A July 2005 trip
to New York by Samlawali
Quote: Once or twice a year I try to organize a trip to NYC for lunch and a Broadway show for a group of friends and coworkers. Here is a recount of our latest trip on rainy summer Sunday.
Restaurant | "Carmine's"
Carmine's is located right in the heart of the theater district, walking distance to most of the shows playing in the area. There is a second location in the Upper West Side at 2450 Broadway, between 90th and 91st Streets (212) 362-2200, but I have only frequented the location on 44th Street. This is one of the groups favorite places to go for lunch as the food here is quite yummy, the service is good and the prices reasonable for a large group. Large portions of pastas, antipasti, seafood and meat entrees are served family style and each entree will serve a minimum of 4 normal people.
The atmosphere is lively and noisy, but not so much that you cannot carry on a conversation with the others at your table. As you walk in the single entry doorway, you are greeted by your host or hostess and may be seated on one of two levels. The first level contains both table and booth seating and a large bar runs halfway up one wall with plenty of seating room. Bathrooms are located up one flight of stairs, I believe above the kitchen, so it is always a little toasty up there.
Reservations are recommended and are definitely needed for large groups. We usually go with about 20 people, and the only negative experience I have had here is that the restaurant always splits up our party into two tables of ten and the tables are not near one another. At my last visit, I was told to call and speak to Penny, who handles the private parties and she would be able to help us out with our seating next time, but a fixed menu would be provided, entries to be determined before we arrive.
The food here, as mentioned earlier, is delicious. In my 4-5 times here, we have sampled many of the items on the menu. The stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite appetizers, meaty and a little tangy. The calimari is always a favorite with our group, although I don't eat seafood, everyone else raved about it. The chicken scarpiello and veal marsala have never disappointed, and the salads are always top-notch. I have never had an entree that we did not enjoy. I recommend that you choose 2-3 dishes for every four to five people, but the wait staff will always tell you what they feel would be best suited for your group. This place is not really geared for parties of less than four people, unless you like to take home LARGE doggie bags.
Meals run about $30-$40 USD per person, with drinks and dessert for parties of our size, but well worth the money for the quality of the food and for being right in midtown tourist area.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 2, 2005
Carmine's Theater District
200 West 44th Street
New York, New York 10036
Attraction | "Toys 'R' Us - The Greatest Toy Store There Is"
Having a little down time before our noon lunch reservation at Carmine’s, we decided to visit the Toys “R” Us located on the corner of 44th and 45th, right in the middle of Times Square.
This is one of my favorite places to visit while in NYC. For anyone who is a kid or a kid at heart, this is the place to go. As soon as you walk thru the rotating doors you are presented with the three-story-high ferris wheel INSIDE the building. In the center is the famous reverse “R” logo and all the cars are replicas based on known children’s themes. They have Dumbo, Bob the Builder, Barbie, etc…
The main entrance of this wonderland is located on the second floor. Here Geoffrey, the Toys “R” Us giraffe mascot, can usually be found walking around greeting visitors and posing for photos. This floor also has the stuffed animal section, which will lead you to the escalators or elevator for access to the first or third floors. Of the three floors, the third is my personal favorite. Here the escalator will drop you off right in the middle of Lego Land. Intricate structures made entirely of Legos such as airplanes and the Empire State Building can be found and marveled at. Make a right turn off of the escalator and this will lead you into Jurassic Park. Here you will be greeted by a huge lifelike Tyrannosaurus Rex that growls, roars, and moves his arms and legs threateningly the entire time the store is open. He looks like he will step off his perch and gobble you whole at any minute. So cool!!
Walking past Jurassic Park will take you past the latest selection for Star Wars-themed toys, including light sabers, spaceships, and even Mr. Potato Head dressed as Darth Vader--I kid you not. These people think of everything.
Continuing in a clockwise manner you will run into Candy Land. Here you have your pick of almost any kind of candy that you can think of. Purchases are made by the pound in most cases and the variety ranges from gummy bears to jaw breakers to chocolate covered potato chips. There is even a separate display just for M&Ms. Each color has it’s own canister so you can pick and choose which you would like to take home. One color or mix and match, it’s up to you. I never leave this selection without my own supply of chocolate covered jelly rings. MmmmMmmmm!
After you are done on the third floor, the first floor has its own surprises. Here you can find your educational toys and books and the “R” Zone, which has all the latest electronic doodads you could ever need. The first floor is also how you would enter for a ride on the ferris wheel.
Toys 'R Us
24-30 Union Square
New York, New York 10003
Attraction | "Times Square - Not for Squares"
I don't think there is another place like it in the world. Just think, not long ago, this crossroads section of New York centralized around Broadway and 7th Avenue was once considered taboo and filled with prostitutes and high crime. Now it is one of the busiest sections of the Big Apple. Filled with some of the world’s largest billboards, scads of bright lights, and plenty of interesting characters, you can stay amused and occupied without traveling a great distance.
You have your pick of places to eat, from Planet Hollywood for casual dining to Limoncello for a more upscale atmosphere to Pig 'n' Whistle for your traditional Irish pub to Carmine's for family-style eating; everyone will be able to pick a favorite from the more than 200 options available.
The Theatre District, also known as the "Great White Way," has approximately 20 landmark theatres to choose from, all within walking distance from the center of Times Square, with the Olympia Theatre founded by famous producer Oscar Hammerstein being one of the first back in 1895. It was eventually demolished in October of 2003.
There are many ways of getting tickets to any of the shows. You can try Ticketmaster, Brooadway.com, or, if you feel lucky and are flexible in availability, the TKTS booth located in Duffy Square at 46th Street and 7th Avenue. Here tickets are posted daily for that day's shows and can be obtained for up to 50% off the original price. Payment is by cash or traveler's check. Go early, as the hottest shows sell out quickly.
Some other places of interest are Toys "R" Us, Virgin Megastore, Madame Tussauds, and, of course, the year's biggest party on New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop. If you are lucky, you may be able to meet the "Naked Cowboy" and have your picture taken.
To get around, walking is easiest and cheapest. Taxis are readily available, and the subway will take you almost anywhere in Manhattan.
New York, New York 10036
While I enjoyed the movie immensely--after all, it is considered one of the top chick flicks and biggest tearjerkers, right alongside that Debra Winger classic "Terms of Endearment"--I thought that the play was geared more as a comedy rather than a drama until the very end. There were plenty of laughs and some tears at the conclusion, but the overall show was extremely entertaining. Delta Burke was phenomenal. At one point, she looked like she was having so much fun that at a serious point in the show, she looked like she could barely keep from laughing.
Our seats were located in the orchestra section, within the first ten rows. My seat was actually front row, stage right. Not a seat I would recommend. You are looking up almost at a right angle and besides being a little uncomfortable, you could not see the entire stage set. The best seats in my opinion are center stage orchestra 4-6 rows back.
Our tickets ran $78 per person due to our group rate, and the show we saw was one of the last, as the run was almost completed and expected to end within the following two weeks.
A little about the theatre: Originally built in 1903 by Daniel Frohman and as told by our usher at the performance, the theatre is haunted by a person waving a white handkerchief from the top level. According to our program "Still visible is the famous peephole from which Frohman could see actors on stage and wave a handkerchief to his actress/wife Margaret Illington if she was overacting."
The apartment above the theatre previously owned by Frohman and his wife is now home to the Shubert Archives, part of the organization that now owns the theatre.
New York, New York 10036
One warm, muggy, rainy Sunday in July a group of us decided to go and see the Empire State Building. We had parked our car in one of the numerous 24-hour parking garages. The one we chose was located on West 45th Street right across from the Lyceum Theatre where we had tickets to see “Steel Magnolias” later that afternoon.
The streets were fairly quiet, which was unusual for a Sunday in the city. I guess the rain that was sprinkling down, combined with the heavy humidity, kept folks away. We walked up to 6th Avenue and over to 42nd Street. As we crossed over and looked west, we could catch a glimpse of the Chrysler Building, its art-deco scalloped peak reaching into the clouds. Once we hit 42nd, a few of us had to make pit stop and take care of some personal business.
We stopped at Bryant Park, located between 40th and 42nd Streets. It looked lovely even in the light rain that seemed to come and go. There were plenty of trees and beautiful manicured bushes and flowers. Tables and benches were scattered throughout to be used for a quick picnic or people watching. Requisite tourists were taking photos of friends and family in front of the gardens. All this was surrounded by a wrought iron fence and the hustle and bustle of the city that you barely knew were beyond the park borders.
After our quick detour we continued west to 5th Avenue and made a right. On the corner of 42nd and 5th is a beautiful piece of architecture known as the NY Public Library. This has been featured prominently in many movies, including “Ghostbusters” and most recently “The Day After Tomorrow”. From here, you could just see the top of St. Patrick’s Cathedral 5 blocks west of our location.
We instead headed south 9 blocks to the corner of 34th and 5th. Along the way we dodged puddles, crazy drivers and the occasional street vendor hawking umbrellas. We came upon the entrance of the Empire State Building where a small group of people had gathered, waiting for the guides to open the doors at 10:00 am. Just as the doors opened we looked up to see how high we could follow the most famous skyscraper in NYC. Unfortunately, with the rain and clouds only the bottom half was visible.
We decided to go in and look around as we had walked all this way, although we did not expect to see much from the observation deck. The crowd moved quickly and we entered into a marble and slate foyer where we were greeted by a large mural of the building. Here you can find restrooms, the gift shop and the escalators to the top of the first level, which I am guessing is the fourth or fifth floor. A guide there confirmed our suspicions that there was zero visibility at the top. Looking at the price of admission, $14 per person for the observation deck and $20 per person for the deck view and a quick historical video. We decided to take some quick pictures and come back another day when the view would be worth the price of admission.
Although we did not get to see the view from the top, we were treated to some of the local points of interest the City had to offer and with our walk back to the Theater District we worked up an appetite for our lunch at “Carmines”.
Lincolnton, North Carolina