USA Day 7: New York – Washington

Murray Hill Diner

222 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY  10016
(212) 686 6667
Open: M-F 6am – 10pm; Sa 6am – 8pm; Su 6am – 7pm
No website

Our train wasn’t due to depart until 11 ish, so we could go out and have breakfast.  We hadn’t tried a classic American Diner yet – so decided to try our luck. This diner was just around the corner from our hotel and recommended by the concierge.

Poached eggs, sausage and home fried hash brown

Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup

It’s probably about now that I should let you know that I’m not really into the standard fluffy, buttermilk pancake.  I tend to find them a bit dry and tasteless – which makes you want to pile on lashings of butter and maple syrup to help them go down.  So my benchmark for excellence is really about a moist texture and something that gives the pancakes a flavour boost (hello – sourdough pancakes anyone?).  So, to be honest, I found these pancakes to be pretty average stuff – they were the typical light, fluffy, buttermilk type. They did the job, but I wouldn’t necessarily come rushing back to have them again.

So, our last meal in New York wasn’t the best – however, at least I can now tick the box that says: “Visit a genuine American Diner”!!

After checking out at the hotel, we took a very sad taxi ride to Penn Station – we have absolutely loved New York and will definitely be back. We felt that we’d just got the hang of it a little bit – the subway, the streets, and the sheer size of it.  My recommendations for anyone planning to go would be to stay somewhere where the subways converge, e.g. Tribeca, Greenwich Village – that makes it easier to get around to anywhere you need to go – rather than trek downtown, and change lines, etc.  We have learned a lot in our 5 days here, and I did always say that this would be our reconnaissance trip!  We only managed to do about a tenth of the things we planned to do – so I guess we’ll have to come back.

Train journey – New York to Washington

We boarded our train, the Acela, at Penn Station.  There was a bit of a delay due to the debris associated with a major and unexpected snow storm. However, once the train arrived we all boarded pretty quickly.  Keen to find an uncrowded carriage, Andrew and I rushed to the second last carriage (well, as fast as you can rush with 2 big suitcases, carry on and lap top bag) – and jumped on just in time before it pulled out of the station.  No time to be wasted!!

The train trip was very pleasant and a great way to see the countryside and get to Washington.  The train was set up in booths with tables, and had free wi-fi. So, I think it was a good choice over dragging ourselves to an airport, going through security, waiting to check in and then waiting to board. Although the actual travel time would have been less on a flight –  I expect in total it probably took roughly the same time.

The train was going too fast to take any photos – but Andrew took a lot of video.  I warned him not to video me – but he thought he would tempt fate – so if you do happen to watch some of these – you might hear me calling him a “bogan” – a title he deserved at the time!!!!

Upon arrival at Washington we caught a taxi to our hotel near Dupont Circle – and decided to see if we could get some laundry done. There are no Laundromats in the central area of Washington, but they will do your washing for you and charge you by the pound!!! So that’s what we did – lovely!  And then we decided to hunt down a late lunch!

Shake Shack

1216 18th St NW
(between N M St & N Connecticut Ave)
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 683-9922
Open: Sun -Thu 11am – 11pm; Fri – Sat 11am – Midnight

One of my favourite café owners in Melbourne, who had just visited New York, said to me that the best burgers in New York were from Shake Shack. We didn’t get the opportunity to visit them there, but since the DC franchise was right near our hotel, it seemed the perfect time to grab a taste.

Cheese Fries and two single Shack Burgers

Not bad as hamburgers go.  I guess we’re pretty spoiled here in Australia – we do fantastic hamburgers, even in some of our fast food places like Grill’d and Urban Burger. I do like the option of having cheese sauce on your fries though.  Although nothing beats salt and vinegar!!

We had a bit of a walk around – but because our hotel was in a residential street, there wasn’t a lot to see. So, we “repaired” to our room to do some research on the next day’s adventures and veg out a little.

Bistrot du Coin

1738 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington DC  20009
(202) 234 6969
Open: Sun – Wed 11:30am – 11pm;  Thu – Sat 11:30am – 1am
Brunch: Sat – Sun 11:00am – 4pm

I felt like steak tartare for dinner – so I asked where a good French restaurant was. We were staying in Dupont Circle – and there are heaps of restaurants in that area. Earlier that day, the concierge recommended Bistrot du Coin, which was also rated as the number 1 French restaurant on Urbanspoon for Washington DC, and the number 1 restaurant overall for Dupont Circle. I love it when all the stars align! So feeling confident, we made a booking and when the time arrived, we headed out.

Being Halloween, all the servers and hosts were wearing costumes.  Well… except for our waiter – who said he was going to dress up as a soccer player but didn’t make it home between services to change. Probably just as well.  I think I would have found it a bit bizarre to be served by the zombie or the butterfly girl (although she had clearly gone to a lot of effort!).

We ordered soups to start, and then mains.  Normally I would get my tartare as a starter, but it was only available as a main.

Seafood Bisque with mini ravioli

Andrew had his trusty French Onion Soup

Steak Tartare for my main

Steak Frites with béarnaise sauce

Overall, I wouldn’t rate this restaurant very highly – which was disappointing considering the ratings provided on Urbanspoon.  The food quality wasn’t that great, and you could tell they weren’t using the best raw ingredients possible. In particular, the steak tartare lacked flavour and texture. I’ve only recently come to enjoy steak tartare, largely in part due to the excellent one served at the Hotel Lincoln in Carlton (post coming soon). However, it has ruined me for a lot of steak tartares that are out there. The trouble is – the Hotel Lincoln’s tartare is a seasonal dish. So, outside of summer I am left craving!!

Despite my opinion of the restaurant, it was full and pumping all the time we were there, and they had multiple sittings!  So, Washingtonians must love it.  It did not bode well…

Bistrot Du Coin on Urbanspoon