After endless back-and-forth emails about plans for A’s birthday celebration, we finally narrowed down our selections and created an itinerary that included a swanky pre-dinner cocktail spot, a great-for-groups dining locale, and a little taste of European club life! When K+M heard that A+L planned to take the train into the city with us, we knew this was a monumental occasion! The plan: A+L would meet at K+M’s apartment; we’d take a cab to the train station, the train into the city, and the subway down to 14th Street. Then, at the end of the night, we’d split a cab ride back to Queens. With L (generally) being vehemently against mass transit (schedules! schedules! schedules!), we knew it was a big deal that he agreed to engage in our trans-borough railroad expedition.
As A+L were running a bit late to meet us, we decided we would just meet them at the train station. K+M took a 5-minute cab ride to the station, bought the 2+2 train tickets, and anxiously waited for them on the platform. A joined a few minutes later, just moments before the train was going to arrive… only to tell us L was still trying to park the car. Eek! The three of us stood on the platform, biting our nails, waiting for L to join us on the platform…. Well, as we saw the train slowly approaching, the outlook did not look so good. We stood at the top of the stairs, looking down, hoping to see L running for his life…. but no one came. The train arrived at the platform… they called ‘all aboard’….and we waited… but L was nowhere to be found.
We dawdled down the stairs, sulking, assuming we’d just end up driving anyway… When we got back down to the street, we didn’t see L anywhere. And then he called A, and said…. ‘Hey, which train car are you guys in?’ L GOT ON THE TRAIN!!!! A immediately started to panic… L had no train ticket and no cash…but he DID have the car keys so A couldn’t even get into their car. We had to think fast. Ok, new plan! L needed to get off the train at the next stop…we’d take a cab to pick him up, then have the cab take us to Jamaica station for the next train to Penn. Yes, this could work! As we approached the station, L was sitting curb-side, head down… defeated. In our first twenty minutes of the night, every reason why L doesn’t take mass transit came into play. But we had to laugh…. another story for the books!
After a cab ride, a train ride, and one subway stop downtown, we made it over to the Meatpacking District nearly an hour later, SO ready for some refreshing cocktails. We met the rest of our party at Spice Market, eager to tell our tales of travel, and ready to start the night! We ordered up some tasty cocktails, and pined over how delicious they were… we could finally relax! Though, as we arrived downtown a little later than anticipated, we only had time for one quick drink at Spice Market. It is already on our agenda to get back there for a meal ASAP!
We headed just across the street to our gastronomic destination: Fig & Olive. K had been here a while back, and hoped it would be everything she remembered it to be…and that everyone would enjoy it just as much! Our party of 8 was seated after just a few moments, in what felt like our own little nook. We were surrounded by a library of house-made olive oils and enveloped in the Mediterranean scents that poured from the kitchen. After our journey of mishaps, we were starved.
After a bit of wait time, our server finally greeted us, took our drink orders, and brought over some focaccia bread and the infamous olive oil…. a little slice of heaven! We perused the incredibly long menu, and decided on sharing a plethora of small plates, and by plethora, we mean pretty much the entire first page of the menu! With one crostini after the other sounding so delicious, we couldn’t help but just order them all! They would surely not go to waste. In addition, we ordered some larger entrees to share, just in case we didn’t get our fill on the first round.
Bite after bite of fig or goat cheese or truffle honey, and we just hungered for more! The flavors were so fresh and crisp, there wasn’t one small plate we didn’t love. If you just closed your eyes for one moment, the tastes and aromas we were experiencing could have easily fooled us….were we really NOT in the Mediterranean?! After some desserts and molti espressi, we nearly ate ourselves into a food coma.
After bidding adieu to our +4, 2+2 decided to jump in a cab (yes, again), and head north to dance off all of those crostini at Nikki Beach Midtown. Although late, there was no line outside, and we strolled right in ready to dance. However, it occurred to us after we ordered a round of drinks that we were tired! We tried to fight through our drowsiness by dancing and singing along to a few songs… but after a while, we just felt uninspired. The DJ at Nikki Beach can make or break the night, and the music he was playing on this particular evening wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. So, after a few songs, we headed out into the city again, and hailed our fourth cab of the evening.
The irony of the night was that we planned NOT to drive so none of us had to worry about driving home at the end of the night… however, none of us drank quite that much and any one of us could have driven home! Since we felt we should take advantage of having a NYC cab driver as our designated driver, we felt the need to get just ONE more drink… so for our last stop of the evening, we knew just the right place for a night cap… our favorite super secret spot on the Lower East Side, the one we were sworn to never write about! We jumped in a cab back downtown, hoping to be able to get into our secret spot for a drink before heading home…
After a round of expertly prepared cocktails, we were ready, once again, to hail a cab…this time, to head home. Only in New York City can you make your rounds to Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, a European beach club, and a super secret Speakeasy all in one night. And our endless love affair with New York continues….
212-675-2322 www.spicemarketnewyork.com Southeast Asian, Cocktails, Manhattan
Ever want to relive that time you went to Vietnam and ate that that never-will-forget chili rubbed duck with something-or-other sauce?! Us Too!!! Well not exactly, since none of us have ever been to Vietnam. But we can imagine how it would be having been to Spice Market. Well not exactly, again, since we were only there for drinks. But from what we could glean from the people eating, it sure made you feel transported to Southeast Asia.
Spice Market was created by the very skilled and famous Jean-Georges Vongerichten, proprietor of such fine dining establishments as Jean-Georges, Mercer Kitchen, JoJo, and ABC Kitchen to name a few. As the website says, “The restaurant is inspired by the street food Mr.Vongerichten enjoyed while traveling in Southeast Asia. Spice Market’s menu authentically uplifts its inspirations while offering guests the additional delight of family-style dining – food comes continuously throughout the meal and is placed at the center of table for all to share.” We couldn’t say it better ourselves, Mr. Vongerichten.
The interior has the feel of a very clean and neat East Asian sidewalk cafe. That is not to say that Southeast Asian Cafes are dirty, it’s just to say that this place is insanely meticulous. Everything in here has been recreated to perfection, from the stairway railings to the faux stone columns. Throw in some “made to look old” floor boards, dimly lit lanterns and POOF, you’re in Vietnam… or Thailand… or wherever. It doesn’t matter where you think you are, the place is down right beautifully decorated.
What we can comment on are the drinks. Small and pricey, but insanely tasty. Shimmy yourself up to the bar, which can get very packed on weekends, and order from the specialty cocktail menu. Like we said, the drinks are small and expensive, but somehow worth it. The Whiskey Passion Fizz (A+L+M) was refreshing and flavorful without being overly sweet. As usual, K went with a ginger inspired drink, a Ginger Margarita. Take your regular margarita, add some ginger, and Voilà! A Ginger Margarita. Soon enough, we will make a reservation (a few weeks in advance) and eat at Spice Market. Until then, we will dream of that time we were in Thailand… figuratively.
What we Drank…
- Whiskey Passion Fizz [Bulleit Bourbon, Passion Fruit, Ginger Ale] (A+L+M)
- Ginger Margarita [Sauza Hornitos Reposado Tequila, Ginger, Lime, Ginger Salt] (K)
A: Amazing! The decor in this place is over the top!!! The drinks were quite pricey but innovative and delicious, and in the end, totally worth it. I can’t wait to come back for dinner.
K: I can’t wait to dine here! I thoroughly enjoyed Jean-Georges’ Mercer Kitchen, and I look forward to tasting his innovative genius at Spice Market. The Ginger Margarita was divine.
L: Love the interior of Spice Market. The bar might be packed and the drinks may be expensive, but I have to come back for another Whiskey Passion Fizz!
M: Why didn’t we stay for dinner? Can’t wait to come back.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Southeast Asian meets Meatpacking district
- Drinks- 4: Stellar! Wouldn’t change a thing!
- Tip Worthy- 3: Gratuity included
- Coordinates- 5: Fun is right next door!
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light!
Dinner- 2+2+4www.FigandOlive.com Mediterranean, Cocktails, Manhattan
Directly in the center of the Meatpacking action lies a Mediterranean oasis. A large scale, expertly styled, absolutely buzzing escape, dedicated to olive oil and the unadulterated best of the French and Italian coastal regions. It’s snooty, without being snooty. It’s vast, yet still projects intimacy. And it’s an all-encompassing destination all its own. With both a sizable bar, packed with patrons, and a surplus of seating for both large and small groups, Fig and Olive can be your whole night. Plus, with two additional locations on 52nd Street and Lexington, it’s convenient too!
It’s no secret that 2+2 have a love affair of sorts with tapas, cheese, and all of the specialty accoutrements. Spreads? We love ‘em! Truffle honey dripped over vintage cheese with a bite of baguette? Being able to order everything on the menu because portions are for tasting? This stuff was invented for us! Well all of that, plus goat cheese tarts, an assortment of extremely creative bruschettas, seafood tasting plates, roasted vegetables, and a giant spoonful of burrata… are the things that make this place tremendous! As we were dining with a large group on our visit, we were able to take full advantage of the ‘ordering everything on the menu’ part of this food-gasm rant. And with a few small (overcooked) exceptions, this place delivered. It was one of those nights when everyone cleared their plates, and last bites were negotiated between the group.
Our table was located in an olive oil alcove, with colorful bottles filling floor-to-ceiling walls. Cocktails were pricey, as to be expected, but were all tasty, with L loving his Jalapeño cocktail. Somehow getting a bottle of champagne seemed to be the most cost effective for A and her friend N, or at least that’s the rationale with which we provided ourselves upon ordering an entire bottle, rather than just a glass. Starting out, the service was a bit spotty, but they were mobbed, so we are giving them a ‘free pass’, as it definitely improved as the crowd wore down.
Well, nothing can top off dinner better than a good dessert! Or 5! We ordered several items for the table to share and they went quickly, with many a spoon-fight breaking out in an attempt to obtain the most bites. The Warm Marzipan Cake was definitely ordered as the underdog, but came out on top, beating out an array of other fantastic desserts like the Fig and Olive Cookie Plate and Chocolate Pot de Creme. The sweets alone are worth a trip to this downtown hot spot!
What we ate…
- Ferrari Trentino Blanc de Blance, Chardonnay [Champagne Method, Floral, Apple Note] (A)
- Piscine [Sparkling wine from South of France served on ice with fresh strawberries] (K)
- El Matador [Tequila, Cachaca, Fresh Lime Juice, Cilantro Syrup, Muddled Jalapeno] (L)
- Summer in Provence [Gin, house made rosemary thyme syrup, muddled blackberries, fresh lime juice] (M)
Appetizers (Split among a table of 8 )
- Crostini Selections- Mushroom, Truffled Artichoke and Parmesan; Roasted Bell Pepper, Ricotta, Caper; Crushed Tomato, Olive Oil; Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond; Bresaola, Goat Cheese, Black Olive; Prosciutto, Ricotta, Fig, Olive, Walnut
- Cheese Plate with Fromage de Chevre (Goat), Robiola (Cow/Sheep), Fontina (Cow), Manchego (Sheep) with Fig & Olive Tapenade and Marcona Almond
- Mixed Olives- Nicoise Olives Herbs de Provence, Verdial Olives Thyme Laurel, Arbequina Olives, Manzanilla Lemon Olives
- Beef Carpaccio (Filet Mignon, 18 Yr Balsamic Vinegar, Baby Arugula, Parmesan, Truffle Olive Oil)
- Fig Jamon Goat Cheese (Jamon Serrano, Fig, Warm Goat Cheese, Chive, Sherry Vinegar, Arbequina Olive Oil)
- Provençal Vegetables and Burrata (Tomato, Balsamic, Arugula, Black Olive, Zucchini, Roasted Bell Pepper, Pesto Ricotta, Basil Olive Oil)
- Fig and Olive Mediterranean Tasting [Grilled chicken breast, grilled provence vegetables, marinated red bell pepper; Grilled steak on rosemary skewers, bell peppers, greek yogurt and honey and couscous salad; Grilled shrimp and tomato skewer on saffron rice with oregano olive oil] (A+L)
- Trio de la Mer [Mediterranean Branzino, Glazed with Fig & 18 yr Balsamic Vinegar, Snow Pears and Fig] (K+M)
Dessert (Split among table of 8 )
- Warm Caramelized Apple Tart (Crisp Puff Pastry with Caramelized Apples and Vanilla Ice Cream)
- Warm Marzipan Cake (Candied Orange and Olive Oil, Fresh Orange and Toasted Almonds, Olive Oil Gelato)
- Warm Chocolate Souffle (Candied Orange and Vanilla Ice Cream)
- Chocolate Pot De Creme (Crunchy Praline Financiers and Vanilla Cream)
- Fig and Olive Cookie Plate
A: This place is a collection of my absolute favorite things! Not only is the venue beautiful and upbeat, but choosing your meal is nearly impossible because everything sounds so yummy!
K: Olive oil, cheeses, and herbes de Provence! Oh my! If I had to choose a last meal, the small plates and crostini from Fig & Olive would be IT. Unless of course, I was able to enjoy my last meal in the South of France…. otherwise, this is the next best stop!
L: The entree wasn’t anything to write home about, but everything else was fantastic. Stick to the small plates menu and you won’t go wrong. Everything on this side of the menu is reasonable and delicious.
M: SMALL PLATES!
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Essentially a glitzy, large scale tapas locale, with a highend cocktails scene
- Food/Drinks- 3.75: Pleasantly stellar
- Tip Worthy- 3: Gratuity included.
- Coordinates- 5: Fun is right next door
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light!
Dancing- 2+2www.nikkibeach.com www.nikkimidtown.net Nightclub, Cocktails, Manhattan
Nikki Midtown is the sister club of the well know Nikki Beach “Empire,” with locations all over the world, such as Las Vegas, Cabo San Lucas, Miami and more. Just like the rest of the “family,” this place is one of the trendy places to go in NYC. It hosts many celebs and after parties that are worthy to be seen on TMZ.
By day Nikki Midtown stands as a restaurant that offers a menu filled with Mediterranean favorites. We have not been here yet for the food, but have heard that it’s tasty. After dinner, plates and tables are cleared away and when 11 o’clock comes around, the beach party gets started.
The decor of this place will make you feel like you are at a Euro-chic beach club. All that is missing is the sand and waves. As for the music, it all depends on who is spinning that night. Some nights might be better then others. Just like most clubs, on a popular night being a guy means standing on a long line and paying a 20 dollar cover charge. Girls, as per usual, get in free and you get right in, and if you are a group of girls you might even be able to get ahead of the line. If waiting in line isn’t really your thing and the group of you feel it’s worth it, you can always opt for the bottle service. The price is about 400 to 500 a bottle for groups of 4 to 5. If you plan on a long night here and drinking a lot, this might really be worth it. No waiting in line to get in, no waiting for your drinks (which can cost a pretty penny and take a while), and you have a decent place to hang out and dance. If you’re feeling a little courageous, head to the “runway,” aka extra long wooden table, hop on, and get shufflin’.
What we Drank…
- Grey Goose on the Rocks with Orange Slices (A)
- Champagne (K)
- Grey Goose on the Rocks (L)
- Grey Goose and Club Soda (M)
A: I grew up attending NYC ‘parties’, or as the general public would refer to them, Raves. Even in my old age, I still LOVE me some good booty house, however, there was none of that here. A typical, straight up, European style club, with remixed versions of current dance and pop tracks… still a good time, but as a former candy raver, there was just something missing.
K: I’ve had some good nights at this place… the DJ is definitely key to a make it or break it evening. I’d be curious to check out the Nikki Beach in Cannes and/or St. Tropez!
L: Beat the beat up! I think that is what they say on Jersey Shore?
M: This was my second time here , the first was better. We had a table and the DJ that night was a lot better. I would have to say the bottle service is key if you are planning on being there long. Getting a single drink means paying a lot for something that sometimes doesn’t seem to have as much liquor as you would hope to get. At least if you have your own bottle you can control that party of it .
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- European style dance club
- Coordinates- 3: City – 10 minute ride to fun
- Restaurant Return Rate- Yellow – need to check the DJ schedule! This can make or break the experience.