Monday, January 02, 2012

Day Thirteen, How Much We've Seen

You can step outside my apartment building, look west up the street, and see the Empire State Building staring at you. So how is it that we've made it to Day 13 of this holiday and I still haven't taken my parents up to the ESB's Observation Deck?! It's crazy, I know. And yet on Day 1 of the New Year, we just had no time.

Our day started - yep, you guessed it - early; but that was because we knew we wanted to have brunch at Red Rooster, way up north from me in Harlem. On Sundays, and indeed yesterday, Red Rooster was offering its famous Gospel brunch, and I was resolved to be early for it. Southern food and a gospel music? I'm totally there.

So on a whim, just before we left the house, I thought I'd just look up the restaurant online again to double-check the service times for brunch. Noon till three pm. What the?! I was sure the website said 10am when I'd checked earlier. Oh man. I'd dragged my parents out of bed at the crack of dawn for nothing! We could all have had an extra 90 minutes' sleep, no problems. ARGH. How to confess this?

I took the Band-Aid approach and just all-out fessed up to the error. Mum & Dad were totally cool with it, and actually liked the idea of just going somewhere local for coffee first. Phew. As we left my house, a "flashy bus" was pulling into the bus stop by my house so we jumped on it. Early as it was, the streets of Manhattan looked like a ghost town yesterday morning. It was at this point I questioned what coffee shops might exactly be open at this time on New Year's Day. Hmm, my holiday planning was starting to get sloppy. I could see people walking the streets with Dunkin' Donuts coffee but that was definitely going to be a last resort for us.

When Culture Espresso turned out to be closed (sad face), we took a chance on Bryant Park and sure enough - like the very Holy Grail itself - the park was a hive of activity. Aroma Coffee delivered the goods and we sat on folding chairs, right up by the rink, to watch HEAPS of people start the new year whirling around on ice skates.

After a little while we figured it would be a good time to head up to the restaurant for brunch. The subway ride up to Harlem (125th St) took off from Times Square, which was not far from where we had paused to enjoy coffees.

Now you're probably thinking, Red Rooster? Why the hell would you want to have brunch at a Red Rooster?! Well, this place is not like any Red Rooster we get back home. No six-pack fried chicken and moist towelettes here, friends. If you didn't already do so before, click the link here and check out the restaurant for yourself. The restaurant is gorgeous - and not too large (though the downstairs events space - with ENORMOUS dance floor - would be lots of fun). The chef is Marcus Samuelsson, a Swedish Ethiopian chef with restaurants dotted around the US and one in Stockholm. And the food? Oh man. It's comfort all the way.

As the lone gospel singer wandered the restaurant with her hand-held mic, belting out prayerful tunes, we all stuffed in some delicious brunch. I had the burger (it came with truffle fries - I was powerless to resist), while Mum had the lamb & potato hash, and Dad had the scrambled eggs with onion & chorizo. Some cornbread to start and a glass of prosecco to wash it all down? Delicious.

Tummies full we bade the restaurant farewell and caught the train back Downtown, so we could wander around the main concourse of Grand Central Station. In terms of size, this place is very impressive but I'm still a bigger fan of Washington DC's Union Station I think. But there is no denying that Grand Central is a terribly well-used and very popular tourist attraction in NYC and affords some very good photo opportunities, if you can manage to capture the immensity of the place.

By this point in the day, we were ready to slow down and take it easy. So we went back to the apartment and chilled out for a few hours before ending our day with a screening of "We Bought A Zoo". The movie was adorable to be sure, yet I waited 2 hours to see Matt Damon shirtless and my patience was sadly unrewarded. Not even Matt Damon in a singlet! I got Matt Damon in a turtleneck and reading glasses - and Matt Damon in khakis and a tool belt, so perhaps I shouldn't be complaining. In fact, who are we kidding? I'll totally take that. With a side of truffle fries.

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