While a good number of New Yorkers were trying to get out of the city on Labor Day weekend, we decided to go in, and it just might become a tradition. With the temperature hovering in the 90’s the city was relatively empty; there was no traffic on the way in, the streets were pedestrian free, and we were able to snag the reservations we wanted without a problem.
Our home away from home for the weekend was The Loew’s Regency , very conveniently located on 60th and Park. I “won” the weekend’s stay at a charity auction, so I didn’t have much to say regarding the particulars (lets say the room wasn’t up to my expectation, but I couldn’t really complain about it). I actually paid to upgrade to a more spacious accommodation than was originally donated, but although it was larger it was also un-renovated. While clean and comfortable, the finishes and bathroom definitely needed some attention. One positive about the Regency though, the staff is exceedingly courteous and helpful.
The management was kind enough to leave a little welcome gift which was appreciated.
The first thing on my agenda was checking out the newly (unveiled in late April) renovated Tiffany “Landmark” store on 57th and Fifth. Following a 70 million dollar metamorphosis envisioned by Peter Marino which closed the store for three years, my expectations were high, and I was not disappointed. I think the last time I had been inside Tiffany on 57th was to register for my wedding (in 1990) so I was truly blown away by the end result. The new space has received mixed reviews, with some people mourning the loss of a classic NY icon, but if it brings people in and has a ebullient vibe, I am all for it.
My advice is to take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down. The staff (there is a staff member everywhere you turn) is welcoming and not at all intimidating. If you desire you can dine at the very inviting Blue Box Café to enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea, which I definitely plan to do in the future. Aside from all the fabulous Tiffany goodies (the homeware in particular, under the auspices of Lauren Santo Domingo was incredibly appealing) there is terrific artwork and details that made me want to linger. I loved it, and will definitely be back.
After Tiffany it was time for a quick lunch and we headed down Fifth Avenue, pausing for a quick photo- op at St. Patricks (no people)!!
We had booked a seat at the new Omakase spot in Saks, Hōseki. With just six seats, this gem (Hōseki means jewel in Japanese) of a spot is appropriately located in the corner of the jewelry department on Saks’ lower level. Hōseki is an oasis of calm within the bustling store, their twelve course menu makes it an ideal place to pop in to refuel whilst shopping, as you will be finished within an hour. Since it is so small, be sure to secure your reservation on Resy ahead of time.
We did not get to meet Chef Daniel Kim on our visit, but instead found ourselves in the capable hands of Morgan who turned out a perfect array of impeccably fresh and delicious sushi, some of which is pictured below. If there is no caption it was because we were too busy chatting and I forgot to make a note of it.
Following lunch (and some browsing) we made our way to the MoMA to experience their current special exhibit Refik Anadol’s Unsupervised which runs through the end of October. This large digital installation on the first floor makes use of AI, and what is displayed is the computer’s interpretation of 200 years of art at the MoMA. Hypnotic, mesmerizing, engaging are just a few words to describe it. I loved it and could have spent the entire afternoon absorbed in it, but we broke away and toured the rest of the Museum, which is always a pleasure.
Following lots more window shopping on Madison Avenue we headed back to the Regency to get ready for dinner at the Centurion Club which you can read about here.
As an aside, the UES – from Park to Fifth was in very good shape. The streets were clean, the stores were inviting and the vacancies were relatively low. When we crossed to Lexington and further East there was a big difference, most notably with a large amount trash on the streets, as well as many more homeless.
One of the best parts of staying at the Regency is their breakfast (the Regency has long been where NYC’s business elite can be found enjoying what is known as a Power Breakfast). Obviously the regulars were not in residence on the holiday weekend, but the staff is exceedingly professional and efficient, and the food is pretty good too.
The weather outside remained very hot and humid so it limited my desire to walk endlessly. We were meeting friends for lunch at Bad Roman in Columbus Circle, and that distance seemed just about right. On the way we made a stop at the Museum of Art & Design, just steps away from the Shops at Columbus Circle.
There are a few great reasons to check out the Museum of Art & Design, there are always cool things to see, it is convenient to Central Park and Columbus Circle, and it is currently free as they are refreshing their exhibits. What we didn’t anticipate was there would be throngs of Swifties coming to see the Taylor Swift: Storyteller exhibit which costs $15 and is on display through the Spring. We chose to skip Taylor and just take a wander through some of the permanent pieces on display. If you are a Swiftie be sure to book timed tickets in advance.
We soaked up some a/c once we arrived at the Shops at Columbus Circle, and wandered around a bit before our 1pm lunch date. Not sure if the Holiday weekend contributed to the lack of crowds, or whether its generally pretty quiet in this mini mall, but it was quite pleasant whatever the reason.
Bad Roman has been dubbed an “Italianish” restaurant with an over the top maximalist vibe. My husband had wanted to give it a try as we really enjoyed Don Angie, another restaurant in the Quality Brand restaurant group that is an actual Italian spot, and not at all over the top (you can read my review of Don Angie here).
As it turns out we had a great time lunching with our friends and soaking up the decor which happens to be right up my alley. The food is indeed “gimmicky” with dishes such as ‘Roni Cups and Ranch, Garlic Babka, and Ricotta Abbondanza. While not haute cuisine it was tasty and fun and the Spritzy Spritz I ordered was just the thing to accompany my meal. The atmosphere was quite sedate on a Sunday afternoon and I imagine in the evening the vibe is more festive, so I wouldn’t be averse to a return visit.
Our lunch ran into the late afternoon, and before we knew it it was time to head to MetLife Stadium for Bruce Springsteen’s last night of his NJ tour dates. Because MetLife isn’t particularly well known for its food we made a quick stop at the newly opened outpost of All’Antico Vinaio, a sandwich shop with locations in Florence and Milan; thus a little more authentic than Bad Roman. I was still pretty stuffed from lunch, but my husband ordered a Mortadella and Mozzarella on still warm freshly baked Focaccia. We had our own little tailgate picnic in the parking lot all washed down with a chilled bottle of Prosecco from the Regency. Perfetto!
The review of the concert in one word: Incredible.
Labor Day itself was spent on an all day food exploration of what could be the most ethnically diverse area in the world – Queens NY. If you are a reader of my blog you know I am a huge fan of Culinary Backstreets and have taken their food tours all around the world, and this one may actually have been the best one yet. Our guide Esneider was born in Colombia, and has spent his life traveling the world while performing in a Punk Rock Band. His knowledge of food, culture and the current political situation in dozens of countries was impressive to say the least. Starting in Corona and then moving on to Jackson Heights and Elmhurst we sampled foods from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Japan and Thailand, and we could have kept going but we were just too full. The people we encountered throughout the day, along with the food we tasted made for an unforgettable experience.
I will let the sampling of photos below speak for themselves, everything was delicious but the dishes we tried from Bhutan and Bangladesh were my favorites. Esneider made sure to have gluten free and vegetarian options at all the stops we visited which was appreciated. We even got to visit a serene and beautiful Himalayan Sherpa Temple enabling us to take a short break from eating. Although we ingested loads of calories, we were able to burn some off by walking for 6 hours in the extreme heat. Time went by in a flash, and when we said our goodbyes we were already planning when we could book another tour in order to bring our sons with us.
Taking a little break at the Sherpa Temple.
We had such fun spending Labor Day in NYC! Not only did we enjoy Manhattan without the crowds, but we got to experience an unforgettable around the world tour in Queens.