The blue-and-white checkered pattern caught my attention the moment I stepped inside the door of Hastens. Being greeted by the lovely and knowledgeable sales associate Kristin Heilig, I quickly realized that I had discovered a world-renowned bedding company that had a fascinating history. Hastens began as a saddle making company in 1852. In the years that followed, the company changed focus, ultimately becoming Sweden's oldest bed and mattress producer, garnering a reputation for creating the consummate in luxury beds. The Swedish word for horse is 'häst' - and although the family is no longer in the saddle business, five generations later, the name of the company is a nod to its history. Each mattress is made by hand in their factory in Sweden, assembled from natural materials, and in their most extravagant mattresses, horsehair filling remains its signature feature. The store on 58th is the smaller of the New York Hästens locations, but includes everything one might need for a splendid shopping experience, including the exquisite bedding accessories. Kristin told us that many of her customers are interior designers and architects; however, they do get curious walk-ins who spot the attractive interior from the street. The store is elegantly curated, with a variety of beds on display. As Kristin explained, "it is really about how the bed feels to each individual, as everyone is different. " She went on to say that there is no formula for deciding on the right one. People simply need to spend time at Hastens in order to find "the perfect fit for the best sleep. " And, while a Hästens bed is certainly an investment, Kristin assured me that most customers keep their bed for a lifetime.
Beautifully decorated for the holiday season, Bistro Vendome was still abuzz with chatter when the Manhattan Sideways team stopped by at the tail end of lunch hour to meet with the delightful owner, Virginie Petiteau. Although she and her husband Pascal, who is the executive chef, hail from Brittany, France, they met in New York, where they both worked at Jubilee, a French restaurant on First Avenue. After fifteen years there, Virginie said they felt ready to open their own place. She told us that it was great to already have a base of customers in the area that knew and supported them when they opened Bistro Vendome in 2010. And she was pleased to tell us that they have maintained a loyal clientele ever since. As Virginie put it: "Some people who come here saw me when I was pregnant, and now my daughter is fourteen. "Pascal started working at high-end French restaurants in France at an early age. After coming to New York, he decided to focus on more casual French food. In 2014, he was inducted as Master Chef in Mątres Cuisiniers de France, a prestigious organization aiming "to preserve and spread the French culinary arts, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development. " An unusual occurrence continued to happen as we resumed our walking on 58th, as so many other businesses told us that they eat at Bistro Vendome on a regular basis because the food was as traditionally French as one could hope for in Manhattan.
Trendy, immense, packed at any hour and serving intriguing Pan-Asian food, Tao has been a sensation on 58th since opening its doors in 2000. Stepping inside, one cannot help but immediately feel transported to a different world. The interior design is exceptionally meticulous with beautiful calligraphy scrolls adorning the high ceilings, and a sixteen foot massive Buddha sculpture taking center stage down below. Despite the frenetic atmosphere, I have found Tao to be a fun restaurant to dine with friends and to enjoy an excellent meal.