Monthly Archives: July 2013

See NYC Without Waiting In Line

by Leslie, New York Guest Concierge

New York City has a million things to see and like most of us have very little time to see it!  This post shares some insider tips from a New Yorker who made all the touring mistakes. In the hope that it helps the fellow traveler, the man or woman who wants to see everything in New York in a short amount of time.

noline1Let’s start with those major sites that are featured in every high budget action flick, The Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building.  You will be one of the millions that come to NYC each year to see these sights so avoid the Lines to Liberty Island by taking a harbor cruise.   The City Sights Midtown Cruise sails by Lady Liberty daily while a tour guide provides vast knowledge of the statue.  While learning about all of her secrets you can take amazing pictures and view other architectural wonders like the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge and get shots of the iconic NYC skyline.

The Empire State Building offers fantastic views but also fantastic long lines.  Consider visiting the Top of The Rock at Rockefeller Center instead.  The large viewing area guarantees a crowd free experience and provides a fantastic view of The Empire State Building as well as The Chrysler Building and Central Park.

noline2One of the most famous treats in New York City is the Cupcake.  Rising to fame on the coattails of the HBO comedy Sex and The City, Magnolia Bakery has become a hotspot for the individual with a sweet tooth.  While the cupcakes are delicious I don’t want to wait in line when the craving hits.  Check out Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery on the Lower East Side for a cupcake that isn’t too sweet.  The bakery is decorated with a hippie flair making you feel like a time traveler.  Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea is a posh bakery with pretty cupcakes.  The frosting is delicious and is generously atop each cupcake.  Lastly is Sprinkles Cupcakes, this bakery claims to be the world’s first cupcake bakery and talk about adorable, this bakery gets me over to the East Side of Manhattan on a regular basis.

noline3Before moving on from sweet treats let’s talk about Dylan’s Candy Bar Café.  I’m not going to lie to you; Dylan’s is probably the cutest candy store I have ever seen, probably due to the fact that the owner is the daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren.  But the long lines and gobs of loud children keep most locals out of the store and on their way to Economy Candy.  Located on the Lower East Side Economy candy has an old fashioned charm.  The doors opened here in 1937 and offer a wide variety of classic candy and new favorites.

Looking for a great restaurant but don’t want to wait in line for an hour or more to get a table?  Check out Restaurant Row located in the theater district on West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenue.  Even the pickiest eater will find a restaurant to his or her liking and hungry travelers can do cuisine window shopping before deciding on one of the sixteen eateries.   Also remember that a hotel concierge is available to make dinner reservations for you at any restaurant and can also make great recommendations of the best places to dine.

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Filed under New York InSight, New York Sightseeing, Out on the Town

The Top 10 Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Photos

We’re so happy the Statue of Liberty is open again! What better way to celebrate than by choosing a favorite photo? Scroll down to view the entries, and then vote for your favorite! Voting will close on July 18th.

 

#1 by Solenn

#1 by Solenn

#2 by Roberto Lalli

#2 by Roberto Lalli

#3 by Monica Martelli

#3 by Monica Martelli

#4 by Linda Brown

#4 by Linda Brown

#5 by Jennifer Madlin

#5 by Jennifer Madlin

#6 by Ellen Fitzsimmons

#6 by Ellen Fitzsimmons

#7 by Dawn Russell

#7 by Dawn Russell

#8 by Brian Hersey

#8 by Brian Hersey

#9 by Andy Walters

#9 by Andy Walters

#10 by Andy Walters

#10 by Andy Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Monthly Photography Contest

Hot Summer in the City

by Louise, Director of Operations

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s definitely summa-time here in NYC, and if you’re going hard on the sightseeing chances are you’re going to want a nice cold treat at some point. But you’re on vacation! You don’t want to hit up a chain you could easily patronize at home. Resist the millions of Starbucks, Haagen Daaz, and frozen yogurt shops of all ilks and indulge in some treats you can only get in New York City.

Schmackary’s
http://schmackarys.com
schmackarysSchmackary’s is a haven for those seeking delicious snacks before or after a Broadway show (or really anytime) – and that includes the stars of the shows themselves! Located on 45th street near 9th avenue, just on the border of Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square, Schmackary’s opened just over a year ago by a former aspiring actor from Lincoln, Nebraska. Since then, it has taken the theater district by storm with inventive and ridiculously delicious cookies. As if their cookies weren’t awesome enough on their own, they will take any two cookies and sandwich them with a scoop of ice cream for a treat you won’t soon forget. Their shakes are also pretty insane – the malted milkball shake haunts my dreams.

Blue Marble Ice Cream
http://www.bluemarbleicecream.com/find/scoop-shops/
Blue Marble owns and operates NYC’s only certified organic ice cream plant – located in Brooklyn. They also use locally sourced ingredients, biodegradable bowls/spoons/etc, “green” building materials for their shops, and on and on. Plus they have a partnership with a group of women in Rwanda, whom they helped to open the country’s first ice cream shop. “So,” you’re thinking, “They sound like great people but WHAT OF THE ICE CREAM?” Don’t worry. It’s freaking amazing. You should eat all of it.

Big Gay Ice Cream
http://biggayicecream.com
biggayWhere else but New York could an ice cream truck bill itself as the “Big Gay Ice Cream Truck” and launch a successful business with two brick-and-mortar locations? Okay, San Francisco…but still! It’s a pretty New York thing. The owners of BGIC combine traditional Mister Softee-style softserve cones with a variety of toppings I can pretty much guarantee you haven’t had on ice cream before – wasabi pea dust, sriracha, curried coconut and much more. Supporting small business, enjoying an old comfort food, AND trying something new all it once? It’s almost too much awesome. BGIC has two locations now, one in the East Village and one in the West Village, serving the combos that made them famous and a variety of other treats. Make the trip!

il laboratorio del gelato
http://www.laboratoriodelgelato.com/thelab.php
You can buy pints of this these fresh, unique gelato and sorbet flavors at several retail locations around the city, but for the full experience you should go to the storefront on Orchard Street, where you can watch the desserts being made in the open kitchen before your eyes! There are over 200 flavors (though only 48 are available at the café at a time), so bring your appetite and at least a few friends.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
http://www.vanleeuwenicecream.com/
vanleeuwenLaunched in 2008 by some more of those crafty Brooklyn kids, Van Leeuwen produces some of the best ice cream you will ever taste, made primarily from local ingredients and supporting small producers and artisans. Everything is delectably rich and creamy while not being overly sweet and with nothing artificial. They have an unbeatable mint chocolate chip flavor that is (gasp) NOT bright green. They’re signature yellow trucks can be found around the city and they have several stores too.

I could go on and on, but you’re probably thinking you need to stop reading and go get some ice cream…so please, I implore you, when you visit NYC this summer walk past the Mister Softee and the Baskin Robbins and find a real New York ice cream shop!

Recommendations of your own? Post them in the comments!

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Filed under New York Restaurants, NYC with Kids, Out on the Town

Workin’ for Barbra

by Leslie, Concierge

buyerandcellar1On a hot summer night in NYC going to “Buyer & Cellar” is the perfect way to cool off and enjoy the evening.  The Barrow Street Theater is quant with an extraordinarily friendly staff, and the intimate theater provides comfortable seating ensuring that every seat provides a great view of the show.   From the moment Michael Urie stepped out onto the stage and took a seat on the edge I felt like I was part of a conversation between friends.   Urie plays Alex More, a struggling gay actor in Los Angeles who was recently impeached as the Mayor of Toontown and fired from Disneyland.  His friend and former employer takes pity on him and refers Alex to a job in Malibu working retail.  However, this is not the type of retail job you and I would ever expect.  Alex will be working in the basement of the one and only Barbra Streisand.

With millions to spare Streisand has transformed her basement into a shopping avenue with dozens of stores to provide a home to all of the stuff she has acquired over the years.  Designed to mimic the American decorative arts museum in Delaware called the Winterthur, Barbra’s hoarding is just as elegant as a Ziegfeld Folly production.  While Urie makes it very clear from the beginning that “Buyer & Cellar” is a work of fiction, the mini-mall in Barbra’s basement is the one aspect of the play which is completely true. buyerandcellar2

In the play Alex is required to wear a uniform and assist the one customer privy to this prime shopping locale. Boredom from spending his days alone in the basement soon dissipates when he receives his first and only customer Barbra Streisand, who goes by the name of Sadie (wink wink.)  Sporadic at first, Barbra’s visits soon become a regular part of Alex’s day and a relationship develops.

“Buyer & Cellar” has a thousand laughs for the individuals like me who love Barbra and are familiar with her work. (The synopsis of the movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” alone was worth a standing ovation.) Even without a Streisand education this smart and witty comedy will have you rolling with joyous laughter as you watch Alex navigate the choppy ?????????????????????????????waters of a celebrity friendship.  Urie flows effortlessly between the different characters he portrays in the show, each well rounded and real with dialog full of heart and tender humor.  I sat astonished at his lithe portrayal of Streisand, then, like turning on a dime he suddenly transforms into Alex’s mischievous and dramatic boyfriend Barry.  I relished every story, experience, and emotion shared on stage and I had to continually remind myself that everything I heard was fiction even though Urie made me want to believe it was all true.

I would be remissif I did not mention the simplistic and beautiful set of “Buyer & Cellar”.  With only a few props I could count on one hand, I enjoyed watching each one set-up and transform different scenes throughout the play.  The lighting of the show is quirky and original which adds to the illusion of the different locations flawlessly.  “Buyer & Cellar” is a must see this summer and I hope to see Michael Urie in more Off-Broadway and Broadway productions in the future.

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Filed under Broadway Review