Having just grabbed bagels our first couple mornings in NYC, I knew I wanted to sit down to breakfast to kick off our last day. Just down the street from our hotel in Murray Hill my family and I found Scotty’s Diner, a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week diner that has been open for many years. We were greeted by a friendly man who easily could have been one of the brothers who owned the place. He also was our server for breakfast, which was served fast and always with a smile.

Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo

I ordered the Monte Cristo, French toast topped with turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese ($10.95). The serving size was massive and the portion of French toast alone was what you would expect in most restaurants and it was quite good. The turkey on the other hand was very dry and lacking much of any flavor. The ham was better and the cheese was thick and plentiful. Overall I think I would skip this in the future and just go with the French toast and a side of meat.

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle

The Belgian waffle was just as you would expect ($7.25) though the price was a little higher than normal. Our son requested this and though he is just three-years-old, he nearly ate the entire thing. He is fairly picky with his food these days, so that is definitely saying something.

3 Egg Omelette

3 Egg Omelette

My wife went with a three egg omelette, the California if I remember correctly with avocado, mushrooms, and cheddar, served with potatoes and toast ($10.95). She seemed to really enjoy the omelette, so add that to the list of good choices. I stole a few bites of her country-style potatoes and enjoyed them as well. Aside from the Monte Cristo, we had a great meal at Scotty’s with wonderful service and would easily recommend it.

Scotty's Diner on Urbanspoon

On our second full day in New York City, we wanted to try some New York style pizza. We were walking along 8th Avenue heading north from Times Square to Central Park and couldn’t find any suitable stops along the way. So we cut over to Broadway and immediately found 99 Cent Fresh Pizza. Yes, that is actually the name of the place.

Outside

Outside

The inside of this place is tiny and was packed full of customers waiting for their pizza orders. It seems this shop sells their pizza quicker than they can make it, but the wait was just a few minutes for my order of four slices. A slice of cheese pizza is 99 cents, but toppings can be added for a small charge.

Inside

Inside

We took our slices up to Central Park and had a little picnic with the kids. On first impression I though that I should have just stuck with cheese for all our slices, as the sausage and mushroom topping were not pretty to look at. The mushrooms were obviously from a can and not really all that warm. The sausage was slightly better, but I still enjoyed the cheese the best.

Pizza

Pizza

The slices were fairly large. The cheese pizza was actually pretty good,though I think it could have used a little more sauce. Definitely skip the toppings, but for the price it is tough to beat a couple of slices of cheese. Plus you can add a can of soda for 75 more cents to make one really cheap lunch.

99 Cents Fresh Pizza on Urbanspoon

Just around the corner from our hotel in Murray Hill we found Black Shack Burger for a late dinner during our recent stay in NYC. Black Shack sits a half story underground and it really has a basement feel to it. The somewhat limited menu is posted above the ordering counter. After placing your order you can choose from a dozen or so booths and tables and your food will be delivered when it is ready.

Inside

Inside

I went with the western chicken sandwich with crispy onions, pickles, and BBQ sauce ($7). The chicken was cooked perfectly and the toppings went well together. The BBQ sauce was especially good and at least appeared to be made from scratch.

Western Chicken Sandwich

Western Chicken Sandwich

My wife tried the special of the day, pulled pork sandwich. This was really good and came loaded with coleslaw just the way I like it. The pork was well cooked and again the sauce was very nice. We also shared an order of fries ($2.50) and onion rings ($3). The onion rings were better than the fries, which I think should be skipped. Maybe the sweet potato fries would be a better choice?

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

There is no special kids menu so our two youngins split one regular hamburger and both seemed to enjoy it ($6.25). They liked that it wasn’t too thick and was cooked to a perfect medium temperature. Overall we had a nice dinner at Black Shack Burger.

Black Shack Burger on Urbanspoon

After spending the better part of the morning and early afternoon at the amazing Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, my family was ready for a late lunch. A friend had recommended that we check out the Hudson Eats food court inside the former World Financial Center building. Approaching from the north is a bit confusing with construction in the area, but we eventually found our way to the dining area.

Hudson Eats

Hudson Eats

My wife and I quickly decided to give Dos Toros Taqueria a try. This restaurant is very similar to Chipotle or other counter service burrito joints. They do offer quesdillas on the menu, which seemed to be the same as a burrito but without rice and beans. I really wanted to try their carnitas but I was told they were out of everything but chicken, so I went with the pollo asado burrito ($8.73).

Burrito Outside

Burrito Outside

The burrito size was very comparable to Chipotle and was wrapped in foil as you would expect. One thing I noticed right away during my burrito preparation that distinguishes Dos Toros is that they melt a slice of cheese onto the tortilla before anything else is added. I then added black beans, rice, salsa, sour cream and guacamole ($.92 extra). Overall the choices are a little more limited than I am used to at Chipotle.

Burrito Inside

Burrito Inside

The taste of the burrito was good overall. I really didn’t care for the melted cheese and would have preferred a loving scoop of shredded cheese mixed in. And I missed the fajita peppers and onions that I normally get from Chipotle. Overall I enjoyed the food at Dos Toros but I think I’d rather eat at Chipotle nearly every time.

Dos Toros Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Our first morning in NYC was not unlike many mornings back home. My entire family woke up and wanted to find some bagels for breakfast. Fortunately I already knew that Bagel Express was just down the road from our hotel on Lexington Ave.

Inside

Inside

The shop is not very large at all, but there are still a small handful of tables at the front for dining inside. The menu is much larger than I am used to from bagel shops back in Ohio. In fact full breakfast platters are available with home fries, french toast, pancakes, and the list goes on. My family was all able to order exactly what we wanted and it was prepared quickly and with a smile.

Everything Bagel

Everything Bagel

I went for an everything bagel toasted with sun-dried tomato cream cheese, which was awesome. There are well over a dozen cream cheese varieties, but I knew right away which one I wanted, as I remember trying sun-dried tomato cream cheese before and loving it. This was no exception and I wish I could get it closer to home. My wife had a western omelette served on a bagel, while our kids enjoyed scrambled eggs and sausage patties. Breakfast at Bagel Express was an excellent start to our day.

Bagel Express on Urbanspoon

On our first night in NYC we wanted to get some pizza and eventually found somewhere with inside seating, Pizza da Solo. The restaurant itself is a tiny space, with barely room for the oven, but it is inside the Sony Atrium at 550 Madison Ave., which has plenty of seating.

Outside

Outside

Pizza da Solo features made in-house mozzarella and ricotta on top of 10-inch Neapolitan style pizzas that are baked to order. No meat toppings are available, though tuna and salmon can be found, and the pizzas are actually kosher.

Oven

I knew right away that I wanted to try the Piccante pizza with ricotta and mozzarella, jalapeño, sautéed cherry tomatoes, basil, and garlic ($18). The pizza took longer to build than it did to cook in the fiery oven, but overall the wait was very minimal. This pizza was expertly cooked and was delicious, though maybe a bit too spicy for the average customer. I loved it!

Piccante

Piccante

We also ordered the Margherita with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and Parmesan ($13). We knew that our son would eat this classic pizza and that we would still have plenty left over to share between my wife and I. Again, it was perfectly cooked and tasted wonderful.

Margherita

Margherita

I’m not sure if it is the kosher restrictions that drive up the price, or the location, but I found the pizza to be a tad expensive. With that said, it was of excellent quality and I wouldn’t hesitate to grab another pie in the future.

Pizza da Solo on Urbanspoon

I have a few dining experiences from our recent trip to New York that I will be sharing over the next week or so. We arrived in New Rochelle in the late evening after a day full of travel. My wife and kids stayed back at the hotel while I walked the nearby streets to find something for dinner. I eventually settled on Coromandel Cuisine of India, a small chain based mostly in Connecticut.

Inside

Inside

I found a seat at the bar and looked over the menu. After placing a carry out order I asked for a beer while I waited and was also given a complimentary appetizer, which was a nice touch. The food was prepared very quickly and I was soon on my way back to the hotel.

Papadum Appetizer

Papadum Appetizer

I was immediately impressed by the amount of food I received. The entrées themselves were of normal size but again there was another complimentary appetizer in the bag. My wife and shared the chicken saag ($16.95) and chicken tikka masala ($16.95) along with a side of garlic naan ($3.95).

Our Very Large Meal

Our Very Large Meal

The saag was not as good as I’m used to, but the tikka masala was tasty. Plus the garlic naan was some of the best I’ve had. The price seemed quite high to me, but that is somewhat to be expected in New York, and at least there are some freebies thrown in to somewhat offset the cost.

Saag and Tikka Masala

Saag and Tikka Masala

Overall we had a mostly positive experience with Coromandel.

Coromandel Cuisine of India on Urbanspoon

It only took 14 years for me to finally attend my 100th O.A.R. concert, which took place at the Madison Theater in Covington on October 16. There were times when I would see nearly 30 of their shows a year (2001) but that has definitely slowed down and I’m now seeing them play just twice a year or so. Regardless I can still remember my first show at Bogart’s back in 2000 just as well as this last one. I have so many memories and have met so many awesome friends through the years, all thanks to this amazing band and group of guys. I can’t wait for my next show.

Bosom Ball

Bosom Ball

P.S. I dusted off my recording equipment and brought it along to get a pretty decent tape of the night. Enjoy!

A few weeks back my wife and I wanted something different delivered to our door for dinner. We settled on Chinese from Doodles nearby in Hyde Park. Our orders were prepared and delivered to our door very quickly, which was a great start.

Thick & Wide Fresh Rice Noodles

Thick & Wide Fresh Rice Noodles

My wife ordered the thick and wide fresh rice noodles with spicy black bean sauce, crisp bean sprouts, Napa cabbage, red pepper, and chicken ($10.95). The serving size was plenty, definitely enough to share or for leftovers the next day, and the noodles were good. The chicken was a little dry and I could have used a little more vegetables.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

I ordered the traditional Kung Pao chicken ($10.95). Again the serving size was more than enough. This time there were plenty of vegetables but I found the sauce a little bland. It also seemed that the peanuts were not stir-fried as I expected. I would skip this dish in the future and order another noodle dish. Overall it was an average dinner with fast and friendly service.

Doodles on Urbanspoon

If you couldn’t already tell, I’ve had a couple of really busy weeks. I’ve been home less than a handful of days in the last two weeks, so I have plenty of catching up to do. To kick off the madness, I took my family to New York for five nights to attend a good friend’s wedding in New Rochelle and to take in all the sights in Manhattan.

Our first day was pretty much a travel day as we took a plane and multiple trains to get to our destination in New Rochelle. The next day we skipped the wedding mass to let the kids play for the afternoon and then had an amazing time at one of the most incredible wedding receptions I’ve ever attended. Congrats Bryan and Stephanie! The day after the wedding we departed New Rochelle and headed for Manhattan.

After checking in to The Court Hotel, we spent the rest of the day walking around midtown Manhattan and eventually going to the Top of the Rock for an incredible view of the entire city. The next day we spent downtown to meet with the Roberge family, have some fun in Rockefeller Park, and visit the World Trade Center. Our final day we spent back in midtown, primarily visiting Times Square and Central Park.

My previous trips to NYC have always been without kids, so this trip was full of things I haven’t done before. I can’t wait to visit again as the kids grow older as there are still things that I haven’t done and I know they will enjoy in years to come.