Offbeat New York

New York City Weekend

by Suzanne Wright

New York City is like a kaleidoscope: on each visit, something new is revealed from its myriad charms, yet much that is familiar tumbles to the back, trip after trip. With that in mind, I decide to pay homage to a few favorite haunts and seek out a few new ones during a weekend excursion.

I could spend the rest of my life trying new hotels in Manhattan; discovering unique lodging is part of the cityís ongoing allure. I have learned is that location is everything. Thatís why I like The Hotel Roger Williams in fashionable Murray Hill: itís the perfect jumping off spot for a Big Apple visitor, no matter where you want to roam. The subway is just a few blocks away and cabs are plentiful.

The jaunty striped rug on the sidewalk signals the fun, fresh attitude inside this mid-priced boutique hotel; the front desk staff is wearing matching striped ties and scarves. My room is small, but then, size is at a premium in New York City. The Roger blends high tech (free wireless connection, plasma screen TV) with high touch (a colorful quilt on the bed, Aveda toiletries).

On my last visit to New York City in March, the weather was sunny and crisp. But this time itís July, stifling and sticky, so I choose indoor activities. Eating and shopping are perennial pastimes and I could spend the rest of my life happily grazing my way through the townís gastronomic temples in NYC. But first, I work up an appetite at the four BísóBergdorf Goodman, Barneyís, Bloomindales and Henri Bendel.

After giving my American Express card a rigorous workout, I treat myself to dinner, at i Trulli , walking distance from the hotel. A paean to Northern Italian cooking, this comfortable trattoria serves wonderful antipasto with rabbit pate, salami and caponota, followed by cavetelliódumplings with broccoli rabeósucculent rack of lamb and a perfect tiramisu.

The following morning before setting out, I fortify myself at the hotelís generous breakfast buffet, which includes pastries, frittata, fresh fruit, juices and bagels and lox. Although Iíve been many times before and could spend the rest of my life visiting the cityís museums and galleries, I head uptown via subway to the vast Metropolitan Museum of Art. Only this time, I also take in the Cloisters, in northern Manhattan. A branch of the Met, The Cloisters is devoted to the architecture and art of Medieval Europe. I have often heard how breathtaking the views were both inside and outside and it doesnít disappoint: from Fort Tryon Park high above the Hudson River, nature lovers can savor the gardens; while history buffs can study the collection of tapestries.

For lunch I try the Grand Central Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal, the inspiration for Atlantaís Lobster Bar. Itís big-city thrill to pop off the train and into the cool darkness and gleaming white tile of this institution which is literally below sea level. I spend a princely sum, about $45, for a magnificent crab and shrimp Caesar salad and glass of white wine. Itís worth every penny.

For dessert I trek over to Dylanís Candy Bar, a two-story store that is the FAO Schwartz of sweets, where both and adults pursue a chocolate-fueled high. Do not miss the sundae bar. After freshening up at The Roger, I head to tres chic Bond Street, in Noho (north of Houston, the new Soho, you might say) for Japanese. The lychee martinis are to die for, and the minimalist dťcor matches the restrained cuisine.

I donít hit Broadway on this weekend (itís just too darn hot to queue at the half price ticket booth in Times Square). But I did catch a movie on a 20-foot screen at the plush Ziegfeld Theater in Midtown (it was formerly home to the Ziegfeld Follies Vaudeville stage act). For my final meal, I indulge in a two-hour prixe fix lunch at Gotham Bar and Grill in Greenwich Village. Itís such a beautiful, feminine dining room and still so popular after all these years (itís packed at 2 p.m.). Summerís bounty is reflected on the plate: watermelon, feta and mint salad, goat cheese ravioli with mushrooms and pea leaves and a feathery chocolate cake for dessert.

Yep, I could happily spend a lifetime in the kaleidoscope that is Manhattan.

A former Navy brat who traveled and lived abroad extensively, Suzanne Wright is a fulltime, freelance writer based in Atlanta. She has written numerous travel, food and decor features for numerous international, national and regional publications. Her articles have appeared in Elite Traveler, Wine & Spirits, Veranda, Atlanta Magazine, The Tennessean, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, Piedmont Review, Charlotte Place, Where, On Magazine and others. A suitcase is always packed and her passport always up to date.
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