USA Day 6: New York Cycling Tour

Today was the day of our cycling tour around Central Park and Harlem (again – chosen on the basis of the good weather!!!).  I rang the cycling tour group last night and explained that I would not be interested in a repeat of our wet and wild walking tour – but they assured me that by the morning everything would be dry.

Lo and behold – the morning dawned and I looked out the window.  They were right!!  The roads were pretty dry (apparently due to the fact that New York is largely a honeycomb).  But I get ahead of myself…  breakfast – the most important meal of the day.

Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter 2

156 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10021
212 486 9200
Open 8am – 8pm

My research on Yelp revealed this little gem of a breakfast spot – the main criteria being that it had pancakes, and was close to the start of our cycling tour.  So, we got up early for our Sunday adventure and caught the green line up to 68th Street and walked for about 5 minutes back to 64th.

This café is on the Upper East Side – apparently apartments in this area go for $10-20K per month!!!   If popularity was anything to go by, this was the place to be on a Sunday morning.

Whenever a little girl came in, they got sprinkled with fairy dust and got a pair of fairy wings to wear. I was very disappointed that I didn’t get offered any.

I had the pumpkin pancakes with nutmeg and cinnamon mixed with traditional buttermilk, served with butter and maple syrup.  They were very nice – but Bubby’s is still winning the race!!  Andrew had his standard (2 poached eggs on toast with bacon) (no pic).

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II on Urbanspoon

Bike the Big Apple Cycling Tour

We met our tour guides at Pedal Pushers at 1306 Second Avenue, got given a bike, helmet and classy trouser ties – and started on our great cycling adventure.

This is me – looking ready to rock and roll.
Thank goodness we had bought this jacket (have I said this already??).

Columbus Circle near Central Park – note the snow!

Although the park was officially closed, and there were park officials telling everyone this –
we snuck into the park anyway – so that we could visit Strawberry Fields and see the John Lennon Memorial. Just near this section of the park is where he was murdered outside the Dakota Building.

Andrew and I looking ever so sporty!

As we treked into Harlem we passed so many churches – this was one of many.

Lenox Lounge was the first Jazz Club in New York. Apparently when Duke Ellington
played there, he wasn’t allowed to be served – segregation!

We attended the Shiloh Baptist Church and got to stay for part of the service –
it was very interactive, very gospel. It was great!!

For lunch, we ate at Manna’s Soul Food Buffet and Salad Bar on Frederick Douglass Blvd in Harlem.

Soul Food means it’s cooked with love!!!
I had a mixture of everything (you paid for your meal by weight).  It included Southern fried chicken, jerk chicken, crab cakes, macaroni cheese, collard greens, pork spare ribs, and corn cake – just to mention a few things!!  It was all great!

Mannas on Urbanspoon

The Apollo Theatre was where all the big names got their break –
think The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Patti Labelle, etc.

And in case we didn’t tell you… it snowed in October. Some more snow pics of Central Park.

And this final shot is outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art – an amazingly huge building that spans about  6 city blocks. There were people out everywhere – the main attraction actually being a group of 5 black guys singing classic 60’s songs. Think… “Get a Job”.

The cycling tour was fantastic – a great way to see New York.  The tour guides did a great job, making sure we were safe and enjoying ourselves. Highly recommended.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge 

Since the tour finished at about 3pm – we had a bit of time up our sleeves.  Someone had said to me – you MUST go across to Brooklyn and walk back to New York across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. It sounded great to me – so I had already checked out sunset times – 5:55pm.  So we caught a train, and with the help of a couple of local New Yorkers, worked out which stop to get off.

I had to sit on a brownstone stoop in Brooklyn Heights!

The view from Brooklyn Heights! Not bad!

Me and Andrew, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

He we go – about to head over…

Nice shot Andrew!!!

The Manhattan skyline at night!

9/11 Memorial

Given we visited New York about a month after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we were fortunate enough to be able to get tickets to see the memorial.  A slight stuff up on my part meant that the only tickets available were at 6:30pm at night – but in retrospect this was one of the most beautiful times of the day to visit.  The memorial is absolutely stunning – so amazing in its scale and design. It is quite breathtaking.  This memorial design was chosen from over 5200 submissions.

One of the never ending pools

A view of the One World Trade Centre building – growing on average one floor per week.
It will end up being 1776 feet high.

Original pieces from the World Trade Centre – in the not yet finished museum.

Andrew and I standing in front of the one tree that survived the terrorist attacks.

It’s hard to describe the sheer magnitude of this memorial. For us, it was a must do to visit – more so than anything else we did in New York.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

171 First Avenue
New York, NY  10003
Open: Lunch M-F 12:00 – 4:30pm;  S-S 12:00 – 4:00pm
Open: Dinner M-T 5:30 – 11:00pm; F-Sat 5:30pm – 2:00am

Actually, I have to confess that our plan was not to go to Momofuku tonight. My original plans were to try to get into the Gramercy Tavern, which had been recommended strongly by two friends.  Alas – you need to book the Gramercy Tavern at least 2-3 weeks out if you want to eat in the restaurant.  And if you want to eat in the bar, I would recommend you get there at opening time.  The wait for a table was an hour and a half – so we needed to scramble and find a contingency plan!

So we decided there was only one option – and that was to try another Momofuku restaurant – Noodle Bar. The Noodle Bar was actually the first Momofuku restaurant to open in New York – so it seemed appropriate that we should go check it out.  The main thing was – they had steamed buns on the menu.

I guess we arrived at about 8:00pm by that stage, and saw that the place was heaving with people. Not to be daunted, we walked past the legions of people around the doorway and asked for a table for 2, expecting to be told there would be an hour wait.  Imagine our surprise when they seated us immediately.  Sure, we had to squeeze into seats at a communal table that was tightly wedged up against the wall – but we were seated within 5 minutes.  Amazing!

We still can’t go past these – so here they are – the last steamed buns for a while.

Ramen noodles with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg
Sorry – we had started eating this – so it doesn’t look as pristine as it should.

Aged sirloin with parsnip, roasted carrot and onion. Pretty good!

The food was pretty special, and we love those pork buns.  Overall, however, I had to acknowledge – if we had come to this Momofuku first – we may not have gone back to Momofuku again. In fact, I may have been left wondering what all the fuss was about. IMHO Ssäm Bar is definitely better – both in ambience and food selection. In fact, so far – it’s been the best meal we’ve had in the States!

So, final count was 2 visits to Momofuku Ssam Bar, 1 visit to Momofuku Milk Bar, and 1 visit to Momofuku Noodle Bar… does that make 4 visits???

A really appropriate place to have our penultimate meal in New York.

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon