NYC Outdoor Dining – Kimika in Nolita

The restaurant space at The Nolitan hotel in Nolita seems to be a death-knell. The prior two occupants–the Usual from Eggslut chef Alvin Cailan and before that, a forgettable Italian restaurant–did not survive. But with the arrival of Kimika, the new Japanese-Italian restaurant from the Wayla team, the veil of bad feng shui seems to have been lifted. Kimika is undeniably a hit. The comfort food fusion dishes combining the best of carbs and creamy, meaty sauces from two cultures are quite impressive. It’s also fantastic that Kimika is a female-led restaurant with great cocktails and an interesting, nerdy wine list. Outdoor dining at Kimika is a fantastic experience, and I’m looking forward to the days when it’s safe enough to eat these meals in the beautiful space inside.

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Carrot Cake – Inspired by Flour Bakery and Ina Garten

I remember I was talking to someone about carrot cake, and they said with surprising vehemence that vegetables had no business in being in a dessert. I don’t see it that way at all. In fact, when I eat a carrot cake, I don’t even notice the carrots. I like the cinnamon-y, gingerbread-like qualities of the cake itself, and it’s complemented so well by a cream cheese frosting. I guess the carrots add texture and an earthy depth to the cake, but otherwise they could get away with calling it spice cake or something like that.

I had a huge tub of cream cheese frosting left over from my coconut cake project, and so I decided it made sense to utilize it for a carrot cake. Again, I referenced my Joanne Chang cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. Surprisingly, I only made one substitution and basically followed the recipe to a t. The hardest part was grating the carrots. I cheated and bought a tub of diced carrots from Whole Foods, and then ran these through the food processor, and they worked out fine. Everyone loved this cake, including my son, which is very important because he is the world’s pickiest toddler. Yet he ate this all up, literally, even though there were strange things like walnuts and raisins in it. This carrot cake recipe from Flour Bakery is on the denser side and is full of texture, almost a border-line fruit cake, but even with all that character, the most suspicious eater will be won over.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – Lure Fishbar in Soho

Lure Fishbar has always been an anchor of Soho nightlife. The restaurant is usually packed any night of the week with glammed up downtown revelers. But how would it fare during this time of social distancing? From the looks of it, it looks like it has adapted pretty well. Lure really invested in its outdoor terrace and has designed a nautically-themed cabana that wouldn’t be out of place in a nice resort. If you remember the bar at the Maritime Hotel, it looks a lot like that. And that has been a real draw for the scenesters who fill the outdoor tables every night. NYC is not dead, as they like to scream in the newspapers. At least Soho isn’t. Just come to Lure, Fanelli’s Cafe, Raoul’s, Lola Taverna as examples of restaurants that are persevering in this pandemic. Additional proof is the sighting of one of Drake’s cars cruising down Mercer St. Drake wouldn’t go to a city that is on its last legs.

You go to Lure Fishbar to drink wine with some excellent sushi rolls. The universally admired appetizer has to be the shrimp tempura, which comes with this addicting spicy sesame mayo sauce. Every person I’ve talked to who’s been to Lure Fishbar seems to order the shrimp tempura and loves it. You can’t go wrong with any of the signature sushi rolls. If you want something cooked, they make a great burger. The Bash burger at their sister restaurant Burger & Barrel has won many awards and is currently offered at Lure.

But the best part about Lure Fishbar is that this scenic downtown atmosphere is very kid friendly. It’s not one of those snobbish places that welcome children with looks of horror. They have high chairs and children’s menus so that parents and children can all have a good time together. You can enjoy sashimi while your child happily munches on fries or chicken fingers, it’s a big win for everyone.

Lure Fishbar
142 Mercer St (between Prince and W. Houston St)
New York, NY 10012
Make reservations for outdoor seating here.

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Best NYC Parks and Playgrounds for Kids 2020 (and a Daytrip to NJ)

Having kids in the city these days is tough. Normally you could rely on a day camp or the public library to get you through the week, but now home is the new day camp, 24 hours a day. There isn’t even a two week vacation abroad to make you forget for a moment that the kids are continually finding new ways of messing up the house. So now there is no choice but to “be a tourist in your own city.” Luckily, New York City, even during this time, is still an interesting place to be, and since the playgrounds, zoos and parks are open, there are a lot of “destination” spots that can make each weekend fun. Here are some of the best playgrounds, parks and zoos in NYC that are worth trekking out for (lucky for you if they are in your neighborhood). And if you have a car, I would highly recommend the awesome Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – Wayan in Nolita

It’s been a hot summer. Have you read the recent articles about how New York City is now a subtropical climate zone? I guess we can close our eyes and pretend that we’re somewhere more fun, like Bali or Singapore. Since we’re not getting on a plane to Bali any time soon, the next best thing is to pull up a chair on the outdoor patio at Wayan, the Indonesian restaurant in Nolita run by Cedric Vongerichten (Jean-Georges’ son).

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