South of SoHo lies TriBeCa (“Triangle Below Canal”) which, like SoHo, was once dominated by warehouses that have now been turned into loft apartments. After September 11th the area suffered financially, but rebounded with some help from the government. It has since become the trendiest of residential neighborhoods, listed as the 12th most expensive zip code in the US. Between this newly acquired glitz and the annual TriBeCa Film Festival in May, don’t be surprised to see a star or two on the street; Gisele Bündchen, Jay-Z, and Jon Stewart all call the neighborhood home.
A bit of old school cool in the heart of chic Tribeca, The Square Diner offers up the kind of classic diner experience that defines old-fashioned New York cheap eats. Immediately upon walking in you feel like you’re getting taken out of the neighborhood entirely. Between the wood paneling, old “Rosie the Riveter” posters, a classic 50’s counter, and more pleather seats than a…um… pleather seat factory, The Square Diner takes you back to a time before Tribeca was the neighborhood it is today. Potted plants hang from the ceiling near the windows, and the walls are adorned with autographed photos of celebrity customers. The diner feels like it’s been there forever; it doesn’t feel like Tribeca.
With the sporadic blanket of snow still hugging the sidewalks, it’s hard to remember that warmer weather is just around the corner, and pranks like this (click me, I’m a hyperlink) will become the stuff of dreams. But step off the sidewalk in TriBeCa, through the ringing red door of Bikini Bar and you’ll find yourself in Hawaii. OK, so maybe you won’t actually be in Hawaii, but the bamboo furniture – set up like a lounge room in a beach shack – the Malibu boards surfing the roof, the carved wooden statues and the bold blue replicas of fish, staring at you from the walls, will certainly make you feel like you’re a world away from New York.
Ivy’s Bistro, a cozy, self-described “neighborhood spot” at 385 Greenwich Street, has the luxury of fitting a lot of different niches. When I first arrived at the restaurant, there was a herd of young professionals at the bar celebrating the end of the workday. Yes, a full-on herd. By the time I was having dessert, however, the bar had emptied, and the tables had filled with couples having a quiet dinner over dishes ranging from classic comfort food like mac and cheese and meatloaf, to lighter fare like grilled salmon.
Any proud Italian restaurant in the city is sure to boast about two things: the authenticity of its traditional dishes, and the quality of its fresh ingredients, which, in their simple presentation, comprise the essence of Italian flavor. A recent dining experience at Brick, a casual Italian restaurant and bar located in Tribeca, justifies its similar assertions. But Brick’s particularly friendly service and intriguing flavor combinations set it apart from other Italian restaurants in the city.
I arrived at 1pm, July 1, the day of the game between Spain and Italy. Blaue Gans was the place to be for viewing; the waiters and waitresses were even dressed in green Eurocup shirts. As a restaurant specializing in Austro-German food, Blaue Gans attracted a horde of Europhiles – and soccerphiles wanting to explore a different taste.
My friend and I sat ourselves down in the back corner and were able to get a panoramic view of the eclectic décor and a feel for the “artsy” ambiance. To start off, the walls were plastered all over with posters from famous art shows and concerts, many of them long past, from around the world – Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup, Lou Reed’s Berlin performance, and Kiki Smith exhibit. Read the complete post »
This past April, the Tribeca Film Festival entered its 11th year of screening some of the most innovative films being produced throughout the world. In comparison to bigger names like the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, the Tribeca FIlm Festival, originally founded to revive the area of Tribeca after the September 11 attacks, has always featured less big-name movies and is instead focused on gritty, independent fare.
With clear blue skies and warm pre-summer weather, Tribeca once again hosted its annual Taste of Tribeca culinary festival last Saturday. Celebrating its 18-year tradition, the festival originally began as a fundraiser to combat budget cuts of the arts program at nearby schools, P.S. 234 and 150. Today, with over 70 restaurants participating in addition to numerous other sponsors, over 4,000 tickets were sold on Saturday. Although tickets were a hefty $40 per person, I must say that the cost was definitely worth it. Once paying the fee, each participant is allowed to sample dishes from six restaurants. I’ll admit that I originally thought six was not enough to satisfy my cravings. After all, I came from a family that had an unhealthy obsession with Italian cuisine and devoted each weekend to baking and cooking projects. Nevertheless, I walked away from the festival with a satisfied stomach and a new appreciation for the chefs and business owners who made Taste of Tribeca such a memorable experience.
I arrived at Sarabeth’s absolutely ravenous (and sweaty, and short of breath from power-walking two miles through West Village and Soho. Let’s just say that my previously implicit faith in Google Maps has been irrevocably shattered) and prepared to gorge myself on the best that Tribeca has to offer in a preview of the Taste of Tribeca‘s charity culinary festival, featuring top downtown restaurants. Despite being forty minutes late, there was still plenty to taste. I’ll give you a run-down on my favorites, though every course—and there were ten, plus an occasional surprise course—was absolutely delicious, so that you’ll know where to cash in your tastes if, no, when, you go.
Polpette (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) from Pane Panelle: This was probably my favorite savory dish. The carnivore in me literally started slavering with glee the moment I heard “all beef” and “meatball.” Doused in tomato sauce, sprinkled with parmesan, slightly spicy so that the meaty taste didn’t overwhelm, I could’ve eaten five of these suckers. Read the complete post »
When I signed up for Cigar Lesson and Tasting with MARAYA hosted by Urban Girl Squad last week not only had I never tasted a cigar before in my life, I’m not even sure I had ever seen anyone smoke one. But smoking a cigar with an Urban Girl Squad (!) seemed like an unbeatable opportunity.
Urban Girl Squad is a social networking group in NYC for women in their 20’s and 30’s. They are as cool as their name implies. I at least, was impressed by how cute everyone’s shoes were and also by how nice they all were.
The Cigar Lesson and Tasting took place in the VIP lounge of the Wall Street Humidor in Tribeca. The lounge had only been open for one month and we were the first group to ever use it.
To enter the VIP lounge, you first walk through the regular cigar lounge. At 6:00 pm on Thursday, there were about three men in their 60’s smoking cigars who seemed startled by our entrance. But we walked past bravely down the red-carpeted staircase.
Lidia Jean, image courtesy of Urban Girl Squad
The VIP lounge was a perfect space for a cigar tasting, complete with dark plush furniture and a piano. The Humidor is advertised as being so well ventilated that you can leave without your clothes smelling like smoke. I was skeptical when I heard that, but it turned out to be true.
Julia, now a true cigar aficionado
Upon entering, we were served Pellegrino (to cleanse our palates) and split up into groups of seven or eight for our lessons. Our guide, Barry, was wearing a cap and bow tie, which added to his credibility. He was also genuinely knowledgeable and taught us about cigars in a way that was both helpful and insightful. First, we learned how light a cigar. You don’t use a lighter or a candle, but a match and wait until the flame catches the wood so you don’t get a sulfate taste. You then toast the cigar on the match like a marshmallow, gently rotating it until it begins slowly burning. Then, when you smoke you don’t inhale. (Maybe that’s why Winston Churchill lived to be 91.) Most importantly, you smoke your cigar slowly- taking only two to three pulls a minute – savoring the experience.
The idea of savoring the experience is what I liked best after learning about cigars. There seems to be something nice and old fashioned about kicking back, slowing down, and enjoying a slow cigar and a Glenfiddich single malt (Barry’s suggestion) with friends.
It’s hard to know what to expect when you enter a place called Theater Bar. I was wondering myself when I crossed the long red curtains adorning the entrance to this spot in Tribeca, and there could be good reason for that – the featured act at this venue changes every night. But, I was assured, it is always a sensation.
My friend and I stepped into the high ceilinged vault, taking in the electric set pieces and buzzing crowds. The cocktail lounge was newly opened by Austrian mixologist Albert Trummer, who left his whimsical Chinatown haunt Apotheke after controversy over his fire stunts. Instead, he opened Theater Bar and moved the party further downtown.
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