After a while of delicious on the go breakfasts, you can’t help but long for a decent sit down breakfast that allows you to sit back for an hour and TRULY enjoy some good food. City breaks can involve a lot of walking, less sleep than usual and a lot of outdoor activities, depending on where you are, so it’s important that you do allow your body some down time too or else you will be completely burnt out by the end of trip and end up feeling like you require another holiday.
Now if you’re looking for an extra delicious breakfast in New York then it’s worth venturing a little bit out of the way from all the skyscrapers and hitting up Clinton St. Baking Company. From our hotel this involved a 20 minute train journey and a little bit of a walk but we got to pass the famous Katz Delicatessen from When Harry Met Sally whilst on route to what was going to become one of my favourite breakfasts of all time.
CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY
Clinton St. Baking Company is (surprisingly) located on 4 Clinton Street making some of the “best baked goods” in the city according to their website. A bold statement but after dining here I soon could see why as it was completely true.
This place was buzzing with people just as eager to have a delicious breakfast as we were. I can just imagine the stress of trying to get a table here on the weekend, but thankfully it was a week day and we were quickly squeezed into a table at the window. Sweet or savoury? That was the question, and this was a hard decision to make given the options that are available here. However, with my favourite breakfast option, Eggs Benedict on the menu screaming “pick me”, I had to go for this, and to satisfy my sweet needs I ordered a peppermint hot chocolate. The hot chocolate itself would have been enough to fill me up so I drank it tactfully, making sure I left plenty of room for the actual breakfast itself. Sangeeta ordered the cheesy scrambled eggs, buttermilk biscuit with Mexican hot chilli and America’s version of a hash brown. Unaware of the portion sizes, Sangeeta also added two poached eggs on the side, which was quite funny as the man taking our order was questioning the addition of these two items, and it was no wonder when we seen the size of our breakfasts.
Eggs Benedict is one of those dishes that’s actually hard to go wrong unless you ruin the hollandaise sauce, but Clinton St. Baking Company got it ALL right. No eggs Benedict will ever top this, and it was actually the buttermilk biscuit that the eggs and bacon were perched on that sent me completely over the edge. I’m so used to having sourdough bread or a toasted muffin with this dish, but the buttermilk biscuit was a game changer, it’s just a shame this is unheard of in the UK. I just couldn’t stop going on about what I ordered and I wolfed it down until I was on the verge of exploding – honestly I’ll never get used to American portion sizes, especially at breakfast time, my stomach didn’t know what had hit it…but I’d happily do it all over again.
THE NEW YORK WATER TAXI
After breakfast we headed to Battery Park to look at getting the ferry that would allow us to see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal. Now the original plans we made involved getting the free ferry to Ellis Island as you get views of the statue from this, however, as soon as we got to the ferry terminal we were pulled aside by a couple of the many tour operators eagerly trying to sell us tickets to see the Statue of Liberty via their tour. Tours can involve either getting off at Staten Island and getting real close to Lady Liberty or a boat that pulls up as close to the island as possible. We were more than happy with the free option that we had heard about, however, we learned that the tour operators will do whatever they can to put you off going for the free ferry option, stating that it goes nowhere near the statue, the windows are dirty so the view is blurry, and so on.
Their sales pitch was good as we ended up purchasing tickets costing 35 dollars for the the New York Water Taxi that goes as close to Staten Island as possible, and also one that allowed us to be dropped off near to Times Square, which was convenient for us. I’d say the only downside about the company was the misleading information from the man who sold us the tickets. As soon as we were handed our tickets we were left to our own devices. We weren’t told how long the walk along to the pier where our boat departs from would be, and he told us that we could get the 12.55pm boat, which when we arrived there in plenty of time were told there wasn’t a boat at that time. As a result we ended up making a visit to a local bookstore for a refuelling stop from the cold whilst we waited on the next boat an HOUR later. The 45 minutes or so that we spent in this bookstore, I felt like I was in the Netflix series ‘ You’ and I half expected Joe Goldberg to pop out of nowhere and ask if I needed any assistance.
TIP: Looking further into the free ferry option, it actually looks great and offers some stunning views so you could save yourself some money doing it via this route. You will get views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan just like the New York Water Taxi (except you don’t have to pay), and you can find more information on this here.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
If we could have picked any day to do the Water Taxi to Staten Island we sure picked the worst one in terms of temperamental weather. It was cold of course but as soon as we stepped on that boat and rushed up the stairs to take one of the many empty outdoor seats, the rain started, followed by wind, hail and then snow. Now I’m not the best of travellers when it comes to boats, but I can imagine on a beautiful Summer’s day being able to stand and walk around the boat quite freely, however on this particular day I was reluctant to even go near the edge due to the water being very choppy. I may have looked all cute and content in my big cosy jacket as the tour just started and the boat had pulled out from the pier, but by the time we reached Staten Island my hair was everywhere, my can of San Pellegrino was all over me and I was numb to the bone, but the Statue of Liberty stood proud in the background, as she does in any kind of weather.
The views of Lower Manhattan were truly spectacular, and despite the Statue of Liberty not being as big as I had expected, seeing it in the flesh was still a ‘wow’ moment for me. I remember back in high school learning about the Statue of Liberty and how it was supposed to signify hope and the American dream, and in that moment on that boat with Manhattan’s skyscrapers in the background, I felt like I was living my own American dream.
Due to the weather, we thought it would be best sticking to a little indoor activity and so opted for an afternoon of shopping at Macy’s. This is an upscale department store located at Herald Square, and due to it being close to the world famous Madison Square Garden, we decided to pass this before heading in to Macy’s for some warmth. You could so easily get lost in Macy’s as it is massive, with floor after floor of goods to spend your hard earned cash on. Tip: International visitors can get a ‘Visitors Savings Pass‘, which entitles you to 10% off thousands of items in store. This can be used over 30 days, which is even better, meaning you aren’t restricted to using it on that particular day of your visit. Information and the digital pass itself can be found here, but you can also get it in person at the store if you show your passport at the visitor centre. We actually never had to show any ID at the visitor centre but I would recommend taking it incase.
You can get some great deals in a store like this, and given that it was January there was still some seasonal sales. I managed to pick up a pair of Michael Kors trainers for £52, which were pretty much identical to ones I had seen and fallen in love with in the UK costing over £150. I also managed to grab some bargain gifts, a Calvin Klein scarf that was on offer from 49 dollars to 12 dollars, and I got some of Macy’s own merchandise including a large and sturdy make-up bag which is a great piece for travelling with and can easily hold all of my makeup and toiletry essentials.
THE PLAZA FOOD HALL
After an afternoon spent at Macy’s we headed to The Plaza Food Hall, an upmarket food court located in the lower level of the luxury 5 star Plaza Hotel across from Central Park. The reason we ventured here was to pick up some treats from Laduree to take back to the hotel.
Now if you have never tried macarons then you are seriously missing out and I highly recommend changing that whenever you can. A trip to Paris many years ago was when I first tried macarons from Laduree, and from then on, nowhere else compares to the macarons from this iconic place. You can get single macarons or a box of them, depending on the occasion or how much you want to treat yourself. Due to the wide range of flavours I opted for the box of 6, which also meant I got the pretty box to keep them in. Some of the flavours included passion fruit, salted caramel, raspberry and blackcurrant-violet. These can be pricey but I would splurge out on these any day as they truly are exquisite. If Laduree is good enough for Blair Waldorf, then it is good enough for Holly.
Shake Shack has been somewhere that I’ve been desperate to try for years, especially given the fact that it’s not a thing in Scotland (can this change please?!). Surely Shake Shack is just another McDonald’s and I was getting myself hyped up for nothing? As I looked at the menu deciding on what to order, the place was full to the brim with so many individuals and groups looking for a table…..right, it must be good then. I ended up ordering the Shack Burger (cheese-burger) and of course the cheese fries as these are one of the most popular items on the menu that I have seen on many Instagram posts and stories over the years.
I was handed a buzzer that would vibrate when my order was ready and I stood continuously looking around me hoping for a table to free up so I could sit down and enjoy my first taste of Shake Shack. A few minutes later we had our trays firmly in our hands and even managed to get lucky with a table, where I sat down and took my first bite of deliciousness. Shack Shack, is it overrated like some people may argue? Personally I loved it, and I would have to say that it was the cheese fries that done it for me, I could have ordered another 5 portions of these and been absolutely content.
Despite the fact we were slightly overdressed for Shack Shack, it was all for good reason as we were headed to The Skylark for some drinks that evening. The Skylark is a cocktail lounge on the 30th floor of one of New York’s typical tall buildings offering amazing views of the city, including the Empire State Building. Now I won’t go into too much detail about The Skylark as at some point I will be featuring this in another post relating to some of New York’s finest rooftop bars. However, all I will say is that this was a night to remember, from the extra special treatment from the staff, the private tour of the open rooftop despite it being closed to the public for the Winter season, and of course the amazing cocktails. American alcohol measures truly put the UK to shame, and although I’m not much of a big drinker and never have been, I feel like America helped make my alcohol tolerance that little bit better.
If you’re curious about day 5 then I’ll give you a couple of hints….Brooklyn, a trip to Tiffany’s and designer lattes, you can read about it here.