Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie in the sky featured

Growing up helping in their family restaurant in South Dakota, sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen were put through their pie paces by Granny Liz and now hold an impressive resume in baked goods. Making the butter crust by hand, the sisters churn out different pies everyday in their Brooklyn bakery. Double crust no less, something that you see far too little of in other (lesser) pie shops. The filling is influenced by season and locally sourced, never failing to come together to make the sweetest taste ever.

While it may not make birds sing, it sure is a dainty dish for a king and even the over-worked apple pie has been re-invented here with the addition of salted caramel. We’ll say it again, that’s salted caramel. The pies are sold by the slice and while they don’t skimp on the size, you’ll still regret opting to share because pie this good deserves your undivided attention. Go early on in the day to avoid the gut-wrenching disappointment of seeing your favorite filling wiped off the chalkboard.

Littleneck Outpost Reel it in

After the roaring success of their seafood shack in Gowanus, the guys have stretched their little necks out once again to open an all-day cafe in Greenpoint. Spotting a gap in the area for a boutique sandwich place, they took over a property which had lay dormant for 35 years and did it up like a classic New England Mom and Pop shop. With maritime touches here and there, lots of seating, and large windows making the place look bright and airy, it already vibes as a relaxed neighborhood hangout. A small retail bit provides an array of artisan items for your gourmet grocery needs, like Dave’s Coffee Co. Coffee Syrup or jars of in-house specialities such as bacon jam—an improvement to any sandwich you put it on. The menu itself has taken a patchwork approach, incorporating classics like the lobster roll but also introducing new sandwiches and a breakfast section which includes a winner of hearts and stomachs alike, shrimp toast, with juniper yogurt, dill and a hard boiled egg.

Row NYC Base camp Metropolis featured

If you’re going to a city so good they named it twice, you most certainly don’t want to be nibbling around the edges. What you want is to take a whopping bite of the so-called apple – taking in core, pips, stalk and all. And there’s no better place to fill your mouth with NYC goodness from than the center of this metropolitan universe: Times Square!

Row NYC provides the proverbial and literal front row seat to all the action in town, as the five boroughs converge in one seething mass, right outside on your doorstep. The commotion of Midtown quickly fades away though, as the plush surrounds envelope guests as soon as they enter through the revolving doors. But don’t think the cosmopolitan vibe ends there…

This ultra-modern, €140 million hotel, completed in early 2014, was designed to reflect the essence of New York itself – refined and raw in equal measure. Artworks and installations are sprinkled throughout the building, cocktails and live music flow from the restaurant-bar, and naturally service is 24/7. That leaves just one decision (if one should choose to sleep, that is): which one of the 1,331 rooms is it going to be?

Ducks Eatery Mess hall featured

Fusion cuisine makes for some unlikely bedfellows. The Deep South and Far East might not see eye-to-eye in, let’s say politics perhaps, but in the kitchen it turns out they can be the best of buds. Like at Ducks Eatery, where old school, rootin’ tootin’ American BBQ is back-slapping, chest-bumping and high-fiving its way through Southeast Asia’s culinary terrain.

The back beef ribs, for example, are soaked in an anchovy marinade; the crispy pig ear lettuce tacos are juiced up with Malaysian hot sauce for just the right level of steaming-ear syndrome; and the monster shrimps have vinegar, star anise and house-made ssamjang injected all up in their carapace before being grilled. It’s a bit ‘smoke and mirrors’ pretension (fusion, injecting, brick all-over interior etc.) but when you get down to the nitty gritty of this place, it’s good old sloppy eating with badass levels of flavor at its foundation.

And to be honest, we can forgive the odd pretentious predilection when they make a brisket sandwich — which is only available on Tuesdays FYI — as mean as they do. The meat’s smoked for 18-hours and has a fat splodge of ricotta and pickled cabbage on top, and the bun is toasted in a mix of duck, bacon and pastrami fat. There’s a fair chance your heart will implode afterwards, but, no risk no fun right?

Swiss Institute Sticking it to stereotypes featured

If you came here looking for multi-purpose pocket knives and smooth alpine chocolates then you came to the wrong place. This Swiss Institute is all about art, and always has been—ever since their humble beginnings in a two bed Swiss townhouse on West 67th Street in 1986.

After a lengthy spell in a loft space in Soho from the mid 90s through until 2011, they finally managed to upgrade to some street-level digs worthy of the art work that they’ve been consistently displaying.

With the change in surrounds also came a change in MO. Whereas formerly the institute was all about showcasing Swiss art and artists to a primarily Swiss audience, they’ve now become committed to looking beyond the perma-neutral state’s borders; morphing themselves into an innovative international venue that provides a forum for artistic dialogue between Switzerland, the rest of Europe and the US.

Unsurprising, then, that they’ve adopted an all-embracing approach to different mediums as well—from the paintings, illustrations and street art of Nicolas Party to the sculpture and installation work of Amy O’ Neill.

Mast Brothers Willy-amsburg Wonka & the chocolate factory

Workshop and primary sales point of the bearded chocolate-making bros Rick and Michael, Mast Brothers is the undisputed ground zero in the hearts and minds of many a New York cocoa-craver. Holing themselves up in a rough and ready Brooklyn space, the boys have created a rustic city retreat replete with cocoa bean burlap sacks, bare support beams and distressed wooden furniture—with twanging bluegrass tunes floating out of the speakers and adding to the countrified vibe. It’s the chocolate, though, that is firmly front and center here. Sourcing their beans from small farms in Ecuador, Madagascar and Venezuela, the siblings convert their fairly-traded raw materials with artisanal skill into bars with so much quality that the Brooklyn Wonka might even call them scrumdiddlyumptious, man.

Eleven Madison Park Taking on the world and winning

With more accolades (including three Michelin stars and a James Beard foundation award) than most of the restaurants in the city put together, Eleven Madison Park has been continually reinventing itself under the guidance of Swiss virtuoso chef Daniel Humm. Its current guise reflects the fact that, having well and truly conquered New York’s culinary scene, they’re on the prowl to become one of the finest restaurants in the whole world too. And they’re not far off. With an inventive, terroir-based and fully narrated tasting menu in front of you, you’ll spend the four hours it takes to complete the meal constantly wondering how one course can top the last—and then being surprised when it does. And if all that isn’t enough, there’s cocktails mixed over liquid nitrogen (non-lethal) and an epic magic trick to introduce dessert as well. Ta da!

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