I <3 NYC I

I Love New York City… Oh Yeah… New York City (part I)


I’ve mentioned before how my memory is pretty bad. It’s odd – at times I can’t remember bits of my life; on any given day – I usually don’t know what time/date/month/year it is. I forget my age, I forget things I’ve said, I forget who I’ve met (this one usually bums people out and creates an awkward Curb Your Enthusiasm-theme-song-queued moment). 

We played.. somewhere… before the NYC show on the Dream Theater tour. It was either in Jersey or Pennsylvania. In a neighborhood-esque town in an all seated Theater-hall. The show was alright – the crowd took a ton of effort to get em into it. Me and Paolo were to be picked up by car immediately after the set to drive into Manhattan, grab a bite with Monte (our A and R at Roadrunner and serious-foodie friend of mine) and Darren (our co-manager at 5B management who is also a serious foodie-buddy of mine).

We did the show, piled into a car, got into the city – and checked into the Ace hotel. 

The Ace hotel is the definition of cool. When one merely walks into the lobby – that person will be immediately swept with a sense of: “Oh shit. I am underdressed and far less-cool than everyone in here.” At any given time of day or night at Ace, it’s the trendiest of trendy kids – dressed in the most current of cool trend-style, either drinking cocktails or working on something on their Macs. I am not exaggerating or criticizing – I wish I looked that cool all the time. Those kids are hip.

The Ace has quickly become a favorite hotel of mine – The hotel itself has multiple things on location that are mind-blowing: The Breslin restaurant, Stump-town (or was it Blue Bottle) coffee, a gourmet sub-shop, clothes stores, accessory stores… everything there is amazing. There’s even a killer bar that serves some righteous cocktails and micro-brews. The interior lobby is somewhere along the lines of a cross-between restored-industrial, modern, dorm, rock and roll, and huntsman-lounge (just a dash). It’s all sleekly lit, very nicely designed, and welcoming (aside from the fact if you’re feeling underdressed and all that by the hanger-outers in the lobby). 

The room has a dorm/rock and roll/renovated loft feel. Iron door, dorm-esque bed, simple, clean design. There is a road-case for a mini-bar, all gourmet snacks and waters and booze here – nothing standard; the bathroom has a European-flare to it – the room I had this time had a killer tub, nice fixtures; friendly little bits and design-charm can be found on the hairdryer bag, the laundry board, and even the take-able polaroid camera. A highly informative survival guide again has that school-feel to it – but in a really familiar, heart-warming sort of way. Free internet to boot. 

I am instantly reminded of school and touring combined in this room – but all in a good way. 

I dressed up a bit, took a deep breath – and headed down to get out with Paolo, Darren, and Monte. 

The whole reason for our trip up to NYC was to get over to a studio and attempt a “clean vocal” pass of the song “In Waves.” I know it seems like an odd idea… singing over the chorus of “In Waves,” but it was an idea worth not passing up. This would be our pre-party and strategy-dinner on ideas of how to try it out (or at least that’s what we’d say to pass our feast off as a “business dinner”).

Darren picked our dinner spot for the night, The Meatball Shop. A place that does just that – meatballs. But gourmet and amazing. We ordered the Cesani Chianti to share and began our ordering. Meatball shop is a tiny, newer restaurant with some serious wait-times. People flood the inside and outside. In the nicely lit, very-well designed restaurant, you can see the kitchen in back, chalkboards displaying the menu, specials, and drinks.

My plan of action:

– Chile Relleno Meatballs: pork, jalapeno, poblano, queso fresco, cilantro tomatillo salsa verde and a mother-frickin’ fried egg.

– Risotto: porcini mushroom

– Mashed Potatoes (that Monte swears is some of the best damn mashed potatoes he knows of)

– Fennel with walnuts, raisins and parsley

– Garlic collard greens

– Bibb lettuce salad with radish portobella, tarragon croutons, with sherry vinaigrette

The mashed potatoes were creamy, buttery, milky and reminded me of Southern-style mashed potatoes. Those chile meatballs were a super-fun take on the meatball. It pretty much contained most of my favorite ingredients all in one dish. I am an avid-pork advocate, a huge fan of Mexican food (you can certainly detect a heavy Mexican-cuisine influence in this dish with the use of quasi and cilantro tomatillo salsa verde), and that fried egg! Such a great idea. Texturally, just right of what you want from a meatball – still a trip to get the green salsa verde on a meatball – but hell… it’s always fun to see a new spin. 

The risotto had more of a thickness than the classic risotto-prep, regardless – I still really dug it. It had a creaminess paired with the cheese and porcini. Thick, fantastic mushroom-flavor. Garlic collards were as good as ever – another hint at some Southern-influence at Meatball Shop; The fennel with walnuts, raisins and parsley was a really interested grilled vegetable dish. 

Obviously, in my normal fashion – I had ordered far far too much food. The bibb salad was just as good as the rest. The vinaigrette covered everything nice and evenly – crunchy, hard, perfect tarragon croutons. 

We all caught up about other amazing meals we’ve had recently, chatted on the state of the music industry, shared our dishes with each other – and had a great night. 

Of course I had desert: Oatmeal cherry cookie with cinnamon ice cream sandwich. This thing was the size of a baseball. The chewiness of the cherries inside of the oatmeal cookie were beautiful. I love oatmeal cookies, my grandma on my dad’s side makes a fantastic one – so I always long to be reminded of family cooking – this one was nice and chewy (no crumbling) and the cherries really added something special. Couple all that with some seriously friggon delicious cinnamon ice cream – and you have one of the best childhood-reminiscent ice cream sandwiches of my recent years. Insane.

We said our goodbyes to Monte and headed back to Ace for a final drink. I had the Voodoo Child: Kentucky bourbon with agave nectar, lemon juice, whisky barrel-aged bitters, ginger beer. When at the right place in NYC – you cannot go wrong. This cocktail was an embodiment of my experience at the Ace: familiarity with a spin of something new – done right, unpretentiously. 

I slept incredibly. 

6 thoughts on “I <3 NYC I

  1. I wonder what Northern takes on our great Southern food are actually like. If there’s anything near as good as a bowl of Texas chili or some of our ribs and beans, I’d be pretty dang surprised.

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