On January 15, 2014Linnea Covington answered the question:Since Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort is known for its multiple golf courses, the best time to head there is during the summer and fall. This way you can golf to your heart’s content without battling the elements. Of course, if golfing isn’t why you want to visit, these seasons are still prime so you can take advantage of the infinity pool, dining alfresco by the chef’s garden, and trying one of their zip-line adventure packages. However, make sure you check the calendar ahead of time as the property hosts some large events where rooms get booked fast — think the New Jersey Wine and Food Festival, New Jersey Beer and Food Festival, and Grand Cascades Lodge’s annual Oktoberfest celebration.
Of course, you can always come in the winter and swim in the Biosphere pool complex, get cozy in the wine cellar, indulge in the spa or reserve a spot next to a roaring fire. Even though the plants are dormant this time of year, seeing the land covered in a blanket of snow proves quite beautiful, and the accommodations quite cozy. If you prefer to be more active, visit sister property Mountain Creek for a wide array of winter activities, including skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing and adventure rides.
On January 15, 2014Linnea Covington answered the question:You can find Grand Cascades Lodge in the Crystal Springs Resort, located in northern New Jersey, in Hamburg near Vernon Township. Luckily for guests, this sprawling resort is only 70 to 90 minutes away from New York City by car, and just an hour outside of Jersey City. The best way to get to Grand Cascades Lodge is to take Highway 94 to Hamburg and you will find yourself inside the resort. The drive up is pretty, with lots of trees and nature preserves along the way. For example, nearby you will find the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge and the Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
On October 2, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Officially the dress code at chef Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud is casual, but most of the people dining there step it up a notch and, on any given afternoon, you can see businessmen power lunching in full suits. Ladies should keep it simple in a modest dress, smart twin set or pant suit, though if you showed up in jeans and a T-shirt the staff wouldn’t turn you away. At night, you tend to see people in attire that is more formal, which is most likely due to the guests attending the opera, ballet or concerts at Avery Fisher Hall. Of course, if you come in when the show is on, around 8 to 10 p.m., the crowd is more nonchalant.
On October 2, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Head to Boulud Sud nearly any day of the year and expect a fine Mediterranean meal from Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star chef Daniel Boulud. During the weekdays, the restaurant is open for lunch from noon until 2:30 p.m., and then it reopens for dinner at 5 p.m. and serves food until 11 p.m. In between lunch and dinner, the Bar and Lounge offer a Mezze Menu of small plates (such as a platter of herbed falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush and lavash) and signature dishes (octopus à la plancha — it's seared on a grill). On Saturday and Sunday, have brunch and lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. During the weekend, dinner commences at 5 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. on Saturday, but closes up at 10 p.m. on Sunday.
On October 2, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Hidden just around the corner from its bustling, bistro-style sister restaurant Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud (which joined Daniel Boulud’s stable of restaurants in 2011) is located across the street from Lincoln Center. When you head over there, don’t be confused by the alfresco menagerie lining Broadway; Boulud Sud is right around the corner at 20 West 64th Street, between Broadway and Central Park West, and proves much quieter. Dine there even if you aren’t in the neighborhood to take in an opera, a ballet or a concert in Lincon Center; you’ll get plenty of culture from the nearby Time Warner Center, Museum of Art and Design, outdoor sculptures and the gorgeous Revson Fountain on Josie Robertson Plaza, which is best seen at night when it’s all lit up.
On September 23, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:During the day, The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges hosts a bevy of diners, from businessmen, to ladies who lunch, to young guests staying at The Mark hotel. After that, you will find the lounge area tends to bring in the more laidback crowd, while the white-linen-covered tables in the atrium cater to business meetings, special events or people out for a quality meal. The main thing to know is that no one at the New York City restaurant is there just to hang out; visiting this fine-dining establishment is more about the food and the company rather than the scene. On the other hand, the attached Mark Bar proves a little different. By day, it’s a relaxed coffee shop type of place, with pastries, lattes and comfortable, cow-print couches for lounging. But by night, it’s one of the hottest bars in the area and fills up with all sorts of stylish Upper East Siders, hotel guests and other classy patrons looking to be seen and have a nice cocktail at the same time.
On September 23, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Set inside The Mark hotel, The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges is open daily starting at 7 a.m. Breakfast runs until 11 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, you can get brunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Regular lunch service runs Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., or you can choose to have the late lunch menu from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Daily dinner service begins at 5:30 and ends at 11 p.m.; after that time, you can order from the late-night menu until 1 a.m. The Mark Bar stays open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and remains open to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Finally, if you are a guest of the hotel and want room service from the New York City restaurant, you can order from the appropriate menu as long as the kitchen is open.
On September 23, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges is located at 25 E. 77th St., at Madison Avenue, nestled on the ground floor of The Mark hotel in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. The building resides near Central Park and is just a short walk from various museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, making it a great spot for a post-outing dinner. You will find noted chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s New York City restaurant to the left of the hotel’s front door; just go through the cow-print-themed Mark Bar and straight to the hostess stand.
On September 9, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Anytime is the right time to stay at The Mark, though if you enjoy strolling through the nearby Central Park, spring and fall are the best seasons to take in the green space. Plus, The Mark offers sleek black-and-white bicycles that you can borrow. If you go that route, order a gourmet picnic created by noted chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who helms the New York City hotel’s fine-dining spot, The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges.
Since New York is a year-round destination, The Mark doesn’t really have an on and off season. Usually, if you want to book a stay at the last minute, the luxury hotel can accommodate you, though if you desire a specific space, especially one of the suites with the kitchen and extra room, you should reserve in advance.
On July 29, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Every week, it feels like there are always great restaurants opening up in New York, and it’s hard to choose which ones to go to. Yet, here are three I recently tried and adored, so hopefully you will too.
Distilled: Located in TriBeca, on a bustling corner that has blossomed with new eateries, you can find chef Shane Lyons’s American Brasserie. Go there now to sip fantastic craft cocktails, sweet honey wine, aka mead, and dive into a plate of addictive wings. The setting is cool and comfortable, the staff knowledgeable about what they are serving, and the food rich and satisfying. As far as new joints go, this is an American standard worth trying.
Little Prince: In step with the French revival, Little Prince opened recently in SoHo and serves classic bistro fair with a few twists. Namely, the French Onion Soup Burger that was a “secret” item, but in a scant few weeks was so popular, and so not a secret, that they added it to the menu. It’s good, but what really stole my heart was their beef tartare. Not only was the tender meat super fresh, but also it had a nice heat radiating from the addition of chili oil. Other dishes like the Israeli couscous prove solid too, all with a classic French elegance and richness.
Barraca: There aren’t many places to get paella in the city, and luckily at Hector Sanz and chef Jesus Nunez’s new joint they make some of the best. Each order comes with two flavors, like the negra with squid ink-infused rice, artichoke, monkfish, and shrimp, and de fideu with Mediterranean noodles, cuttlefish, sausage, and shrimp. I also loved their sangria menu, especially the sangria de la mancha, a bold blend made with saffron-infused passion fruit, Verdejo, rum and clementine, and the girly compostela, which combined white wine, sake, apple-rosemary purée, and lemongrass. Also, next door is the team’s new, new café, Melibea, which focuses on Mediterranean fare.
Greenwich Project: Owned by the same people behind Mulberry Project and Vinatta Project, this cozy restaurant and bar evoke a townhouse with a modern art twist. The setting is bright, the service friendly, and the drinks divine. Try the BKLYN ‘76, a spring-like gin concoction laced with rosemary honey, sparkling wine, and lavender bitters. Pair that with a plate of chef Carmine Di Giovanni’s fried squid Ink pasta with prawn, delicate artichoke fritte with black pepper aioli, and the fresh lobster cavatelli with crawfish and ramps.
Hawker Bar: Though there is nothing fancy about this new Brooklyn eatery, the southeast Asian food coming out of this charming new spot is worth checking out. Its outdoor space channels a pop-up spot in the jungle, and with cocktails like the smoky Jack sour with Laphroaig, Jack Daniels and homemade sour mix, it’s a good trek to make.
On July 29, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Since New York is such a melting pot of cultures, it meshes wacky local customs from around the world. However, there are some basic things to know to help your stay run smoother, and more under the radar.
1. Be warned that the street Houston is not pronounced like the Texas city, instead, New Yorkers say it “HOW-sten.” Why they do this? It’s not immediately apparent, but as long as you know that, asking for directions will run much smoother.
2. Elevators, yes, they may seem simple, but one thing you must know is to stay on the right side of the moving stairs if you want to stand, and walk up on the left side. So many times people block the whole things, and for busy residents that feel the need to bustle, it’s frustrating.
3. Move into the train! I cannot highlight this concept enough. Though you might be nervous about missing your stop, if you block the doors, people won’t be happy, and neither will you for that matter they push past you aggressively. In general, people are nice and will move if you ask them, and, chances are others will be departing at your station too, so people kind of just pour out of the doors.
4. Don’t discount New York pizza or bagels, people are crazy about them and wars have been fought over an unkind word to either. When you are in New York, go with flow, drink the Koolaid, and accept that while you are here, NYC-style is best.
On July 29, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:With so many great Italian restaurants in the city, choosing which one to go to can be a challenge. We have two Little Italys, one in Manhattan in the Lower East Side and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, an Italian section in south Brooklyn, and hundreds of Italian eateries (some under the radar) scattered throughout all five boroughs. Of these, here is my top seven.
1. Lincoln Ristorante: Though it's been open only a handful of years, this gorgeous, glass-sided restaurant nestled in Lincoln Center churns out some of the best Italian food in the city. Thanks to chef Jonathan Benno, you can get perfectly executed seasonal pasta dishes, their rotating regional specials, and pair it all with an exceptional 400-plus bottle wine list.
2. L’Artusi: One of the stellar restaurants by Gabe Thompson, this bi-level West Village eatery serves small plates to go with their well-curated wine list.
3. Babbo: Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich have been rocking this eatery for 15 years. Yet, despite the big names, the space is modest and nestled in a quaint carriage house.
4. Del Posto: Another from the Batali-Bastianich team, with live piano music, marble and mahogany décor, and plush booths, this Chelsea spot maintains elegant class while churning up superb plates of pasta and other Italian specialties.
5. Torrisi Italian Specialties: Head to NoLita for a taste of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s Italian-American fare. Here you can get a seven-course, $65 prix fixe, just make sure to stop at Parm, their sister café next for a slice of ice cream cake.
6. Marea: Michael White knows his Italian, and at this Midtown spot, fine dining, fine house-made pastas, and fine wine go hand in hand.
7. al di la Trattoria: In Brooklyn there are a lot of Italians, so it goes to reason one of the best Italian restaurants would be there. Here, owners Emiliano Coppa and chef Anna Klinger serve up Northern Italian fare to hungry visitors and Park Slope residents.
On July 26, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Honestly, New York City has so many great ways to enjoy food, you need to either live here or come back all the time to experience it. Let’s start with Manhattan, not only are some of the best restaurants in the world located there, but you can try so many interesting flavors and cuisines side by side. A great way to do this is by eating as much classic grub like pizza, subs, and dumplings as possible. Of course, the best way to find out where to go is by taking a food tour, and if you don’t want a self-guided one, try one of Levy’s Unique New York’s well-curated walks, like the sandwich tour of Hell’s Kitchen and their customable, guided food crawls.
On a totally different spectrum, you should try and experience chef Daniel Humm’s five star-rated restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. Here they serve a New York-themed, multi-course meal of epic proportions. Prepare to spend at least four hours there and, though it is pricy, think of it as an investment because it’s a culinary adventure you won’t likely forget.
To experience the best Italian food in a neighborhood that still channels old school New York, head to the Bronx and Arthur Avenue, an area with distinct shops to buy fresh mozzarella, house-cured salamis, fresh pasta, pastries, and hand-rolled cigars. You can take stuff to go, and/or dine out at one of the many eateries like Dominick's or Mario’s.
In Brooklyn one of the best ways to eat is by hitting up the food-focused Smorgasburg that takes place in Williamsburg every Saturday until the end of November. Here you can sample foods from all over the borough, including chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, the Milk Truck's gourmet grilled cheese, and some of the best pickles ever done by McClure’s (try the spicy ones).
Finally, for an ethnic spread hitting China, Mexico, Thailand, and India, Queens has all you need for a unique experience. You can go to Jackson Heights and sample samosas, and curries on one side, and then cross the street to get tacos and cold Coronas on the other. Head all the way up on the number seven train for amazing and cheap Chinese, from tongue tingling lamb over hand-pulled noodles to piping hot scallion pancakes paired with sizzling pork dumplings, there is no way you can leave this area hungry. The best part is, it’s like you are taking a vacation from the city, even if the city is your vacation. Then again, this sort of cultural crossover is what makes NYC not only an interesting place to visit, but also a tasty one
On July 24, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:A great thing about living on the water is you get some of the best seafood around, and one of the best places to go and indulge in oysters is at Mermaid Inn in the East Village. Here they have a great happy hour oyster deal from 5:30 to 7pm, and though their dinner menu is simple, it’s worth checking out. Try the roasted local skate or the fish tacos, and pair that with a glass of cool Red Tail Riesling, made right here in New York, and call it a night.
For the best clam chowder in the city, head to Rebecca Charles’ Pearl Oyster Bar. Since 1997, this Greenwich Village staple has been churning out this dish, and other great ones including whole grilled fish, bouillabaisse, and a fine Caesar salad. If you are in SoHo, head to Aquagrill, a neighborhood institution since 1996 where you can get tasty plates seared diver scallops with Dungeness crab risotto, a delicious and spicy tuna tartare, and miso glazed Chilean sea bass.
Another stalwart in the city seafood scene is Oceana in Midtown. At this posh joint, they have an excellent raw bar, and in the kitchen, chef Ben Pollinger cooks up a mean stuffed branzino, blackened mahi mahi, and gin-cured gravlax. Make sure you save room for dessert though, because here, pastry chef Joseph Gabriel has a way with sweets, especially when they’re in baked goods form.