The Sweet Shop (UES)

This is a tiny old-fashioned candy shop full of candy you love, candy you’ve never heard of and candy you probably can’t figure out how to pronounce. But you’re going to love it. You might leave this store with bags… or pounds… of candy, but it’s okay, because you’re going to be really happy and nostalgic… and it’s all very high quality. Every candy you remember from your childhood – and didn’t believe was still in existence – is alive and well at The Sweet Shop.

The Sweet Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: It’s everything you could possibly want in one storefront: a candy store and an ice cream shop. There is something for everyone here, from super modern ice cream and gelato flavors to retro sweets, including sugar, nut and gluten free items.
  • Vibe/layout: The shop has whimsical boutique-y vibe to it that makes it a gem on the UES, a downtown-y shop magically transported uptown. Outfitted in all things candy, including a handmade candy chandelier (by the owner) and a commissioned candy mirror, The Sweet Shop is decked out from ceiling to floor in personality.
  • Ideal meal: Everything.
    • Sweets: Jars of chocolate covered bacon and Oreos, sour watermelon and designed marshmallows, in addition to imported sweets from England and Sweden
    • Ice cream: Ice cream, gelato and sorbet from Oddfellows in Brooklyn and Il Laboratorio del Gelato; vegan ice cream (yes we said vegan ice cream) from Alchemy Creamery
  • People behind the ‘straunt: This shop is owned and operated by family man, Kelly Jamie, who makes all the in-house goods, his wife, Glyn, who designed the shop, and their son, Matt, who works and socializes by his parents’ sides.
  • F.Y.I.: This is more than just a candy shop; this is a home base. So much so, that one man, who consistently gets in “trouble” from his significant other for sneaking down to the candy store for an evening snack, proposed to his fiancé in the shop! …We should also mention that 3KT (Terese Giudice’s daughters’ band) featured this shop in their music video Season of Joy.
  • Address: Upper East Side, 404 East 73rd St (between York & 1st)
  • Prices: Dependent on items purchased. Watch out, they have a loyalty card.

The Sweet Shop on Urbanspoon

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Chalk Point Kitchen & Handy Liquor Bar (Soho)

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  • Why it’s worth it: The perfect day in Manhattan consists of brunching and shopping…in Soho of course. If you’re looking for a pretty restaurant serving pretty food to pretty people, and more specifically, a charming, market-to-table venture, with an adjacent vintage cocktail bar, we’ve got you covered: Chalk Point Kitchen.
  • Vibe/layout: This 70-seat ‘straunt bolsters the country-in-the-city scheme, in an airy and lush space with white-washed wooden plank walls lined with vintage mirrors and tchotchke-packed shelves. The farmhouse feel of CPK complements the locally sourced and organic menu; however, the most defining aspect of CPK is its downstairs bar, the Handy Liquor Bar, which is a classic, sophisticated and timeless cocktail bar with a fun twist: a fireplace and every 90s childhood game you can think of… yes we’re talking Hungry Hungry Hippos and Operation.
  • Ideal meal…brace yourself: Start with smashed avocado on toast ($6) & homemade blueberry muffins ($6); feast on the banana croissant french toast ($11); wash it all down with the  Collect Pond ($13), a refreshing mixture of pear vodka, St. Germaine, apple juice and ginger beer
  • F.Y.I.: The full-fledged piano bar below CPK, the Handy Liquor Bar, is named after Thomas Hardy, one of the first expert barmen in the US in the 1800s.
  • People behind the ‘straunt: Nightlife operator Matt Levine (Sons of Essex) and Michelin-starred chef Joe Isidori (Arthur on Smith) teamed up to open CPK, one of our favorite brunch spots in the city.
  • Address: Soho, 527 Broome St. (between Sullivan & Thompson St)
  • Price: $6-$21

Chalk Point Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Good Enough to Eat (UWS): Brunch

Good Enough to Eat UWS Brunch

  • Why it’s worth it: Good Enough to Eat (GETE) is the perfect brunch spot for a family outing on the UWS before exploring the American Museum of Natural History or spending the afternoon in Central Park. The atmosphere is fun and loving and the American comfort food menu is expansive.
  • Vibe/layout: GETE rocks that small country kitchen feel, with exposed brick and wooden tables, chairs and shelving, filled with random tchotchkes, Vermont farm paraphernalia and children’s drawings. The rustic farmhouse decor is warm and welcoming and GETE has all sorts of seating options, including booths, breakfast nooks, bar seating and outdoor seating.
  • Ideal meal: Good Enough to Eat French Toast ($10.75)…Did we mention that they make their French toast with cinnamon swirl bread (a third-grader’s dream)?! Also, don’t miss the buttermilk biscuits and luscious strawberry butter, which come with an eggs dish!
  • F.Y.I.: You can’t miss GETE’s cow theme…so be sure to notice the portraits of cows in the restrooms, Angus Warhol and Henri Mootisse.
  • Address: Upper West Side, 520 Columbus Ave (85th & Columbus)
  • Prices: $8-$14

Good Enough To Eat on Urbanspoon

Gato (Noho)

Gato Noho

  • Why it’s worth it: Bobby Flay’s “New-Mediterranean” Noho hot spot has received rave reviews, and we’re here to add to them, but in our own special way of course. Here’s the low down: if you want spectacular appetizers (bar selection) in a trendy, intimate and energetic ‘straunt, go to Gato. We’ll be honest: the portions are small, but they are bursting with flavor!
  • Vibe/layout: The front of this bustling ‘straunt boasts a U-shaped bar counter for walk-ins, while the back dining area is dimly lit and set with spare wooden tables. The high ceilings compliment the brick and dark varnished wooden walls and colorful geometric floor tiles, making this ‘straunt perfect for an intimate date or a friendly dining experience.
  • Ideal meal: Bar (choose 3): Artichoke heart, lamb tenderloin, eggplant ($17); Vegetable: Crispy potatoes (poached egg, smoked paprika, Parmigiano) ($12); Entrée: Kale and wild mushroom paella (crispy artichokes, eggs) ($28)
    • The lamb tenderloin, crispy potatoes and kale entrée are must orders; the flavors are bold and assertive and are perfect for splitting between two.
  • Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 324 Lafayette St (between East Houston & Bleecker)
  • Prices: $12-$39

Gato on Urbanspoon

Friday Night Dinner at Natural Gourmet Institute

Good Food for a Good Cause: A Friday Night Dinner to Remember

Natural Gourmet Institute

  • Why it’s worth it: Every Friday night, Natural Gourmet Institute is transformed into an intimate dining room, in which the Chef’s Training Program students and instructors prepare a three-course vegan Friday Night Dinner. The meals are innovative, delectable and exquisitely prepared. Last Friday night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to this wonderful culinary experience and the menu for our fabulous dinner was created by Chef Barbara Rich.
  • Vibe/layout: The cozy, candlelit dining room houses several communal tables that foster friendly conversation and culinary appreciation. Don’t come here to be antisocial; come here to embrace wonderful food with wonderful company.
  • Menu for the 10/10 Friday Night Dinner:
    • Antipasto: A whole Portobello mushroom cooked perfectly with pine nut ricotta; cherry tomato-basil salad with mixed greens & white balsamic vinaigrette
      • The white balsamic vinaigrette puts any store-bought dressing to shame. Period.
    • Secondo: Three-grain risotto & tempeh sausage; butternut squash, pearl onions & broccolini with parsley pistou
    • Dolce: Chocolate terrine; almond custard; raspberry coulis & ginger crisps
  • ‘Straunt tip: The curriculum is based off of the founder’s seven core principles: the food should be seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious. And that’s just what it is.
  • Address: Flatiron, 48 West 21st St #2 (between 5th & Ave of the Americas)
  • Prices: $48.99 (Use code TheStraunt and get 15% off – valid through 10/31/14)

A little something extra:

  • After dinner, Chef Barbara and the culinary students who prepared the meal came out for a post-dinner Q&A. Overall, I was very impressed by the deliciousness of the vegetarian meals that seamed so complex but used such simple ingredients. Not to mention that the white balsamic vinaigrette and the chocolate terrine blew me away!
  • With that said, if you are looking for something different to do on a Friday night in NYC, especially if you have a vegetarian friend or family member, we highly recommend checking out the Friday Night Dinners at Natural Gourmet Institute. The menus change from week to week, based on the ingredients that are in season. Not to mention… 10% of the proceeds from each dinner are donated to a charity.

Natural Gourmet Institute on Urbanspoon

Hundred Acres (Soho): Brunch

Hundred Acres

  • Why it’s worth it: This relaxing yet stylish spot serves delicious, fresh and local southern inspired food, not to mention the best cinnamon buns we’ve ever had. Hundred Acres is a great spot for grabbing brunch with family and friends.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt has three rooms: the spacious front dining room boasts large French doors that open to the street; the middle room is filled with over sized photographs expanding the space to feel like a vast farm-house; the back room is a charming garden that makes you feel like you are in your own backyard.
  • Ideal meal: Gooey cinnamon rolls ($8) to start & soft scrambled eggs ($14)
  • Address: Soho, 38 MacDougal St (between West Houston & Prince)
  • Prices: $6-$20

Hundred Acres on Urbanspoon

The Smile (Noho)

The Smile

  • Why it’s worth it: Tucked away a few steps below street level, you’ll find The Smile, a hybrid general store and cafe; however, no one goes to The Smile to shop; they go to eat in the artfully rustic atmosphere.
  • Vibe/layout: With the music low and the tone conversational, this dimly lit, wood-ceilinged space emits a charming and tavernesque feel that is perfect for a meal with friends, family or a date. In addition, this ‘straunt is great for GF and vegetarian foodies!
  • Ideal meal: Moroccan lamb meatballs to start ($9) and spaghetti & heirloom tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella & basil ($15)
  • People behind The Smile: The owners, Carlos Quirarte and Matt Kliegman, are the duo behind the Jane hotel ballroom and Westway and the chef, Melia Marden, is a Harvard grad and also the daughter of the art-world power couple Brice and Helen Marden.
  • Address: Noho, 26 Bond St (between Bowery & Lafayette)
  • Prices: $7-$24

The Smile on Urbanspoon