After considerable whining on my part to Mrs. Hackknife about how we were overdue to take an adults-only trip (our last voyage without the kids goes back to Sept. 2008 when I tagged along to Paris on one of my wife's business trips), we made the decision back in January to visit New York City next weekend (3/19-3/21). Although Mrs. Hackknife frequently goes there for work, I have only been there three times, all of the trips predating my current unhealthy obsession with all things culinary (my earlier goals consisted of seeing Yankee Stadium, excessive drinking, and avoiding muggings to the best of my abilities). As it's generally accepted that NYC is the Mecca of fine dining in America, you can imagine the wild, hare-brained, poverty-inducing ideas that first popped into my skull about what we could potentially eat on this fantastic voyage, a veritable 48-hour orgy of food porn. After lying down with a cold compress and letting my blood pressure return to AMA-recommended levels, I scaled back my ambitions somewhat to prevent us from becoming, well, overwhelmed by the cornucopia at our feet. Here is a summary of my more-modest dining itinerary for the trip:
Friday afternoon - Arrive at LaGuardia and check into hotel near Times Square. Proceed immediately to Momofuku Ssam Bar/Momofuku Milk Bar in East Village and get in line with other hungry hopefuls hoping to eat lunch before 3 pm. These two food joints are David Chang's lowbrow eateries specializing in Korean-inspired street cuisine (such as steamed pork buns) and unpretentious desserts (such as a butter-filled, toasted-oat crust monstrosity called "crack pie"), respectively. Sit on curb following meal and attempt to convince bloated frame to cab up to Met for some art viewing before dinner.
Friday evening - Meet up with friends/local fixers Adam and Ellen for drinks, preferably in a historic watering hole such as McSorley's Old Ale House (open since 1854, proudly admitting women since forced by Supreme Court in 1970) or White Horse Tavern. Proceed via any means necessary to Brooklyn for dinner at Peter Luger Steakhouse (established 1887). Luger's has a reputation for being customer-unfriendly (no credit cards, limited menu) and has been pegged by no less an expert than Anthony Bourdain as being overrated, however, neither Mrs. Hackknife or I have ever been there and we can't resist trying it ourselves.
Saturday morning - No idea. Can't possibly fathom eating breakfast even this far in advance of trip. Granola bar? Cup of water?
Saturday afternoon - Don sport coat and proceed via cab to Columbus Circle for noon reservation at celebrated Thomas Keller temple of fine dining Per Se. I attempted to get us in here on a total whim (one blogger I read mentioned needing "divine intervention" to secure a table), calling exactly 2 months before our desired reservation when the phone lines opened at 10 am EST. I sat on hold for 30 minutes before giving up on a Friday table, then attempted again the next day and was rewarded 28 minutes into my call (2 minutes from hanging up again) with an actual person answering this time and an open lunchtime slot. Remember to bring AmEx and credit report.
Saturday evening - Stop by Parker-Meridian hotel for a burger in NYC's top burger joint (a place called "Burger Joint" as luck would have it). It comes highly recommended by Adam and would seem to be the perfect counterpoint to the highly-stylized, impeccably-prepared meal enjoyed earlier at Per Se. Plus, it's probably about $165/person cheaper. Backup plan - Gray's Papaya for hot dogs.
Sunday morning - Again ponder how breakfast would even be possible. Meet up with Adam and Ellen one more time for dim sum in Chinatown at 11 am.
Sunday afternoon - Waddle towards flight check-in desk at LaGuardia. Laugh when agent suggests purchasing a second seat for newfound girth, then stop laughing when I realize that she's not kidding.