July 19, 2016

Dear Londoner – An Open Letter Inspired by OpenTable’s Transatlantic Tables Connected Event

Dear Londoner,

So, you’re visiting NYC and want to know where to eat. And as you can imagine, the options are endless!  I dine out several nights a week and simply can’t get to all of the new places that I want to try, plus, return to old favorites.  But, it’s a good problem.  I am fortunate to live in a city with incredible restaurants and dining culture.

I suggest having a strategy for your visit to make the most of your eating adventure.  As a passionate solo diner, I say go stag as you can conquer more territory, typically dining at a faster pace and only going to where you desire.  I find by dining alone, I can easily get in (and out) of the hottest new restaurants in a timely manner, and I often meet people along the way.

On my weekly radio show, All in the Industry, on Heritage Radio Network, I close out each show with a Solo Dining Experience, sharing my take as a solo diner. I have dined casually as well as at fine dining establishments around the world, and the more I go alone, the more I want to encourage others to do the same.

When OpenTable invited me to attend the Transatlantic Tables Connected event at Hundred Acres in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, I opted to attend solo. I was excited to have the opportunity to return to Hundred Acres, a lovely American restaurant that I hadn’t been to recently, and eager to take part in a special transatlantic dining experience in NYC.  How cool that a similar dinner was happening across the pond in London with fellow gourmands!  Going solo allowed me to catch up with old industry friends, and meet new ones. It was a wonderful evening of delicious, seasonal eats by Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja in a warm setting, and I left feeling “connected.”

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Labne at Hundred Acres – #ConnectedbyOT dinner

I was also happy to learn about OpenTable’s #ConnectedbyOT contest, inviting me to write an open letter to the people of London about my love for NYC restaurants and the unmistakably ‘New York City’ experience.  Hence, this letter!  My advice is to take my lead and let the city be your playground for a solo adventure.  Here’s how I suggest planning a serious dining day in NYC:

Start your morning with an OpenTable reservation at Sadelle’s, and enjoy a nosh of upscale Jewish deli fare.  Sadelle’s is your new, classic New York experience with an ambience to match. Get fancy and order the tiered smoked fish platter, which comes with Melissa Weller’s fresh, housemade bagels, plus, fine coffee served in pretty silverware.  Be sure to get a stellar sticky bun to-go for hunger cravings later.


Fancy Smoked Fish Platter at Sadelle’s

Since NYC is a walking city, take a nice stroll north through Washington Square Park, a beautiful gathering spot for avant-garde artists, and then continue up to Union Square, where you can check out NYC’s impressive Union Square Greenmarket (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday). It may not be as vast as London’s Borough Market, but it’s a pretty special place that has been serving the public since 1976. You may spy NYC chefs shopping for their daily specials, as you browse the farmers’ top produce yourself.

I’m not sure if Londoners are going mad for matcha, but you can get into the matcha madness here! Head west to quench your thirst with a matcha latte at newly opened MatchaBar.  Take an Instagram of your pretty matcha latte art at this quaint spot, and enjoy your healthy, caffeinated green beverage, which is as tasty as it is good for you!

It’s time for lunch at Untitled at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  On your way, take a quick detour through Chelsea Market, a one-of-a-kind enclosed urban food hall, shopping mall and more!  It will probably be crowded, but I suggest zigging and zagging your way to newish Seed + Mill to pick up some fabulous artisanal halva to-go. The date halva is one of my favorites, but you can’t go wrong with any variety.  It will be the perfect plane snack for your transatlantic flight back home.

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Seed + Mill’s artisanal halva – so good!

Continue on your way and check into your OpenTable reservation at Untitled. This welcoming and bright New American restaurant, which is part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, has a nice open kitchen with several counter seats, perfect for soloists. Enjoy Executive Chef Michael Anthony and Chef de Cuisine Suzanne Cupps’ freshly prepared dishes, from snacks to small raw and vegetable plates.

After lunch, get a little cultured at the Whitney, which reopened at its new Meatpacking location in 2015 and has a fine selection of art, and then continue to walk off your meals on NYC’s beautiful High Line. This beautiful, elevated linear park has become an extremely popular destination for visitors for good reason. Take a break to hydrate at Underline Coffee, a casual, hip café located under the High Line at 20th Street. You’ll feel like a local escaping the touristy crowds above while refueling on a good “cup of joe.”

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Underline Coffee under the High Line

When you’re ready, jump on a Citibike and take a ride over to the West Side Highway bike path heading south to Grand Banks, a celebrated oyster bar aboard the historic wooden luxury schooner, Sherman Zwicker. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the freshest, sustainably harvested East and West Coast oysters paired perfectly with a refreshing cocktail or glass of rosé, while watching the sunset over the Hudson River. Chef Kerry Heffernan’s ingredient-driven small plates, from burrata to ceviche, are all fantastic.  Enjoy as you dine alfresco with a view the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

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Fresh Oysters at Grand Banks

Your last OpenTable reservation is at one of NYC’s hottest new openings, Le Coucou, a gorgeous Stephen Starr restaurant designed by Roman and Williams with internationally acclaimed Chef Daniel Rose of Spring and La Bourse et La Vie in Paris. Ask to sit by the open kitchen for solo entertainment and take it all in. The room is stunning. The food is refined, French fare. You will feel relaxed and well taken care of as you indulge on lobster, quail and Dover sole. There’s nothing really cuckoo about it!

Although Le Coucou’s Mousse au Chocolat, an exquisite dessert, is not to be missed, save room for one more sweet treat after dinner.  Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream is your destination, and this new American, Philly style ice cream parlor is worth the wait.  Nicholas Morgenstern whips up some unusual concoctions, such as Durian, Sunflower Seed and Black Coconut Ash, which will indeed turn your mouth jet black, or you can go more traditional with flavors, including Salted Pretzel, Vietnamese Coffee or Rockiest Road. It’s all the finest!

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Le Coucou’s heavenly Mousse au Chocolat

As your day is winding down, meander SoHo’s cobblestone streets, which are great for people watching and window-shopping. If you are feeling thirsty, stop for a beverage at local industry favorite, Mother’s Ruin. This low-key, bespoke cocktail bar is known for its casual awesomeness and is the perfect place to chill while enjoying an exceptional, craft cocktail or booze-filled frozen slushy. Yes, it’s that kind of place.

Finally, you’re ready for bed, and pretty satiated, but you certainly can’t leave NYC without a slice. Right? Swing by Joe’s Pizza, the Greenwich Village Institution. Since 1975, Pino “Joe” Pozzuoli has been serving the classic New York slice to hungry New Yorkers. It’s the most simple and delicious way to end your indulgent food day, NYC-style!

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The perfect NY slice – Joe’s Pizza

I hope you enjoy your solo, ‘Connected’ food experience in NYC!   But of course, if you prefer to have a dining mate, I would be happy to come along for the ride.  I am always up for dining out in my fabulous restaurant town!

Get #ConnectedbyOT,