New York nightlife – bigger, better, brasher? Whatever adjective you use to describe it, one thing is for sure, there is something for everyone.
We ate at fantastic bistros – Cafe Cluny in Greenwich Village was hard to find for tourists used to the grid pattern of the rest of the city, but had amazing food. Packed with locals, and turning tables over as soon as they became free, I was impressed with their stellar service and superb New York strip steak and frites. I’ve already mentioned Vin Sur Vingt – also in the West Village – but perhaps skated over what makes this a special night out. Low-key on the outside, inside is exquisitely tiny, a slender room with a little row of booths down one side, and stools at the bar fiend the other. Properly French, not a fake façade (even the people in there were trendy New York immigrants speaking French), the selection of wines is excellent and the food, although a limited menu, equally good. Mmmm. The Creme caramel will remain amongst the best desserts we have ever eaten, anywhere in the world.
For an experience unrivalled by anywhere I’ve been, certainly, we booked a table for sundowners at The Top of the Standard. A hotel towering above the Highline, The Standard’s eighteenth-floor bar is spectacular! Known also as the Boom Boom Room, you can see why: the hostesses in their barely-there gold dresses, expensive cocktails and designer snacks (kale crisps, anyone? Or would you rather have the caviar?) are perfect accompaniments to the sun setting over New Jersey, the pinks reflecting on the towers of glass in Lower Manhattan. As the sky grows darker, you have views over the whole of New York – even in the bathrooms, where you can look out over Midtown from the comfort of your toilet seat. The bar itself is overshadowed by great golden colonnades reaching to the ceiling, and too-cool-for-school jazz wafting over the patrons as they try to snap photos (strictly not allowed) of the views. It was certainly too cool for me, as I managed to knock over my (luckily nearly empty) glass of wine. No City slicker am I!
As our finale to New York, we did Broadway. A long-time aficionado of the West End, I wasn’t disappointed. We went to see Wicked and I’m glad we chose that particular show. I think it is, in many ways, an embodiment of American showmanship and played on American humour. I’d be curious to see how this translates to the London show. Glinda was brilliant, using her voice not just for singing, but for twisting words to irony, and her physicality played perfectly into the role. Elphaba was, like her golden friend, a spectacular singer (naturally), using her voice incredibly emotively. What I loved was the commentary the story makes on society and on the nature of good and evil (sadly something we struggled to communicate to the man from Minnesota sitting next to us). Ultimately, though, it was a very moving production and I can see why Mrs Minnesota had been four times: I defy anyone not to leave with goosebumps and a little lump in their throats.
We walked home via a Times Square – a heaving, horrible mass of humanity basking in the rays of thousands of lights. Too much for me, thank you – I’d rather have a quiet glass of wine somewhere where only a few people can gather.