Day seven: Sunday March 13th:
I can’t say whether I was still feeling somewhat sheepish after the events of last night or if I was struggling with the loss of an hour to Daylight Savings Time, but I found it tough to get motivated on Sunday morning. My itinerary tentatively called for a trip to the Upper East Side for some breakfast prior to an afternoon wander around the MET, given that I had failed to visit any of the major museums during last year’s trip, but I couldn’t rouse myself from my chamber for that effort. Instead I found myself watching some terrible television, eventually getting up to take inventory of my spending money (to date I had spent approximately $125 per day on food and drink, excluding the dinner at Keen’s. It seemed more than I was expecting, but in retrospect – taking into account that a good IPA would cost me $8 + a $2 tip – it shouldn’t have been surprising) before finally heading upstairs to the lounge for a coffee and a snack.
[Spoiler alert: As of two trips to New York, I am yet to visit any of its world famous museums]
It must have been somewhere between 2-3pm when I had found the will to leave the Club Quarters. The only solid thing on my itinerary for today was the NYCFC season opener at Yankee Stadium at 5. In the early planning for this trip it was a toss-up between the soccer and the Rangers game at The Garden. I absolutely loved the hockey last year and so it was top of my list, but the price for Penguins @ Rangers was much more than I was willing to pay. I guess it’s a pretty big game. Checking in on the score before I left the hotel and it looked like I missed a great game (finished 4-3 to the Pens, I think) I took a long walk across 45th to St. Andrews on W46th. I know, travelling all the way from Scotland to visit a Scottish themed bar in Times Square. Ugh. But the brunch was fairly well recommended on Trip Advisor and food was much needed. So I sat at the bar and ordered a drink and was waiting for the barman to come back so I could get his attention for a menu. But he put my order on a tab – which isn’t unusual in New York, but I found it only ever happened automatically like this when the bar staff recognised you and trusted you – and I never managed to get his attention since. He spent most of his time up at the other end of the bar, barely acknowledged my existence, and by the time I was reaching the end of my beer I had decided that I wouldn’t be eating here. I eventually managed to summon his attention to settle my one drink bill and I left.
Instead I grabbed a quick soup and sandwich at a Pret near Bryant Park. I was reluctant to eat here as Pret is my go to coffee chain when I’m in UK cities and I wanted a more authentic NY experience, but Saturday taught me that I should eat (and drink) when the opportunity presents itself. I felt better for it and took the train from Bryant Park to 161 St – Yankee Stadium. I maybe shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many NYCFC shirts around the station, but then I’m unfamiliar with the popularity of the MLS in the United States. I stopped off at the Yankee Tavern on my way to the stadium and the bar was filling up nicely with a good atmosphere around an hour before the game. Another beer here and I was ready to progress across the street to experience the pre-game build-up inside the stadium.
Yankee Stadium is quite pretty from the outside – as far as sports stadia go, anyway – and the interior arena looks great too. But it’s very clear that NYCFC are merely tenants here. The football (soccer) frankly looked quite ridiculous played on a baseball park. There were a couple of guys a row or two back talking about how they can’t watch MLS on television because it “looks terrible” and I can sort of appreciate that. That aside, I had a great time here. Enjoyed a couple of beers in the late afternoon breeze (and they had some good beers on draft here, unlike my experience at MSG last year) and the game was entertaining enough. NYCFC led 2-0 but were pegged back to finish 2-2. The singing section behind the goal were in great voice the entire game.
Post-game I returned to Midtown and to the Empire State Building to snap a couple of pictures of the skyscraper bathed in the blue of NYCFC before stopping into Heartland Brewery right underneath the ESB. They have a smaller selection of beers on their menu than many other craft beer bars, but the difference is that Heartland brews their own beers. I ordered a fillet steak skewer with macaroni cheese from their food menu, which I enjoyed well enough with a couple of their classic beers. By virtue of its location – not only in Midtown, but literally right underneath the Empire State Building – this would probably be considered more of a tourist destination than a proper craft beer bar – but it was a comfortable place to unwind and enjoy a simple meal.
With The Ginger Man scratched from my Sunday plans following my earlier experience there I rounded out the night at Rattle N Hum on E 33rd. Now THIS is a craft beer bar. A suitably extensive menu of beers, a small but entertaining crowd of mainly locals gathered around the bar and a fantastic playlist – which curiously, for a bar named after a U2 album, featured no U2 (I confirmed with the barmaid that the bar was actually named after the 1988 album.) The barmaid, Rebecca, was very friendly and attentive and supplied me with a list of four or five personally selected bars to check out. An enjoyable Sunday night was spent here.
Best tip today: I found following the NYCFC game that the best way to avoid a crowded subway train is to walk as far down the platform as possible. It always amazes me how people get down those subway steps and stop a few feet away; I know I tend to be guilty of it too, it’s just easier. But then those cars which correlate with that particular section of the platform naturally fill up more quickly. I walked to the end of the platform at Yankee Stadium and found that the car, while obviously still a little busy, was nowhere near as crushed as those further back would have been. I first noticed this when Darryl took us to the end of the platform at one stop during the subway tour and put it into practice later in my trip and the theory seemed to hold strong.