New York: The Rat Pack and Flatiron Food

The first week of travel in the new year is back to New York. In the pre-Christmas posts (48-hours in New York), there was a snippet about the trees that come from Québec.

These trees are now sitting curbside waiting for someone to come and pick them up… for MulchFest in McCarren Park. It’s a big event in the city… and it happens on the first Saturday of the year. The resulting wood chips will end up in parks and playgrounds.

The Rockefeller Tree won’t be there. But don’t fret, it is recycled as building lumber and used by Habitat for Humanity to rebuild houses that were damaged in storms. The lumber is stamped so you know exactly where it came from.

The Rat Pack

Construction is in full swing as well. You have to be pretty adept at walking over, around, through, and under all things construction in NYC. This week in the office we’ve put up with sprinkler malfunctions, random elevator changes (from regular to shipping and back), power outages, and a giant blowup rat named “Scabby the Rat”…

The rat is part of the bricklayer union rat pack. They show up outside businesses that are not union-friendly. In this particular case, the masonry company working on our building does not pay standard wages.

The Bests of the Week (from Flat Iron)

One of the offhanded comments I heard during the week was: there is a “good-food-dead-zone” in Flatiron. There’s not much to choose from.

And for days after, I would stand mystified on the street and just look at the dozens of restaurants/cafes on-block and wonder what the heck a “good-food-dead-zone” meant. If Flat Iron is a “good-food-dead-zone”… then what is the rest of the city like? The food in NYC must be pretty spectacular.

Here are three of the bests from Flat Iron that we managed to dig up… and the great thing about eating in NYC is that you can easily eat fantastic food for less than $10. Everything listed below was insanely cheap.

The best coffee comes from Birch (21 E 27th St). This cute little cafe makes a mean little drink… and they have great taste in music. In the morning (7am) the place is quiet and a great place to work for an hour or two. By about 10am it is so packed that you can barely move.

Reviews and tips on Yelp are mixed and I can understand why. Birch is a bit like guild; when you show up for coffee and to hang out, you’re either a part of the guild or not.

I felt like I’d come home… this was my guild: spectacular coffee, exposed brick walls, books, great music, lots of tattoos, random chatty conversations about bizarre but interesting things… my kind of place and as an added bonus, I kept running into people that I know!

The best breakfast comes from the Blank Slate (121 Madison Ave). Avocado gf toast with honey and chilli peppers.

The best meal comes from Umi Sushi (118 E 31st St). From the outside, this place looks nondescript with a simple sign. But upon opening the door the world opens into an underground sushi paradise. Our favourites were the Panda Roll (seared) and the Sleeping Beauty.

The only problem with eating here is there are so many great rolls… and you can’t try them all (unless your stomach is a bottomless pit).

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