In the winter of 2015, as the newest restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood opened its doors, I made my first visit to Lincoln Square Steak with members of my family. They enjoy steak houses for the meat, and were delighted with their meal, while I prefer to dine on a variety of side dishes and salad. My husband always requests that his filet mignon be charred on the outside and medium on the inside - his was delivered perfectly. At Lincoln, however, I was thrilled when they plopped a popover down on each of our plates, as this is one of my favorite treats. Meeting Bruno Selimaj, owner of both Club A Steakhouse and now Lincoln, was an added bonus. He spent quite a bit of time with his guests, seamlessly working the room. On subsequent visits, as I live close by, my husband and I continued to be impressed with the food, wine selection and service. The vast space, decorated primarily in crimson red, is always filled and the food consistently good.
With its prime 72nd Street location, I have passed by Malachy's Donegal Inn almost daily, but had never stepped inside. I was always waiting for the day when I would be working on this street, so that I could go in with the Manhattan Sideways team and have a good time. And that is exactly what happened. "Looks can be deceiving, believe me, " owner Bill Raftery immediately said when we popped in during the lunch hour in the middle of the week. He continued to speak lovingly and confidently of his pub, which has been in business since 1989. "This bar has the best pub food of any like it in the area, " Bill stated. Looking around, we were pleased to find the old wooden bar packed from end to end. According to Bill, most of his lunch customers are crew guys from local theaters like The Beacon and Lincoln Center, and "they are loyal. " Engaging in conversation with more than a dozen men and women, we learned a lot about Bill, and the warm environment that he has built. As Bill continued to serve people from behind the bar, he spoke of how much the neighborhood has changed since he purchased Malachy's. On Saint Patrick's Day, the area used to be blanketed in green bar-goers. "You could not move in this neighborhood the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There's nothing like seeing them blow up those balloons. " Hikes in parking and travel costs have drastically reduced business on both of those days, he lamented. Still, he brightened up when pointing to the crowded bar, and said how his regulars are certainly devoted customers. Quite busy, he told us to stop by for a drink sometime soon, and headed into the kitchen.
Jennifer Klein lived on 72nd Street for several decades before debuting her latest restaurant and bar. Since Dakota Bar opened in 2013, it has become a hotspot, attracting Upper West Siders with its chic, unpretentious vibes. The bar features seasonal cocktails, an eclectic menu, and an extensive wine and beer list, all curated by Jennifer.
The Emerald Inn had its home on Columbus Avenue and 69th Street since 1943, but in 2013, the family was unable to renew their lease. Charlie, the current owner, pointed out the "Emerald Inn" sign on the wall that came from the original bar. Although a third generation American citizen, we found Charlie to be Irish through and through. He explained that his great-grandparents, who started the Emerald Inn, grew up in the same town in the county of Galway, but that they magically met here, in the Bronx. Every May, Charlie does his best to travel to Ireland, and in return, his Irish relatives have visited him and his bar in Manhattan. He announced, "They have liked what they've seen. "Charlie has tried to maintain the Gaelic charm that his father, grandfather and great grandfather brought to the Inn. The menu continues to include Irish favorites like corned beef, fish and chips, and bangers and mash, but also offers some American classics like burgers and Reubens. "We do a solid lunch – everything is good here, " Charlie said proudly. As he poured a pint of Guinness like a pro, waiting for "the black stuff" to settle before filling the glass, I asked him a bit more about his family. I learned that his grandfather is still alive, in his eighties. Charlie told me that his grandfather used to be chummy with Hugh Downs, a former 20/20 ABC TV news magazine host who frequented the bar, along with many other ABC celebrities. Charlie remembers coming to the bar when he was as young as three years old. Once he hit working age, he slowly rose from dishwasher to waiter and then to bartender before taking over the bar from his father, who is now in semi-retirement. On a subsequent visit to the Emerald Inn, I was able to see all three generations together. Each man shares the same sense of humor and geniality. An excellent sense of hospitality clearly runs in the family, since all three men showed the same amount of friendliness and humor towards the Manhattan Sideways team, offering them plates of "Irish lasagna" and chicken marsala, which warmed the team's stomachs (along with the generous pitchers of beer! ). Charlie confided that he was worried when the rent on the previous location doubled, causing him to have to search for a new home. "We were very beloved in the neighborhood, " he informed me. They found the current location entirely by chance – Charlie's father was driving by as the previous owner was clearing out. He noticed a commotion, recognized that the space had been a bar, and immediately snagged it. Charlie was pleased to say that two years later, the bar has both gained new customers and retained many of their old ones. "There's a mix of everybody, " Charlie said matter-of-factly. "People are still finding us two years later. " One group that keeps coming back is the New York Ballet. They use Emerald Inn as their neighborhood hangout, but are a little disappointed with the low ceilings in the new location. "They used to be able to dance on the bar, " Charlie laughed. He then admitted that many of the dancers have known him since he was very little. "They still call me 'Baby Charlie, '" he said with a grin.
Across the park and nine streets north from the 64th Street location, Olivia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, was still visibly excited to be sitting down to breakfast at Alice's Tea Cup. Though she loves each of the teahouse's three "chapters, " the 73rd Street cafe is the original - and the first one she visited as a young teen. She shared stories with me of coming here and marveling at the tiered Afternoon Teas that would arrive at her table, filled with scones, finger sandwiches and sweets. She questioned whether or not she might have been a bit too old at fifteen to celebrate her birthday here and then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around New York blowing sparkle-filled bubbles, dressed in a pair of shimmering fairy wings acquired from the tea shop's front room, which is filled with whimsical retail items. On our visit to Alice's, Olivia, now a mature twenty-five, had her usual - a pumpkin scone with a personal pot of tea - while Tom, our photographer, ordered "the biggest coffee" they had. It arrived in a mug "the size of Tom's face. " Olivia pointed out all the Alice in Wonderland themed decorations that she remembered from previous visits, including a quote from the character of the Duchess written in fun purple font along the walls and an angry painting of the red queen in the bathroom, telling employees to wash their hands or "Off with your head! " Her favorite little decorative touch, however, was on the swinging door into the kitchen. There is a giant keyhole window, suggesting that maybe, like Alice, the diners had shrunk to the size of mice, and would be swept away into a magical land, scones and teacups in hand.
"It's good to see you, and it's good to be seen, " Paul Whitman said to Mrs. Lloyd, who has been a regular at Fischer Bros. & Leslie for the last fifty years. From across the shop, Paul's brother-in-law Steve Niederman smiled and said, "Mrs. Lloyd, from 57th Street! " Paul wrote down Mrs. Lloyd's order in his big book of house accounts and she was on her way. Over the course of the thirty minutes that we spent in this butcher shop, we witnessed many scenes like this. A regular would arrive, be greeted by name, place an order, pay via their "house account, " maybe set up delivery, and be off to their next errand. It is something that does not happen everyday, especially in New York. Fischer Bros. & Leslie, which has been in business since 1949, has proudly served three, sometimes four generations of families, and vice president and partner Paul Whitman has gotten to know most of them throughout his tenure with the shop, thanks in part to their commitment to the house account system. Fischer Bros. & Leslie does take cash, checks, and the occasional credit card, and it does have a website, but Paul encourages everyone to open a house account. "You get to know the people this way, " he told me. They will call a customer to let them know that one of their favorites is in stock: "We have some rib steak, just what you like. " The store even accommodates their regulars by preparing seasonal foods throughout the year, if demand warrants. Partner Yisroel Brown told us there is an older couple that loves their gazpacho, even in the wintertime, so "we'll make a batch for them, " and then added, "Just like latkes are not just for Hanukkah. "Paul has been a part of the Fischer Bros. & Leslie family ever since he married Leslie's daughter Marcy, whom he met in college. After graduate school at The Stern School of Business at NYU, Leslie invited Paul to work at the store while he got his resume together. "That was thirty-five years ago, " Paul told me. The full-service kosher butcher shop also prepares a large variety of Jewish favorites in-house, including matzo ball soup, which was initially prepared for Marcy one day years ago when she wasn't feeling well, but then became so popular that it was added to the menu. Paul went on to say that they set a wall on fire making the soup, which spurred them to build a kitchen. Another fire occurred years later, just before Passover, when someone left a brisket in the oven. Luckily, Paul was staying in the family's office upstairs at the time, and a neighbor (who knew he was there, thanks to his motorcycle parked out front) alerted him to the fire, and a Passover crisis was averted. When I walked out of this old world shop, Jenna, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, turned to me and said, "My family has been in New York City for over a hundred years, and I have heard them tell stories of places like Fischer Bros. & Leslie, places where a customer was greeted by name, where money only changed hands at the end of the month, where quality of product went hand-in-hand with quality of service and character, but I had never experienced it myself. Wait until I tell my Grandma that a place like the ones she reminisces about still exists. " (Good thing they deliver to Brooklyn. )
Sweet aromas lure one into this tiny coffee and tea shop on west 70th. Originally founded in 1976 across the street, the Sensuous Bean moved to its current location in 1990 and is now co-owned by partners in life and in business, Lucretia La Mora and Tom Wilson. "People follow their noses, " explained Tom of the cafe's success. And even horses cannot resist - he recalled one peeking its head through the door as an officer grabbed a cup. "We blend to taste, " Tom added. Each day, beans are grinded on site and brewed in three roasters for a hot cup. And although small, the place is stocked with a large selection of coffees and teas sourced from a variety of regions. The chai spice tea comes from India and the Mexican Vienna brew from Zimbabwe. The assortment of flavorful tisanes includes intriguing names like red velvet cupcake or bella coola lemon lime.
Amber Upper West relocated from Columbus Avenue to this dimly lit, intimate side street enclave in 2015. A wood-beamed ceiling and whitewashed walls are organically accented with well-illuminated hanging plants and a graphic, black and white tree painting. With a menu featuring a large selection of rolls, grilled dishes and sushi to be shared in either the conventional dining space or well-stocked bar, this side street gem offers more than just lovely decor.
When Henry Clay Frick passed away in 1919, he had placed in his will that his residence be turned into a museum forever open to public access, featuring the impressive collection he had assembled over a span of forty years. In addition, his will provided a fifteen million dollar endowment for maintenance. In 1935, the Frick Collection was opened in the expanded Gilded Age mansion originally designed by Thomas Hastings for residence, and initially transformed into the museum by John Russel Pope. The interior features spectacular selections of Old Master paintings and European sculptures in sixteen permanent collections that integrate Italian, French and Spanish works, allowing cohesive interactions from multiple regions and time periods - the way Henry enjoyed viewing art. In the center, the Garden Court, which had been Henry's driveway, is considered the museum's heart, ornamented by rushing water, a bounty of plant life, impressive sculptures, and an intriguing skylight. Today, it is the only room in which one is permitted to take photographs. I remember visiting the Frick for the first time as a teenager and declaring it my favorite museum in Manhattan. I can easily state that it remains so to this day. I never tire of introducing visitors from out of town to The Frick and I continue to appreciate each new exhibit. For me, it remains a tranquil setting to walk, contemplate and unwind as I am surrounded by art and beauty.
Established in 1904, The Explorers Club is centered on scientific discovery in all realms - land, sea, air and space. Its original headquarters were located at the Studio Building on West 67th Street, and it moved to this location in 1965. In 1918, a signature flag was introduced, capitalizing on historic routes and unabated curiosity. Since then, the flag has been proudly carried on hundreds of expeditions as members of the club were the first to make it to the North and South Poles, the summit of Mt. Everest, the deepest point in the ocean, and the surface of the moon. The club first allowed women in 1981. To this day, it is a meeting spot for all kinds of explorers, scientists and students.