Monthly Archives: March 2012

Take a Bite of Jack’s

by Julian, New York Guest Concierge

I waited in the chilly sunlight a few weeks ago for my fellow concierge to meet me at Jack’s Restaurant and Bar in Times Square. The red sign was the key to finding this great little American place. The restaurant opened at 11:30 and we had a reservation for that exact time. I was the first person to walk in and was asked if I had a reservation. In this industry I should know better than to think, “Why would I need a reservation!? There is no one in here.” Yes, even we concierges succumb to that thinking at the sight of an empty restaurant.

I had no real expectations and was pleasantly surprised to be in such a comfortable and casual environment with that great old-time New York restaurant feeling. A nice sized bar on the left upon entering and a dining room in the back with white cloths on the tables. The hall to the bathroom is lined with old theatre posters and you can easily imagine all the casts of the shows walking through that same hallway.

I like that sort of well-worn comfortable feeling and Jack’s has it in abundance. Our waiter knew everything on the menu and took delight in leading us through the options and making recommendations, of which we took all of them. The Blue Cornmeal fried Calamari were perfection but I think my favorite item was the Avocado and Ceviche appetizer. The fish was tender and well seasoned. The appetizer didn’t manage to stay on our table for more than 10 minutes. We should have ordered two of those! It came with the most savory plantain chips which were a perfect compliment to the texture of the avocado. Angie had the Thai Chicken wings and if I could have put the sauce on everything I ate I would have. All the sauces were excellent and I thought about how easy it would be to recommend this restaurant to a guest. The menu has two sections. The first is a tapas style menu where we ordered most of our items from because we wanted a light lunch. If, however, you wanted a sandwich, a burger or a salad they had that as well. They even had vegetarian entree options. Their slogan says it all. “Global food, Local address.”

It was an eclectic mix but it worked because everything was delicious. Our service was prompt. Nothing was lost in the transaction and again I thought about what a great job Jack’s did of offering something to everyone from business men to families.

Angie and I were seated in a booth far away from the chill outside and it turns out we were lucky we did have that reservation; by the end of our meal the place was packed and people that were waiting for tables at the bar started eyeing Angie and me in our comfortable little corner of the world. The crowd and the staff seemed to all be regulars. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, right?

If you want great food and service in a casual but charming environment than Jack’s is a must. There was nothing pretentious about it and if it weren’t for the fact that we had to get back to work Angie and I would have happily stayed for dessert. Lucky for those bar patrons we didn’t have the time that day.

I finished my coffee and she finished her Pinot Grigio and we reluctantly gave up our table. The manager introduced himself and thanked us on our way out. Friendliness always makes me want to go back to a restaurant, not to mention I didn’t get to the dessert. So, hopefully, I will see you there!

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Transcend to the Hudson

by Louise, Community Manager

Whenever I have the opportunity to go visit one of our hotels, the first question I ask myself is “Would I stay here?” Living in NYC, I don’t have much opportunity to actually stay in the hotels here, but from my visits and tours I will say that they have more character than a lot of the hotels in cities that I’ve visited around the world. Yesterday we took a trip to the Hudson Hotel and I know I will be recommending it more often to not only clients but friends as well!

First of all, there’s the location. The Hudson is located on 58th street between 8th and 9th avenue, just one block from Columbus Circle, one of the main transportation hubs of the city where you can catch the A, C, E, B, D or 1 trains, making it easy to access pretty much anywhere in the city you might like to see. The amazing Time Warner Center is also just one block away, with upscale shopping and incomparable dining options like A Voce, Per Se, Landmarc, Barmasa and the ridiculously yummy Bouchon Bakery. The southwest entrance to Central Park is two blocks away, and Lincoln Center is just a few blocks north. Times Square is one subway stop or a short walk, pleasant walk if the weather is nice. Basically, what I’m saying is, in terms of location it is pretty prime.

When you walk into the Hudson you first encounter a long escalator that takes you up to the lobby and check-in desk. The escalators are house in quiet tunnels, giving you the opportunity to decompress from being outside in the city’s craziness before you enter the tranquility of the hotel. The lobby has an arch overhead decorated with leaves, and giant crystal chandeliers over check-in, drawing you immediately into the ambience of the area.

I won’t mince words: the rooms at the Hudson are small. They have everything you need but if you are the type of person who likes to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, the Hudson may not be the hotel for you. But also, if you’re the kind of person who likes to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, why are you coming to NYC? The hotel is undergoing room renovations this year (but don’t worry, construction noise is not a problem) with a completion date of early September. The new rooms have higher beds to provide more storage space for your luggage, new lighting, and near air conditioning units. The wood paneling on the wall provides a cozy atmosphere. But really, you’ll only be sleeping in there. One of the things I love most about the Hudson is the multitude of public spaces to relax, socialize, and have a drink.

Hudson Hall is the Hudson’s on-site restaurant, serving breakfast and dinner daily in a setting that one of my colleagues said reminded her of Hogwarts. Long, communal wooden tables are the primary seating offered and the serving is cafeteria-style – though the food is definitely not: a combination of ethnic cuisines celebrating the melting pot of NYC is served.

Hudson Bar is open Thursday-Saturday from 7 PM to midnight and is an elegant, glamorous spot to start your evening with a few cocktails or enjoy a nightcap before retiring to your room. The décor of the room is delightful – the reversed floor and ceiling décor invokes the feeling of being upside-down (in the most pleasant possible way), and the eclectic array of furniture is both comfortable and visually pleasing.

The Library is probably my favorite public space at the Hudson. With a giant fireplace,  lots of comfy places to sit, and an elegant pool table in the center of the room, it’s definitely a spot to come and unwind – plus there’s a bar, of course! The cocktails at the library sound particularly delicious to me – sipping a “Maple Mojito” (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Maple Simple Syrup, Lime, Mint & Soda) in front of the fireplace sounds like a beautiful way to end the day to me!

The Hudson also has two private outdoor spaces to relax and get some fresh air if it is a nice day and you don’t feel like taking the walk to Central Park. There is also a gym in the basement accessible to all guests, and spa treatments can be booked on-site as well. What more reason do you need to spend your NYC vacation at the Hudson?

Want to book a trip that includes a stay at the Hudson Hotel? E-mail info@newyorkguest.com and we’ll start planning today!

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Clybourne Park: Tackling tough issues with a side of laughter

by Carol, Guest Contributor

I saw Clybourne Park yesterday, at its second preview, and found it delightfully entertaining.  The play’s two acts grapple with the evolving socio-economics of suburban neighborhoods and the inevitable resistance current occupants feel toward change.

In the first act, set in 1959, conflict arises when a neighbor discovers that Francine (Crystal A. Dickenson) and Jim (Brendan Griffen) have sold their house to a black family.  At first with some delicacy, and then with increasing abandon, he expresses his anger with this decision, even attempting to involve the couple’s black maid and her husband in his protest.

In the second act, we jump forward to 2009.  The same actors play a different set of characters. The same house, now abandoned, has been purchased by a yuppie couple.  The neighborhood has become predominantly black middle class, and the residents fear that the couple’s renovation plans will negatively affect the integrity of what has become a historically significant area.

All this sounds, and is, packed with difficult issues.  However, the playwright, Bruce Norris, handles it all with a light touch, simultaneously shocking and amusing us.  The characters’ attempts to express their feelings without offending one another are touchingly awkward and bring the history of politically correct expression into sharp focus, highlighting all that is ridiculous and contradictory between the characters’ desires and how far they dare to express them.

The cast of seven handles the dialogue with perfect comic timing.  Annie Parisse, in particular, who plays a deaf woman in the first act and a scrupulously open-minded yuppie in the second, is perfect. Clybourne Park won the Olivier and the Evening Standards awards for Best Play in 2010 and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2011.   It is a spectacular addition to Broadway this season!

Want to catch Clybourne Park on your trip? It is currently scheduled for a limited 16 week run, so e-mail us at info@newyorkguest.com to secure your tickets today!

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Ghost the Musical: We Believe!

by Mari, New York Guest Travel Planner

Based on the 1990 film that has set the bar for romantic dramas since, Ghost the Musical is a story about a man’s obligation to warn his lover of the sordid details surrounding his murder and his perseverance to say goodbye to the soul mate he left behind.

The show opens with a kaleidoscope of colors and images set upon a stage backdrop that wouldn’t be out of place in a Cirque du Soleil production, or in other words, electric and exhilarating. As the audience is introduced to the two stars’ deep romance, they also become immersed in the hustle and bustle of New York City, opening the scene in a “fixer upper” loft that only two lovebirds could truly call home. Shortly after, Sam, played by the heartthrob Richard Fleeshman, is murdered and the audience is taken along on his after-life quest to find out who the murderer is and protect his true love, Molly, played by the breathtaking Cassie Levy.

Though first timers won’t recognize most of the songs, Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard do an excellent job with several unforgettable ballads that I wanted the recordings of as soon as I walked out of the theater. And of course, everyone’s favorite, “Unchained Melody” is included. Though the version is done completely differently than the Righteous Brothers’ version that was included in the film and which became synonymous with the movie itself, Richard Fleeshman’s acoustic version is one that evokes just as much emotion. Though the storyline is a serious one, there are several memorable comedic moments. The real comedic relief comes with Oda Mae Brown’s character, played by the uproarious Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who illuminates the stage with her grandeur and larger-than-life lines.

Finally, the set design is something that audience members will remember and are guaranteed to rave about amongst friends. Paul Kieve and Jon Driscoll, the masterminds behind the projection and illusions used on stage, have done an excellent job of creating a set unlike any other Broadway show before. Many of the effects used will have the audience wondering, “How did they do that?” and in awe of the lighting and projections that make the classic love story feel current.

By the end of the show it was easy to see that Ghost would be a popular show amongst a variety of audience members, from the original Ghost fans that want to relive the moving love story, to those looking for a set production they would remember for years to come. Ghost the Musical has plenty to keep both the old and young entertained, and is a refreshing take on a classic movie which pays homage to the original without trying to compete.

Ghost the Musical is available as part of our New Kids on the Broadway Block package, or contact us at info@newyorkguest.com to build your own customized package including tickets to see Ghost the Musical!

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Brooklyn’s New Way to go to the Movies

by Louise, Community Manager

It happens to all of us:  we plan an awesome vacation and then a movie that we really want to see is scheduled to come out smack dab in the middle of it. Not wanting to spend a moment of our precious vacation in a multiplex that could be anywhere in the world, we sigh and wait until we get home to see the movie.

Leave it to NYC to come up with the perfect solution to this problem. Now you can see a movie while simultaneously having a unique New York City experience. Of course, NYC has many famous theaters – the Paris Theater, the Angelika and Film Forum come to mind, but I’m referring to a relatively new spot in Brooklyn called Nitehawk Cinema. The brain child of Saul Bolton, owner of the awesome restaurant Saul, also in Brooklyn, Nitehawk brings snacking at the movies to a whole new level. They offer a full menu of elevated “concessions” – including popcorn with real butter and seasoned salt, homemade candy bars, and a queso dip with scallions and cilantro that is about a trillion times better than that neon orange stuff they pump into a plastic cup for you at a regular theater. But that’s only the beginning. Nitehawk also has a menu of small plates including homemade pickles, tater tots, and vegetable tempura or several entrees, featuring an awesome burger, and an amazing dessert menu that includes soft serve ice cream (NOT Carvel) and a root beer float. Not only that, Nitehawk has a full bar, and comes up with specialty cocktails and dishes for every movie they play. When I was there on Friday, The Hunger Games  had just opened and the featured cocktail was called “Girl on Fire” – a spicy tequila concoction.

At Nitehawk, the theater opens about 30 minutes before showtime and you are free to arrive at any time to place orders and have food and a drink in front of you before the movie starts.  There is also a bar in the lobby where you can have a few cocktails before the theater opens. In the theater, seats are set up with a table between every pair, not in your way but perfectly placed with a cup holder and space for your food. When I first heard about Nitehawk, I worried that the ambience of the movie would be ruined by people reordering while the movie was on, but the folks at Nitehawk have the perfect solution for this: every table is equipped with small pieces of paper and little pencils, and if you want to order during the movie you write down your order and post it in front of you. The waiters make several sweeps to collect orders and serve. The waiters are incredibly impressive as well – the sweeps are neat and efficient and they duck whenever they walk in front of the screen. It’s about as unobtrusive as it can get.

With only three theaters and a propensity towards indie films, Nitehawk definitely doesn’t show every blockbuster, but it is well worth checking out their schedule while you are here!  It’s a dinner and a movie experience like no other and I highly recommend it. Nitehawk is located in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, just one stop into Brooklyn on the L train. I highly encourage exploring the outer boroughs on your visit and this is a great excuse to do that!

Want more restaurant recommendations for your trip, or need help creating a unique NYC vacation? Feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com and we’ll get planning!

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Filed under Brooklyn, New York Restaurants, Out on the Town

“Once” will be seen twice

Over the past week, most of us at New York Guest have gone out to see Once, the new musical based on the academy award winning film from 2006. We’ve all enjoyed the show immensely so I thought I’d offer two different perspectives from two of our staff – one from Eileen, one of our travel consultants, and one from Richard, our CEO.

Eileen, Travel Consultant

As you probably can tell from my previous reviews, I am extremely skeptical when it comes to musicals.  When a colleague told me Once the musical was coming to Broadway, I wrote it off completely.  The 2006 film by John Carney hadn’t caught my eye, but who could forget the main song “Falling Slowly”?  When we were presented with the opportunity to go, I remained skeptical but went anyway.  The musical adaptation completely blew me away.  Everything from the music to the actors to the stage direction was fantastic.  I loved every minute of it and really encourage anyone visiting or living in New York to see it.

Based on the 2006 Irish movie, Once the musical is about the bonds of love and music between friends, families, and strangers wanting to morph into something more.  Once is set in the working class neighborhoods of Dublin hit hard during the economical recession.  The musical focuses primarily on the relationship between the Guy and Girl (whose characters are never named).  The guy is a talented singer/songwriter who fixes vacuums and sings on street corners for no one in particular.  Coming off the end of a bad relationship, the guy is doing his best to recover from the emotional blow.  The girl is a young Czech immigrant who pushes her way into the guy’s life.  She recognizes the the guy’s talent and is driven based on principle alone to help him full his dream: sign a record deal and play music professionally.

One of the great things about Once is how dynamic the musical is.  The actors participating in the play serve as supporting cast, orchestra, and stage hands.  The entire cast remains on stage during the majority of the musical, creating an incredibly intimate environment for the musical to enfold.  As the musical takes a dramatic turn, the supporting cast is present on stage as the support for both the main characters as well as the audience.

One of my favorite things about the musical was the musical interludes during the setup of the next scene.  The set is very minimal and does require the audience to use their imagination.  However the interludes of music, dancing, and general movement between each of the scenes kept the audience incredibly engaged. Where as the curtain usually falls or the lights dim during other musicals, the actors of Once keep the viewer entertained at all times.

I can’t recommend this new musical enough.  Once offers an incredibly different musical experience not usually found on Broadway.  If you should be fortunate to see this musical, I strongly recommend you head in right when the doors open.  The musical does its best to include the audience as much as possible, and I know I appreciated it.  One of my colleagues summed it best, “Once will be seen twice.”

Richard, CEO

Saw Once, the new Broadway musical, last night. It’s based on the very successful movie of the same name that came out in 2006. And it was wonderful – from every angle – casting, music, set, acting, engagement…

Everything about this musical is neat from the time you enter the theatre to the closing song. I just wished they had repeated the show stopping song again as an encore.

You come into the theatre to find most of the cast casually  roaming the stage, performing  a variety of songs – with a ton of enthusiasm.  At the same time, you can go onto the stage, head to the rear of the set and buy beer, wine and soda-and be part of the pre-show events.

The musical is about love lost and rediscovered. The main male character, an Irish musician and vacuum cleaner repairman, has been abandoned by his girlfriend and subsequently his love of music seems to have deserted him as well. Over the course of the show his belief in love, in himself and in music is reignited through the persistence and faith of young Czech immigrant who approaches him while he is singing on a street corner.

In addition to being quirky and fun, the musical is inspiring – the message I took away was “live your life believing in yourself and you’ll have a much better life.” The show was lively with energetic and excellent actors, unique music, and at least two show stopping tunes.

The set lends so much to the experience – it’s clean yet telling – and lets the actors roam freely from a bar to a work shop to a living room – all without anything really changing except the placement of a few chairs and tables.

The lead actors are wonderful – their characters never get names – in the program the male is listed as ‘Guy’ and the female as ‘Girl’. And it works. Very good supporting cast all around.

Best way to say what I thought? I‘d go back to see it again tonight.

Who would like it?

  • Anyone from 15 to 80 but not kids under 13-14.
  • Good for couples; young to middle aged and even seniors were smiling
  • Good for a date night or a girls’ night out

One of the better nights on Broadway in a long time. I highly recommend it.

You can buy tickets to Once on our website or save money and book as part of our fantastic package with the Ace Hotel. For more information e-mail us at info@newyorkguest.com!

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Top 10 Dining in NYC Photos

Yum! This month’s photos certainly reminded us how many delicious food options we have in our city. Check ’em out then scroll down to vote for your favorite – and try not to lick the screen!

 

#1 by Benedikt Lantsoght

#2 by Ilse Neugebauer

#3 by Ilse Neugebauer

#4 by Kathie Patterson

#5 by Lali Galuppo

#6 by Laura Ghisalberti

#7 by Linda Brown

#8 by Michelle Scott

#9 by Phil Bowden

#10 by Stella de Cos

 

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