American experience. It’s dark, of course, but meaningful. This piece by Rebecca Belmore is an example. Those are bullet casings spread out at the bottom.
On other floors are pieces from the Whitney’s permanent collection. They have a lot of Edward Hoppers. Although I love his famous “Nighthawks” — a view of a diner scene — I also liked this somewhat creepy piece called “Soir Bleu.”
Here’s a self-portrait of Hopper, who lived from 1882 to 1967.
You can’t have modern art without Georgia O’Keeffe! This is “Music, Pink and Blue No. 2” from 1918.
Loved this one! Called “Giant Fagends, 1967,” it’s by Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg. (“Fagends” is an English word for cigarette butts.)
Located in the Meatpacking District at 52 Gansevoort Street, is one of our favorites: Pastis, which serves traditional French fare. Although the online reservation service said there were no tables available for lunch, we just showed up to try our luck. Guess what. There were plenty of tables available. We picked one outside.
Here’s the outside area. The lesson we learned: if you really want to go somewhere, try just walking in. Another lesson: the pandemic spurred a lot of outside dining opportunities that we still enjoy.
Here’s the inside. Very “Frenchie.”
Alan ordered the Nicoise Salad, bottom right. I had the grilled chicken sandwich and frites that Alan had to help me with. Everything was delish.
Random flower bed on street in colors of Ukrainian flag.
When dinner time rolled around, we still were in French mode. We headed to 3 East 52nd St., and one of the Creeds’ favorite places, La Grenouille. (Established in 1962, it also was one of Jackie Onassis’ favorite places.)
Obligatory photo of the exterior. Love the photobomber!
That’s what I’m talking about!
Jane Creed with Jean Pierre, who has worked at La Grenouille for over three decades. We showed him a picture we took of him and Jane when we last visited in 2019.
My favorite order there: lobster tail ravioli. It was as good as I remembered!
The next day, while strolling on Park Avenue South, we saw La Brasserie and got a lump in our throat. It’s located in the former location of Brasserie Les Halles, made famous by one of my food heroes, Anthony Bourdain.
La Brasserie. When I paused to take this photo, a man sitting at one of the outside tables said, “Excuse me. Is this place famous or something? People keep stopping here and taking pictures!” I explained why.
Our next meal stop was at Becco, an Italian eatery that Alan and I frequent almost every time we are in New York City. We actually decided that, although some other places on this trip were fancier and pricier, our favorite meals of this trip were here.
Becco is located at 355 W. 46th St., in an area known as “Restaurant Row.”
The food is fantastic. And the service is exceptional. Located in the Theater District, they are experts at timing your meal to get you out in time for your next play. Our friend, Maureen Dunn McBride, had a Caesar salad to start.
Alan raved about his asparagus soup.
Frankly, I’d almost go there for the bread alone!
This shrimp dish is my favorite thing! I was crestfallen when I noticed it was no longer on the menu. But, guess what! It was one of the specials of the evening! Yay!
Another favorite order: Zuppa di Pesce Misto. Sauteed day boat seafood in “lobster brodo” served on a bed of soft white polenta. Yum-yum!
Gelati and cannolis may or may not have been consumed at our table!
And, we made it to the play on time, of course!
Breakfast the next day was at a fun place we often go: Cafe Un Deux Trois, located at 123 W. 44th St.
It was founded in 1977.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I had a crepe with Paris ham drizzled with maple syrup. Holy cow!
Interesting random sidewalk sight.
I love an unexpected street fair!
Another favorite French lunch spot for us: Marseille, located at 630 9th Ave., a block from our hotel.
Alan liked his mimosa.
I liked my salad topped with shrimp!
The Clarence Brown Theatre folks normally book us at the InterContinental New York Times Square Hotel. It is in the heart of things, which turned out to be fortunate due to the taxi shortage when we were there. The hotel bar, called The Stinger, makes a very handy gathering place for our group. We shared fun times there during the evenings.
Lyle Irish and me at The Stinger. (We took this picture to send to our mutual friend, Hancen Sale!)
At The Stinger, from left, Knoxvillians Maureen Dunn McBride, Carol Beilharz and Margie Nichols.
One night, Jane Creed had not been able to work dinner into her schedule (possibly due to the shopping on Fifth Avenue?), so she relaxed in The Stinger with “dinner” purchased from a sidewalk vendor.
Lyle and Trish Irish.
As I always say, you gotta go on this trip!