Le Pavillon in Midtown East

When people would say New York City is dead, I would always point out the busy outdoor restaurants downtown to prove otherwise. But Midtown was a different story. It really did feel like the everyone had left this part of town. With people working from home and Broadway having gone dark, was there any real reason for Midtown to exist? So when I went to dinner at Le Pavillon, the new Daniel Boulud restaurant that opened at a Midtown office tower, I was relieved to see that things were back. The crowd seemed to reflect precovid clientele – date-nights, the finance bros, and even out-of-town guests! You know things are really back when the tourists are back.

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Sushi Ikumi in Soho

It’s been awhile since stumbling upon a neighborhood gem has been a mode of restaurant discovery. But now that the city is reopening, physically walking through neighborhood blocks and finding something interesting that is newly opened is more relevant. Case in point is my recent dinner at Sushi Ikumi, a small sushi restaurant that could not be more nondescript. I walked past the simple dark blue awning multiple times, not knowing a restaurant was there, and the absence of visible letter signage didn’t help, until that one day I happened to pay closer attention and saw diners through the window. I made dinner reservations soon after, and had an excellent chef’s tasting omakase. I went to Nakazawa a month earlier, which was also excellent, but Sushi Ikumi’s omakase surpassed that experience.

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A Weekend in Kingston, NY (With Kids)

Spring break this year had to be local again. But rather than being disappointed, I was looking forward to exploring more of upstate New York. International jetsetting is glamorous, but nothing beats a trip that’s only 1.5 hours away by car. This time around we made Kingston, NY our base. Kingston, compared to Fishkill, which was the town we stayed in on our winter break, felt more like a proper town. We stayed in an Airbnb rental right in the heart of downtown, and I couldn’t have been happier. I loved the fact that we were within walking distance to a lot of great restaurants, bakeries and coffeeshops, and there were a lot in the immediate area! Kingston is also a good base for exploring other nearby towns like Rhinebeck, Saugerties and Woodstock, which are ~20 minute drives away. The kids, as always, loved being in a bigger house than their city apartment, and it was fun taking them on scenic hikes and train rides in the Hudson Valley. A weekend trip to Kingston with the kids is always a good idea, especially when the weather gets nicer. Here’s a sample itinerary of things to do if you choose to take the kids to Kingston NY on your next quick trip out of the city.

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Outdoor Dining at Kokomo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Someone asked me what my spring break plans were. I said that I was going to Kingston. Oh, they replied, as in Kingston, Jamaica? I laughed at the response and informed them that no, actually, it was Kingston, New York. Clearly I was going to the wrong Kingston. While it is possible to fly to Jamaica, for now, I prefer to stay local and feel the Caribbean vibes at places like Kokomo, a restaurant in Williamsburg that serves elevated island food with a modern twist. I went recently for an early outdoor dining seating, and the island party vibe was well underway. The large patio for outdoor dining at Kokomo is outfitted with speakers at every table so that the island club beats drum directly into your ears. Kokomo makes it pretty clear that you’re here to party it up, not to wind it down. And what a way to drive that home with a spectacular cocktail menu. Coconut Negroni, Good Vibez, sign me up.

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Fat Choy – Vegan Chinese in Lower East Side

The catchy name Fat Choy immediately drew me in. I knew exactly what kind of restaurant Fat Choy, a small scrappy restaurant in the Lower East Side, would be, and I wasn’t wrong. It was playful and homey, a little bit familiar and a little bit not, a perfect description of the “kinda Chinese” but mostly tasty ethos that drives the cooking at the Fat Choy kitchen. Kinda Asian restaurants are in abundance these days. You can imagine some second or third generation chef making some tweaks to a family recipe, smiling if it works and shrugging her shoulders if it doesn’t. The angle at Fat Choy is that its kinda Chinese food is vegan. It sounds impossible at first, since we tend to associate Chinese food with pork or chicken, but when you think about how tasty Chinese vegetables are on their own, then it makes a lot of sense.

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