NYC Weekend: Badass Bagels, Succulent Sushi, Big Girl Brunch

Each time I return home to NYC for a visit, I feel giddy.  As soon as my flight touches down at LaGuardia Airport, I exhale deeper.  My smile widens.  My hunger grows.  I become hungry for certain foods and rituals which NYC does better than other cities, including my current home of Chicago.  From bagels to brunch. From the Upper East Side to Soho.  Here’s how my recent NYC weekend went down:

In my last blog post, I sang the praises of two sexy French bistros in Midtown Manhattan.  I hit both of them within 24 hours of arriving in New York and I have not been able to shut up about them since.  Whether you live in NYC or you are planning a visit, I suggest you put those on your list of places to eat.  Both restaurants satisfied my craving for super fresh shell fish and seafood one can only find on the east coast.  


Jubilee in New York

Mussels Provencal-style

Saju Bistro in the theater district

Mediterranean sea bass with crispy zucchini and caramelized onions


I did not stop there.  I wanted more.  I needed to get

my bagel fix.  Just as I often rant about how I miss New York pizza, I also miss having real bagels, a.k.a. New York bagels.  There are a few great places across the 5 boroughs to accomplish that goal.  However, after waking up the day after my arrival, I decided to head on over to Sable’s Smoked Fish on the Upper East Side.


Sable's in New York City

Don’t forget a bagel or a bialy!


Sable’s Smoked Fish is located just two blocks east and 1/2 block north for the 77th St. subway stop, along the MTA #6 train line.

True bagels were my mission but I would be crazy not to take advantage of one of the great New York delicatessens while I was in town.  Sable’s has fantastic smoked salmon, sturgeon and shrimp.  Caviar more your thing?  Sable’s has you covered.  


Sable's on the Upper East Side


Sable's delicatessen


Personally, I wanted the spicy, smoked tuna salad which was lightly dressed with (not drowned) some mayonnaise.  The bagel?  I went for my favorite, an everything bagel, not toasted.  There is absolutely no need to toast a bagel which is fresh, perfectly chewy on the inside and lightly crispy on the outside.  Take note,” every other city on the planet”!  Please do not label your bagels as “everything bagels,” unless you are truly committed to encrusting them with the necessary “everything” topping: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onions, garlic and salt.  And, don’t be stingy!  Sable’s knows what I’m talking about 😉  I am so glad I stopped by.  My badass bagel mission was accomplished.  Thank you, Sables!


Sable's smoked fish

It’s been way too long since I’ve had these everything bagels and smoked tuna salad!


While I may not be the biggest fan of sushi, I know a great roll when I see one.  My friend, Hal, introduced me to a spot in his Chelsea neighborhood that I know I will visit again.  Hana Sushi is located 1/2 block south of the 23rd Street subway stop, along the MTA #1 train line.  It’s a cozy, little spot with a cool vibe.    

After eyeballing the many beautiful appetizers and other dishes flying by our table, Hal and I decided that we would share two different rolls.  Both of them were made with fresh fish.  Each one really brought the spicy factor which we greatly appreciated.  First up, was this yummy Volcano Roll made with spicy crunchy tuna, spicy tuna, avocado and spicy sauce.  We both agreed this one was our favorite.  All the flavors were easily distinguishable.  It was simple yet perfectly executed.


Hana Sushi in New York City

Left: Shrimp tempura roll with eel, fish roe and cucumber; Right: Crispy tuna, spicy tuna, avocado and spicy sauce


Next up, we devoured a lovely Dragonfly Roll.  It was made with tempura shrimp, eel, cucumber and fish roe.  It packed just enough spice without overpowering the eel and the fish roe.  Nice!

The rolls at Hana Sushi were pretty succulent.  I will back again to check out their many noodles in the form of soup.

On Sunday, I met my dear friend, Sarah Ann, at Charlie Bird in SoHo for a “big girl” brunch.  We have been friends for over 20 years.  We have imbibed our way through more brunches and dinners than I can count.  OK, some of them I can’t remember because a few too many cocktails were consumed during those years.  But, hey!  All the more reason why I choose a life of feeding off the rails over driving.  Safety first!


Charlie Bird in New York City

My friend, Sarah Ann outside of Charlie Bird in Soho.


Bleecker St. subway stop

Post brunch smiles!


Charlie Bird is located 7 blocks west of the Bleecker St. stop, along the MTA #6, #4 and #5 subway lines.  Alternatively, you can take the #1 or #2 train to Houston St. and walk 1 block south.  The West 4th St. stop, along the A, B, C, D, E and M lines is just 3 block north of this restaurant.


Bleecker St. subway station

Bleecker St. subway stop in Soho, New York


Charlie Bird is an Italian-inspired, American restaurant.  They pride themselves on taking full advantage of the local farmers’ markets and fresh seafood of Long Island.  It is a chic, bi-level space with some funky artwork.  While they have a lovely wine list, Sarah Ann and I kicked off our brunch with a couple of cocktails.  She went for an old-fashioned while I chose this sunny mimosa.  It went perfectly with the unusally warm, 60° temperature that day.


Charlie Bird brunch


We shared a really nice and nutty farro salad with radishes, mint, roasted pumpkin and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


Charlie Bird in Soho

Nutty farro salad with radishes, mint, roasted pumpkin and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Sarah Ann chose this super light and crispy sea bream (a.k.a. “porgy”) over citrus-y spinach.  The fish was very sweet and really fresh.  The spinach was nice and al dente.  My Italian mama (may she rest in peace) would have been impressed.


Charlie Bird menu

Crispy, light sea bream over spinach


I ordered this über decadent rigatoni with a spicy saffron duck ragu.   Wow!  This dish did me right, after living mostly meat-free for many months.  It was a luscious treat for our “big-girl” brunch.  


Charlie BIrd pasta

Rigatoni with saffron duck ragu


I am so glad I was able to enjoy some of my favorite treats with some of my favorite friends, during this latest NYC weekend visit.  Until next time…

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the MTA subway to Sable’s Smoked Fish, Hana Sushi and Charlie Bird. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive! 

Sable’s Smoked Fish is located at 1489 2nd Avenue.  It is open 7 days a week.  Click here for more information. 

Hana Sushi is located at 211 7th Avenue. It is open 7 days a week for dinner and late-night dining.  Click here for more information.

Charlie Bird is located at 5 King St.  It is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  Click here for more information.