New York City

Lunchtime in New York can be a busy time for tourists and residents alike.  As a word to the wise, even if your agenda is tightly packed with activities, don’t skip out on an opportunity for a meal in NYC.  While the local crowd may opt for delis, diners, or the ubiquitous Pret A Manger, there are a bounty of delicious options for every taste.

During my journey from one tip of Manhattan to the other yesterday, I stopped in the middle for a civilized lunch atop the very popular Eataly.  The highlights of Birreria are straight-forward and appreciated by many:  beer brewed on site, spicy and sweet sausages, and a retractable roof that transforms the beer house into beer garden in a matter of minutes.

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I was seated in a cozy spot against the back wall, the perfect vantage point for watching the lunch hour scene.  The crowd was mixed between tourists and business people, and although I barely waited to be seated, there was a healthy-sized gathering that energized the open space.  The menu is just the right size.  There aren’t so many choices that you don’t know where to start, but you aren’t so limited that a picky eater couldn’t find something to nosh on.  After a quick lesson in cask ale, I requested the Gina Pale Ale prepared on site, and was anxious to try what was described as a ‘little warmer and a little less carbonated’ than most brews.  Skeptical after the description, I was pleasantly surprised after my first sip.  I guess that’s the beauty of downplaying your signature item.  

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After asking about the sausages, I opted for the one described as ‘on the sweeter side’ which is probably not surprising to anyone who knows me even fairly well.  My ‘spicy’ tolerance is about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Three might be pushing it.  Fine, 2.5.   As I waited for my meal, I unwrapped the beautifully presented bread and dipped it in the flavorful olive oil.  My sausage arrived and it looked like a culinary ode to Mr. McGregor’s garden from Beatrix Potter fame.  The ‘Cotechino’ sausage was displayed on a bed of sauerkraut, accented with the sweetest little white turnip halves I’ve ever seen, and finished with a swoosh of Dijon mustard.  I managed to portion out all of the ingredients just right so each bite included sausage, kraut, turnip and a dab of mustard.  Delizioso!

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Today, sticking with the same Flatiron neighborhood, I decided to continue the theme of waiting on line for great food (after the Cronut adventure) and head to the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.  While the popular chain has grown by leaps and bounds the last few years, it was one of the original burger joints to set off a flurry of imitators around the city.  New Yorkers tend to be very opinionated about their burgers and thankfully there are plenty of choices to go around.   After admittedly trying many burgers over the last few years, I still put Shake Shack near the top.  Despite having a Shack a block from my house, I chose to go to the original for the authentic ‘wait in line’ experience.

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For once I didn’t mind the uncooperative weather as it whittled the line down to the the serious Shake Shack fanatics.  I ordered a regular cheeseburger for myself and a double cheeseburger for my husband.  Once again Shake Shack didn’t let me down.  The burger was juicy, but not messy,  the bun managed to keep the contents together without falling apart, and the lettuce was nice and crisp to allow for a clean bite.  Add a side of their golden crinkle-cut fries and a casual lunch in NYC doesn’t get much better.  I appreciate that Shake Shack keeps it simple and consistently delivers scrumptious food that is good at anytime day or night.

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It may seem like hard work with such a tempting lunch, but save room for the Peanut Butter Crunchcrete at Shake Shack!  Believe me.

 

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