8 hours in New York: Macarons to Mac & Cheese

I was fortunate enough to tag on a day in NYC visiting a friend to a work trip to DC this week. I felt so much pressure – one day in New York – what would I do with it, and more importantly – what would I eat?

I’m not stranger to NYC. I’ve visited about 30x. before. I’ve hit some highlights in the past. So I decided to take some pressure off myself and just hit a few key places s that were currently on my mind.

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First on the last – Bouchon Bakery. I have a new appreciation for the place since I bought the cookbook late last year and tried my hand at the TKO recipe (that hand failed – read out that misstep here). I was going to show those treats who was boss by eating the perfect versions from my cookbook without having to make them myself. And why not try a few other things while I’m there? We ordered a TKO (Thomas Keller Oreo), Better Nutter (fancy pants riff on a Nutter Butter) and a mango-coconut macaron. Luckily, I was hanging with my friend I met at my first big PR job about 10 years ago – Angela – and she was down with sharing. I showed that TKO who was boss.

Next up – We bought tickets to a one-woman off broadway show, Chicken & Latkes by Rain Pryor (Richard’s daughter) and had about an hour to burn before it started.

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Call me crazy (maybe?), but I was in Times Square and just had to check out Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar restaurant. Yeah, I’m a “foodie” – but I’m also not going to ignore the New York Times scathing review that I read 6x when it came out. Could it really be as bad as they said? I was sure it wasn’t. Angela was up for the “adventure” and we bellied up to the bar.

The hits:

  • The BBQ pork shredded taco stacks were tiny but tasty. Served with lime on the side, they were right up my alley.
  • The restaurant’s décor was really well done. A mix of Edison bulbs and lights to look like a TV studio – the fonts on the walls – the little touches everywhere. Bravo on décor.
  • Our service at the bar was good.

The misses:

  • The merch – I know they feel they have to offer something for everyone – but the Kulinary Kween hat was cringe worthy.
  • How they sat guests – this restaurant is HUGE, just like the NYT’s said. I went to scope the whole place out on my bathroom break and it was vast. There were two dining rooms in the back with only one family each in them. Did they ask to be sat alone in no-mans-land? Doubtful. When your numbers are down, keep the people who are there close together for better energy.
  • The list of drink specials we received were holiday themed. It’s February. I don’t want to see a “Reindeer” anything on a menu anymore. It was just a one-sheeter. Seems easy enough to delete the Reindeer and Egg Nog drinks, leave the rest and print a new copy. Is it just me? This added to feeling like I was in a mostly-empty time warp.

The “eh – take it or leave its”:

  • We ordered the pretzel covered chicken fingers and they were okay. I mean, I ordered chicken fingers – what did I expect?
  • Again, the merch – some stuff was cool. A Guy Fieri frying pan for $30 bucks seems like a fun option. Chip clips – not so much.

All in all, I think the Times was a little harsh on Guy. It’s a big restaurant near Times Square. Given the options in the immediate area, I felt like it was solid. The prices were decent and if you wanted a kicked-up Hard Rock Café experience, it was just the ticket.

Then we went to our show. It was fun and interesting to go to a tiny theatre and feel like you were more of a part of it. There were maybe 50 people there (it was Superbowl Sunday, so she had some competition). 

As the show let out, we had Mac and Cheese on the brain. I know those Mac and Cheese only restaurants were making a splash 5 years ago in NYC, but I never made it to one and I was ready this trip to go find one. After checking on Yelp reviews, Angela decided it was worth the trek to get to S’Mac in the Village for our Mac and Cheese fix.

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There were a lot of options, but I did the more standard four cheese (cheddar, muenster, gruyere and pecoino). I wanted to know just how good one of their more regular ones was vs. buffalo chicken or something I had no context to compare to. Angela was more adventurous and tried the Parisienne (brie, figs, roasted shitake mushrooms and fresh rosemary). Both were delicious. Hers was more like a special casserole. Also interesting to me while there were the condiment options on the table. It seemed like half the guests were dousing their Mac and Cheese in ketchup. Is this a thing? I’ve never seen this before. Do they know something I don’t? Sounds gross, but now I want to try it out. I snagged one of the small paper menus with the full listing of menu options so I could try them out at home (my own versions).

All in all, not a bad 8 hours of eating my way through the city. 

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