Tennis, the Met, the Plaza, tasty Italian fare...a great weekend in New York City
NEW YORK CITY - It's a shame when there's nothing to do on a weekend in the Big Apple.
Take this last few days. I arrived for something of a family reunion/birthday celebration (it's okay, Jan, I'm not telling any secrets) and we grabbed a cab to the storied Plaza hotel. I've stayed in a lot of incredible hotels in my time, lucky person that I am, and this one's right up there. Beautiful rooms, luscious baths, excellent service; everything you'd expect. High prices, sure, but how often do you get to wake up and have breakfast under the skylights of the Palm Court and then walk 28 feet and be deposited in the glories of Central Park? Not often, I suspect.
The hotel is obviously very high-end, with tons of marble and gold everywhere you look, but it's not gaudy or over-the-top in a "look-at-me-I'm-Donald-Trump" kind of way. They also make a strange but tasty cocktail in the fabled Oak Bar with pineapple-jalapeno tequila and pomegranate juice. Yikes. That's a taste sensation and a half.
We had a long walk around the park, venturing all the way from 59th St. to about 95th, at the top of the reservoir, and then back down, past Strawberry Fields as we dodged participants in a women's distance race through the park. A perfect morning.
From there it was over to the fabulous National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, where we caught Rafael Nadal's semifinal win. He made it look pretty easy. We also got to see Roger Federer's first set against Novak Djokovic, which he won. I was hoping he'd pull it off for a Nadal-Federer final on Monday but it didn't happen. Still, it was a thrill to see a match at center court at such a fabled spot, and to see two of the top players of all time in action.
The stadium is quite something, with tons of activities. In addition to the requisite shops, there was a string quarter playing classical music and tons of food options. I saw one guy wander into the Nadal match with a plastic martini glass filled with Grey Goose vodka and an olive, and how sophisticated is that for a second-deck drink?
On Friday night we ate at Scalinatella at 3rd and 61st. Great wait staff and remarkable food, including wonderfully rich lamb and the best grilled calamari I've had outside of Greece or Italy. Saturday night it was Via de Mille on West Broadway near Broome, where I had a fresh pasta with pecorino cheese, black pepper and fresh bits of pear. It was similar to a spaghetti carbonara but not as rich and the pear is obviously a bit more healthy than pancetta. Fun staff, a funky neighborhood vibe and a really nice meal.
Sunday was set aside for sleeping, a little email work, a quick visit to the Met and some shopping. I stopped at the Banana Republic at Lexington and, I think, 59th, but didn't see what I wanted. I then walked up 3rd and spotted another Banana Republic store at 65th or so. I found a couple shirts I liked but they didn't have my size. The clerk checked the system and it said there two of each of the ones I liked, but they were back at 59th and Lexington. So I trudged back to where I had just been, only to find one of the shirts was actually not in stock after all.
"The system only updates every 23 days," the clerk there told me. "They should've told you that at the other store."
A computer system that updates every 23 days? It should update every 23 minutes at worst. What's the point of telling someone, "Hey, we don't have the pants you want but I saw them at the store down the street three and-a-half weeks ago."??? I mean, how stupid is that? And this is a major, major clothing company? Time for some new software, guys. And right now.
That glitch aside, it was tons of fun. As always.