I have woken up between 6 and 7am every morning this week, and passed out by 11pm most nights which is not normal for me. I’m more of a work ’till 3am, rise at 9 type of person, so it’s been a bit of a shock to the system. On the plus side I figure that I won’t be so jetlagged when I get back to England, and it did mean that I could deal with London in realtime, and then have the afternoon to do New York-ish things without feeling too guilty. (Which on Tuesday meant meetings and restaurants.)
So I was in Soho House by 0830, having walked there from my hotel, The Jane, a few blocks away. The Jane has communal bathrooms (more of this later), so Soho House’s luxurious Cowshed Spa, with its steam room, rows of Cowshed potions, and pretty dressing table was a much nicer version of communal. Abluted and blow dried, I met Lola for breakfast in the drawing room, did some work, and later both George D and Judy stopped by. It almost felt like I had never left New York.
I wanted to check out The Fat Radish, over on the Lower East Side, for lunch, so Judy and I hired Citi Bikes (very easy process, almost identical to Boris Bikes in London or Velib in Paris) and burnt off breakfast zooming across the city from Meatpacking, and down through the East Village.
I requested that we detour via St Mark’s Place, otherwise known as East Eighth (although no one calls it that), as my second Manhattan home was on St Mark’s between 1st and A. And here is the building. We were on the fourth floor of this walk up, Laurent & me.
I love this block of St Mark’s. It lacks the crazy of the street towards Astor Place (think the Camden of New York, with bong shops and students), and has lots of good restaurants and bars. The only downside were the idiots who occasionally sat on their stoops and strummed guitars past midnight, under the mistaken impression that they were in some kind of movie of their life, (I used to fling up the sash and shout ‘bugger off to Bushwick’), or the guys who skateboarded home in the small hours. It’s amazing how loud a skateboard is when there is no other traffic.
I also loved that we lived mere seconds from the best hot dog purveyor in the city. AND they sell tater tots.
And for those who don’t already know, there is a secret cocktail bar, PDT (Please Don’t Tell), which you access through the ‘phone booth in the store.
Anyway, we made it to The Fat Radish in one piece.
The Fat Radish has a fan base bordering on a cult, and their latest outpost, The East Pole is practically impossible on the reservations front. Both places have caught on since I left New York, so of course I was curious. Not least because it is owned by two British men, Phil Winser and his partner, Ben Towill.
Design, décor, menu do not disappoint, with their exposed brick work, stripped paint, airiness, love of a good font, although I was totally with Judy when she asked if we could move to a table with chairs. Stools are bloody uncomfortable, and I have never seen the point of masochism. It’s a restaurant made for Instagram-ing (I resisted the temptation), and it feels like the New York I miss.
We both ordered a vegetable curry with brown rice, green beans, snap peas, asparagus, cipollinis. Rather to my chagrin, it was a bit of a low rent, one note affair, majoring in large chunks of unmentioned turnips (I think) and the afore-mentioned onions. No snap peas or asparagus for me, although I did see a few pieces lurking in Judy’s bowl.
It reminded me of nothing so much as the quick suppers I knock up at home. Simple, earthy and completely unmemorable. (After I wrote this, I saw that The Fat Radish describes itself as ‘elevated home-cooking (with British influences)’. I’d say I was completely spot on so far.)
oh and we had some emergency truffle fries. You know, just in case… But I’d call these wedges, and the truffle flavour was…elusive; $12 was optimistic pricing, I thought.
Overall I think I ordered badly, and will go back for dinner to really explore the menu. I like The Fat Radish’s ethical sourcing, their philosophy, the delightful room and cheery staff. I just want to feel a bit excited about the food. (You can perfectly source your ingredients all you like, but once they are cooked, they need to have something more than…adequate about them.)
On the plus side, it was all perfectly executed, and that’s a lot more than you can say of most restaurants these days. (And compared to the vegetable bowl at Angelica’s Kitchen in New York, it was positively transcendental.)
Lunch done, we walked through the LES to The Doughnut Plant, at Judy’s suggestion. I ate my first ever Hazelnut Chocolate doughnut: filled with a housemade chocolate hazelnut filling.
Along with traditional yeast doughnuts, and their cake doughnuts, which are leavened with baking powder, they sell Doughseeds, mini, round doughnuts, with fillings that include Crème Brûlée, Rose (with a rose water pudding and dipped in a rose water glaze, topped with an edible rose petal), Hazelnut Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea, Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jam, Pistachio, Strawberry & Cream and Wild Blueberry & Cream.
And are they good? Well, the proof is always going to be in the eating.
They were insanely good. Best doughnuts I have ever eaten. So far from a Dunkin’ Donut as to be the difference between Cheese Whizz and an unpasteurised artisan cheese. They also have a branch at the Chelsea Hotel, so I know where I am going next trip over…
I then hopped it to Midtown to a meeting at Hearst. I never cease to be impressed by the sheer scale of the atrium in the Sir Norman Foster-designed building.
Then it was off to the Library Bar at The Nomad Hotel for early evening cocktails with the LK Bennett press team, who were in New York too — perfect timing really, much easier to find the time to have a drink in Manhattan than in London. I love having drinks in this crepuscular space, and they really do make an excellent Negroni.
Time slipped by and I rushed for a cab back to Midtown to Bill’s Food & Drink. I had arranged a supper for me, Emily, Sogole, Anna and Susie, and Sogole made reservations here. It’s in a townhouse, with a bar on the ground floor, and a restaurant and private rooms upstairs. It’s not a destination restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, and the menu is pretty much what I would call upscale standard — steaks, pastas etc. I wouldn’t make a journey to eat there, but it’s handy if you are in the neighbourhood.
There is little I like as much as putting together friends who haven’t yet met and, although I have buggered off back to England, there’s no reason why they can’t all meet…and in this case a group of fashion writers, fashion and beauty PRs seemed a good combination. (And if you are reading this girls, it was BRILLIANT to see you all).
And that was the end of my whistlestop New York trip. Meetings, restaurants and friends. Sounds about right.
Here are the links to the clothes up top:
The Fat Radish
Address: 17 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002.
Address: 113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009, United States
The Doughnut Plant
Address: 379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
(also at Chelsea Hotel
220 West 23rd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues. There are also nine Doughnut Plants in Tokyo and one in Seoul.)
The Library Bar at the Nomad Hotel
Address: 1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
Bill’s Food & Drink
Address: 57 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022, United States