Trust the Luger – New York

In June 2011, Dan and I went to New York City to visit Alia. We had both been to New York before but never together.  Alia was living in Williamsburg in Brooklyn and even though it’s hipster central, we still had trouble getting a cab to take us there. We tried to take a cab from Central Station and any time we said “Brooklyn” the driver would refuse to drive us there. It reminded me of that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda reluctantly agrees to look at houses in Brooklyn with Steve but no cab will take her there. Anyway, we eventually got there even though our cab driver got lost along the way and had to go get directions.


Alia’s cat Mishu was obsessed with my Birks.

The next day we picked up coffee at Variety and then hopped onto the subway to meet my cousin, her husband and kids, and my aunt for brunch.

Variety has really good coffee and is one of those places where, if you buy coffee beans, they remind you several times not to put the beans in the freezer.


Excellent coffee.

We had Malaysian food at Nyonya with my family. My cousin Eva had just had a baby (her second daughter) a few months before so I was excited to meet her and see my other niece again. Eva and her family were only living in New York for two years and were about to move back to New Zealand. We gave my nieces some of my favourite Robert Munsch books and his latest book “Moose” so that they could bring a little bit of Canada home with them. (Also there are no moose in New Zealand so I like the idea if the girls wondering about this strange animal as they grow up)

Malaysian food

Enjoying Malaysian food. My niece Claudia flips through one of my childhood favourites “Murmel Murmel Murmel.” She liked putting the books on her head.

my family

Picture with my family. I barely saw my second niece Eloise that day (her head was hidden for most of the meal lol).

After brunch we headed over to the MET to see the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. There was a huge line up that people waited for hours in, but because Alia and her boyfriend at the time Sverre were members of the MET they were each able to beat the line and bring a guest with them.

I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to see this exhibition. It was amazing and I still think about my favourite pieces in the gallery.

Feeling hungry, we had lunch at the Burger Joint at le Parker Meridien or as my cousin Lena called it when I went to visit her in 2005, “the secret hamburger place.”

secret hamburger place

I always knew I’d come back. Even if it took 6 years.

This burger place is really interesting because it’s inside of a very nice hotel and there isn’t any signage. You basically go into the hotel and walk next to hotel reception, behind a curtain and down a long hallway. The only real signage is a neon burger sign.

There’s also an episode of How I Met Your Mother where they try to find a hamburger place (and it’s modelled after this place).

Burger Joint

Inside The Burger Joint. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have any pictures of the food because I ate it too fast. Trust me, it was delicious.

No visit to New York is complete without a visit to Times Square, so that’s where we went next.

Times Square

Alia and I in Times Square. We’re super happy.

The next day, Alia and I woke up bright and early to get crepes. Unfortunately Alia couldn’t seem to remember where it was so we walked for what seemed like hours (but was probably more like 30 minutes) and when we finally found it, it was closed and they didn’t list their hours anywhere so we had no idea when/if we should come back. How disappointing! Starving and tired, we ended up at House of Small Wonder, a local coffee place.

House of Small Wonder

House of Small Wonder was our saviour and their baked goods were amazing and fresh. om nom nom

One of the best sights in Alia’s neighbourhood were the local bakeries that also sell grave markers. Seemed like an interesting combination of goods.

Brick Oven Bread

Brick Oven Bread – selling baked goods and grave markers.

Naturally by the time we got back to the apartment we were hungry again. This time we headed out for lunch at Graham Deli.

Godfather Hero

My Godfather Hero sandwich was amazing. We ate one half and saved the other half of our sandwiches for the next day. We also had pickle spears. om nom nom

We spent a few hours in FAO Schwartz and Dan and I bought a puzzle. I should mention that Alia and Sverre had a puzzle of New York from the New Yorker (also purchased at FAO Schwartz) and Dan and I were obsessed with this puzzle. We spent every spare minute working on the puzzle in Alia’s apartment and we all even started referring to it as “puzzleing.” (“Let’s go back and do some more puzzleing.” “puzzleing is hard work.”)

The Big PIano

These guys were awesome playing a duet on The Big Piano at FAO Schwartz.

I gave my cousin’s husband Remy a call and we decided to go visit them. Eva and Remy were living on Roosevelt Island (it is part of Manhattan) and we had to ride the aerial tram to get there. I’d never even heard of Roosevelt Island or that there was an aerial tram before.

aerial tram

Riding the aerial tram to and from Roosevelt Island

Eva and Remy were having a potluck lunch goodbye thing at their apartment, so we spent a few hours with them. We also went up to their apartment afterwards and I got to play with Claudia and meet Eloise again. This time I got to see her face more.


With my niece Eloise.

Alia was also really happy with this part of the visit because she had had a lot of visitors and never got to sit. We sat a lot during this visit, which was a first for her.

For dinner we went to Blue Smoke for their ridiculously delicious ribs.

Blue Smoke

So excited for ribs at Blue Smoke.


We got the Rib Sampler (Memphis Baby Backs, Kansas City Spareribs and Texas Salt & Pepper Beef Ribs). Om nom nom

We also shared a dessert platter sampler, as recommended by Eva. If I find a picture of it I’ll add it here later.

Next we went to Apotheke, a cocktail bar located in Chinatown. Apotheke looks like an old apothecary (hence the name), the drinks all have names and ingredients to help you and the bartenders all wear lab coats. There also isn’t a sign or anything outside of Apothekes, so unless you know where it is or what it is, you’d probably never go there.


The bathroom was lined with old pharmacy labels and we were seated next to a medical symbol. When there’s a theme, it’s the little details that make such a difference.

For drinks, I had the Deal Closer: Cucumber, Vodka, Local Chinatown Aphrodisiacs, Mint, Lime, Vanilla Essence. Dan had the Smoking Jacket: Single Malt Scotch, All Spice, House All-Spice Bitters, Agave Honey. Alia had the Pigmy Gimlet: Kiwi, Vodka, Eucalyptus Tincture, Agave Nectar, Lime, Cracked Black Pepper.

We were going to leave but at this point the bar was getting full and I kept seeing people eye our table, so we did the right thing and ordered another round of drinks. This time I had the Pigmy Gimlet. Alia and Dan had the Blackberry Cobbler: Rye Whiskey, Huckleberries, Creme de Violet, Agave Nectar, Lime, Cobbler. They loved the Blackberry Cobbler (it did taste like a real blackbery cobbler). I really enjoyed the pigmy gimlet. I love kiwi

When we got back to Alia’s apartment, naturally, we did more “puzzleing.”

puzzeling - new verb

I got creative when I took this picture of Dan “puzzleing” aka working on the puzzle. Yes, we turned it into a verb.

The next day, we headed over to Bryant Park where we rode the Carousel. I love carousels!

Carousel Bryant Park

Alia and I rode the carousel. Dan just watched and pretended he didn’t know us.

We walked over to the New York Public Library. It’s a gorgeous building and I was in heaven (I have a thing for beautiful old libraries). Alia took me to the children’s section where they had the original Winnie the Pooh toys that A.A. Milne based the books off of! These were the real Christopher Robin’s toys! This was one of the highlights of my trip.

with the original Winnie the Pooh toys

I was so happy when I saw them. I loved them all!

New York Public Library

Gorgeous library.

Next, Alia took us to Grimaldi’s for real New York pizza. Of course there was a line (lines and food are a theme on our trips), so she told us she’d stand in line while we explored Brooklyn Bridge park. We took a walk but soon felt bad so went back to the line, which had grown ten times since we first got there. Lucky for us, the maitre d’ started asking if anybody was a party of three (that was us!) so we got in quickly for a table. Sometimes it pays to be an odd dinner number.

in Grimaldi's

In Grimaldi’s and happy to be there.

Grimaldi's pizza

Real New York pizza. I love Grimaldi’s!

After lunch we decided to walk it off by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. I had walked across Vegas’s version of the Brooklyn Bridge before (it was a lot shorter than the real thing!).

Brooklyn Bridge

Dan and I on the Brooklyn Bridge. Walking our food off.

It was time for a snack again (I know, all we did really was eat!) so we went to Serendipity III for some dessert. I had tried to go to Serendipity III when I was in New York with Lena in 2005, but it was too full and we ended up going to the secret hamburger place instead. This trip made it all come full circle for me! I had always wanted to try their frrrrozen hot chocolate.

frrrrrrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III

Dream come true. Finally got my frrrrrrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III. Om nom nom. And yes, I totally crushed it.

When the desserts came out they were huge and Alia started shaking her head and saying “oh no no no no no no” over and over and over again. We had dinner reservations at Peter Luger so she told us not to tell Sverre that we had eaten these huge desserts before dinner.

As of 2011, Peter Luger was rated the #1 steakhouse in New York 27 years in a row by zagat. They serve these giant steaks where it tastes like the butter is infused right in. They accept cash only, and their food is just incredible. We met Sverre at Peter Luger (and didn’t tell him about Serendipity III). I guess Sverre was really hungry because I just remember him ordering a lot of food and finally Alia saying “I think we’ve ordered enough food.” As we were eating, Dan doubted something and Sverre said “Trust the Luger!” After that, we gave our trust to “the Luger” and didn’t hesitate on eating more.


Bacon appetizer! om nom nom

giant steaks

giant steaks! om nom nom

crushed it

We crushed it.

Holy Cow Sundae

Still room for dessert, the Holy Cow sundae. Take that Peter Luger and Serendipity III!

At the end of the meal, they gave us giant Peter Luger coins (made out of chocolate). yum!

Peter Luger chocolate coins

Peter Luger chocolate coins

On our final day in New York, Dan and I went to the Empire State building. I had wanted to go the last time I was in New York but things didn’t work out. (going up tall buildings is also a trend in our travels) I love movies like An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle, so I was really excited about it. When we got there we were lucky and there actually was no line! I know, this never ever ever happens to us. We were up the Empire State Building in no time and it was another dream come true.

Empire State Building

View from the Empire State Building

After that, we headed home. Another successful vacation.

Fireworks from the plane

We saw fireworks from the plane! What a way to end the trip.

Next up, race report on the Toronto Zoo Run! And a vacation recap on our trip to Chicago (where we ate even more than in New York. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either).

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