Written by James V. Thomas

Tea Parlor & Bar



The Plaza hotel, Palm Court - not what it used to be... but still overall attractive.

Manhattan is still the capital of the world, whether you want to admit it or not. I recently had a moment to spend some time there to visit some friends, and decided I would go out looking for some new (and old) spots to update my travel book. I have amassed a few places here for you, my dear reader, in the hopes that you will have the possibility to experience each one, at your own pace. 

To begin, I thought it would be more than appropriate to start at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel. Located right beneath Central Park, the Plaza is the epic Ritz hotel equivalent in New York. That said, the experience was somewhat of a deception. Tourists clad in sweatsuits, shorts, and running-shoes bustled about the common areas, waiting anxiously for their seats. Very few patrons were actually in the proper attire, and the afternoon tea itself (at a smooth 110 $ per person) was greatly lacking - bitter, and so-so sandwiches. The plaza also underwent renovations in the early aughts, and it shows. Garish details such as a lounge in parquet de versailles crowned with BLUE Disney-esque /  club lighting for example, or LED white light bulbs that procure no warmth. Yes, it was kind of sad to see the Plaza in such a condition, but at least the magnificent marble columns that frame the bar, and the stained glass ceiling windows remain in tact, as they were. If you intend to visit the Plaza, I would say skip the tea and just go straight to the bar (under that lovely stained glass window) after a romantic promenade in Central Park for a cocktail after 5 - It seemed that the only people dressed for the occasion and not visiting from out of state were there.

The Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel, 5th Av 59th St, NY NY, 10019, open from 6:30 am to 10 am, then 10:30 am to 11 pm every day.

Cocktail Bar



Overstory, is possibly my new favorite bar downtown, right in the middle of the Financial District (which seems to be having a revival?). One enters via the (landmarked) art-deco lobby of the building at 70 Pine Street, and is then whisked up to the 64th floor. Upon arrival at the 64th floor, you are led up a modernist staircase with low lighting, ambiance abundant. The cocktail bar is run by different easy-on-the-eyes men, all dressed in salmon pink double breasted suits, and more than happy to make you a cocktail according to your tastes. It's a small oval shaped room, with a disco ball pulling together a more quirky contemporary ambiance. The curved walls following the ceiling are adorned with alabaster sconces and marble inlaid framing elegantly showcasing the windows with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding towers. When there is good weather, one may appreciate the wrap-around terrace outside, a few coffee tables and chairs, with art deco banisters and casually potted plants. The only notable flaw was that music was too "top-40-remixed-into-sexy-lounge-music" but I am sure that there are other nights where they have different DJ's and different musical ambiances. 

Overstory, 70 Pine St. 64th Floor, NY NY 10005, open from 5:45 till Midnight every day except Tuesday, which is 7 pm to Midnight.


Doing a quick runthrough of Overstory, trying not to embarrass myself.

Restaurant & Bar


I'm obsessed with the melon depictions found throughtout the bar and restaurant.

JG Melon is rated to be the second best burger in New York. This is true. As to the 1st, I have no idea where to find it. Besides the burger, this bar is an upper east side staple, with a lot of character, and real American cocktails : no frills, thrown together, ice-swirled glasses, flowing over the brim kind of cocktails - and only the classics, naturally. I stayed here to meet up with a few friends directly at the bar, and I noticed the flux of bar-goers coming and going all had a waspy air of understated glory, probably living between the upper east side, Nantucket, and possibly Greenwich CT. Hearty men wearing worn Brooks Brothers shirts / jackets, sports fans if you must. As a cash only establishment, the 100 dollar bills were flowing faster than the Stella Artois on tap, but somehow, JG Melon retains an air of an old-fashioned American "saloon with food" style restaurant and bar. If you're lucky, you might see a few older ladies with full Margaret Thatcher hair-dos and stately make-up and tans - and pearls, always pearls...

JG Melon, 1291 3rd Ave. , NY NY, 10021, open 11:30 am to 3 am Mon. - Sat., 11:30 am to 1 am Sun.




The old pink marble stairs lead one up to a large early 20th century room, also untouched by time - except a few layers of paint. 

I was brought to the KGB Bar after a late night dinner at Indochine. Being a connoisseur of dive bars, I had high hopes given the large red neon sign on front of the building in the East Village. My expectations were met : a large dimly lit room with art-nouveau(esque) lamps, communist era Russian memorablilia, and stained glass cabinetry. A limited drink menu, and a terribly uninterested older gentleman behind the counter were also positive notes. I will return.

KGB Bar, 85 E 4th St, NY NY, 10003, open from 7 pm to 4 am every day.

Historical Point of Interest



No matter what your opinion is of Donald Trump, the lobby of his eponymous skyscraper "Trump Tower" is something to be seen. Unchanged since 1983, you can see the style of a bygone time of New York excess. Entirely clad in red marble, brass and mirror details, a 5 (6?) story water-fall, and plants to create an urban oasis, you can feel a slightly more commercial essence of Angelo Donghia's design. As it is difficult to find this ambiance in New York anymore (as it is a city where renovation is almost constant) it's refreshing to see architecture stuck in a time that many deem to be gaudy / tasteless, but serves as a time-capsule to New York's heydays in the 1980's.  Another convenient factor of this visit, is that it is very centrally located and will only take a few minutes of your time. 

725 5th Ave, NY NY, 10022, the lobby space is open all day as a public area.



Perhaps it's a bit overkill on 'in the mood for love" ambiance, but still very tasty and calming for the area. 

I was on my way to the Manhattan Wardrobe Supply shop when I realized that I had to have lunch before the rest of my oncoming day. I noticed an unusually appealing building facade, composed of just a large white wall and a large circular window. I instantly checked Google maps and noticed that it was Café China, a restaurant that had been strongly recommended to me. No need for a reservation, fast service, the food was affordable and clean - my only disinclination would be that the ambiance was a very developped one, somehow imitating Wong Kar-Wai's "In the mood for love", and nobody wants to eat at a theme restaurant. But the ambiance was light enough, and the food was authentically delicious, so yes, I will return. 

59 W 37th St, NY NY, 10018, open 12 pm to 3 pm then 5 pm to 11 pm Mon. - Fri. , then 12 pm to 11 pm Sat. - Sun. 

Pizza Parlor


The interior is deliciously retro. 

Scarr's Pizza is possibly my favorite pizza parlor in New York - and I found it by sheer chance as it was just downstairs from a friend's flat. I don't commonly eat pizza either, so if I do, it better be exceptional. Don't come looking for Italian style thin crust. This is entirely New York (possibly Chicago) style pizza - Thick, fluffy, focaccia style crust, topped with a delicious tomato sauce, and any other topping you so desire (although foruntately they keep it simple). Of course, you will probably leave with a stomach-ache, but for the 30 minutes of sheer food-porn pleasure, it is definitely worth it. Also noteworthy, Marc Jacobs and Vogue threw a pizza party here recently and so all the pizza boxes are labeled by Marc Jacobs - if that's your kind of thing. 

22 Orchard St, NY NY, 10002, open from 12 pm to 11 pm every day.

Food & Wine


A mainstay in Little Italy, Di Palo's is sure to please anyone who likes to eat.

As I was on my way to the West Village from the East Village, I had to make a pilgrimage through an Italian American sacred ground called Little Italy. Despite being an Italian American, I was never very fond of the Little Italy neighborhood itself. It always seemed to be geared to tourists more than anyone else, almost like some kind of a scam - not to mention the majority of the restaurants here are not great. There are a few interesting spots however, one of them being Di Palo's Fine Foods. This institution of a grocery store has everything you can think of that you need if you plan on cooking Italian, or simply just want to offer a simple yet stylish gift. They also have a large variety of different sausages, commonly used in Italian American cuisine. 

200 Grand St, NY NY, 10013, open 9:30 am to 6 pm Mon. - Sat. , 9:30 am to 5 pm Sun. 



The lovely salon at Cad & The Dandy. 

Savile Row tailoring in Manhattan? It's certainly not the first time that this has occured, but I absolutely had to mention the "Cad & The Dandy" penthouse on billionaire's row, and the beauty of their craftsmanship. Located in a building that used to house famed portraitist John Howard Sanden, the penthouse has a light filled large drawing room with extra high ceilings. A glass-door clad bar sits in the corner. Showcased in the painter's window is a selection of some very elegant tuxedos and white-tie attire, all under the watchful eye of the Antwerp-born bespoke specialist, Steve Knorsch. Steve also edits the uber-preppy instagram account "The Snob Report". If you are in Manhattan and looking for a sharp New York style suit with Savile Row details, please make sure to reach out to Steve and book a visit to the penthouse while you're in town. 

Cad & The Dandy, 130 West 57th St Penthouse 11B, NY NY, 10019, an appointment must be organized in advance via this website.


All photography by the writer. Special thanks to Steve Knorsch from Cad & the Dandy.

Sky Blue

Est. 2019