This is my favorite photo of Mel and me, seen here skipping across the Brooklyn Bridge. I loved being able to spend so much time with her on this trip and seeing New York through her eyes.
We had late breakfast at the Hyatt's aforementioned 16th floor lounge. To call it a lounge doesn't do it justice at all. How about Exclusive Zone Of Awesome Furniture And Nonstop Beverages Snacks Breakfast And Cookies (EZOAFANBSBAC)? They had a fantastic spread of basically everything you could want for breafast (not pictured: another counter with individual egg casseroles, hot cereal, etc). If you ever stay at that Hyatt, do whatever it takes to gain access to this thing.
We had originally planned to spend the morning at the Museum of Modern Art, but it was closed that Tuesday, so we switched gears and took care of our Wednesday itinerary instead. We rode a subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked across it. This was an easy, fun walk, and we took frequent photo breaks and read information about the bridge along the way.
The forecast called for rain that day, but we made it across before the weather became nasty.
About thirty minutes later we were on the other side, and we started looking for a bus that would take us to Red Hook, home of Baked, a small bakery I've been obsessed with for a couple of years. I've mentioned it on this blog about a hundred times. Pilgrimage!
A light drizzle began to fall as we found the bus stop. It was located across the street from Brooklyn's Shake Shack, though, and we made a unanimous LUNCH FIRST decision. About a year and a half ago, having never tried them, Jeff and I attempted to duplicate the Shake Shack's burgers in this post. We were excited to see what the real thing was like and ordered a double cheeseburger to split between ourselves, and Mel had a burger with bacon and red peppers. Also fries, also shake, also Coke float. The burger delivered in a mighty way--right up there with Five Guys if not better. Everything else was also frighteningly great.
We watched the drizzle change over to heavy rain as we ate in our cozy booth. An exceptionally friendly and adorable young woman came by to clear our table. I'm going to call her Miss Brooklyn because she slipped us a free sample of their maple-bacon ice cream when we told her this was our first time at the Shake Shack. Therefore, in my opinion she represented everything that is great about Brooklyn, and I proceded to love this borough even more. We hopped on our bus and took a medium-length ride to Baked.
Baked is in an unassuming brick building on a kind of ho-hum street. It has a brown and orange color scheme, just like their cookbooks. A fabulous deer mirror crowns the coffee area. It was snug and rather dark inside and packed with young-ish customers when we entered--all eerily quiet, most of them using laptops and gazing at phones. They looked us over in a way that would make the farmer-regulars at my hometown's Tastee Freez proud before returning to their screens. We later agreed that we had just visited the Epicenter of Hipster.
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the bakery's founders/owners/cookbook gods, were on a book tour at the time, but the man working the counter was very pleasant and thanked us for making our pilgrimage. No tables were available, so we sat on a window seat and devoured our treats. I had a Brookster, which is a chocolate chip cookie baked inside a brownie, and Jeff and Mel had different toffee-ish bar cookies. Interestingly, these items were a little on the dry side--my Brookster might have been ever-so-slightly overbaked--and we left feeling like (a) maybe we should have ordered different treats and (b) maybe their recipes turn out better when they're made in tiny batches at home?? Dare I even whisper this??
Whatever the case, it was still cool to experience New York from this local level, and there's something about riding a bus that gives you a feel for day-to-day living in a city. We got off the bus, walked in the rain for a bit, and found the subway that took us back to our hotel.
It was mid-afternoon, still gloomy outside, and Jeff and I felt like taking a nap. Meanwhile Mel explored the area around our hotel on her own for a couple of hours, going into various posh stores, taking photos of designer clothes, visiting St. Patrick's, and so on.
Mel returned from her adventure, and not too long after that we set out on foot for Resto, where we had dinner reservations.
This was our most expensive and longest meal on our trip. Jeff wanted to go to this Belgian gastro-pub because (let's all say it together) he wanted to try their Belgian fries. An excellent, very knowledgeable waiter who had lived in Belgium took care of us and claimed that these fries were the real deal.
The restaurant, which was smallish and beautiful inside, was so dim that none of our photos came out very well, but we shared the following: mussels and fries, a beef cheek burger, a flat iron steak, and some deviled eggs on pork toast.
And guess what? JEFF APPROVED OF THE FRIES. I'll let him explain.
4 out of 5 stars. The texture was spot on--creamy inside, crunchy out. It missed on the flavor--probably needed duck fat--but I devoured these fries. Next time in NY, I'll give The Harrison and the Ace Hotel a shot. And if I ever get to Maine, this.
When we left, it was dark and misty, but still very comfortable temperature-wise, and we walked through Bryant Park and Times Square. One of Mel's friends pointed out the Batman building in this photo and now it's all I can see.
Also lurking in the haze: the Empire State Building. Nice photo by Jeff!
Times Square was the usual sensory overload, and I took a picture of Jeff and Mel, who is pretending to be so over it, in front of a neon American flag.
Wet pavement and bright flashing lights are a winning combination in my book! I love this shot by Mel.
I've posted a lot this week, so in case you missed the first two installments of this trip, here they are:
Stay tuned for the conclusion, coming up soon!