Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eating our way through NYC: Part two

So, to recap: we've had Cuban sandwiches, French bistro food, and what the New York Times describes as a "high church of reverently prepared fish."

Where next?

Answer: The
Morgan Library, first to check out the building (by Charles McKim and Renzo Piano), and then the holdings (manuscripts by Mark Twain, Alexander Pope, Galileo, Mozart; silver cups from first-century Rome; three, count 'em, three Gutenberg Bibles).

And then the cafe, with its oversized, horseradishy deviled eggs:

and its three-martini lunch.

Then we wandered down Broadway so I could check out the first US branch of
Top Shop (verdict: cheaply made and overpriced. Much worse than the US H&M. Or perhaps I just have to accept that I haven't been in Toppo Shoppo's target demographic for, ahem, 20 years).

And then it was time to eat again, so we scooted over to
A Salt and Battery, discovered that it was full to bursting (which I guess is a good thing) and repaired next door to Tea & Sympathy.

It was the first time we'd managed to get in; the place only has room for ten tables, and would frankly be more comfortable if they took a couple out. It's so small that people waiting for a table have to stand outside (not fun on a freezing January day).

On the other hand, there's a lovely selection of sponge cakes on the counter, a gregarious
Bet Lynch-like manager, and a menu of bangers and mash, scotch egg and sausage roll.

It's definitely a niche, and seemingly populated by young female American Anglophiles, and so they can get away with charging (get this) $5.95 for Heinz tomato soup (yes,
from a can) and $7.50 for a cheese and pickle sarnie. But it was also the rare chance for me to get my fix, so I didn't care.

We got tea, which came in mismatched china (oh, how quaint!)

And then I ordered a bacon butty (which was good — ah, proper bacon! — but could have done with a couple of slices of fried tomato to add moisture) and The Boy went for the Cornish pasty.

And that's when I realized we'd have to come back.

The meat was perfectly seasoned, deep and rich and full of flavor. There were recognizable chunks of veggies. And
jus. It was one of the best Cornish pasties I'd ever tasted.

For our last meal of the visit, we went to eat oysters in the basement of a train station. (I know, it sounds a lot like getting sushi from a gas station.)

Oyster Bar is a cavernous space just off the dining concourse underneath Grand Central. One section is laid out with long, diner-like counter seating, and the rest is ... this:

It turns out the architect, Rafael Guastavino, patented a method of creating vaulted spaces using
interlocking terracotta tiles.

And his first work in the US? The Boston Public Library, for McKim, Mead and White. There. You learned something.

But we weren't there to improve our minds; we were there to consume bivalves. Luckily, the Oyster Bar has one or two choices.

We settled on four: the Bras d'Or, the Chincoteague, and two locals: Oyster Ponds and Westhampton. It was fascinating to taste the differences that location makes to the same animal. The first, from colder waters, was small and briny; the second, from warmer Virginia, was long and salty. The Oyster Ponds had an iron-ish tang, while the other Long Island type was surprisingly sweet.

It was only fitting to have champagne and toast the end of another fabulously food-filled trip.

And then we caught the train back home.

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