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Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Cumbria, UK
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Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Day 1.

So a little background, myself and girlfriend are both in out late 20’s we’ve visited NYC before. This was a fairly last minute trip after a planned ski trip with friends had fell through we decided to come to NY. We mulled over our hotel choices narrowing it down to The Belvedere after getting a good rate and positive feedback through the forum.

Arrived Saturday 11am in Newark. My girlfriend had arranged a car with Dial 7, TBH it was a bit of a heap and tatty inside but it got us there cheaply. The car on the way back was much nicer but had no problem with the service and would use Dial 7 again. Arrived at the Belvedere on W48th first impressions were good, we asked for a room on a high floor with a view if possible, we were given a room on the top floor and I was pleasantly surprised with the view, it was pretty good and much better than expected as the view wasn’t really something the hotel was known for.

General opinion of the area is good, you’re close to Times Square and the theatre district but far enough away not to get caught up in the madness of it all. Plus you escape all the chain restaurants and have some more local places to wine and dine.

We’re not ones for having set itineraries, rather we just have a few things we’d like to do but have no set times and schedules as such. The only things that were arranged in advance Sunday night dinner at the River Café, and tickets to see ‘A View From The Bridge.’ The first day was spent getting our bearings for the immediate area not straying too far from the hotel. As touched on previously first impressions of the general area were good, more to do in the immediate vicinity than in our previous stays with plenty of dinning options to mull over in the coming week. We had a walk up to Central park then decided to grab something to eat as it was now around 1530hrs. We decided on Bonne Soupe which wasn’t too far away. It’s an inexpensive rustic French restaurant from what I can tell is French owned and ran we opted for a prix fix menu and allot of red wine…. The food was very good but the service was pretty poor, I think our waiter was half asleep and another waitress who’s section we weren’t in helped out. Due to the dodgy service we were at lunch for much longer than expected and drank more than expected. We wandered around a bit longer then headed back to the hotel for around 1900hrs. We’d fully intended to venture out again that night and have a drink or two and maybe get something to eat. Fatigue kicked in and I passed out on the bed until 9ish then decided just to have a drink in and recharge our batteries, I think the biggest contributing factor to this was that I was at Uni the previous week and basically went straight to the airport from there so started off in need of a good nights sleep or two from the get go.

Day 2

As a result of an unplanned early night our body clocks were well out of synch and we were out and about for before 7am. We decided to mill over to Times Square which on our previous visits is somewhere we’d only ever passed through once in the daytime. At 7am it was dead and a good opportunity to just stand and look, after this we had breakfast and ambled over to Rockefeller Plaza. There was some sort of fun run going on involving people running up to TOTR looked like fun and just a shame we weren’t dressed for it otherwise it might have been fun! We decided to make our way up TOTR ourselves, it was a lovely crisp morning and the visibility was great. Seeing a snowy New York wasn’t something we’d experienced before and was well worth it. At this point we went off on a bit of a tangent it was 10am and we just happened to think we should go to St.Patricks which we did and ended up attending Sunday Mass which was a memorable experience.

Next stop on our take it as it comes agenda we visited MOMA. Admittedly art is a bit wasted on me but my girlfriend studied art and really enjoyed it while I liked some of the exhibits if not all of it. The Tim Burton exhibit was mobbed and was too busy to take the time it required. Next we walked up to Central Park and to the Boathouse for lunch and drinks the pond in front of the Boathouse was frozen over and had a lovely view to enjoy our lunch over. We decided to walk off our lunch with a walk through Central Park, some of the paths were a bit slippy but it was a good walk. A bit more walking a few coffees here and there and a visit to Macy’s and we headed back to get ready for dinner.

We had a reservation for the River Café at 2030hrs, and we didn’t get off to a good start the first taxi we jumped in the driver had no idea where it was at so we jumped out and got another. This one however, through a combination of fast driving and harsh breaking left me with a sore neck and us both feeling pretty nocuous by time we arrived with not much of an appetite. As usual we went for the chefs signature tasting menu, which was out of this world up until the 5th course of fois gras. Now I like it and my girlfriend isn’t too keen in hindsight we should have asked from the outset if it was on the menu or not. A little of the way through my gf left hers and I found mine particularly greasy so much so that shortly after eating we both felt pretty ill, this was just through the richness and greasiness as a result this spoilt the rest of the meal for us as we just couldn’t stomach anything after this. Our waiter seemed to alternate once or twice throughout the night and eventually when asked I said the fois gras was very greasy. The waiter was apologetic but then seemed to hide from us for the rest of the night-I didn’t know what to expect from this complaint but previously they’d missed a course and we were given all kinds of free goodies this time we got squat but I couldn’t be bothered complaining further after my initial complaint and didn’t want to ruin the night after spending over $500 on food and wine I expected better though. Everything was superb but just a shame about that one course. Went back to the hotel and ended up not having the stomach for anything to eat until well after lunch time of the next day.

stockport
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1. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Great report so far!

$500 on food and wine for the one meal?

New York City
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2. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Stockport, Not so unusual in NYC, especially with some good bottles of wine or champagne !!

Benji, At least you has a great view at the River Cafe, but for $500, sorry about the food mishap.

Queens, New York
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3. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Benji, thanks for the enjoyable travelogue! Looking forward to next chapter.

stockport - at River Cafe, you're paying for the cinematic, fairy tale view of Manhattan from under the Brooklyn Bridge:

http://www.rivercafe.com/

New York City
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4. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Benjii, A little curious, What kind of tip did you leave at the River Cafe ?

Kansas City...
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5. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Thanks for the great TR. I'm really enjoying reading it and looking forward to the rest!

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Oh my, Benjii... I'd certainly like to leave a restaurant feeling more positive after spending that kind of money, I'm so sorry.

But happy to hear that you were pleased with the Belvedere -- and looking forward to reading more :-)

New York
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7. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

So what's the consensus here:

Did Benji's excellent trip report end so abruptly because he's catching up on well-deserved rest after his NYC adventures? Or perhaps he actually has a life outside of TripAdvisor?

Or has he been silenced by a band of transatlantic goons in the pay of a vindictive River Cafe?

Cumbria, UK
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8. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Thanks all, River Cafe imposed a compulsory 15% which we didn’t add to. My eyes were bigger than my belly but the effects of the richness/greasiness weren’t felt until later, thankfully it came 5th and not 1st!

The tasting menu is $125 a head not bad over the $99 prix fix 3 course, Add a couple of bottles of vino, tax and tip and it’s surprising how easy it can be to spend that much, I suppose when eat at the same place/do the same things as on previous trip you run the danger of it not being as good.

Oh I bought a shirt over there special too and didn’t take my cufflinks ;-) Part 3 to come soon…..

Edited to change the prix fix from 4 to the actual 3 course.

Edited: 05 March 2010, 20:04
New York City
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9. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Benjii, Thanks for your candor.

This is a good example of tipping practises here in NYC, especially when service wasn't that good !!!

Cumbria, UK
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10. Re: Trip report 27th Feb 4th March

Day 3.

So the jetlag is starting to subside and get up at a slightly more respectable hour and out for around 8am. It’s a lovely sunny day so we decide to make the most of it and do outdoorsy things at least until the weather turned (if it did). A quick subway journey down to Brooklyn and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was the first order of the day. The walkway was pretty clogged with snow still leaving the pedestrian side minimal in places. It was quite funny watching other tourists almost get mowed down by cyclists while posing for photos. Walked up to the court house then decided to get the subway up to the Washington square area.

Had a good wander around walking down MacDougal street (my gf is Scottish and a MacDougall) No chance of me finding a street that bares my name in NYC unfortunately. Grabbed a hot chocolate and kept walking up Bleaker street. My Gf is a Sex & the City fan so we decided to find to stoop which is used in the show/movie. We were walking around that area anyhow and found it pretty easily, the area around Percy St was one of my favourite residential areas. Would liked to have known how much the property around there cost-loads I'd imagine. I think what attracted me to the area was the architecture and the tree lined streets-it didn’t feel like you were in a huge city. When we found a park we liked the look of we’d take a seat and have a rest. Grabbed a slice of Pizza near by then had a walk into the Meatpacking district-found this to be an interesting area sort of dilapidated in places, with cobbled streets and fancy boutique clothes shops, but had loads of character. Proceeded to walk up through Chelsea and to the subway.

Got the subway up to the Museum of Natural History spent most of our time in the observatory section and watched the new space exhibit-this sort of thing is allot more up my street than visiting the likes of MOMA. Visiting the museum was probably one stop too far and we were now pretty shattered after walking for what felt likes 100’s of miles. Headed back to the hotel to the hotel again intending to get cleaned up then go b ask out for some dinner. We both passed out and by time we came too it was a bit late for us to be bothered going out. Bit of star spotting on the way back, walked passed Jessica Hecht in the street, an even greater coincidence would be that we’d see her again the next day while out running in Central Park, stranger still she’d be in the play we see the next day too-weird?! For those who don’t know she’s probably most famous for playing the part of Ross from Friends ex-wives partner.

Edited: 05 March 2010, 21:49