Friday, December 30, 2011
by: Adrianne Benzion
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that as a relatively new New Yorker I am pretty well acclimated to Manhattan and its many neighborhoods. I meet new people all the time and the question I (and many other NY-ers) ask is “Where do you live?” Your neighborhood can say a lot about you. It's always a great ice breaker. Then the next time you're looking for a place to eat, drink, or live, you know who to go to with for insider information about the ‘hood. One neighborhood I haven’t spent as much time in is Hell’s Kitchen. This is mostly because of its proximity to Midtown and Times Square. However, on Christmas Eve-Eve my friend Kat dragged me to the West Side and it proved to be another great Manhattan night.
As Kat and I walked west on 42nd street through the holiday crowds and into Times Square I started to the heebeegeebees. I have a severe aversion to the overly commercialized area I once knew as the icon of NYC. Now I only see it as a tourist trap and a place terrorists want to destroy - in other words, I try to stay as far away from it as possible. Yet this night we darted right through it. We were on a mission for Thai food. We both had been craving pad Thai all day and Kat happened to know of this great place. I really had no idea where we were going, but before I knew it we walked all the way to 9th Avenue in the frigid cold.
I was expecting some little hole-in-the-wall and prayed there would be vodka at the end of this trek. As Kat tore open the front door I was thrilled to find an adorably charming establishment. The giant encased chandelier in the middle of the restaurant grabs your attention and the walls covered with ornately framed mirrors reflects the warm light. We decided to sit at the bar under more dangling lights. The staff at Room Service
were all dressed in sequined attire that added that extra level of sexy to the restaurant. I ordered the shrimp pad Thai for dinner and we had the black bean dumplings to start. The food was not only delicious and very reasonably priced, but service was snappy. After dinner, Kat and I were craving a dessert cocktail. We saw a bottle of Stoli Chocolate Raspberry Vodka and we asked the bartender if they could make us a chocolate martini with it. The result was one amazing drink! It was so good we couldn’t have just one.
Our friend Stephen joined us for a quick bite. He ordered the coconut milk soup and let me have a taste. It was so good I was almost upset I was too full to order a bowl for myself. I'll be coming back to Room Service for that soup and another martini.
Kat wanted to take me down the street to Hourglass Tavern
. As we entered the bar and walked up the stairs she explained that this used to be an old house. There was a unique charm that definitely felt snug and comfortable like someone’s home. We entered the second floor also known as Betti Bar. I was told that the gimlets at this bar are extraordinary. Vodka and lots of lime juice; What’s not to love? This small bar made for a very friendly environment and after our first tasty martini we were conversing with everyone. This place had a sense of community that made me feel very welcome.
I had a great night in Hell’s Kitchen on Restaurant Row. The proximity to Times Square and Broadway makes this great New York City neighborhood accessible to tourists, yet it maintains a local vibe. As the saying goes, you will never see and do everything in this city. As a Manhattanite you can only try to discover all the various areas within your reach and this is Why I Love NYC.
For more Why I Heart NYC with Adrianne Benzion stay tuned to Clubplanet!
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