It is easy to walk past the windowless, blue-gray storefront at No. 441 and never know that Lewis Miller Design’s impeccably curated showroom and design studio lie just inside the camouflaged double doors. The only indication that anything exists here is a small oval-shaped gold plaque that simply reads “LMD. ” We were lucky enough to pass by while the diligent staff was loading in one of their creations that had just been used for an event. Although owner Lewis Miller’s specialty is floral design, whether sumptuous and extravagant or simple and understated, LMD also creates entire environments for events and builds whatever is necessary to make the client’s vision come to life. LMD has worked for impressive companies such as Chanel, Vogue, and the Whitney Museum, while at the same time handling smaller social events, including weddings. Lewis has had an eye for design his whole life. He told us that he takes each and every event personally, striving to do his best work on every project. In fact, he and his team even worked by candlelight during Hurricane Sandy to finish the decor for a wedding, despite the horrendous storm conditions.
One of two Petite Abeille locations, this adorable café has been serving Belgian favorites since 1995 when owner Yves Jadot arrived from his homeland to pursue his American dream. He has certainly succeeded in pleasing both native New Yorkers and foreigners alike. Petite Abeille is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and offers a terrific happy hour serving wine and Belgian beer. One cannot go wrong with any meal - Belgian waffles for brunch, or mussels and steak frites later in the day - all served on blue and white checkered tablecloths.
Established in 1874, Westpfal continues to provide premium knives and tools for leatherwork, as well as to sharpen high-end knives for restaurants across New York City. The leather tools available are of the same ilk as the 1930s tools available oh-so-many years ago and are used by fashion designers from Coach to Dooney & Burke. On any given day, one can stop by and find a regular New Yorker, or even folks from out of town, coming in to have their own knives and scissors sharpened by the highly regarded team of workers. When the Manhattan Sideways stopped in for a visit during the summer of 2017, we had the pleasure of meeting Carmilla Wigman, who has been working at Henry Westpfal for over sixty-five years. She was kind enough to share some of the history of the shop. Carmilla pointed out a display board of vintage cutlery from 1931, which she referred to as “her pride and joy. ” She also showed us a pair of scissors that was previously owned by John F. Kennedy Jr. and were used in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopening of Grand Central Station in 1998. Westpfal now rents these scissors out for similar ceremonies. Unfortunately, one can no longer watch and wait as knives are put on the machines, as they have had to move their factory to New Jersey. It is an example of the age-old story: Rent became a factor on the side streets of Manhattan for Westpfal. Who are their biggest clients almost 150 years later? The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is, as students majoring in leather purchase tools for crafting handbags, belts, and shoes, and numerous chefs who frequent Westpfal to have their personal knives sharpened.
An edgy clothing mecca for the “masculine, sexually self-assured” gay man, Nasty Pig sells quality denim, graphic tees and tanks, underwear, swimwear, fetishwear, and snapbacks for reasonable prices. The company’s owners, partners David Lauterstein and Frederick Kearney, opened Nasty Pig in 1994 and celebrated their 20th year together in 2014, both as a couple and in the world of retail. Nasty Pig has developed a “huge online presence” since its inception, and is carried in boutiques around the world. The company website emphasizes its dedication to “the business of making customers, not sales, ” and the integrity of its designs - it is no wonder that Nasty Pig has such a loyal fanbase. The company has changed over time, however. At one point they were making washable rubber clothing, then leather fetishwear, and then straight up fashion that “women want to wear too. ” Today, come for the ultra-short booty shorts, tight shirts, and leatherwear. The guys in the shop are incredibly friendly, and quite proud of their brand.
Chef Bill Telepan - along with partner Jimmy Nicholas - opened his eponymous restaurant in 2005 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, working with many renowned, international chefs, garnering success as an executive chef, and publishing Inspired by Ingredients. Many accolades later, Telepan retains its community ties, sourcing locally and being "neighborhood-centric. " In addition, through the nonprofit Wellness in the Schools (WITS), Bill devises and executes nutritional cafeteria menus. The interior of Telepan consists of an attractive bar, inviting booth-style seating, nook-like areas for intimacy, and a semi-private dining room. An impressive wine cellar draws attention to lesser-known origins, celebrating a different region each month. And the tastefully simple exposed brick, subtle green tints, and wooden accents highlight the seasonally-rotated, close-up photographs of luscious produce by Quentin Bacon. Most of the ingredients on the menu are sourced from the Union Square Greenmarket and local farmers. According to Director of Marketing and Communications Jacqueline Hensel, "Bill was doing farm-to-table before farm-to-table was a thing. " In lieu of fancy names or feigned trendiness are consistent seasonality and fresh flavor for guests to experience. The coveted pea pancakes - that only appear on the menu for a short while - are so eagerly anticipated by frequent diners that they make reservations weeks in advance to be certain that they will not miss the opportunity to savor every bite. One of the most valued opinions comes from a strong-minded older woman who has been eating at the restaurant for years. If she approves a new dish that Bill has created, it goes straight onto the menu. After all, as Chef Telepan explained, "it is all about the customer. " He is cooking for everyone who walks through that door, which included the Sideways team when we sat for lunch one summer afternoon. We started off with refreshing chilled tomato and red pepper soup, a famed house-smoked brook trout, and a beet salad that highlighted the root vegetable in sweet, sour and savory variations. Unable to see the robiolla neatly baked into my tortellini, I was pleasantly surprised with each cheesy bite. The others enjoyed an elegantly cut grilled hanger steak plated atop a mound of potatoes and spinach, and a playful burger dish, garnished with all the fixings and served alongside a volcano of onion rings and french fries. Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael's desserts were no less inspired. The moist coconut cake was complemented with smooth whipped cream, the strawberry granita parfait fizzled when introduced to a shot of prosecco, and the peanut butter and chocolate gianduja with peanut brittle ice cream and huckleberry gelee was a triangular love affair of compatible tastes.
Mark Merker became enamored with burritos after trying them for the first time while he was attending school in San Francisco. Unable to find burritos in New York quite like the ones he had eaten in California, he started Harry’s and Benny’s Burritos. After owning Mexican restaurants for years, Mark decided to try his hand at Latin street food, specifically the South American staple, empanadas. Something was missing, however, from the traditional recipes that he had found. “The beef was just beef, ” he told me. “It was very basic. None of it added volume to the flavor. ” Now, at Benny's Burritos & Empanadas, which opened in the spring of 2017, Mark sells the “chechenita, ” a variation of the empanada, which he describes as an “empanada pouch. ”Mark explained that the influences for the Chechenita come from a variety of cultures. “It isn’t just one culture that goes into it, ” he said. “It is very American in that sense. ” We could not help but burst out into laughter, too. As we sat at the counter facing the windows, open to the passersby on the street, Amelia tried the Cheesesteak Chechenita. She said that it was rich and warm, with just the right amount of dough: "The perfect afternoon snack. "Three decades ago, Mark opened a Mexican restaurant just across the street. When he began contemplating Benny's Burritos & Empanadas, it seemed only natural to return to the East Village. "There was just something about the neighborhood that kept the sense of community alive. It’s like I’m coming back home. ”
The vibrant colors and complex patterns within this handbag boutique are mesmerizing. While living in Mexico, owner and designer Mark Seamon discovered his unique style as he began constructing handbags using reclaimed local materials. Today, Love Shine offers an eclectic collection of wallets, makeup totes, purses, and messenger bags. Mark said that much of his inspiration for the inventory is drawn from Mexican culture, emphasizing Catholic iconography as well as utilizing patterns from Mexican wrestling masks and other indigenous imagery. Everything in the shop is made in the US, even though their designs hearken to places south of the border.
Opening its doors in 2012, Petit Poulet is not the typical restaurant that one would expect to find connected to a hotel. With its own entrance on 33rd Street, this French brasserie has easy access into the historic Radisson Martinique. Serving typical bistro fare, three meals a day, the menu offers all of the standard dishes from onion soup, to mussels, to tartines, to beef bourguignon. There is a primarily French wine list and a lively atmosphere filled with many out-of-towners.
The Belgian Room, as its name alludes, serves only Belgian beer. A dark, but welcoming space, the Belgian Room is pouring, in the words of the bartender, “the best beer in the world. ” Loyal patrons come here to choose from a wide selection of beer, lounge in the relaxing environment, and eat pomme frites. It’s not a glitzy spot, just one that is dedicated to generously serving beer aficionados some serious brew. On one visit, during the winter months, we chatted with another patron seated at the bar who lives only a few doors down. His comment about the Belgian beers was "I always feel like I had a drink after leaving here despite the fact that it is just a beer. " And if you are in search of a different type of bar scene, hop on over to Hop Devil Grill through a passageway located at the back of the Belgian Room. It wasn’t until we went to use the ladies room that we realized the two spaces were connected.
On a street full of family-owned businesses and long-lasting neighbors, Long’s Bedding is yet another that merits a shout out for its “Long-evity. ” The mattress center has been around for four generations, starting with Max Long, the great-grandfather of the current owner, Terri. Max emigrated from Poland and started putting his skills as a mattress maker to use in 1911. In 1936, Max’s son Harry turned the business towards retail. The business had floundered during the depression, but after World War II, Harry was able to build it back up until he was able to buy out his brother and father. In 1963, a year after the business moved to its current location on 72nd Street, Harry’s son Bob started working as a delivery truck driver. We met Bob, who still works in the store despite having passed the torch on to his daughter, Terri, as well as his wife, Judie, who helps sell the mattresses when she is not working as a photographer. Judie showed us the historical prints on the wall, including Yellow Pages advertisements for Long’s from a century ago and a photograph of Max Long. She also gestured to the wall of photos of celebrities who have bought Long’s beds. The list is quite lengthy, including John Kennedy and John Lennon. My favorite celebrity story was the one about Mick Jagger, who ordered a wall-to-wall mattress. Though Judie says they have not received a request as outlandish as that in a while, they still help customers with many antique beds that often come in unusual dimensions. She explained that customers, including the stars on the wall, often find Long’s via word of mouth and interior designers. Long’s is one of the last small, independently-owned mattress sellers in the city, since mattress chains are unfortunately driving the smaller shops out of business. Judie said that she believes that the reason they still remain is because “New Yorkers are smart. ” She elaborated by explaining that if she shows customers a better mattress than the one they have been sleeping on, made by a small producer, they will buy it, despite the lack of recognizable brand name. Judie referenced the Sleepy’s across the street and said, “Customers walk in there to look, and walk in here to buy. ”Whereas Judie gave a lot of the credit to the store’s clientele, it was clear to me that the family’s warmth and personal attention are equally deserving. Judie agreed and said simply, “We care. When someone comes back and tells us they’re happy, it makes us happy. ” Customers are treated with kindness: Judie told us about a woman who came in, slightly distraught after losing her wallet, whom Judie sat with and spoke to until she calmed down. The woman has come back to buy mattresses at every stage of her life, and says she never will forget that day. Judie shared another one of her favorite stories, in which a woman bought a new bed from Long’s. Two years later, Judie was helping her daughter buy an apartment, and discovered the broker was this same customer. The woman exclaimed, “You changed my life! ” and started describing how her quality of sleep had improved thanks to the bed she bought at Long’s. Bob also had a story that shows what an amazing network Long’s customers have created: A woman came in to look at a mattress. She saw a woman she knew and greeted her, asking what she was doing there. The second woman replied, “I’ve been shopping here for thirty years: It’s an Upper West Side institution. ” The comment sealed the deal and the first woman bought the mattress. “We try really hard to please every customer, ” Terri interjected. She went on to tell me that she has childhood memories of being fascinated by the parade of mattresses that her father carried up and down the stairs when he was treating the basement of his family home like a warehouse. There were additional indications from Terri’s early life that she would one day own the family business. For example, Judie told us that her daughter used to sit at Bob’s desk when she was small and “make a whole mess. ” It is really touching to see how Terri’s parents have entrusted the operation of Long's to their daughter. “Terri runs the show now, ” Judie stated, and smiling, she added, “I like to make her look good. ” Similarly, Bob has passed over the responsibility to Terri and now functions as her constant mentor and source of support. I was curious to know if the family thinks that a fifth generation of mattress salesmen/women is in the cards. Olivia, Terri’s daughter, is still too young to show any signs of taking over the family business, but the Longs do sell a mattress called the “Olivia, ” so perhaps it is an omen.
21 grams was an experience that took five of us into an uncharted culture and left us not only deliciously sated, but also feeling like a welcomed and valued friend. On our first venture inside, we were working - exploring the restaurant, taking photos and observing the chef in the kitchen. Our second visit was to participate in the entire dining experience. Words cannot possibly do justice to the absolutely incredible 8 course, Franco-Japonaise works of art we consumed. With each bite, we all went silent and then looked up at each other in amazement only to find the same looks of awe on all of our faces. From the fresh rolls served with brown butter to the hollowed eggshell filled with the most decadent chicken consomme imaginable resting on an aromatic bed of lavender salt... to the potato truffle croquette with a molten cheese center, probably one of the best bites of food I have ever eaten... to the tuna tartar "sandwich"... to the thoughtfully-crafted vegetarian dishes... to the outrageous cocktails including an iced sake intermezzo... and dessert that was over-the-top chocolate souffle... we were positively dazzled. This was a meal, served by expert waiters in tailcoats, the memory of which will stick with us as we continue indulging our way across the side streets. Dancer, set designer, costume designer, clothing designer, stylist, sculptor, holistic nutritionist, certified edomae-sushi chef, restaurateur – Mihoko Kiyokawa is an incredibly talented woman. And, perhaps, nothing proves this more than stepping inside her magnificent restaurant where her goal is to feed the soul through the passionate preparation of elegant food. Entering the restaurant, one walks down a narrow red-carpeted hallway, ornamented with clean-lined Japanese pottery and projections on the white walls. Tastefully displayed are an array of handmade Japanese teapots, dishes and other beautiful pieces, many created by Mihoko, herself. This exquisite welcoming is simply a taste of what is to follow. The main dining room contains a mixture of Japanese-French aesthetics. Each table is surrounded by a padded barrier -- reminiscent of a gift box. We found it to be dramatic and unique, paying homage to Mihoko’s former career in stage design and dance. Perfectly set, each tablecloth is pressed and glistens with shiny cutlery and ceramics – a bowl with a minuscule towel rests in the middle of each setting. When seated, bergamot-scented water will be poured over the small roll for a guest to wash their hands. While the setting is grand and luscious, upscale and ornate, with some of the men dressed in formal tails, everyone made us feel at ease. From the manager, to the bartender, to the sommelier, and even Mihoko, herself, we were greeted warmly. Within this gorgeous and amicable setting, fantastic, complex and savory food was prepared by twenty-five year old chef, Mizuho Hirakawa. We were taken into the kitchen to observe her as she delicately placed chrysanthemum petal after petal around a circle of foie gras to create a sunflower-esque presentation. We watched as she gently placed a rack of lamb on a plate and wiped away any traces of its juices from the rim before serving. As we photographed this edible art, we were invited to taste these delicacies: Foie gras with buck wheat crumble, apricot and chrysanthemum; Botan ebi tempura roll with shrimp, plum, shallot and tomato; lamb Provencal with ratatouille, lemon thyme sauce and candied pecans. Each dish was presented beautifully and the flavors intriguing -- a mix of spices, textures and colors. The Manhattan Sideways team certainly had a memorable experience exploring the extensive space of 21 Grams, including the downstairs lounge and bar, and, of course, speaking to the gracious people who have poured their hearts into 21 Grams – the supposed "weight of the soul. "