Pizza Moses Leads Us To The Promised Land: A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour



When A Slice of Brooklyn invited us to check out their Pizza Tour, we thought two things: 1) How have we not done this yet? and 2) Do we have to take the L train?

It turns out we didn’t. *Insert enormous sigh of relief here* The group participants conveniently convened at Union Square, where we were picked up by a giant temperature-controlled bus.  Our tour guide, the man who would serve as our Pizza Moses, was “Marc with a C”.  Marc’s a born-and-bred Brooklynite, which means he was there long before it became trendy.  He doesn’t sport a man bun or have ironic facial hair.  And he isn’t wearing pink pants rolled up to show his petite ankles. His tats, an infinity symbol tattooed on his wrist and a small skull on his forearm, are the regalia of locals.  He’s legit.



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
We’re not in Manhattan anymore, Toto
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the creative street art in DUMBO

The Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour lasts 4.5 hours, and we were a little antsy.  Locals walk, hop on a train, walk some more.  But with this tour we’re supposed to just… sit?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, you’re sitting, but no, that’s not all you’re doing.  On our journey Marc kept us entertained, finding just the right balance of Brooklyn fun facts, history and movie clips to throw at us.  We took the scenic route, going through Brooklyn neighborhoods and stalking million-dollar homes.  Are you a movie buff?  So is Marc.  He’ll show you the spot where Gene Hackman gets shot at in French Connection, and the movie will be playing on the screens while he does it.  

And let’s not forget the most important part of the tour: the pizza.  

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The line in front of Grimaldi’s, which you get to jump as part of the tour
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Pizza-eatin’ grin



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
You won’t find a line of tourists at L&B Spumoni Gardens
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Add some parmesan cheese for the full effect
Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
And save room for the spumoni!

There’s a scene in Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw famously says, “Men, I may not know, but SHOES, shoes, I know.”  Well, we can say the same about pizza.  We may not know much about anything else, but PIZZA, pizza we know.  A Slice of Brooklyn ingeniously doesn’t try to cover too much.  We made two stops on the tour to get a taste of two distinct, but equally important, types of New York City pizza.

We skipped the line at Grimaldi’s, which made us feel like Pizza Kardashian.  If that person existed, she might be the only Kardashian we’d be interested in.  (Nah, probably not.)  At L&B Spumoni Gardens, we sat at the longest family-style table and indulged in their specialty dessert.



Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

For the newbies who were ready to pass out from the pizza and spumoni (not us of course, we’re pros), we headed to Coney Island for a quick tour.  The combination of the sharp breeze on the boardwalk, as well as the crazy sights and sounds, perked everyone up.

A Slice of Brooklyn is rated as one of the top tours in New York City on Trip Advisor with over 1000 Excellent ratings.  The bus tour can offer a welcome break from the manic pace of New York City sightseeing.  So for any out-of-towner looking to see what Brooklyn is all about while sampling some amazing pizza, this is a fantastic option.  But locals shouldn’t turn their noses up at it either.  We learned so many new things on this tour and we met fantastic people visiting from the UK and Canada.  And no waiting for the L train, guys. Come on.

Tip:  Grab a seat at the front of the bus and you might catch some of the banter between Marc and the driver, Edwin.  He’s the “straight man” in the double act, but he still has some pretty good zingers.  

You can find out more about the Pizza Tour at A Slice of Brooklyn’s website here.

Slice of Brooklyn Bus Pizza Tour - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Always remember: Friends don’t let friends eat bad pizza

Thank you to A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours for partnering on this post.

If you’d like another point of view on this fun experience, check out our buddy Mary Lane’s post on her blog, New York Cliche. Or just check out her blog for fun New York City adventures!

– L. & J.

 

It’s a Small World After All: A Visit to Gulliver’s Gate



I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures we’ve posted, but I’m kind of… petite. Height-challenged. Runty. Low-profile. Diminutive.  Short, okay, I’m short.

Other shorties know the troubles I’ve seen.  Trying to discreetly jump to reach something on the top shelf in the grocery store, then finally having to ask for help.  Searching for “cute shoes that provide height yet remain comfortable”. (An urban myth, by the way). Having almost every piece of clothing altered. And standing-room concerts? Forget about it.

Studies tell us that taller people are more successful, more attractive, more happy.  Shorter people are supposed to be less accident-prone (yay?), but thanks to depth perception issues, I don’t benefit from that advantage either.  Pretty bleak, I know.  But changing your point of view can be simple: enter Gulliver’s Gate.



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Brookfield Place’s atrium, including its giant palms
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Miniature buildings call for miniature street art
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Do you see the Hamilton billboard? Yup, still sold out.



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
A staff member tinkering with the models
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The least crowded Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade you’ll ever attend

Located in the heart of Times Square, Gulliver’s Gate is a miniature model fan’s dream come true. And for a petite girl like me, it’s a fresh change in perspective.  Sprawled before me in a 50,000 sq ft space, there are miniature versions of my favorite New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Chrysler Building.  Some newer additions to the skyline are also included, like the stunning Via 57 West building.  And miniature Times Square comes replete with its own Hamilton billboard (which we FINALLY got to see last month, you can find that post here).

For travel buffs, Gulliver’s Gate is a fun trip around the world — you’ll find recognizable structures from France, India, Russia, and more.  The project is the result of a collaboration between model-makers around the world, which leaves local touches throughout.  It’s also a little bit of a treasure map: you’ll have to look closely to uncover secrets.  Interactive features are built into the models for children (or curious adults that have trouble keeping their hands off things).  With a touch of a button, you can attend a Queen concert, or see the Loch Ness monster (and accompanying miniature paparazzi trying to photograph it), or send Santa off in his sleigh.  

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Are there miniature copies of Hillary’s emails here?
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Most of the figures in Mecca are in white, which is what men wear when completing the pilgrimage
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Grand Palace of Bangkok



Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Chords Bridge in Jerusalem, which is illuminated with a blue light at night just as pictured
Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
I maybe look kind of tall here, right?

But it’s not just models loaded with playful features, there’s tech too.  If you want to truly immerse yourself in this fantastical universe, you could get 3D-scanned in a giant orb and have miniature versions of yourself placed anywhere in the Gulliver’s Gate world.  Want to get to the top of the Aztec ruins without killing your thighs?  This is how.

Gulliver’s Gate is currently open for previews at a reduced admission rate through May 8.  There are a few incomplete displays but there is still much to see, and if you choose to return after the official launch your admission will be discounted.  This might be a great play if you have friends and family visiting later in the year and you know you’ll be back.  The miniature universe also plans to evolve, so there will continue to be new things to discover.  Visit the Gulliver’s Gate website for additional information and to purchase tickets.

Location:
216 W 44th Street

Hours:
Daily 9 am – 10 pm



Pair it with:

Brunch at Gotan

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Gulliver's Gate Miniatures New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We’ve griped about food choices in Midtown many times before.  We regularly cry about chain restaurants and bitch about overpriced food.  So when we find a gem like Gotan, it’s truly something to celebrate.  

Gotan is located in Midtown proper, so we’re not even sending you on a little trek.  It’s a surprisingly large space, with bar seats up front and tables in the back.  The coffee is good (they serve Counter Culture, one of my favorites), and so is the food.  And guess what?  The weekend brunch here is a steal.  You heard me, a bargain brunch in Midtown.

If you order off the brunch menu, you’ll receive orange juice, coffee and an entree for under $14.  Or order off the a la carte menu, which is still reasonably priced.  The avocado toast and the breakfast plate hit the spot.

Location:
20 W 46th Street

Hours:
Mon – Thu 7 am – 5 pm
Fri 7 am – 4 pm
Sat 9 am – 3 pm

– L.

Finger Lickin’ Good: Los Pollos Hermanos Arrives in New York City


“Hey, I’m a civilian. I’m not your lawyer anymore. I’m nobody’s lawyer. The fun’s over. From here on out, I’m Mr. Low Profile, just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers. If I’m lucky, a month from now – best case scenario – I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”

– Saul Goodman, “Granite State”, Breaking Bad

These simple lines, delivered with gusto by actor Bob Odenkirk in the second to last episode of Breaking Bad’s final season, were an oblique, furtive promise. Though it was technically an end, it was also a beginning.  That promise was fulfilled in season one of the spinoff series, Better Call Saul. The flash-forward opening sequence — ironically shot flashback-style in black and white — was set in a Cinnabon at a nondescript mall (presumably in Omaha). And so began the long, winding journey from erstwhile small-time attorney, Jimmy McGill, to the morally dubious Saul Goodman.

To say I’m a fan of Better Call Saul is an understatement. In fact, I would argue it holds its own pitted against its predecessor. In my humble opinion, it’s only eclipsed by The Wire for one of the greatest series of all time. Over its past two seasons, I’ve spent nearly every Tuesday morning around the figurative water cooler discussing the most recent episode and theorizing future plot twists with my coworkers. So when I heard that a pop-up of Los Pollos Hermanos was coming to New York City, I pretty much had an apoplectic fit.



Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Asian Heisenberg and Jesse?




Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog



Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

There are fourteen Los Pollos Hermanos branches, the most prominent being the one personally managed by owner/proprietor Gus Fring in Albuquerque. However, the chain appears to have experienced a recent growth spurt. A temporary location initially popped up in Austin during SXSW.  Another one followed in LA, and this weekend a new Los Pollos Hermanos magically appeared in an IKON parking lot in the Financial District.  They pared down the menu for the soft opening: we were only able to get our hands on the new curly fries. But they are guaranteed by Fring, or it’s on the house.

The mark of true success, though, is when a fast food chain goes global. Los Pollos Hermanos is heading to Australia next, so get ready Sydneysiders!

Season 3 of Better Call Saul begins tonight, April 10 on AMC.



Pair it with:

Something sweet from the Great Northern Food Hall

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Los Pollos Hermanos Pop-Up New York City Better Call Saul - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

“Well, hello there
My it’s been a long, long time
How am I doin’?
Oh, I guess that I’m doin’ fine
It’s been so long now but it seems now
That it was only yesterday
Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away”

– Willie Nelson

Season two of Better Call Saul opens to Billy Walker singing Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away, and once more, with a flash-forward — toeing the line with that same black and white — to our anti-hero, Saul, languishing as a manager at the Cinnabon in Omaha. But I probably didn’t notice much of what happened, because at the beginning of that sequence, there’s a shot of a tray of slowly spinning, freshly glazed cinnamon rolls or as I like to call them: bread kryptonite.

My family has a history with cinnamon rolls. On my father’s way-too-German side, there is a secret recipe that was passed down. And they all take it very, very seriously. The few times during my childhood that they endeavored to make them, it was a big event. It was a long, arduous process, and you needed a mixture of superhuman strength and a science degree to pull it off. I always found it a bit hyperbolic, but I will unequivocally admit to the truth of the finished product: they were damn fine cinnamon rolls.

So, when considering a food pairing for this post, I immediately migrated to where I go when I have a hankering for cinnamon rolls. No, it’s not Cinnabon. I need a crispier edge, a respectable, bready chew, and a solid — less sweet, more savory — cinnamon presence. I also tend to eschew frosting. For me, simple and unadorned is the only way to go. Which is why I gravitate towards Meyers Bageri, an artisanal bakery at Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal. Their Kanelsnurre — the Nordic iteration of a Cinnamon Roll — strikes that perfect balance. 

Location:
Grand Central Terminal

– J.

Four Score and Seven Years Overdue: Our Visit to Hamilton on Broadway



In the summer of 2007, while Justin and I were still living in Phoenix, we made our annual pilgrimage to New York City with great anticipation.  Our trips always included an ambitious list of restaurants to tackle, as well as a sampling of plays and musicals.  That summer, we were excited to check out an Off-Broadway production we had read about called In The Heights.  

At the 37 Arts Theater in Hell’s Kitchen (since renamed the Baryshnikov Arts Center), we were seated in the second row, close enough to see the beads of sweat on the performers’ faces and watch the spit escape from their lips.  It was everything we’d hoped it would be: exciting, fresh, funny, captivating.  We were so enamored with the performance that we waited after the show to speak to the creator, a young upstart named Lin-Manuel Miranda.  But there was no one else waiting, and we questioned ourselves.  Was this not done?  Were we not supposed to approach the cast?  We suddenly felt starkly like out-of-towners, clueless about the lay of the land.  He exited the theater, and we lost our nerve.  We stood there and watched him go by.



Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Crowds gather to collect cast autographs before and after the show



Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Do we have Hamilton glow?

Fast forward almost ten years later, and here we are, in our seats at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  We purchased our Hamilton tickets NINE MONTHS AGO, after taking out a small loan against our future unborn child.  At this point, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a bonafide celebrity with a number of Tonys, Grammys and, oh yes, a Pulitzer Prize under his belt.  He’s performed at the White House on numerous occasions.  He’s chased down in the street.  

The core of what made In The Heights a success is what makes Hamilton a success, just on a much grander scale.  In broadest terms, it’s an American immigrant story.  It draws on the time-honored thematics of ambition, adversity, determination and perseverance.

But what makes Hamilton unique is its historical framework. Ron Chernow, whose biography set the ball in motion, acted as the historical consultant for the production.  The bold decision to cast multi-ethnic, multiracial actors to play what were predominantly white figures essentially said, in one fell swoop, that the history of this country belongs to all of us.  Hamilton celebrates the notion that we all have our personal histories and a place in our shared history.  And dammit, that music is catchy.

These New York City streets getting colder, I shoulder
Ev’ry burden, ev’ry disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don’t have a gun to brandish
I walk these streets famished
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
But damn, it’s getting dark, so let me spell out my name




Pair it with:

A meal at The Smith

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Hamilton on Broadway NYC - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

When a restaurant calls itself an “American Brasserie”, you never really know what to expect.  But what you hope for, is The Smith.  The fact that it’s been around since 2007, has grown to four locations, and still pulls in massive crowds is a testament to its quality.  New York City is a harsh mistress, and even the best among us have had to call it a day.  But The Smith sticks to a simple, winning formula: a great space, great people, and great food.

Head north on Broadway to the Lincoln Square location, where you’ll find classics on the menu like French Toast or Grilled Chicken Paillard.  The best part: they take reservations, and you don’t have to book nine months in advance.

Location:
1900 Broadway

Hours:
Mon-Wed: 7:30AM – Midnight
Thurs & Fri: 7:30AM – 1AM
Sat: 9:00AM – 1AM
Sun: 9:00AM – Midnight

– L. & J.

2017 Macy’s Flower Show at Herald Square



It might not come as too much of a surprise to learn that I was kind of a weird kid.  For a portion of my youth, my family would drive down to Singapore where we’d meet up with extended family members and venture on a vacation together.  Riding high on the success of a couple of short cruises to Indonesia, the adults tossed around Disneyland as an ambitious follow-up. I remember thinking to myself, “But Disneyland sounds so boring, it’s just going to be a bunch of kids running around.” 

Did I mention?  I was seven at the time.

I continued to feel the same way about circuses and amusement parks.  But as I matured it was only a matter of time before I was drawn into the fantastical landscape conjured up in books like Water for Elephants and Night Circus.  The allure of discovering oddities and meeting eccentric characters seemed infinitely charming.  And the sense that it was fleeting, terminally impermanent, only added to its mystical quality.

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog




2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Macy’s seems to have capitalized on that very same magic when it selected the Carnival theme for this year’s Macy’s Flower Show.  At its flagship store in Midtown Manhattan, the retail behemoth treats its visitors to a spring festival every year that takes place independent of the weather forecast.  In fashionable tradition, talented floral designers put together awe-inspiring installations and arrangements throughout its grounds.  (Which, by the way, is about 1.1 million square feet!)



2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

In addition to the impressive floral designs, the Macy’s Flower Show also anchors several fun events throughout the store.  Visitors can learn how to make bouquets or attend a special cooking event.  Don’t miss this year’s GODIVA event, where Chef Thierry Muret will create a chocolate sculpture while spectators enjoy a live jazz performance.  All the Macy’s Flower Show events can be found here.

Macy’s has occupied its Herald Square location on 34th Street since 1902, and the building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1978.  The Macy’s Flower Show is a great time to get reacquainted with a slice of New York City history which, when we’re not shopping for shoes, we often take for granted.  

Location:
151 W 34th St

Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m




Pair it with:

Dessert at Bibble & Sip

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

2017 Macy's Flower Show Herald Square - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The population of Midtown Manhattan is largely made up of two demographics: the people who work there, and the out-of-towners.  So when it comes to food, chains that offer the professionals something quick-and-easy and are simultaneously recognizable to visitors tend to win out.  But venture just a little bit off the beaten path, and you’ll be rewarded.  

May we suggest Bibble & Sip, a quaint, family-run bakery that offers great French-style pastries with Asian flair.  An example of this happy marriage can be found in their wildly popular cream puffs.  The pastries come in flavors like vanilla, matcha and black sesame, and have crunchy exteriors to contrast the gooey interiors.  You’ll also find interesting combinations like their Pistachio Cake with matcha white chocolate mousse and raspberry gelee.  Our personal favorite?  The banana bread infused with earl grey.  Coffee fans also shouldn’t miss the specialty matcha jasmine and lavender lattes.

Oh, and the alpaca theme throughout the store is pretty darn cute, too.  

Location:
253 W 51st St

Hours:
Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m

– L.

Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work at the New Museum



I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately.  Maybe it’s that last-bit-of-winter funk, or the fact that Justin and I recently both caught a nasty bug that knocked us off our feet.  But we’ve been opting for quieter weekends at home, leaving us scurrying to catch up with all the museum exhibitions we’d previously shortlisted.  One of those was A Pen of All Work by Raymond Pettibon at the New Museum.



Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We vaguely knew Pettibon’s work from his time covering the Los Angeles punk scene, but we had no real concept of the breadth of his portfolio until we got there.  Hundreds of drawings occupy three floors of the museum.  Due to the sheer volume of work, the curators chose not to display the art chronologically, and most are without descriptive plaques.  Instead, the exhibition is organized thematically, with a floor dedicated to war and politics, and other sections depicting such widely varied subjects as baseball, surfing or cathedrals.  And don’t expect the displays to be linear, images are stacked above each other in random groupings, some are framed while others are tacked directly to the walls.  The erratic nature speaks to Pettibon’s style.

Pettibon was a fan of combining images with text, with some of the wording added years after the drawing or painting was complete.  The museum guide accurately warned that reading the text may not assist in understanding the art, but in fact, might create greater confusion.  

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog




Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC BlogRaymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Some people argue that great art should elicit a response without the need for explanation, but struggling to understand the work can be exhausting.  I vacillated between admiration and frustration, intrigue and confusion.  A great deal of inference and interpretation can be made, and that can be a rewarding experience if you connect with the art.  There was an obsessive nature and tinge of darkness that, admittedly, played to my current state of mind.  Many pieces were provocative, but the treatment of taboo subjects didn’t feel purposely sensational.  Pettibon is also a prolific artist, so his topical images take you on quite a historical trip.



Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

I’ll be the first to admit that the exhibition isn’t for everyone.  And I suspect that if I hadn’t been in a slightly melancholic and disconsolate state, perhaps my experience would have been quite different.  (Has that ever happened to you?)  But if you can appreciate a strong point of view and enjoy a little bit of tension in your art, then be sure to visit the New Museum before this ends.  

A Pen of All Work is on display through April 9.

Tip:  On Thursday evenings from 7 p.m.–9 p.m., admission is Pay-What-You-Wish.  Free docent tours are available on Wednesday and Friday: 12:30 p.m and Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday: 12:30 p.m. & 3 p.m.

Location:
235 Bowery

Hours:
Tuesday & Wednesday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday–Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m



Pair it with:

Lunch at Lighthouse Outpost

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Raymond Pettibon A Pen Of All Work New Museum - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

There’s no shortage of fantastic eateries in Nolita, and we’ve probably covered a lot of them.  Most are popular, with a loyal brunch following waiting to fill the seats every weekend.  But once in awhile, you discover a stealth player that caters to the local in-the-know crowds.  Lighthouse Outpost is one of those places.

The original Lighthouse is situated in Williamsburg and offers seasonal, locally-sourced fare.  Lighthouse Outpost is its Manhattan footprint, taking up just a tiny space on Mulberry St that’s easy to miss.  There are only a few counter seats, so don’t plan a group lunch.  But whether you decide to eat in at the light-filled spot in the heart of Nolita or get your order to go, the options are excellent.  The shakshuka is always a winner, especially for a confessed egg lover.  The dry aged grass fed burger with jalapeno, sauteed onions, mayo, onion, cheddar and tomato offers just the right kick, but manages to leave virtually no greasy aftertaste.  But the veggie sides are the stars here: the cauliflower with egg, tahini and jalapeno was sublime.  A low-key Nolita lunch exists, and you’ll find it here.

Location:
241 Mulberry St

Hours:
Tuesday through Thursday 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday through Sunday 6 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday through Sunday Brunch 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

– L.

Unique New York City Experiences: A visit to NYC Icon Russ & Daughters



We’re pretty unabashed brunchaholics.  We register an abnormal amount of excitement when a well-regarded restaurant moves from serving dinner only to offering brunch.  We’ve got a Google Map with a list of restaurants that we’ve saved, with enough potential suitors to secure a weekend brunch schedule through 2050.  But our favorite thing to do AFTER brunch?  Head over to Russ & Daughters to pick up bagels, cream cheese, smoked fish and any other number of goodies so we can have a second brunch for dinner.

Don’t judge.

We can’t possibly be alone, because when you step in there on a weekend, it’s packed to the gills.  (Hey, did I just pun?)  



Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The first thing you want to do when you step through the door is grab a ticket.  Then take in all that’s around you while you wait: one counter offers smoked fish, caviar and shmears.  Take a few steps down and you’ll see egg salad, tuna salad, eggplant salad and a selection of herring.  On the other side there’s a counter that offers tempting sweets like dried fruit, rugelach and babka.  Or check out the cooler where you’ll find soups and some other pre-prepared items like latkes and blintzes.  Along the wall you’ll see wire baskets holding bagels and bialys, some of the best the city has to offer.  If you’d rather have crackers with your shmear, they carry those too.

Russ & Daughters celebrated its 100th year anniversary three years ago, and it’s one of the few family establishments that is still a real family establishment (it’s currently run by the 4th generation of Russ family members).  It’s been the subject of numerous articles, books and movies, and has such well-known fans as Anthony Bourdain.



Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

There’s also a great story about it being somewhat of an accidental pioneer.  Joel Russ made his daughters partners and added “& Daughters” to the store name back in the 30s.  Third-generation owner, Mark Russ Federman, moved two Latino workers from the back to the front of the store to slice fish in the 70s.  Both situations were unheard of at the time.  Family members don’t romanticize the two, saying they were just borne out of practicality.  But aren’t those the best ways to break barriers?  By simply applying reason?

In a city full of icons, one has to be careful not to bandy that title about.  But Russ & Daughters fully deserves the honor.  Standing in line while you fight the urge to order half the store, waiting patiently for your number to be called, is a quintessential New York City experience.  And whether it’s 5 degrees outside or 70, there will be people on the bench in front of the store devouring their freshly gotten goods.

Tip:  Russ & Daughters Cafe, located nearby on Orchard St, conducts a Music Nights series that is free to its patrons on the last Thursday of every month.  On those nights they offer nosh and cocktail specials in addition to the regular menu. The set starts at 8:00 pm. 

Location:
179 E Houston St

Hours:
Monday-Friday 8am – 8pm
Saturday 8am – 7pm
Sunday 8am – 5:30pm



Pair it with:

Brunch at Miss Paradis

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Unique NYC Icon Russ and Daughters - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We fully recognize that our capacity to consume food is probably slightly (largely?) outside of normal.  But to that one person who read second-brunch-as-dinner and thought “What a great idea!”: this one’s for you.

We love that brunch in New York City rarely means the same thing from one eatery to the next.  If you’re contemplating a stop at Russ & Daughters, perhaps start your day not too far away in SoHo, at the trendy new eatery Miss Paradis.  We’re rarely fans of spots that are “trendy”, “sceney” or are the “latest obsession”.  Thanks to founder Claude Louzon and designer Philippe Starck, Miss Paradis is all of those things.  But we still go there because the food is really good.

Count on great basics like French Toast and Polenta with Eggs, but also try the dishes with international influences, like their bowl with avocado, edamame, coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds.  For vegans or lactose-intolerants, they also have Yolita, a vegan frozen yogurt.  Our perfect outing involves spending some time browsing at McNally Jackson Books across the street afterwards, then making our way to Russ & Daughters before heading home.

Location:
47 Prince St

Hours:
Monday-Friday 11:45am – 1am
Saturday-Sunday 10am – 1am

– L.

Cat Lovers Unite! Behold Cat Camp NYC



We love our cat. Chloe is family in every conceivable way.

And if you sense that I’m both unapologetic and unequivocal when making these two statements​, let me explicitly confirm your intuition. I am. On both accounts. Full stop.

I do not have a young child, nor do I currently have elderly parents or in-laws to care for in their latter years. (I’m incredibly grateful that they are all, by God’s grace, in good health.) As for my grandparents, they have long since departed this world.

That’s not to say I don’t know something about being a caretaker. For years, I’ve had a dependent, just not one I can claim on my taxes. I’ve cleaned up her messes. I’ve prepared her meals. Even handled her 3P’s (pee, poop and puke). I’ve brushed her hair and cut her nails and attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to bathe her. I’ve transported her to checkups.  (And chewed my nails through a few medical procedures.) I’ve soothed her crying on airplanes and hushed her hissing on road trips. I’ve spent untold hours doting on her, reprimanding her, worrying about her and pulling at my ever-thinning hair in frustration.



Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

When Lynn and I heard about the first-ever Cat Camp, the feline-focused conference and adoption event at Metropolitan Pavilion, it was a given that we would attend.  As the press release alluded, “The symposium will bring cat lovers together under one roof to celebrate all things cats and to discuss some of the most important and challenging problems facing cats today.” And Cat Camp didn’t disappoint. There were a tremendous number of vendors, offering wares and information on numerous cat-related products and services, scattered throughout the space.

Of all the vendors present, we were particularly taken with The Dancing Cat, where we found cards, prints and t-shirts featuring witty illustrations by artist Jamie Shelman.  The Dancing Cat has had an online presence since 2008, but their cards can also be found at Paper Source and other brick-and-mortars.  Jamie Shelman is a Rhode Island School of Design graduate, and you can shop her charming designs on etsy here.




Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Jamie Shelman’s Purrito illustration, courtesy of her etsy site
Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Chloe doing her best impression of Purrito

Several rescue organizations were present, hoping to facilitate cat adoptions. It can be heartbreaking to see kittens orphaned at birth and older cats abandoned in their waning years, or worse, abused and broken by the worst examples of callous human nature — all, waiting in cages, for permanent homes. One’s instinct is to save these poor creatures. And certainly I feel that pull, though I cannot indulge in its gravity.



Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Monty, a polydactyl kitten with only one eye, via Bronx Tails Cat Rescue
Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Katy, a chunky calico via Crazy Critters Cat Adoptions

At 18 years of age (as of this month), I stand beside Chloe at the abyss of her mortality. I’ve cared for her in what was at first gradual but is now, more recently, a precipitous state of decline. And at some point in the future, near or far, I’ll have to go on in life without her.  Cat Camp was a celebration of our journey, from the moment Lynn brought her home from the ASPCA, to the moment I joined what has become our family unit, to what will be a difficult end.



Pair it with:

Daily Provisions

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Cat Camp NYC Cat Lovers - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

There was a running joke at work that I was a food porn sadist. On Monday mornings, around 9:00 am, I’d assail colleagues with pics of my weekend food conquests, be it burgers, slices of pizza, or any number of delectable sweets. You would hear a collective “Dear God, you son-of-a-bitch!” when these images would pop-up unexpectedly on their screens in group chat, followed by the likes of “Well, I can’t eat this crap 0% yogurt now, can I?” 

And so, there’s the segue into my weekend excursion to Danny Meyer’s new bakery and cafe, Daily Provisions, praised for his excellent crullers. And the accolades proved well-deserved. These are, without doubt, the best I’ve ever tasted. Crispy on the outside at the twists and warm egg-creamy, reminiscent of a souffle texture, at the center. They come in three flavors: glazed, maple and cinnamon and sugar — all three are excellent.

And though I’ve since moved to another department within the company, you can rest assured, my former colleagues received a group message with the images you see here, first thing Monday morning.

Location:
103 E 19th St

Hours:
Monday – Friday 7 am–6 pm
Saturday – Sunday 8 am–6 pm

– J.

 

 

SPRING/BREAK Art Show during Armory Week



You know that saying about opinions and how everybody has one? Let’s be honest, you can probably say the same about blogs. There are so many out there, from personal blogs to those run by corporations and news outlets. Standing out is a challenging task. I’ll admit that when I meet new people I balk at mentioning the blog. It’s a part of ourselves out there for public consumption, and each post is an exercise in acceptance and rejection. Giving someone immediate access to that puts us in a vulnerable position.

But blogs are simply one of the many vessels of self-expression. Artists, since inception, have dedicated their lives to it. Acceptance and rejection are woven into the fabric of their existence, because their desire to create supersedes everything.  



SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Michael Zelehoski

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Maisie Maeve Myfawnwy

The Armory Art Show is an annual art event in New York City that brings together hundreds of galleries from all over the world.  In one fell swoop, art lovers can view works from established names as well as up-and-coming talents in a variety of mediums.  After more than twenty years, the Armory Show now draws so many visitors that entire week is branded Armory Week and a variety of art events occur alongside the main event.  We decided to check out the SPRING/BREAK Art Show, which is a curator-driven art fair.  This year’s event was held in the heart of Times Square.

The SPRING/BREAK Art Show offers independent curators free exhibition space, but the curators are challenged to work within a theme and push artistic boundaries to the limit.  This year’s theme, Black Mirror, is “a looking glass meant for aesthetic reflection—a way to isolate a subject—once used by Old Masters in landscape painting and portraiture. The apparatus was used for seeing the world in its most basic attributes, enhancing some features, obscuring others.”   The show featured an astonishing breadth of work.  The artists each had a little room or space, and patrons, who subsidized the space with a small fee, could wander around the maze discovering all that was offered.

The artists at SPRING/BREAK are provided access to a large audience, with an opportunity to cultivate lifelong patronage.  But the experience must be unnerving, standing alone among a sea of exhibitors, struggling to stand out.  Art is so subjective, and some pieces resonated more strongly with us than others.  We’ve included a selection of what we saw in this post, and we’ll leave you to form your own opinions.  Let us know what you loved and hated in the comments below, or on Facebook, G+ and Instagram.

Artist: Nicholas Fraser

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Greg Haberny
Also the artist of the featured picture

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: John Dilg



SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Tiffany Smith

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Erin O’Keefe

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

RHW Enterprises, performance art by multiple artists and performers



SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Michael Gittes

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: George Horner

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artists: Ori Carino and Benjamin Armas



Pair it with:

Brunch at Lalo

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Every once in awhile you come across a power couple that brings together two favorites that wouldn’t normally have seemed compatible, but somehow end up being a pretty great match.  No, I’m not talking about Blake and Gwen.  I’m talking about former El Rey chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s partnership with Dudley’s alums Mateusz Lilpop and Ben dos Remedios, which resulted in Lalo.

It’s still Mexi-Cali fare, though with a completely fresh perspective.  Case in point: there’s no avocado on the menu.  The coconut grits with 12-hour braised turnip was divine, as were the chilaquiles tacos and papas bravas.  The menu also features unique salads like the Cali “Kasha” Varnishkas with butter-toasted kasha, parsley, crimini mushrooms, onion agrodolce and farfalle, and inspired sides like the Cucumber in Brown Goddess, with mole, candied pumpkin seeds & mint.  

The avant garde menu is the perfect primer for a day at the art fair.  Or really, any day.

Location:
104 Bayard St

Hours:
Lunch Wed-Mon 11-4pm
Brunch Sat-Sun 11-4pm
Dinner Mon-Sun 6-12pm

– L.

Open House by Liz Glynn at Central Park



I remember when I first read and fell in love with The Great Gatsby, and I’m sure you do too.  Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan captured our collective imaginations, and we continue to romanticize the period described so vividly by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  However, the term “Gilded Age” originates from Mark Twain’s book of the same name, which was a scathing commentary on the excesses of the time.  “Gilded Age” alluded to the shiny veneer that masked underlying poverty and social ills.  California artist Liz Glynn bring us a fresh interpretation of this juxtaposition in her latest piece, Open House, for the Public Art Fund.  




Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
William C. Whitney Mansion at 871 Fifth Avenue
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Ballroom of William C. Whitney Mansion, Illustration by James Lewis

At the southeast corner of Central Park in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, you’ll find reproductions of sofas, chairs, footstools and arches that once inhabited the William C. Whitney Ballroom.  William C. Whitney was an elite political figure and financier, and his luxurious home once sat at 871 Fifth Avenue.  The reproductions are from the period after the mansion was renovated by Stanford White in 1900.  But Open House artist Liz Glynn makes one small tweak in her reimagining: each piece is made out of concrete.  Concrete is a common building material, hence creating accessible versions of the opulent pieces.

Let’s sidebar for a second here.  Does the name Stanford White sound familiar?  Sure, he was a well-established architect and an equally prominent figure of the time.  But you’re more likely to remember that he was brutally murdered on the roof garden theater of Madison Square Garden in 1906 due to his scandalous relationship with a young model and actress.  We talked about that juicy morsel in our Flatiron post here.





Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Discussions of widening income inequalities, rising costs of living and a disappearing middle class are pervasive today.  While the issues exist everywhere, one could argue that the disparities can be more prominently felt in an expensive metropolis like New York City.  So Open House might feel particularly relevant in its little piece of Central Park.  Come out and grab a seat.  Rest your feet after a long park excursion.  Perch on a concrete sofa while you nosh on the crepe you bought from one of the food vendors nearby.  Or just hang out and watch the horses and traffic go by.  But come soon, it looks like the pigeons of New York City are already claiming parts of it for themselves.

Open House will be on display through September 24.

Location: 
Doris C. Freedman Plaza



Pair it with:

Dinner at Fowler & Wells

When we posted this picture on Instagram, our friend Saba noted that it was giving her Gatsby vibes, which mirrored our feelings exactly.  But it wasn’t a coincidence.  The building was originally built in 1881, when the Gilded Age was just blossoming.  The Beekman Hotel’s opening last fall was easily one of the most celebrated.  The atrium is enough to make you swoon, but the revamp is triumphant in that it gives one a sense of the borrowed past mingling ever so coyly with the present.  

Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The stunning interior at Fowler & Wells
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The black bass and diver scallops entrees were scrumptious




Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Don’t miss the amazing fluke appetizer
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Looking down on the warm and cozy Bar Room

You can enjoy drinks and snacks in the Bar Room, or splurge on a meal at Fowler & Wells.  Both are under the purview of Tom Colicchio.  But Fowler & Wells is his first new restaurant in Manhattan in six years.  The menu at Fowler & Wells is meant to replicate the marriage of old and new, featuring classics with a contemporary feel.  On our visit we found the dishes were executed to perfection, and the service was impeccable.  If you’re hankering to play Jay Gatsby for a day, this might be a great place to do it.

Location:
5 Beekman St

Hours:
Breakfast
6:30am – 10:30am, Monday – Friday & Sunday
6:30 – 11:30am, Saturday
Lunch
12:00pm – 3:00pm, Monday – Friday
Dinner
5:30pm – 10:00pm, Sunday – Wednesday
5:30pm – 11:00pm, Thursday – Saturday
Sunday Brunch
11:00am – 3:00pm

– L.