Bars, books, french fries and such!

Or….Places I like and why!

On occasion, I like to go to a nearby establishment in the late afternoon for a light libation, a little bar conversation, and, perhaps,  with a book or crossword puzzle.

A friendly comfortable place that likes us “older folks”, walking distance from my apartment  and not crazy expensive and serves a good wine, or bourbon old fashioned and french fries.   You would think that would be easy to find in this  City, and it is, but it does take a little time  and effort.

I know, you get the walking, likes seniors, reasonable, but what’s with the french fries?   A tradition, I’m big on traditions.  This all started with my younger trouble-making sisters.  One of them said,  “Let’s stop for a drink.”  Found ourselves a place and sat down at the bar.   We just wanted a little something to pick on. Looked over the appetizers, but nothing.  Looked at the rest of the menu ,and there it was… French Fries.   Those luscious fattening little  things have  become the  go-to bar snack for me and most of my family and friends.

What’s a girl to do?

One afternoon I was walking back from my local small bookstore with my new book in hand.   It wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I did it anyway, spend the money that is.  I love browsing  independent book stores like Shakespeare & Co.  on Lexington Ave.  I could have borrowed it from the library, but I have a thing about having my own copy.     Although, I do borrow on occasion.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda, so I bought it.   Senior moment…can’t remember the name of the book.

It had just started to rain, when I stopped that day at Donohue’s, also on Lexington (opened in 1950),   Imagedown the street from my apt.  I sat at the bar and ordered an old fashioned and, of course, fries. A couple came in and sat next to me.  I smiled and then went back to cursing Will Shortz. (you know, the editor of the NY Times crossword) as I worked on that day’s puzzle.  “Excuse me,” I heard and turned to look at the two next to me.  She asked, “Do you know the best way to get to  the Metropolitan Opera?”  It was so hard not to say, “Practice, practice,practice.” But, no, I didn’t.  Their question  started a conversation about The Met opera and The Met museum.  Then some goodbyes and off they went to Lincoln Center and “Aida”. There you have it… a nice place, good drink, bar conversation, fries  and home. That’s what I’m talking about!

Finnegan's Wake - New York, NY, United States

And over on First  Avenue, a  dear friend introduced me t0 Finnegans Wake Pub, it’s  been there since 1972.  Besides the ubiquitous french fries, they make a delicious chicken pot pie. Chicken pot pie seems to be standard pub fare, some are ok, but theirs is really, really yummy.   The conversations between my friend and I  and the tables around us or at the bar are always fun at this cozy neighborhood place. Drinks are good and the price is right!

 “Wait for it”

Then on  Second and 70th  is Beach  Cafe.  (since 1968) a little bar/restaurant, where you can get a great bourbon old fashioned. It has really been through tough times for a while now  with the noise and scaffolding and walls up for the Second Avenue subway.  But another comfortable easy place to stop with friendly folk from the area.  Just ignore the Photo Dec 23, 4 08 39 PM.jpgconstruction around.    “Hamilton” was the bar conversation one afternoon, when I heard the woman next to me say to the fellow next to her,  incredulously “You’ve seen Hamilton how many times?”  He laughed and said, “Six.”   “How did you manage that?”, she asked. Now all our eyes were  focused on this lucky guy. He gave an answer that wasn’t a surprise.”I have a friend who has a friend who knows somebody.”  We laughed.  I had to go, but I heard this comment as I left, smiling. “I didn’t think you had any friends.”

“If you’re gonna dance, you gotta  pay the band”  

 One of my favorite places, in the City,  is the classic  New York bar, Bemelmens  at the Carlyle Hotel (1947) on Madison Avenue, little further away from the others, but worth the walk.   I love  the atmosphere and the wonderful bonus of listening to the  jazz pianist playing those great  standards. There was a wonderful bartender there, that retired a few years ago, he made, according to a friend,  the best Cosmopolitan ever!   Drinks are still great and  their little trio of bar snacks, which they keep refilling, will make one forget about french fries.   Just  be ready for the “ouch factor” when  it’s time to pay the bill.  It’s become, for me, a special occasion place.  As an aside, it is one of the best places for eavesdropping… and  do I have stories to tell?   Woo Hoo!  ‘nother post,’nother time.Bemelmans Bar | The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel

“In my own little corner” 

 Just so you know, I’m not promoting any of these places. I’ve had  interesting times at each and wanted to tell you about them, because as vast as NYC  is,  it is filled with  neighborhoods and communities and these places happen to be in mine.  However, my most favorite place is in my own apartment, in my comfortable chair, my feet up,  with  a good book, some jazz playing in the background,  and a nice glass of something. French fries can wait.


 Love this City.

Senior moment  recovery :  The book was  the last of the Ferrante Neopolitan Novels, The Story of the Lost Child. Now I remember why I  couldn’t borrow  it from the library, I have the other three, can’t break up a set.


Important to know:  The locations of the places in this post are  all on the Upper East Side and within a few blocks of each other with the one exception of Bemelmans which is a little further away – but not that far.

Donohue’s, Lexington Avenue between 64th and 65th

Shakespeare & Co, Lexington between 68th and 69th

The Beach Cafe, Second Ave and 70th

Finnegans Wake Pub, First Ave and 72nd (no apostrophe-according to their site)

Bemelmans Bar, Madison Ave and 76th (no apostrophe here, either)

Photos: Courtesy of their websites

Disclaimer: I try for correct info on my posts, but no guarantees people. 

An Inside Walk Worth Taking



The Oculus at WTC
Inside The Oculus-Photo by me

I was with my Tribeca family and we walked from their apartment thru Brookfield Place down the escalators across the walk and onto Westfield which recently opened in the soaring space of The Oculus.

The Oculus!  The Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center designed by the internationally renowned architect  Santiago Calvatrava of Spain.

I thought it was stunningly beautiful!  How do you combine a subway station and a mall into a grand open shining space…call on a famous architect that’s what you do.  Amazing!

Best way to do this walk?  I always suggest to check out websites to see what’s happening not only at Westfield, but also at Brookfield Place. They are connected and  you’ll never have to go outside. Often special events are taking place that will just add to the fun.   This is not a quiet walk, but it sure is exciting, especially the first time you do it.   By the way, stopped at the new Eataly and enjoyed a lovely wine  and pizza with my family overlooking the World Trade Center and the new Liberty Park.

It’s a huge place so when you go be sure to plan your day, don’t rush,  people-watch, perhaps  walk over  to Brookfield Place and take in a view of the Hudson or do it all in reverse.  Along your way, you’ll find many places to stop for something to eat plus, of course, a glass of wine or an old-fashioned to  give  your feet a rest and decide where  your next steps will take you on this inside walk!

oculus 10


Kay’s Notes:

Important to know: It can get a little crazy during commuting times – so keep in mind it is a transportation hub.

Websites:  About The Oculus,  Westfield  and Brookfield Place

Cost:  Seeing the buildings- free. shopping, eating and drinking? As the old song goes sung by Frank Sinatra and Ruth Etting (back in the day)  “It all depends on you”!

Where to eat:  A huge selection of places- as of this post – not all opened but will be very soon.

Restrooms: Plenty

Kid Friendly:  Without a doubt


*Disclaimer – I try for correct info on Kay’s Notes– but no guarantees people.


NYC Restaurant Week – $29 lunch – $42 dinner


If you’re into it….now’s  the time to try those usually $$$$$ restaurants!

It’s called Restaurant Week – but it runs from Monday July 25th thru  August 19th.   Check it out!  Just google – NYC restaurant week summer  2016 and sites will come up describing different options for those three course prix fixe   meals, $29 for lunch, $42 for dinner at really nice restaurants.   Take note – most do not apply to Saturdays and prices don’t include tips, beverages or taxes.

Wonderful restaurants on the list!   I do lunch ($29)  Last year my sisters were in from North Carolina and I made reservations at Nougatine at Jean Georges  across from Central Park.  It  was delicious and we had a great time.  Added bonus,  we met Mr. Vongerichten, who was there that day.  We each had a glass of wine – well two.  After, we  walked thru Central Park  as it was a cool, lovely  summer afternoon.   Fun!  (may not be so cool this coming week with the heat dome overhead – I’d nix the outside dining).

Enjoy …. you foodies out there! And stay cool!

gelato the pink spoon lincoln center

Kay’s Notes: 

This restaurant week is held twice a year – so if you can’t make it this summer – it’s back in the winter.


Disclaimer: I try for correct info on Kay’s Notes and my posts, but no guarantees people. 


The Four Seasons, Le Tricorne and the Vanishing Soufflé



Yes, it’s true, the Picasso curtain, Le Tricorne, is no longer hanging at The Four Seasons restaurant.  And, it’s also true that The Four Seasons   will no longer be at the beautiful space in the Seagram Building, their lease was not renewed.  Thankfully, the interior of the restaurant, along with the building, now has landmark status so the space with the soaring ceilings and the beaded curtains will remain.

Fall at The Four Seasons Restaurant
Fall at The Four Seasons Restaurant
Picasso’s Le Tricorne

Our family was in the hospitality business when The Four Seasons was “the” restaurant to go to.  We purposely visited the top restaurants in the City to learn and to teach our children who were in the business…lessons on the success of great restaurants and to  observe how it all came together.

And it certainly did at The Four Seasons. The food was lovely, but it was the whole experience that made it so special.  The mood was set when first entering the lobby of the Seagram Building and then  walking up the stairs, past the Picasso, sitting in the Pool Room surrounded by seasonal gorgeous flowers, plants and yes, trees, combined with the unassuming service, the quiet but lively conversations, and the buzz, it was theater!


Our pleasure, sir  or  I’ll have dessert with my dessert!

A family tradition started at The Four Seasons by my husband.  It was about the desserts.   Everyone would make their choice and then he would say to the waiter, “Please bring us every other dessert on the menu.”   The tradition was to take a taste and pass it along and then talk about the presentation, our favorites   and why.  And yes, notes were taken.  Those polished  waiters would not blink an eye and just  smile and say, “Of course, sir”

We didn’t learn about the vanishing soufflé from my  then future son-in-law until a few years later. He had ordered one of his favorite desserts – a chocolate soufflé. (At The Four Seasons  a soufflé had to be ordered at the same time as the main course to allow the chef to prepare it to perfection).

As was our tradition, the desserts arrived – all of them! His soufflé was placed before him.   He said he was in awe as he put his spoon into that deep chocolate delight for the first time.   He took another spoonful and then heard the word, “Pass”. He looked around a little confused. He wasn’t quite sure what to do, as he saw the desserts on the move, all he wanted to say was,    “Sorry, this is mine!”  But off it went.

He told me that his eyes followed that chocolate wonder as it moved around the table.    When it finally arrived back in front of him, he stared into the  almost  empty cup. He looked at my daughter with quizzical eyes saying as he showed her the few remaining crumbs, “What just happened?”  We had forgotten to tell him about our tradition.  Whoops!

And now, what?

The Picasso is hanging grandly at the New York Historical Society, another restaurant will take over the glorious space, and The Four Seasons is opening in the fall at a new location just down the block.  With any good luck, chocolate soufflé will be on the menu – still needing to be ordered at the beginning of the meal so that it can be prepared to its wonderful and perfect deliciousness.  Perhaps being shared and perhaps not!

Although, I haven’t  been to The Four Seasons in many years, it remains one of my favorite restaurants for so many reasons, but mainly because of the happy memories of good times and laughter shared with my family. None of our operations were even close to the level of The Four Seasons but one of the lessons  learned there was the importance and impact of a  gracious wait staff  to the dining experience …no matter what was requested.

Here’s to The Four Seasons at the Seagram Building


Kay’s Notes:

Important to know:

The Picasso curtain measures 19 x 20 feet and was designed by him for a ballet, Le Tricorne or the Three Cornered Hat in 1919 for the Ballets Russes in Paris  It was chosen to hang in the restaurant  by Philip Johnson, the designer of The Four Seasons in 1959.   It did not receive landmark status as did the restaurant and the building  because  it was not a physical part of the architecture.  The landlord had made a decision to remove the work in order to repair the wall behind it, he said.  There was great  controversy about  moving the  work not just because   of its significance to the restaurant but also  due to its delicacy and age. After the  courts stepped in to delay its removal, the work  was finally awarded to the New York Historical Society where it now hangs for all to see.   There is an interesting video on the Historical Society’s website  showing the painstaking installation process and another in the New York Times on the removal of the delicate artwork prior to its installation at the Historical Society

There are many articles about the restaurant and especially about Le Tricorne on the internet.  An article appearing in Vanity Fair has an interesting take  especially about the controversy.


Good to know: There are rumors that  a book is to be published and a TV special about the restaurant and the Picasso in the fall.

Photos courtesy of The Four Seasons and LA Times 

Disclaimer:  I try for correct info on Kay’s Notes and my posts  but no guarantees people.