Burke & Wills, A Grown-Up Australian Bistro Shines On The Upper West Side

The beautiful dining room at Burke & Wills on the Upper West Side

Although we're well past the days when the Upper West Side was something of a culinary disaster area–personal favorites among new(ish)comers include Bar Boulud, Red Farm, and The Smith–another reliable spot is always welcome for our neighborhood wanderings. So when the year-old Australian bistro Burke & Wills was cited several times in a recent "NYC's most underrated NYC restaurant" thread on Eater, I decided it was time to go eat some kangaroo! And other things. Located in the one of those semi-subterranean spaces on 79th Street, the former home of Sunburnt Calf, in fact, (which was also an Australian spot, though catering to a younger, more raucous crowd), Burke & Wills has a pretty dining room under a huge glass skylight in the back, a friendly bar up front, AND a separate "cricket and cocktail club" upstairs, decked out to look exactly as you'd expect such a thing to look, all worn leather armchairs and vintage photos of cricketers of yore. 

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Sesame Street Takes Over Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library of the Performing Arts

A recreation of the Sesame Street stoop at Lincoln Center's New York Public Library

Full disclosure: I was one of the first generations of kids to fall in love with Cookie Monster. And Ernie, who has so often made me laugh out loud, for decades now. Bert maybe a little less, but still, even as a child I admired his commitment to his nerdy passions, like paper clips and pigeons. And too-cool-for-school Oscar. And then when I grew up and had kids of my own and watched it with them–call it the Elmo years–how great was it to hear them laugh and sing along to some of the same jokes and songs that I remember? So great. 

Anyway, the point is that Sesame Street is one those rare cultural touchstones that can function as both heartwarming nostalgia and fresh contemporary entertainment. That it actively educates at the same time is nothing short of a miracle. Which is why it's hard to imagine anyone, of any age, not enjoying the terrific little Sesame Street 45th-anniversary exhibition at Lincoln Center New York Public Library For the Performing Arts, "Somebody Come and Play." Continue reading

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Apples to Apples: 7 Delicious Things To Do in NYC during Cider Week NYC

A half-full glass of apple cider.

Has there ever been a better time for people who enjoy adult beverages? The craft beer boom of a decade ago has, if anything, only gotten bigger and more exciting. In certain circles no party is complete without someone breaking out  growlers of their own personal home brew… with, it must be said, mixed results. And bartenders–sorry, mixologists–are putting an astonishing amount of skill, love, and homemade, high-priced ingredients into those lavish "cocktail programs" that are de rigueur in all manner of restaurants, all over town. And now the adventurous and thirsty among us, always looking for the next big boozy thing, have turned their attention to craft cider. Which, considering that New York State is America's second largest apple grower, with more than 700 orchards and some ten million trees, definitely makes sense.

And so, to honor the great New York apple and the aromatic, intoxicating liquor it brings, we have the upcoming Cider Week, October 24th to November 2n, for which dozens of NYC restaurants as well a number of Hudson Valley venues will be celebrating the wonders of our local bounty. Here are a few of the events and offerings taking place during Cider Week; for lots more ideas, click here. All images via CiderWeek.com 

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Sweetgreen Tribeca: Raising the (Salad) Bar

Two workers at NYC's first Sweetgreen location

Usually, the thought of some chain (or mini-chain) restaurant coming to New York City from another part of the country provokes, at best, ambivalence. We have so many amazing, locally-run places here already, the heck do we need those (generally mediocre) carpetbaggers for?! Of course, there are exceptions, a huge one being the DC-area based salad shop Sweetgreen, newly landed here in the big town and serving up some truly first-rate bowls of healthy, delicious goodness. 

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Two Brand New NYC Public Art Projects – Perfect For The Fall!

public-art-nyc-2014-lincoln-center-john-gerrard-solar-power

If the vitality of a city can be measured, even to a small degree, by the prevalence and energy of its public art, then New York is in fine shape indeed. From the ongoing exhibitions in City Hall Park to the regular installations along Broadway and Park Avenue to the consistently engaging shows up and down the High Line, over the past decade or so great works of public art have left the usual corporate-plaza spaces far behind, offering ample opportunities for surprise and delight as we go about our day. Two terrific new installations in Manhattan got me thinking about all of this again recently: three huge sculptures by Tony Cragg that have taken up residence in Madison Square Park through February; and the addictive, high-def Solar Reserve by John Gerrard, plopped down front and center on the Lincoln Center's main plaza. 

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Plan The Perfect Fall Family Day Trip or Romantic Weekend Getaway

A view of the Mohonk Tower located in New Paltz, NY.

Most New Yorkers will tell you that the best place on the planet to be during the fall season is–ready?!?–right here in New York City! The temperatures are pleasant, everyone looks fantastic, the culture calendar is packed full, the energy is everywhere, crackling and alive. But, that said, it's still nice to embark upon an out-of-town adventure every now and then, someplace not too far–have to get back for that concert/premier/opening/party–but "away" enough to give you break, help you recharge for the next round of everything. Here, then, are a half dozen suggestions passed along from friends and colleagues, of great fall getaways for families and couples. If you have any other ideas, please let us know in the comments.  

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NYC’s Newest Bagel Institutions: Black Seed and Russ & Daughters Cafe

Bagels, smoked fish and tomato and onions from Russ & Daughters Cafe

Within the space a couple of weeks, two eagerly-anticipated restaurants, from a pair of beloved NYC institutions (one new, the other as venerable as it gets) opened in downtown Manhattan within a few blocks of each other. Which isn't really all that unusual in this big, beautiful, food-crazy town of ours… except in this case, the focus of the menu in both places is the bagel. Coincidence? Yes. A bonanza for all of us who worship this most exalted of all the city's breadstuffs? Absolutely. Go early, go often, but most importantly - make sure you go to both!

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Like NYC Pizza? You’ll Love Marta and GG’s, Two of the Fall’s Best New Restaurants (So Far!)

September saw a slew of new restaurant openings in New York City (with an even bigger slew coming this month!), and my two favorites so far, by a comfortable margin, put pizza front and center on their menus. No surprise, really: is there a food that's MORE NYC than pizza?  Ok, maybe bagels… but still: PIZZA!  Anyway, here's a quick look at this awesome duo: Marta, in the NoMad neighborhood, the latest from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group; and GG's, which is Nicholas Morgenstern's revamp of his Goat Town in the East Village. Both serve first-rate individual-sized pies, an array of appealing non-pizza dishes, and satisfy equally well as neighborhood spots and destination restaurants.

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Tricks and Treats! Don’t Miss These 8 Great Things To Do In October

Halloween decorated pumpkins to celebrate the month of October

That rueful disbelief over summer's end and the novelty of back-to-school have both worn off by now, which means the NYC fall fun/culture/food season is really hitting its stride. Weekends are too packed with special events and festivals to be able to hit them all (and to maintain any semblance of domestic life), and weeknights are filled with art openings, performances, movies–fall behind on your fall releases and forget about ever catching up–and checking out new restaurants. Basically: you can't do it all. No one can. But here are eight great October NYC events to consider putting on your list.

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Say Hello to High Line at the Rail Yards, the Park’s Third and Final Phase

A view of from the new High Line at Rail Yards

It's pretty amazing to think that the High Line has only been around since 2008, or that there were plenty of people who lobbied against the park being built at all because it would stifle growth in the neighborhood. Instead, of course, not only has the High Line been such an instant, overwhelming success–more than 5 million folks visited the elevated greenway last year alone, and imitators have sprung up around the world–that the six-year-old park already feels like a NYC landmark, but it has also sparked a staggering amount of development, from the new Whitney at the southern end (opening next spring) to the mega-billion-dollar Hudson Yards project to the north. Really, in all my decades here in the city, I can't remember a neighborhood transforming itself so rapidly, and dramatically. And the point is this: last week, the High Line opened its third and final section to the public–called High Line at the Rail Yards–and even though much of the surrounding area is still dominated by massive construction sites, it's pretty easy to tell that designers James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio & Renfro have given New Yorkers (and millions of tourists) another winner. 

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