Walking through the subterranean, industrial infrastructure of Chelsea Market, there is a bombardment of sight, sound, smell, and taste that is simply glorious. It is a sprawling, trendy, quirky, traditional, diverse, crowd-pleasing stroll rolled up in an epicurean’s paradise that always leaves me craving more.This underground bazaar winds through the belly of the old Nabisco factory with its concrete floors, iron-gilded arches, exposed beams, and bare bulbs conjuring up the past. The space was once the world’s largest baking factory, taking in 2,500 barrels of flour a week and churning out Oreo, Marshmallow Sandwiches, and Nilla Wafers for distribution the world over. Today, at one bend, a wishing well with cascading water asks for spare change, and at the next, a canopy of Christmas lights welcomes visitors.One thing remains to link the new Market with the old National Biscuit Company’s bakery: the food. Distinct smells from savory to sweet linger around the curves and corners of the market, overtaking and enhancing the experience. The Lobster Place, which also sources fresh seafood to Cull & Pistol, offers an intensely salty and fishy aroma. The ginger, cardamom, and hibiscus are just a few prominent scents from Spices and Tease blends, which help distract the long line of people enticed by Los Tacos No. 1 during lunchtime rush. Next door, whiffs of ground coffee beans come from Ninth Street Espresso. Concentrated in one corner of the 15th Street arcade, The Doughnuttery, Bar Suzette (a crepe bar), and Li-Lac Chocolates never let a passerby forget to indulge after delighting in the vegan offerings at Beyond Sushi, an eatery that takes pride in fresh and local ingredients.On the specialty side, Dickson’s Farmstand is a butcher shop that works with small family farms and The Filling Station is committed to sourcing oils, vinegars, salts, and craft beers organically. A Manhattan staple, with an emphasis on organic and local, Amy’s Bread serves up delicious loaves from tangy sourdough to walnut raisin. The Green Table, a small haven for actual dining, also offers local, sustainable, and organic dishes including roasted pasture-raised chicken and a harvest salad. L’Arte Del Gelato‘s amaretto, panna cotta or mascarpone are only a few examples of the enticing flavors for the adventurous ice cream lover. People are constantly lining the narrow aisles to gather up the quality and well-priced fruits and vegetables from Manhattan Fruit Exchange or lingering in Buon Italia, with its bounty of imported Italian goods.Although gastronomy dominates, the Market is not entirely filled with food vendors. Anthropologie anchors one end of the market, and, wandering farther down, there is Posman Books, with an excellent selection of titles and greeting cards. Not only can chefs find absolutely anything necessary for their restaurants at Bowery Kitchen Supplies, but there is also an abundance of fun and useful items for the everyday cook. The colorful décor at Imports from Marrakesh constantly draws people inside. Artists & Fleas has found a permanent home just inside the Tenth Avenue entrance where Brooklyn’s emerging artists sell an ever-changing, well-curated collection of vintage goods.The farm-to-table sentiment is certainly not lost in the market with its vendors focused on high quality, ethically sourced ingredients – bringing rural roots to an urban environment. Chelsea Market is a retrofitted factory made into a concourse of culinary dreams, reminiscent of Grand Central Station and the vaulted, underground promenades of Paris.Read more about the shops of Chelsea Market.
In keeping with the original nautical theme from the 1960′s, each room in the hotel has a porthole window and is decorated with teak wood. In 2014, the hotel’s restaurant La Bottega closed to make room for La Sirena by Mario Batali. The Cabanas, open in the spring and summer, is on the rooftop and offers a welcome reprieve from the city streets when the weather permits.
No matter what time of day we have stopped by Grey Dog, the restaurant is pulsing, but in a quiet, relaxed sort of way. Despite the lines to order food from the menu on the chalkboard and the crowded tables, everyone is calm and content. Apparently, this has been the vibe since two brothers opened their first restaurant back in 1996 on Carmine Street. Today they have expanded to four different locations, each one incredibly successful. The formula seems to be quite simple – a chill atmosphere, easy-going but efficient staff, a menu that covers all of the basics with a bit of a flair, hefty portions and, most importantly, everything tastes great. Beginning early in the morning, there are pancakes, French toast, eggs, homemade granola and coffee being served. As the day progresses, lots of sandwiches, salads and other creative dishes are available for lunch and dinner. Without a doubt, if I lived nearby, I would also become a regular.
Trendy and filled with beautiful people, the Dream Hotel has created quite an aura around it. Sitting in the lobby is certainly entertaining at any hour of the day, but in the evening the action really kicks in. There is a DJ in the lounge area right off the lobby and not far from the entrance is Bodega Negra, with a Mexican menu. Also attached to the hotel is a restaurant called Fishbowl, with a 5000 gallon fish tank behind the bar. On the rooftop, the PHD Club tends to play top 40's music, and downstairs is the Electric Room, which is described as a rock club.
I learned of Agnes B's clothing while in college and studying abroad back in the '70's. Somehow, even then, I knew to appreciate her simple French designs for women. It wasn't until I was much older, however, that I was able to purchase a few of her pieces for myself, and I truly treasure them. It seems that many of Agnes B's stores are closing around the country, but here's to hoping that she can continue here in New York.