On the Road: Thanksgiving Weekend in New York

Going back to work after a holiday weekend is pretty much the worst thing ever. Okay, I’m sure there are worse things, which I just can’t seem to think of right now.  But, I’m glad to have this day over with.

Anyway.

Chester and I avoided Black Friday shopping and spent the day getting the house all festive for Christmas and went to see the Muppets (if you grew up watching the show, it’s a must see. I’m pretty sure I was grinning from ear to ear for most of it). Then, on Saturday, Bridget and I headed up to New York to shop, eat and most importantly, to see Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway. The weather has unseasonably warm around here lately, and while it doesn’t exactly feel like Christmas yet, it made for a great day of walking around the city.

After dropping our bags at our hotel, we headed over to Craftbar, for lunch/belated birthday celebration for me. Craftbar located on Broad is one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants and is located on Broadway, near Union Square.

When we arrived around two, the restaurant was still serving their brunch menu, in addition to the regular menu of snacks, salads, pastas, and entrees. We both ordered from the latter. The server was really knowledgeable about the menu, including recommendations for cocktails and wine. He suggested a red wine for Bridget and helped me decide between the two cocktail options I was considering. I ended up with something that was similar to a Tom Collins, but had earl grey infused gin in it. Refreshing. I can’t remember the name of either. Sorry.

We split an order of pecorino risotto balls, which were served piping hot with a spicy tomato sauce. They reminded us of the rice croquettes that Bridget’s grandmother makes, but the gooey cheese was a nice touch.

For an entrée, Bridget chose the pork belly, which was served with brussel sprouts, poached egg, and sweet potato puree. It was really tender and pulled apart easily with a fork. I had the veal ricotta meatballs, which were served over house made spagehetti. The meatballs were light and delicate and the tomato sauce was slightly sweet. The only drawback for me was that the pasta may have needed to be cooked a bit more, as it was slight chewy.

They must have known I was coming, because the dessert list included a peanut butter and jelly sundae. The peanut butter ice cream, which was creamy and rich, but not overly sweet, was topped with grape jelly syrup (tasted exactly like my favorite Welch’s variety) and a generous handful of caramel corn, which added a bit of texture and saltiness.

Photo stolen from Bridget

For the rest of the afternoon, we burned off a few calories shopping, and then it was time to make our way over to the Broadhurst Theater for the show.

It goes without saying that Hugh Jackman is pretty adorable. And, also, really talented. He’s not just Wolverine, folks. He can sing. He can dance. He flirts with everyone in the audience and embarrasses late-comers as they take their seats. During the two hour show he performs some of his favorite songs from the likes of Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein and Peter Allen (whom he won the Tony Award for portraying in The Boy From Oz back in 2003), interspersed with antidotes about his life, family and career.

At the end of the show, he auctioned off two of his sweaty undershirts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He invited the winners backstage after the show to meet him, and Bridget and I almost took out our credit cards, but figured it would be difficult to explain the charge to our respective husbands (one shirt fetched $10,000 and the other $6,000).

On the way to the theater, we noticed that there was a Shake Shack right near our hotel, so we stopped there on the way back for burgers, fries, and shakes to bring back to our room. I’ve heard that Shake Shack was the inspiration for Stephen Starr’s Square Burger. This may be the case, but the Shack is a million times better.

The burgers were cooked to a medium rare, so they were juicy and flavorful. The fries were pretty standard—crispy and salty—but they were crinkle cut, so they get extra points in my book for the novelty factor. The vanilla shake has earned a place (along with Nifty Fifty’s, of course) on my list of best milkshakes ever. It was thick and creamy and I was so sad when it was all gone. I will be first in line when the Philadelphia location opens in Center City next year.

Amazingly, we woke up hungry the next morning and headed to Trattoria dell’Arte, right across from Carnegie Hall. This is one of our go-to places when we come up for a show. They have an excellent antipasto bar with just about anything you could ever want, from mozzarella, to Italian meats, to grilled vegetables. We opted just for brunch—light and sweet Panettone French toast for me, and rich spaghetti carbonara for Bridget (with the egg, bacon, and carbs, it does make a good breakfast dish if you think about it!)

And, with that, it was time for me to catch the train back to Philly and for Bridget to make the long drive back up to Boston. But, we’re already planning our next trip to see another show in the winter and/or spring (Book of Mormon and the upcoming revival of Evita are on our list).

The only good part about the weekend coming to an end was that I got to head back to the gym today. And, not a moment too soon.

Restaurant Review: Morning Glory Diner

The DMV is pretty close to the top of my “least favorite places” to go list, but my license was thisclose to expiring, so I had to drag myself there yesterday. I convinced Chester that something terrible could happen to me if I went alone and that he needed to go with me. I figured if I had to wake up early on Saturday, someone else should have to suffer, too. I bribed him with a promise that I would take him to breakfast afterwards.

Turns out, the trip to get my photo taken was pretty uneventful. We were in and out in less than five minutes, and for once I took a photo that I don’t mind being stuck with for the next few years. I wasn’t even in there long enough to see anything crazy/funny happen, which was slightly disappointing. But, it did mean that we could probably beat the rush at the Morning Glory Diner (735 S. 10th Street), which we had been wanting to check out for awhile.

Source

We actually tried to go Morning Glory once before, on a Sunday, but woke up way too late. By the time we arrived, there was easily a 90 minute wait ahead of us. And, as I was close to gnawing my arm off, we decided to go elsewhere. Turns out, if you go at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, you can probably get a seat right away.

Morning Glory opened in the late 1990s, and has since become a neighborhood favorite and winner of numerous awards from the likes of Zagat and Philadelphia Magazine. The restaurant offers traditional breakfast and lunch favorites, using local ingredients, some of which come from Philadelphia institutions like the Reading Terminal and Italian Market. The restaurant also prides itself on making its ketchup and jam from scratch and brewing its own blend of dark coffee. The latter is excellent (it reminded us of La Columbe) and is served in tin camping mugs. You know I’m a sucker for cute presentation.

I considered two of the specials—Pumpkin Pancakes and Chocolate and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast—before deciding on the Neighborhood Frittata, with egg whites. The frittata was packed with a generous amount of fresh red peppers and spinach and finished with a layer or provolone cheese. It was accompanied by two sides—warm spiced apples and grits. The real star of the show was the enormous thick, golden brown, crumbly biscuit, which I enjoyed with a generous helping of butter and cranberry jam.

Chester had steak and eggs, one of his favorite breakfast dishes. The portion of grilled rib eye was pretty generous, but arrived well done instead of medium rare like he asked for (this always seems to happen to him). The side of bacon that he ordered, on the other hand, was cooked to crisp perfection. He tried some of the ketchup on his poached eggs, and compared it to sweetened tomato sauce. Doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me—I’ll take the processed stuff, thanks.

I would probably be willing to go back to Morning Glory, but I do think it’s a bit overrated. Yes, the food was decent and the portions were generous, but it was nowhere near as delicious or creative as what you find at other places in South Philly. Also, at $40 for the both of us, I felt that it was bit pricey for pretty standard breakfast fare (remember to bring cash if you go, because credit cards are not accepted). I would wait in line Sabrina’s or Green Eggs Café before Morning Glory any day.