Most children only want a cookie or ice cream for dessert, but my daughter, Joelle, chose to do things differently. Her request, from an early age, was always a bowl of oatmeal. To this day, at 28, she still ends her evening with her cereal. You cannot imagine my excitement when I learned that OatMeals was opening in the Village. We were thoroughly bewitched by the oatmeal creations of owner Samantha Stephens. She has been working towards this dream for the past ten years. Sam gave up her career in investment banking, went to the French Culinary Institute, and is now filling this niche market. What a clever, healthy concept she has begun serving up. We sampled both the hot and cold oatmeal selections with an array of sweet and savory toppings. I was in heaven tasting warm oatmeal with truffle oil, parmesan cheese and sea salt, while Esteban delighted in having oatmeal with pesto and sun dried tomatoes, and we both topped it off with cold oatmeal that had berries and brown sugar on top. Anything that you can imagine is baked with oatmeal, plus sandwiches on oatmeal bread, and then you can wash it all down with specialty teas and coffees. In a small farmhouse setting you can choose a stool by the window, or just have your oatmeal treats on the go. This one's for you, Joelle!!!
Depending on the day, one can select from such delicious chicken choices as the classic Southern style, Buffalo, Wasabi or even one stuffed with cheese. Although simple, our team opted for the grilled chicken with both Wasabi mayo and a spicy cilantro dip - a perfect crowd pleaser. When chatting with John, one of the owners, he explained that he and his partner believed that this was the thing people wanted. "Everyone's a foodie in New York, " he said, "but no one tried to approach such an American favorite as chicken fingers in this gourmet fashion. " And that is what they do best here: gourmet food and sticky fingers.
“We are one of the oldest gay bars in the city, ” said Helen Burford. The owner of Julius’ considers it an honor to be a part of this history and to allow others to share in it. Many who stop by are keen to dip their toes into an earlier, more troublesome period. “We are a good reminder of the struggles people went through for those of us today. ”What better way for young men and women to learn about landmark events like the renowned “Sip-In, ” where gay activists challenged New York’s prohibitions on gay bars? The patrons who have been frequenting Julius’ for decades are happy to provide a history lesson. Every day around 4 p. m., they sit in a corner and share stories of what it was like back in the day. “This is their home. To them, Julius’ is not a bar — rain or shine, they need to be here. ” The old group, now in their seventies and eighties, enjoy having a drink and chatting with one another, but they also invite “guests” into the conversation — passing the baton, as this is their legacy. “They are always trying to bring young people into the fold, ” Helen commented.
Bell Book and Candle has a rooftop garden where much of their vegetables and herbs are grown, and there is also a “secret” dining area upstairs during the warmer weather months. Our dinner in the springtime offered food that was prepared with all of the freshness one could ask. Each of the ingredients in the different salads and the entire vegetable platter that we shared were creative and reminded us that eating straight from the garden provides a totally different and pleasurable culinary experience. When our meal was being served, my clever husband chimed in to recite the incantation to our friends and waiter - "ring the bell, open the book, light the candle. " It was when we were leaving, though, that he caught all of our attention, once again piping in with a smile, "ring the bell, close the book, snuff the candle. " We all laughed, applauded him, and left, having had a bewitching evening.
Reed Adelson, owner of the American restaurant Virginia’s, was trained by the best in the industry. He learned about wine at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, interned at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, then returned to his Manhattan roots to work under Jean-Georges to open the Mark Hotel, and finally worked at Locanda Verde. Riding in a car with industry legends Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, he was presented with the answer to his doubts about working in the restaurant business, "If this is what you’re passionate about, there is nothing else you can do. It’s more of a vocation than a job choice. "Reed brought all of this expertise to open his first restaurant in 2015. Named for his mom, Virginia’s has become known for its burger, with bone marrow aioli, cabot cheddar, and house-made pickles, but there are more sophisticated dishes that deserve equal praise including the wild king salmon with red cabbage slaw and golden beet puree. Reed focuses on consistency for his menu, with a few seasonal dishes, such as the corn ravioli with fontina cheese and crispy shallots. With his eye on the future, Reed is contemplating moving a little closer to the city’s center, while admitting, "there’s something romantic about the side streets. "
Kenkeleba Garden, named for an African healing plant, is simply magical. We followed the densely forested greenery around to the back, arriving at a clearing that transported us to another world far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. We were completely surprised when we landed in front of the sculpture garden, which is only visible from 3rd Street. From large African sculptures to collections of scraps or bricolage, a specialty of the Lower East Side art scene, we could not help but linger before doubling back and re-emerging onto the concrete sidewalks of 2nd Street. It was not until many months later, when we had the pleasure of meeting Joe Overstreet and his wife, Corinne Jennings, that we learned that this is affiliated with their gallery next door, Kenkeleba House. It is their life-long dream to someday use these grounds to build a museum that would house their massive collection of African-American art. It has an entrance on both 2nd Street and 3rd,
Book Club isn’t just for the suburbs anymore — as a new bookshop, bar and coffeehouse gives East Village denizens and beyond a new place to pore over and pour over their favorite reads. Married proprietors Erin Neary and Nat Esten, East Village residents themselves, had longed for an independent bookstore to serve the Alphabet City area, they told the Manhattan Sideways team when we popped in to see dozens of happy customers enjoying a read and a latte one sunny Friday morning. “We always thought that the neighborhood needed another bookstore, ” said Erin, “and we also kept wondering, ‘Wouldn't it be so cool if you could drink wine while you were shopping for books? ’” They decided not only to open a bookstore and bar, but to additionally add in the day-to-night-element of coffee into the mix. While both Erin and Nat had worked in hospitality before, bookselling was new to them. “I started doing research in 2017 and worked with the American Booksellers Association’s consulting program to help new bookstores get off the ground, ” said Erin. “I met with them as well as other bar owners and bookstore owners in the neighborhood and did as much research as I could without actually doing it. ” The duo launched Book Club in November 2019, enjoying an enthusiastic community reception until COVID-19 forced them to pivot. “Nate started doing bike deliveries — as many as 20 miles a day! ” Erin told us. “He’d go out to Harlem to drop off books and then all the way out to Bushwick — so a lot of people learned about the store that way. ”Once they were able to reopen to the public, Book Club forged full steam ahead in engaging the community in “book club”-esque events — from author talks to poetry readings to creative writing workshops, with additional unique offerings like an adult spelling bee and a “drink and draw” sketching class. They’ve also recently received their full liquor license, and plan to roll out literary-themed cocktails like an In Cold Bloody Mary or the Murder on the Orient Espresso Martini, Erin told us. More than anything, she added, she enjoyed having customers back in the store to guide them toward their next favorite book. “Our staff are not just really good baristas, but they’re avid readers as well. So between myself and the rest of the team, we have a really good handle on the books here — it’s fun to be able to curate not just what we stock, but to get the right book into someone’s hands. ”
Be prepared to wait, and then to wait some more, but once seated, there was no doubt that it was well worth our almost two hours. The good news, though, is that there are many terrific bars to visit on 10th Street while passing the time. Opened at the end of June 2012, Rosemary's has not skipped a beat since they began. The restaurant is always packed and on any nice day, the large windows are wide open onto 10th Street. We ate here on a Friday night in the middle of September. Everything that we ordered was just superb. My chopped salad had crunchy chickpeas, artichokes, olives, caper berries, ricotta, and more, but it was the fresh lettuce leaves and the perfect dressing that really made it all come together. And then came the pasta - linguini that was also cooked to perfection tossed with preserved lemon, pickled chili, and parmesan. Oh my goodness, it was just heaven. Once we were two for two with my meal, and everyone else was also thrilled with their choices, I decided I had to give dessert a try as well. The olive oil cake with whipped cream and blueberries was also terrific. Rosemary's does not take reservations, so to avoid the long waits, I might suggest is choosing an odd time - obviously not the weekend - and have a plan B (Manhattan Sideways has many to recommend).
They say you can never get a good bagel outside of New York or a heavenly croissant outside of Paris. My daughter, who lives in Washington DC, agrees whole-heartedly with the bagel philosophy, but she also lived in Paris and she can attest to the fact that Patisserie Claude would be the exception to the rule. With the most buttery croissants, fresh brioche, cookies, cakes, meringues, quiches, tarte tatin, macaroons and coffee, she was beside herself. This petite cafe truly goes over the top bringing Parisian patisseries to Manhattan. Now if we could only figure out how to get New York's pizza and bagels to my daughter in DC.