On Our Radar

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Holiday Train Show At NYBG
Business/Location: New York Botanical Garden
Address: 200th St & Kazimiroff Blvd
City: Bronx
Zip Code: 10458
Phone: 718-817-8700
Website: www.nybg.org

Posted by:  Scott Sendrow
Photo:  Scott Sendrow
   New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is one of the highlights of Christmas in New York. I mean, yes, there is that gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center and, sure, the Christmas windows all around Midtown are a sight to behold, but there's nothing like taking in the collection of 150 New York City landmarks entirely constructed from plant material (!) in the Haupt Conservatory. And then there are the model trains. It would be demeaning to call this special tradition "outsider art," but the near-obsessive attention to detail evokes that spirit. When Christmas is almost entirely commercialized in a city where commercialism reigns supreme, NYBG's heartfelt and homespun Train Show is a welcome change of pace. The show's 23rd annual installment features an artists' studio that unveils the magic behind the process in which leaves, twigs, bark, berries, seeds, pine cones, nuts and even pistachio shells are transformed into the Rockefellers' Kykuit estate. The Train Show opened November 15 and runs through January 19, 2015. "Bar Car Nights" -- select Friday and Saturday evenings in December and January where adults enjoy a complimentary cocktail while perusing the exhibition -- would make a great date activity before an Arthur Avenue dinner (just a 15-minute walk from NYBG).

Monday, December 8, 2014
Free Air
Business/Location: Echelon Cycles
Address: 51 Eighth Avenue
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10014
Phone: 212-206-7656

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Echelon Cycles
In a city where you're constantly being accosted by ways to spend money, it's the little courtesies that make a big difference in keeping your sanity: water bowls outside restaurants for people's pets; buy-backs in a bar; and when you find the tire on your bike getting a little flat, the compressed air hose protruding from many a bike shop front ready to fill your tires back up and get you on your way. It may be hard for anyone who doesn't live here to understand, but in NY, getting air for free means a lot.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Slice in the City
Business/Location: Village Pizza
Address: 65 Eighth Avenue
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10014
Phone: 212-243-4367

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Village Pizza
One of the less heralded trademark NYC businesses is the local slice joint. High-end pizza places have proliferated in the past decade and get the press, but the backbone of pizza in New York is still the local pizzeria baking pies all day to be sliced and doled out in ones and twos. Village Pizza on Eighth Avenue and 13th Street hits all the right notes: a sturdy plain slice that it's hard to get sick of, friendly but no-nonsense counter staff, a steady stream of customers that keeps the pizza fresh, and a filling lunch for just five bucks.

Sunday, November 30, 2014
Tiny Stall with a Big History
Business/Location: Pain D' Avingnon
Address: 120 Essex St
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10002
Phone: 212-673-4950
Website: www.paindavignon-nyc.com/essex-st-market/

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Pain D' Avingnon
It seems funny to have to recommend a bakery that's been in NYC for almost 15 years (and in business since 1992), but Pain D' Avingnon keeps a very low profile considering it's one of the city's best bakeries. They supply the bread for some top notch places (Eleven Madison Park, Momofuku Saam Bar and the Mandarin Oriental, among many others), but they stay refreshingly simple in their consumer approach: until recently, they only had one location in the city – a tiny stall at Essex Market (now they're in the Plaza food court and Smorgasburg). The bottom line: they bake up excellent European-style bread and sell it for a great price. Stop by once a week and never buy supermarket bread again.

Friday, November 21, 2014
Souper Duper
Business/Location: Nusa Kitchen
Address: 9 Old St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: EC1V 9HL
Phone: 020 7253 3135
Website: www.nusakitchen.co.uk

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Nusa Kitchen
I found myself in Clerkenwell today and began reminiscing about my first job in London which was in this very hood. Back in 2006, Nusa was my regular lunch stop. Something about their soups comforts and reassures. Influenced by Eastern flavours it's common to find the likes of Chilli Chicken and Prawn Laksa on the menu but anything spicy goes and other options today included Prawn Jambalaya and Yucatan Tortilla (FYI they do delicious spicy breakfasts, too). At around £4.95, the soups are hearty and filling--more like stews and curries--and are bolstered by brown rice and flat bread. Also mindful of vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options, the menu is clearly marked accordingly which is fab for anyone with those concerns. The soups are made from scratch with delicious fresh ingredients which makes you feel confident that you're eating something nutritious rather than the mass-produced franchise stuff. And judging by the queue that goes out the door they're as popular as ever and probably don't need my endorsement. They are however, food heroes for me, and in the sea of high street dross that dominates the takeaway lunch market, family-run Nusa is still refreshingly different.

Monday, November 10, 2014
NYPD in Bright Neon
Business/Location: Times Square
Address: 7th Ave & W 42nd St
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10036
Website: www.timessquarenyc.org

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson
   Times Square

Times Square is dead. But you probably already knew that, unless you like shopping for huge quantities of Peanut M&M's and spending your whole paycheck at Bubba Gump Shrimp & Cheese Factory (or whatever it's called). But don't brush it off all the way. Besides Jimmy's Corner, which we can never say enough good things about, you can still feel that New York hustle and bustle in this part of town. There are also a few good signs. The giant new digital displays don't do much for me, but I've always had a soft spot for this NYPD neon beauty. Next time you're rushing through here if the relatives in town or you're going to see that once-a-year Broadway show, take a moment right here and catch your breath. Then keep moving before an Elmo asks you for money! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Village Voice Holiday Spirits
Business/Location: Hudson River Park
Address: Battery Pl to 59th St
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code:
Phone: 212-627-2020
Website: www.hudsonriverpark.org

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Laura June Kirsch
   Hudson River Park

At NFT we're all about a good party. And once November hits, it's time to start planning the seasonal get togethers. One new annual tradition that we now have on our list is the Village Voice's fun Holiday Spirits fiesta. Bringing many of the area's best distilleries together to share their latest creations, guests can sample a great range of drinks from creative cocktails to classic punches. It all happens under one roof -- or in this case -- on one boat! Yes, this year's soiree offers a new twist as it takes to the harbor on a Hornblower Cruise for glittering views of the skyline that will only get better as the drinks continue to flow. It all gets underway on November 20th at 6 pm at Pier 40 (@ West Houston). Get your tickets early, because a.) you'll save some of your hard-earned money and b.) this fun party will most likely sell out. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Lunching on the Upper East
Business/Location: Wajima
Address: 134 East 61st
City: New York
Zip Code: 10021
Phone: 212-813-9065

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

"Want to hang out in the Upper East Side?" That's a question you don't hear too often, but almost all New Yorkers still find themselves there at some point. Even if they live in hipster Brooklyn. I guess we can thank The Met and Guggenheim. If you do find yourself in the 'hood at lunch time on a weekday, you might want to check out Wajima. Like a lot of NFT's favorite places, it doesn't look like much. But that's ok, because it's all about the food. Get ready for traditional cuisine where for $12.50 you get a little cup of homemade tofu dotted with seafood, a nice portion of salmon sashimi over an addictive vinegar rice, a bowl of rich Miso soup and even a few pieces of perfectly fried shrimp and veggie tempura. It's not the cheapest deal in town, but for East 61st Street, this is a steal.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Outdoor Museum for the People
Business/Location: Graffiti Wall of Fame
Address: E 106th St & Park Ave
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10029

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson
   Graffiti Wall of Fame
We don't need to tell you graffiti has a long history in New York. Historians may point to cave drawings and scribbles on walls in ancient times as the beginning, but we know it really all began here in NYC. Although you won't catch many freshly painted subway cars these days (like in the '80s), you can still see new styles being created all over the city. And lucky for me, one is just down the street from where I call home. Just like a museum, The Graffiti Hall of Fame paints their walls every six months or so to create new art that will blow you away. It's easy to get to on the 6 train, it's close to Central Park, and if you're short on cash, you don't have to line up during a two-hour window like other museums in town. It's open 24-7 and is always free.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
"The Clock"
Business/Location: Grand Central Terminal
Address: 89 E 42nd St
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10017
Phone: 212-340-2583
Website: www.grandcentralterminal.com

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson
   Grand Central Terminal
Whenever I'm meeting someone in Midtown, I never pass up the chance to say, "Meet me at the clock in Grand Central." If you know what that means, then you've been living in New York for awhile. There's something special about waiting to meet one single person surrounded by thousands upon thousands of darting commuters and photo-happy tourists. Amid the swirl you can check your i-Phone for an email you don't really need to read, or take a few moments to just stare up at the beautiful ceiling and enjoy the rushing city for a few small moments before coming back to reality. And if you don't have a plan when you meet your friend, you can always duck into the fabulous Grand Central Oyster Bar saloon for a martini and a dozen bivalves.