New York City -- Jan, 13, 2002
New York City, the culinary beating heart of the US of A. My favorite city. The city of constant hustle, attitude, and grit. If someone outside of this country asked me to see a picture of America, I’d show them a picture of New York. While I hail from Massachusetts, in my mind there is no debate. NYC is where it’s at and I’ll hitch a ride there any chance I get, even if it’s just for a day.
The Ear Inn is the oldest bar in NYC and they’ve been filling glasses since 1817, even during prohibition. Located inside the historic James Brown house built in 1770, this is always my first stop in the city. The bar is weathered and stained by age. This pub doesn’t hide from the wrinkles and lines of time, it instead embraces them proudly. You’ll be shocked to hear that I order a Guinness upon bellying up to the bar and start bantering with the bartender about whose Premiere League club is going to win the match just now starting on their TVs.
Order the homemade pork and chive dumplings. They are some of the best dumplings I have ever had. No joke. Everything that comes out of their kitchen is made with organic ingredients and will impress even the snobbiest of diners. After that, the chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie (made with real lamb, that is what a shepherd shepherds after all) are perfect winter choices and are large enough for two to split. It should be a rite of passage that everyone who is either a New Yorker, or wishes to be one someday, has a few rounds at The Ear Inn. It is the benchmark for all great old pubs that remain great pubs even when everything changes around them.
The Ear Inn
Not too far from the mouth of the Hudson, snug between a few newer and larger buildings, you will find one of the best bars on the planet. It just so happens to be Irish. The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog has been cleaning up international awards since 2016. The three-story cocktail haven has been the standard bearer for the mixology world since they opened that red door and welcomed everyone in. Dead Rabbit also has one of the most impressive Irish whiskey selections I have ever laid my thirsty eyes on. Oh, and the Guinness gets the Silver Medal for proper pours in the country. The menu is top notch. You can’t go wrong with a scotch egg and lamb stew paired with a pint. Normally I tend to head straight to the strong and stirred menu of any cocktail list, but this time I tried the Irish Coffee Martini and it hit the nail on the head. The third floor can be rented out for private functions so if anyone reading this wants to throw me a surprise 40th up, there I’ll pretend I didn’t ask for it right here in print. Check out the Dead Rabbit, buy some swag, drink up, eat until you are full, and come back the next day to do it all over again.
The Lamb Stew at The Dead Rabbits Grocery & Grog
Chinatown at night during the winter season is more magical than any Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This cultural enclave doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Folks gravitate to Greenwich Village, Soho, the Lower East Side, and I get why, but stop forgetting about Chinatown. My teenage solo trips to New York opened my eyes to this neighborhood. The Fung Wah bus, a wild unapologetic ride of sorts, would plop me right on Canal St. Now I never had any use for some of the, how to put it, less than authentic designer name bags, but I learned more about the value of goods by haggling over the price of a good ganja bowl than I ever did in a classroom. Plus, there are dumplings, and noodles, and flaming hot spicy parts of all sorts of animals to devour. For all that and more head straight to YunShang Rice Noodle House. Let’s talk broth. Hot bone broth with mushrooms and plenty of sides to add at your discretion, with delicious rice noodles soaking it all up. To pair, how about some flavorful duck tongues and thinly sliced pig ears with something along the lines of a cabbage slaw salad. Can’t handle that, well get over it because you’ve eaten stranger things at ballparks without knowing it. YunShang is open until 5am, serving great, authentic, delicious food, so go drinking and then take a break here before you head out for another round. Or slip in for a spicy quasi breakfast when the bars give you the boot.