I’m writing from an airplane somewhere over Indianapolis (I can see that on the screen of the person in front of me) and I’m still digesting, both literally and figuratively, our big, neighborhood-scouting week in New York.
In case you’re new to the story: my husband Craig and I met in NY in 2006 after finding each other on Friendster. (Remember Friendster?) We were both NYU grad students: he was in film school, I was in the Dramatic Writing Program. Within the first year, we were living together in Park Slope and three years later our friends helped us get into their building on Barrow Street in the West Village: the most dreamy, romantic NY apartment.
About a year into that, Craig was offered a job in L.A. and because he’d just made his first feature and was well on his way to making his second, we saw the move as really important for his career. Since I was (and still am) a food writer, I was totally on board for moving to the city that was quickly becoming the nation’s most exciting food city.
That was in 2011. Now it’s 2023 (at least I think it is?) and, after twelve years in L.A., we’re ready to move back. Being away for this long made it clear how much we love and miss New York and even though we’ve made wonderful friends in L.A. who we love and we’ll miss terribly, we’re now in our forties and it feels like it’s time to settle in the place that we want to live the most. And that place is NYC.
So this trip was all about figuring out where, exactly, in New York we want to live! It was also about eating amazing food. But mostly scouting neighborhoods.
This meal that you see was at Tatiana in Lincoln Center where we went to celebrate my friend Diana’s birthday, which is coming up in ten days (you still have time to get her a present). Tatiana was recently named The Best Restaurant in NY and the food totally lived up to the hype! Everything that we ate was packed with flavor, and even though the service was a little spotty (we’re still waiting for our goat patties), the Crispy Okra with Peppa Sauce and Mom Duke’s Shrimp with Creole Butter are dishes that I’ll think about for a long time.
That dinner took place on our Upper West Side day, which started out meeting one of our favorite writers, Mark Harris, for brunch at The Smith. I guess you could say The Smith is a chain, at least in New York, and the place was packed. I loved my Benedict Johnny with cheddar cornbread, maple chicken sausage, poached eggs, and roasted tomato hollandaise. (I’d love to recreate it at home.)
The rest of that day was spent traipsing through Central Park and popping into Zabars where I saw my future self yelling for a tub of whitefish salad without any bones.
My favorite meal of the trip was a pre-theater meal in Rockefeller Center at Lodi. (We saw Parade that night and I was fighting back sobs in the first act when this song came on… it always gets me.) We ate at Lodi the last time we went to new York and I liked it so much, we went back again. I think it’s a great pre-theater hack, especially if you go at 5:30 and can be leisurely.
We had fresh ricotta and tuna toast (isn’t that cool how they do that?) and a pasta with morels and asparagus, plus expertly made Negronis. “Four stars!” - Adam Roberts, Amateur Gourmet Newsletter.
The big headline of our trip, though, is that we started to feel the pull back to Brooklyn. It started in Carroll Gardens at Court Street Grocers where we ate an incredible sandwich called The Ollie with turkey breast, broccoli rabe, hot honey, Provolone, and Duke’s mayo. I don’t know who came up with the idea of putting broccoli rabe on a turkey sandwich, but it’s totally brilliant. Bitter, refreshing, and texturally interesting, I think you should give it a try.
The love affair continued at The HiHi Room in Cobble Hill, where we had brunch one day (that’s a smoked fish dip on the right and a bitter green salad with buttermilk dressing on the left).
There were many walks through neighborhoods, like Bed-Stuy and Brooklyn Heights, to see what we liked and what we didn’t.
Of course, my stomach mostly led the way, so we stopped for a celebrated chocolate croissant at L’Appartement 4F, which started during the pandemic in an actual apartment; and Otway Bakery near Bed-Stuy, where I ate this chocolate cherry cookie “with little goobers in it” (that’s what Craig called those little yellow crunchy things, no idea what they were… but I liked them.)
And, finally, we had a lovely dinner in our friends’ Rob and Kath’s backyard back in Carroll Gardens, featuring a Molly Baz poached chicken recipe and a traditional Pavlova with strawberries and whipped cream.
Will we be hosting a dinner party in our own Carroll Gardens backyard someday soon? Or Fort Green? Or Cobble Hill?
We’ll find out in July when we go back and start the apartment hunt for real (we’re looking to move mid-August or September). If you hear of anything with two bedrooms and a nice kitchen, let me know!
In the meantime, I’ve got a lots to chew on….
See you back here next week!
As a New Yorker who has only been following you in your LA era, I am SO excited to see your future nyc food coverage. LODI is a new fav of mine, too, & Im green with envy you were able to get a res at Tatiana. Looking forward to your move!
I love when you use "dreamy" in your descriptions. Thanks.