Delicious Eats Await At The Derby

In a city where neighborhoods reinvent themselves with same speed as Madonna, hearing that a new restaurant has sprung is just par for the course.  The Lower East Side is just one of many NYC neighborhoods that is shedding the skin of its past, and I just got the scoop on a new place that you and your peeps will want to make your “old haunt” very fast.

20140521_161810The name is The Derby and it opened a little over a month ago.  Located at 167 Orchard Street this eatery specializes in biscuits and bourbon and southern cuisine standards such as cheddar grits, chicken fried steak and baked macaroni and cheese.   The music creates a cool eclectic, vibe.   The décor is a mash-up between bar at Churchill Downs and a scene from The Great Gatsby with a speakeasy located in the basement – a great setting for a private get together.

20140521_161824I know what you’re thinking, the vintage furnishings sound nice, but how is the food?  Well FAMERS…the food is scrumptious.  I suggest the fried chicken, if you’re looking to have a cheat day on your diet.  The pieces are fried to golden perfection and the meat is juicy.  It comes with a side of fried okra and let me tell you, any place that can get me to like okra gets high marks in my book.

20140521_161954If this place was running in the upcoming Belmont Stakes, I would put my money down on The Derby.  It’s a shoo-in and a cool place to have a bite to eat in the summertime.  And if you do, say hello to Gabe, the restaurant’s manager.   He’s very personable and a definite added attraction.  Good food, good vibe, good people, good prices…there is nothing not to like about The Derby.

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Fond Farewell

Last year we said goodbye to icons, athletes and politicians.  We also said goodbye to a landmark.  On December 31st, Tavern on the Green opened its doors for the last time in Central Park.  Over 1,000 people from across the U.S. came to take part in the closing of NYC history. 

Tavern on the Green opened its doors in 1934 during the Great Depression; it is almost storybook that its saga should end during the Great Recession.   It was known for its grand décor – a restaurant that presented a magical aesthetic for its patrons. 

Like most New Yorkers, Tavern on the Green was not one of my favorite eateries.  In recent years the cuisine developed a subpar reputation and the décor was not as splendid as it was in its heyday.  It had become one of those places in the Big Apple that garnered a lot of attention from tourists and bridezillas, and was not necessarily considered a restaurant that a “real” New Yorker would go to. 

In New York City restaurants come and go.  A hot new eatery springs up and is all the rage one day and it is cold as day old Manhattan clam chowder the next.  Still, when I learned that the iconic restaurant was closing its doors for good I experienced a sudden pang of nostalgia and regret.  Tavern on the Green was as New York to me as Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building, Saks Fifth Avenue or The Met.  It was just as an important fixture in Central Park as Strawberry Fields or Wollman Rink.  I developed my deep love for the landscape of the city through my father.  When I was a child, we would go on day trips every Saturday, embarking on a new landmark each time.  It was through my father and those day trips that I developed my affinity for music, arts, culture architecture and style.  As an adult, I have left those landmarks to the tourist to gawk over taking them for granted.  Tavern on the Green was one of those places.

After the loss of the World Trade Centers I swore that I appreciate the landmarks that make NYC so spectacular a little more, but I know realize that I haven’t really lived up to that promise.  As much as New York City is a place of history and landmarks, it is also a metropolis for the latest and greatest.  I had been so busy chasing what is new and hot, I had forgotten about the places and sites that make New York one of the most visited places in the world.  With a New Year come new promises, one of mine is to revisit my childhood and make new memories by visiting more city landmarks before they too disappear and become pages on Wikipedia.

Central Park won’t seem the same without Tavern on the Green, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  Sure, it may have become a little tattered and torn over the years and the food could’ve been better, depending on your taste buds, but nonetheless it was staple and part of New York history.  Items from the famed restaurant have been liquidated and sold; it has been reported that Jennifer LeRoy, manager of Tavern on the Green, is fighting to retain its name so she can open a new restaurant at a new location.  Only time will tell if Tavern on the Green will ever open its doors again, but for now I bid it adieu.

Meat Anyone?

Sometimes when I look around at the city I can hardly recognize it.  Really, this city has seen more facelifts than Zsa Zsa Gabor.  One upgrade in particular that still makes me shake my head in amazement is the Meatpacking District. 

When I was a girl the Meatpacking District was known for large slaughterhouses, tranny hookers, the Mafia, drugs and sex clubs.  The vices in the meatpacking district almost overshadowed the meat and was one of the best places to find sin in New York City, outside Times Square of course.

Now Gansevoort Market is a far cry from the days when transsexual prostitute skulked around corners and the mafia ruled the slaughterhouses with an iron, Black Hand.  The Meatpacking District is one of the chicest areas in the city with restaurants, bars and clubs that play host to the fierce and fabulous as well as some of the best designer boutiques.  Some feel that the Meatpacking District has become too chic for real New Yorkers and is nothing more than a tourist haven like Times Square.  Maybe they are right, but something I learned from the tragedy of 911 is that you don’t take any part of this city for granted.  So without further adieu, here are my choices for the best that the Meatpacking District has to offer.

DINING

RdV                                 RDV Image

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014    

212-675-3300

After stepping down a dimly lit stairway, you arrive in a sexy subterranean chill zone.  RdV takes elegance underground with its plush Baroque style furniture and potted banana trees that add a tropical feel.  The candlelit private dining room is a hideaway within a hideaway and provides its diners with an intimate experience.  The cuisine definitely lives up to the opulent French setting.  I recommend Foie Gras Terrine for an appetizer and Truffled Chicken or Pan Seared Wild Stripped Bass for a main course.  RdV holds 150 guests and is the perfect lounge to drink and dine when planning a grown and sexy gathering with friends.

Bagatelle                       Bagatelle%20Interior                       

409 W 13th St, New York 10014

212-675-2400

Above ground designer David Graziano, designer of RDV, created a posh French bistro.  Bagatelle has been dubbed the place to eat for the rich and trendy and is also known for their brunch.  I recommend Dimanche – Poule-au-Pot and the Potato Puree.  And if you are going to the Caribbean check out Bagatelle’s sister restaurant in Turks and Caicos.  Great food + great atmosphere = a complete dining experience.

 PARTY

Cielo                        ceilo                      

18 Little West 12th Street New York, NY 10014
212 242-8537

Besides the great décor, which resembles a log cabin, the sunken dance floor, and outdoor back yard that has heated lamps in the winter, this club plays host to some of the legends of dance music.  Francois K., Marques Wyatt, Jojo Flores, Junior Vasquez, and Roger Sanchez have all spinned in their DJ booth.  Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge hold their Roots party every week on Wednesday.  Cielo is an absolute must for anyone who seriously loves dance music.

Kiss & Fly                              Temple Perimeter View in Purple Light

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014

212-255-1933

With the opening of Kiss and Fly lavishness has been brought back to NYC nightlife.  This club caters to the sophisticated and fabulous.  Kiss & Fly is Dom Perignon’s flagship club in the United States. Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld designed a mural for the club that is the backdrop to the $18,000 bottles of Dom Perignon that are on display and on the wine list.  Kiss & Fly also boasts 28 VIP areas with their own “private” dance floor that is raised behind the table.  Fire acts, aerial shows, stilted performances, fire throwers turn this nightclub experience into an extravaganza.

STAY 

Hotel Gansevoort             hotel-gansevoort_3

18 9th Avenue New York, NY 10014

212-206-6700

Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you have to stay at home, the Hotel Gansevoort offers awe-inspiring 360 degree panoramic views of New York City and is the only luxury, full service resort in the Meatpacking District.  Hotel Gansevoort offers an elegant get away to its patrons.  The hotel has 187 guestrooms and 23 suites.  The rooms are lavish, but with a minimalist aesthetic. The duplex penthouse houses a Jacuzzi and fireplace.  Hotel Gansevoort also has 45-foot heated outdoor rooftop pool with underwater lights and music everyday as well as a swanky rooftop loft and spa. Designer David Graziano also places his stamp on the Hotel Gansevoort making the hotel the fourth business in the Meatpacking District that has been touched by his chic  style.  Upon walking out of the Hotel Gansevoort, be prepared to take on the cobbled-stone splendor of the new Meatpacking District.