It was this time 10 years ago, in 2004, that I stepped out of a cab into the streets of Manhattan from JFK airport.

There was hard piles of black snow lining the streets and mountains of garbage stacked high. It was freezing, dark and worst part of all; I was alone in this gigantic city. Hardly a fun time.

Fast forward to February of 2014 and I am quite sad to leave after spending a long weekend there.


Because NYC is so darn fabulous beneath its gritty, filthy, crowded and loud exterior. It helps immensely to have a few old and dear friends who are now well adjusted expatriates living the dream to show you the good spots. Some you just discover yourself.

It really is a dirty city and the recent snowfall turned the streets into a mucky, icy soup bowl, deep puddles of semi frozen street juice taunting your shoes to step into its depths. But you put on your Sorel snow boots and get amongst it!

The notion that New Yorkers are rude, abrasive and blunt is quite untrue for the most part. The neighbours in the apartment building smiled and said hello to us in the hallway. Service staff in eating establishments were polite and efficient. Sales persons in boutiques were courteous. An accidental bump into an unknown pedestrian yielded an apology. But there were these Jewish grandma’s sitting next to us at the NYC Ballet that kept hissing at people to be quiet, which is another story for another time.

We were staying in the neighbourhood of Chelsea on W 16th St so we didn’t venture too far from there at times apart from a little jaunt to the Upper East Side. Here are a few old favourites and new favourite watering and eating places from our President’s Day weekend trip.

1) The Meatball Shop 1462 2nd Ave (between 76th & 77th) Come hungry and have the brown sugar ice cream. Ask to be in Corey’s section (if he is working) for special service 😉

2) Elmo 156 7th Ave (between 19th & 20th) It’s located in Chelsea so if same sex couples and loud club music offend you, give it a miss. Otherwise the food is fabulous, staff are friendly with a high energy atmosphere.

3) Petite Abeille 44 W 17th St (between 5th and 6th) A good Belgian brunch menu. Go early on the weekends to avoid waiting for a table.

4) Spoon 17 W 20th St (between 5th & 6th) It’s a bit hipster but good coffee and brunch menu.

5) Ocabanon 245 W 29th Street (between 7th and 8th) An off the beaten track French wine bar/bistro. Authentic French staff, good drinks and they have food that sounds nice.

6) Pounds and Ounces 160 8th Ave (corner of 18th St) We went here twice because, frankly we couldn’t help ourselves and our friends know the staff there. The Winter Sangria was something new and a total hit with us. They serve a tapas kind of menu, with your standard drinks/cocktails and pretty good desert.

Matt and I with Brendon down at the Highline in Chelsea. Photo courtesy of Brendon Wong.