Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Thursday, 18 November 2010

{NYC introductions}

{a room with a view: the view from our hotel room at the Sheraton}
  Three fabulous nights, two fantastic days, & two (out of five) super close sisters in NYC--there's a lot of stories to tell, sights to see, shops to shop, neighbourhoods to explore, food to eat, drinks to sip, outfits to wear, and even more feasts for the eyes. Too many, in fact, to recount in one blog entry. So the next few blogs will be dedicated to the three evenings & two days that I spent last weekend, with my sister Julia in the city that never sleeps.
I arrived in NYC a week ago today, in the afternoon. I headed straight to our hotel where I was to meet my sister, after her day of exploring design showrooms. She got a little late--a crazy man on her subway made her miss her stop and since she was on an express train it took her some time to get back to the hotel. But these experiences are what make New York, New York. So there I was waiting in the hotel lobby checking email and in true Clark fashion, shrieks & shrills, hugs & tears announced the reunion of two very close sisters. Julia is in her second trimester & is looking fabulous. I was so excited to see her pregnant--I missed out on her pregnancy with her last child, Paulina, since I was living in London at the time.
So back to NYC.
We went back to the hotel room to prepare for a night out & to plan the next few days together.
That first night was probably the best--don't get me wrong--the others were fantastic too, but I think we were so excited to be together again & in NYC that we enjoyed it to the fullest.
We travelled into Soho to look for a place to eat. There are tons of great little places around Prince & Spring Street and we thoroughly enjoyed strolling past restaurants packed with beautiful people, & perusing mouth-watering menus. We had been recommended a number of places, including the funky-diner-like Café Habana.

{Café Habana}

Habana was absolutely packed though, so we opted for a new restaurant on the block, Oficina.

This panamerican bistro only opened up a few weeks ago (Oct 13) but it is already a hotspot. Oficina is run by two Italians, Paolo Votano and Francesco Sforza (funnily enough, the latter shares the same name as a famous Renaissance Duke of Milan who I studied & discussed in my PhD). The menu has a variety of latin american delights mostly tapa style (ranging from Mexican to Brazilian), which were pretty tasty, but the ambiance and decor are what's worth coming for. The space was apparently decorated with finds from the Brimfield Antique Show, & the result is both delicate and rough, all at once. In a word, it's pretty funky and my idea of a great eclectic mix.

{funky chairs line the bar. Photo from grubstreet}
{the bar at night: notice the cool use of trouble lights above the tables on the right}
Also pretty cool was the fact that they gave us the bill in a cigar box:

 It doesn't look like their websites up & running yet, but here are the details from their card:
Oficina Latina NYC
24 Prince Street,
p: 646.381.2555

We weren't ready to go home yet...we walked the streets, window-shopped...

{my gorgeous sister in front of a fashionable display at Prada}
  We came across the facade of a restaurant that looked so old-worldly that we just had to go in and have a drink.
{photo by H. J. Steed}
The main dining room has warn walls with old photos attached to peeling paint, but with the elegance of white table cloths, making you feel like you're in a little restaurant in Italy somewhere:

{photos from nymag}

But it was late, and the restaurant part was closed...but the maître d' lead us through curtains and into a completely different section of the restaurant, where there was a bar & some tables. Ju & I sat at the bar; I ordered a Venetian Spritz and the bartender made her a non-alcoholic concoction. We sat there, sipping our drinks, catching up on life and enjoying the chatter of the bar tender who had an extremely high opinion of himself. He took his work seriously, and I was happy he did, since my spritz brought me back to Venice--it was an accurate rendition of the famous Venetian drink. Men kept coming to the bar ordering a variety of different concoctions in Italian, 'un Caffè corretto' etc...and I felt like I was back in Italy.
The bar area, apparently, is a fairly new addition (by a few months), and was a bit more swanky than the rustic dining room, but still a great place to chill out & have a drink. The menu has a black & white sepia photo of an old Italian family from another era--apparently the owner is the baby boy the mother is carrying in the photograph.
Ballato's Restaurant
55 East Houston Street
New York, NY
p: 212.274.8881
We headed home after that & rested our weary heads for what lay ahead--a fantastic day exploring NYC. But that'll have to wait until the next blog...stay tuned!

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