Hyatt Introduces the Andaz

Posted on February 1, 2010 by Comments Off

The latest in the Hyatt family, the Andaz is the boutique diamond in their mega-property rough. Their motto? “Every moment is an opportunity to enjoy it.”

BizBash New York recently posted a great recap of their tour at the newly opened Wall Street location; Andaz has recently opened (or soon will) properties in London, LA and another New York property on Fifth Avenue.

Photo Credit - Hyatt

From what I’ve seen, the rooms seem to me like a W / Standard hybrid. I checked rates for an upcoming Friday night, and they’re coming in at around $275 for a standard king.  Not bad for NYC, but Wall Street is outside of the tourist hustle bustle.

I’m curious if anyone out there in internet-land has stayed at an Andaz?

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Target Pops Up for the Holidays

Posted on January 12, 2010 by Comments Off

I stumbled upon LA event planner David Stark’s Sketchbook blog last week.  He has a great post about his company’s work with Target on pop up stores in major metro markets over the holidays.  The concept behind these stores is quite cool – check it out below:

From the post:
We ADORE creating pop-up stores, and a week or so ago, we pulled off an ambitious retail feat that I am proud to share!  We opened three different stores,  in three different cities, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, all on the same day!  Target is well known for innovative thinking and for essentially inventing the pop-up store model, but these were not typical shops where you go inside, walk aisles, and try on clothes.  Rather, our TARGET TO GO shops were one part roadside ice-cream stand, one part, drive through, and all parts fun. 

Target pop up store under NYC's Highline

The concept was simple:  A menu board showcased 50 numbered gift items for the entire family.  You marched up to the window, ordered by item number, and then quickly, a satchel of pre-wrapped gifts was handed right to you!  FAST.  EASY.  FABULOUS.

Dining the Danny Meyers Way

Posted on November 18, 2009 by 1 Comment

My initial plan was to go to Gramercy Tavern for dinner.  Having just checked in to the W Union Square, I knew the restaurant was close by and it was just early enough in the evening that I could probably finagle my way into a seat at the bar without having to wait. 

Of course, getting accurate directions from the front desk would have helped. What should have been a 5 minute walk turned into a 1 hour meander around Gramercy Park and the Union Square neighborhood in the rain.  Needless to say, when I finally arrived at Gramercy Tavern it was much later than I’d hoped and the wait for the bar was over 2 hours.Sensing I was *this*  close to giving up and settling for room service, the lovely hostess at Gramercy Park recommended I try Eleven Madison Park; she called and grabbed me a seat, I walked over.

Eleven Madison Park (or “EMP” as they call it) is located in a lofty building just adjacent to Madison Park (and Shake Shack - another famed USHG restaurant).  While a prix fixe menu is the only choice in the restaurant, the bar has an a la carte menu.

Eleven Madison Park

Photo from the New York Times

Dinner there was a true treat – an heirloom beet salad with Lynnhaven Farm chèvre frais, rye crumble and nasturtium followed by Di Palo ricotta gnocchi with violet artichokes, taggiasca olives and bacon, finished with their chocolate peanut butter palette with caramel popcorn and popcorn ice cream.  Service was attentive but not stalkerish, meals were artfully presented and well thought out. As a parting gift, they gave me a small box of blood orange jellies. My bar neighbor received a teeny box of macarons. 

The next day, while uptown on a field trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar for gift bag stuffers, I decided to check out the other Danny Meyer location on my list – The Modern - for lunch. 

The Modern

Photo from NY Magazine

It was a beautiful fall day and The Modern’s bar menu was a perfect complement - the shaved pumpkin salad with asian pear with Westfield Farm Capri goat cheese and  saffron tagliatelle with cider braised rabbit, wild mushrooms and baby zucchini a fitting addition to the sunshine and changing leaves.

My last night in New York, exhausted but in search of a good meal, I headed across the park to Union Square Cafe on the recommendation of a W staffer. The Union Square Cafe might have been my favorite of the three USHG restaurants I tried that week – if only for it’s coziness.

Tucked in to a seat at the bar, the amazing glass of Pinot Gris that the bartender recommended was the perfect complement to the pan-seared sea scallops with soft polenta, cauliflower-caper brown butter and herb salad.

Union Square Cafe

Photo from the New York Times

All in all, an amazing week of dining that has left me a true Danny Meyers convert.  I have a few of his locations left on my list – Shake Shack, Tabla, Blue Smoke and the elusive Gramercy Tavern – and I’m excited to see if they are as consistently good as the others.
(Event planners – both EMP and The Modern have great private dining spaces:

EMP – the two magnificent balcony-level private dining rooms overlook the main dining room and offer spectacular views of Madison Square Park through 20-foot windows. The smaller room seats 18, the larger room up to 32; or for larger parties, the rooms can be combined to accommodate up to 50 people. The entire restaurant is also available for private functions 150 seated guests or 300 standing.

The Modern – Overlooking the Sculpture Garden, the spare and elegant space is adorned with Danish furnishings and tableware, and can seat up to 64 people.)


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Conflux Festival Takes Over NYC.

Posted on September 18, 2009 by Comments Off

ConfluxI just read in the NY Times about the Conflux Festival taking place in Manhattan this weekend–what a cool event!

Now in its sixth year, Conflux is a a festival on “psycho-geography, or the study on the geographic environment of behavior,” according to David Darts, an art professor at New York University who is also the curatorial director this year. “Since then, it’s evolved to more of an art and technology fest, fusing urban public spaces with exploration and experimentation,” he said.

 This year’s festival features Gigaputt, The Urban Disorientation Game, Fish ‘n microChips, Waterpod, Human Scale Chess Game and iPhone Drum Circle.

 If you’re in NY and happen to see any of these, I’d love to hear all about it!

A Taste of Fall in New York

Posted on September 17, 2009 by 1 Comment

I’m just about done with a whirlwind week in New York and San Francisco.

On Sunday, clients and I had dinner at Park Avenue. This restaurant, located on the Upper East Side, reinvents itself with every season. We happened to dine there on the second day of autumn.

Photo by Park Avenue Autumn

Photo by Park Avenue Autumn

The menu is just a lovely foray into fall - roasted  chicken with pumpkin pie, venison with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds;  carrot cake and brie fritters with  chai ice cream and warm pumpkin molasses cake with sour cream and praline.

Despite a truly frightening cab ride there, we had a fantastic meal. The definite standout of the items ordered was the lamb shank – it came with saffron infused cauliflower, mint and pistachio. Yum!

Day two, I stopped by Momofuku Noodle Barwith a colleague.  I’ve been wanting to go there for quite a while,  and the restaurant definitely lived up to its reputation. 

Photo by Momofuku Noodle Bar

Photo by Momofuku Noodle Bar

We started with the steamed buns – slices of pork belly, wafer thin cucumbers and hoisin sauce. Amazing. I would go back just for these. We also each ordered the ramen (which we definitely should have split).  It was a huge bowl of house made noodles, pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg, green onion and seaweed. Again, the best ramen I’ve had (and I’ve had an obsession lately).

The restaurant is teeny and if you’re seated at the tables on the side of the restaurant, you’re literally back to back with the person behind you.  A little cozy, but the food is so worth it.

Day three was Mercer Kitchen.  We went with a large party and service was definitely  inattentive for a Wednesday night.  Appetizers  were great – Hamachi, tuna spring rolls, black sea bass carpaccio, house made mozzarella with peaches. Main courses were average. The dessert was incredible, though - their fresh fig brown butter tart with pomegranate sorbet was out of this world.

Any recommendations for future New York dining?

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No Credit? No Food For You.

Posted on September 12, 2009 by 2 Comments

maincommerceI’ve dined all over the United States and parts of Europe and never have I heard that a restaurant doesn’t take cash.  No credit?  Sometimes.  No checks?  Frequently.  But no cash?

At Commerce, located in Greenwich Village in New York it’s now officially a credit or debit only dining experience.  Their message, ‘tip in cash if you wish, but otherwise your money is no good here.’

For the most part, I get it.  After all, we swipe our cards for a taxi ride and as we go through a fast food drive-thru.  We donate to charities via credit.  And credit saves the headache of having exact change available and limits cash shortages at the end of the night.  But I struggle with the restaurant’s co-owner, Tony Zazula’s statement, “If you don’t have a credit card, you can use a debit card. If you don’t have a debit card, you probably don’t have a checking account. And if you don’t have a checking account, you probably shouldn’t be eating at Commerce to begin with.”

According to Mr. Zazula, he came up with the idea while on an American Airlines flight where, “the flight attendants weren’t accepting cash for any of the food. Suddenly, it struck me how unnecessary cash was.”

What do you think?  Is going cash-less a good thing?  Or is this just a PR ploy by the restaurant to improve traffic after mediocre reviews?


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