LIRR’s New Grand Central Terminal to Long Island

After taking the LIRR out of their new Grand Central location, for anyone living on the Eastside this new terminal is a game changer. Unless you live on the West side, commute from (or need to get to) New Jersey or really enjoy being around throngs of meth addicts and tourists the new GC location is the way to go.

This brand spanking new terminal is clean, spacious, has decent directions carved into the walls, easy to read arrival monitors, multiple elevators and escalators, staff cleaning the place, a police station, ticket area, only six tracks, and trains show up early. I can only hope the city keeps its clean and safe and never allows it to turn into the horror show Penn turned into…inside and out.

A few caveats, the main escalator takes about 1.5 minutes…its long, so if you don’t like heights don’t look down. Also, since its so big and there are so many ways to get to it from within Grand Central and outside, it can be a bit confusing…at first.

If you live above 48th street then the main entrance at 383 Madison is likely you best bet. If you’re in Murray Hill or Kips Bay then the super secret entrance on 44th btwn Vanderbilt and Mad is all you. Navigating from here is pretty simple. Once you get off the elevator take a quick left, walk down the main (long ) corridor, take the amusement park escalators down, check for your track and follow the signs to your train. Again, only six tracks.

I will eventually out of curiosity try getting to it via Lexington Ave and going down to the food court area to get to it, but my understanding is its at least a 10 min walk underground so likely only makes sense if going from the subway. While there are no food concessions or retail yet it looks like quite a few will be opening in the not too distant future.

The best part coming from the Eastside is that unlike Penn which once you get within range of it turns into…to be politically correct a total s&?&hole…GC from the east is via either Madison Ave north of 48th or south Pershing Square Place and Vanderbilt lined with trees and plants.

I do advise checking the train schedules since it looks like they are rotating between going direct or having to transfer at Jamaica from either LIRR station depending on day and time. While at first I heard this caused a lot of confusion it looks like they got things back on track so to speak.

For me its a shorter and far more pleasant walk to LIRR GC vs Penn. My only complaint thus far…I don’t understand why this wasn’t done decades before I moved to NYC.


Yara‘s Healthy Lebanese Cuisine

As of late between between friends, family and clients I’ve been getting more requests for restaurants that offer more than two options on the entire menu for vegetarians. Though you would think in NYC it would be common, its not. Especially if they are vegan and don’t eat cheese and eggs.

As it turns out most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants due to the nature of the respective regions diets offer plenty for those who do not eat what walks or swims…but plenty of options for those who do.

Yara offers Lebanese cuisine which offers both plenty of familiar appetizers and mains for those acquainted with the cuisine of the Med while being unique as well. We started with the grilled Eggplant Salad (which arrived looking like a chunky spread and tasting much like babaganoush ) and the Fatayir which I expected to be like Spinach pie (w/o cheese) but came in four little pocket puffs. Both were very good though at $15 a felt the spinach pockets tasty but overpriced.

For mains my cousin got the Beet Falafel wrap which she really enjoyed and I got the Kefta wrap which is grilled Lamb with pickles and hummus in a light thin pita. It was pretty good but I should have asked for some hot sauce.

Oddly enough they were out of coffee so we drank Mint tea made from just the leaves of said herb. Common to the region, tasty and I believe aids in digestion. of note, the space is rather large and beautiful and service was good.

Overall I enjoyed the food at Yara and will return. Though I think I would go with platters vs the wraps with some mezze due to the platters looking much bigger portion wise…which was my main issue of the portions being so small for the price.

Yara is located at 319 East 53rd Street

Bondi Sushi Happy Hour

Spicy Crab Roll

I needed a little something before I jumped on the ferry home. Though I love a slice of pizza I was craving something more nutritious and maybe a cocktail. Bondi Sushi just added a new location to their mini empire in Williamsburg, while the lunch special looks good it was their happy hour (M-F 3-6pm) offering beverages and sushi rolls that got my attention.

They offer six sushi rolls, cocktails, wine and beer. I opted for the Lobster roll w Yuzu and the Spicy Crab. To drink I got their Bumble Bee which is a tasty concoction of Sake, Cocchi Americano, Honey, Thyme and tonic. Tasted even better than it sounded. The rolls at $5 each were great and served individually as they prepare them.

Williamsburg is a little lite on sushi spots so Bondi Sushi offering lunch specials, a sedate happy hour with food and a sushi by the piece and rolls dinner menu is a welcome edition right off Bedford.

Bondi Sushi is located at 156 N.4th

Chez Zou Rooftop Cocktails in Manhattan West

Looking for a rooftop bar in Manhattan West I noticed an awning flapping in the wind above Zou Zou (forthcoming blog on my new lunch spot for entertaining). We went up the elevator and found a sweet but closed rooftop bar (opens May 9th) but a really chic indoor lounge that goes by Chez Zou.

The bar space itself is small and can seat six…for table’s reservations are recommended. We took up the space by the bar and eventually a high top table. We ordered up a few + of the house cocktails, craft beers and standards like Old Fashioned’s and twists like the White Mezcal Negroni. They do offer some bar snacks but didn’t have any.

The house cocktails were a mix of hit and miss. I felt some had more ingredients than they needed. The Old Fashioned’s and Mezcal Negroni were done just right and while the beer and wine selections are limited they offer nice choices from local breweries like Three’s and the like.

The space is beautiful and gets a high end crowd. Service is top notch. Prices are on the high end attracting an expense account crowd. For those working in the Hudson Yards complex, live nearby or commuting through Penn Station its a great spot and with their rooftop one I may be hitting every so often.

Chez Zou is located at 385 9th Avenue in the Manhattan West complex.

Sushi 35 West

While the neighborhood by Penn Station has improved dramatically food wise…its still a little lite when it comes to Sushi joints. I recently heard about a new place up the stairs from a Smoke Shop on West 35th called Sushi 35 West and my first thought was #gimmick.

However, when a bud mentioned he went and it was legit I figured I would give it a shot. Especially since while for NYC its location is kinda odd by Tokyo standards not so much. Technically you are supposed to order in advance but you can go up and order on the spot. I’d recommend going off hours if you go that route.

For lunch they offer a number of lunch sets, most focused on one fish. I went with the Six piece assorted nigiri with Spicy Tuna roll option that came with a side salad for $22.00. You can also order off the dinner menu which has single rolls and went with a needed Salmon roll (most $8-12).

The quality of the fish looked very good watching them prepare it and was, just don’t go in expecting a fancy omakase experience…this is a take out spot with three small tables in a waiting room hallway.

While at these prices I generally would require a place to sit with service, for sushi on a fly its worth adding to your Lunch by Penn Station, Sushi spots, Take Out spots, and Only in Tokyo but actually here in NYC lists.

Of note, working in an office with a nice kitchen and great views of the city from Hudson Yards definitely enhances the experience.

Sushi 35 West is located at 232 West 35th

Romano Pizza of Kips Bay


There was a time when pretty much all Pizza joints were owned by Italian families and it was which were better than the others based upon their grandma’s sauce, quality of toppings, did they do calzones and heroes, etc…

These days there are too many places calling themselves Pizza restaurants when in fact…what they are serving are flat breads with toppings that no grandma would ever allow on their pizza. Its not that they taste bad…its they are simply not real Pizza.

Romano’s recently opened a location in Murray Hill and I was pleasantly surprised that they serve real deal old school Nu Yawk Pizza. Their Chicken Roll was one of the best I’ve had. They do offer some non-traditional topping options…but if you want a real slice of Pizza you can actually get one here. Welcome to the neighborhood Romano…Kips Bay/Murray Hill really needed you.

Romano Pizza Restaurant is located at 489 Third Avenue

Cowgirl Seahorse Tasty Tacos

Fish Tacos

I had some time in FiDi before some meetings and decided to go by the Old Seaport area. I’d heard of Cowgirl Seahorse before and decided to give it a try. It’s a as you can tell by the name kitschy spot with a menu that covers a number of southern cuisines that include Tex-Mex, Cajun, Gulf Coast and more.

There is quite a bit to choose from their lunch menu. I eventually decided on a cup of Chicken Tortilla soup to start and Fish tacos for my entree. The soup was top notch snd their fish tacos with Mango some of the best I’ve had…and not just in New York.

I’ll definitely be back for lunch and do want to check it out for drinks sometime. Put Cowgirl Seahorse on your Fi-Di, Downtown Lunch, Tex-Mex and Taco lists. Of note, it gets an eclectic crowd even at lunch and I had some fun conversations with some interesting characters.

Cowgirl Seahorse is located at 259 Front Street

Selene Prix Fixe Stars n the Moon

Salmon w Pistachio Pesto

As much as I love a good steak or Gastropub grub… I was getting a little tired of eating it all the time when in the southern end of Fidi. Thus when I saw that a Greek restaurant named after the Greek Moon goddess opened up at 11 Hanover Square I was fairly psyched…but kept my expectations in check.

I went for lunch and while a full menu is available I do highly recommend the Prix Fixe. For $39.00 you choose an appi and an entree. Before our choices arrived a delicious bowl of Avgolomo (Lemon Chicken soup) was delivered. A taste of things to come.

One of my friends got the grilled squid (available fried) prepared traditionally with lemon, garlic and olive oil while my other bud and I went with the Halibut crudo with mango, shiso, and truffle oil. The menu is a mix of the classics along with some eclectic twists.

For mains two of went with the Salmon over mushroom ragout topped with Pistachio pesto. Fairly certain best Salmon dish I’ve ever had. The Bronzino is served with bones so be careful but my friend loved it…came with asparagus.

Of note, the menu leans on the Seafood side, but has plenty of choices for Vegetarians and even a Grilled Ribeye and Greek Meatballs for the carnivore amongst you. They also have a weekend Brunch and some interesting cocktails. The space of note is beautiful and service top notch.

Our meal ended with our waiter asking if we can linger for a few more minutes as the Baklava was just coming out of oven. Worth the wait while you sip your Greek coffee.

Definitely add Selene to your FiDi, Prix Fixe, Lunch, Greek, and Seafood lists. The menu items are the stars of this show brightened by the glow of this Moon goddess.

Selena is located at 11 Hanover Square

Zou Zou and Chez Zou at The Pendry

As of late I’ve been in the relatively new Manhattan West section of the Hudson Yards complex for biz meetings and entertaining. My current fave for lunch or happy hour is Zou Zou in The Pendry that offers three upscale spots in the same building.

For lunch or dinner Zou Zou offers some very tasty Eastern Mediterranean food. Thus far I’ve only had lunch and the menu is limited it has enough to cover carnivores which a great burger, salads with or w/o protein and plenty of choices fir your vegan friends. Their spreads are a must have and get their delish bread along with the veggie crudités to dip them in.

The Pendry is an intimate cocktail lounge down the hallway. I think it looks like its more for a date though at least weekdays its co-workers taking over the place. Their house drinks were too fou fou for me but they do make solid classic drinks like Old Fashioned’s and Negroni.

Up the elevator is Chez Zou a nice sized lounge with an outdoor section about to open (early May). It is popular and reservations are requested especially since the bar only seats six and there isn’t a lot of space to stand, though my crew made it work. Their house drinks were hit or miss. Again making rock solid classics and even twists like a great Mezcal White Negroni.

Oddly enough Zou Zou the restaurant has the largest bar space and best house cocktails. All are beautiful spaces with great service and cocktails hovering the $20 range. For those that work or live in the area its a home-run.

Zou Zou, Chez, and The Pendry are all located at 385 9th Avenue

Hummus Market – Israeli Bento Boxes

I was in Williamsburg on the other side of the BQE hitting some of my old school Italian spots and butchers for provisions around lunch time. Hungry and looking for somewhere new…at least to me, I came upon Market Hummus. One look at the menu and I popped in to see how it compared to my usual Israeli go to spots.

They offer two Prix Fixe options for lunch. Either you go Pita ($14-16) sandwich (hummus, veggie or protein options) with a Mezze and a beverage or you go Israeli Bento box ($16-18).

I went Bento which is actually served on a platter. You choose from six proteins, four Mezze, four sides and two desserts. I opted for Schwarma over Quinoa with Beets and Baklava. To drink Mint Lemonade. It also came with hummus and pita though that wasn’t stated on the menu.

You can go a la carte as well…but their lunch specials are some of better out there. As for how Hummus Market stacks up against the competition…quality as good with superior lunch specials. Definitely add Hummus Market to your best Israeli, Mediterranean, lunch spots, Prix Fixe, other side of BQE and outdoor dining (they have a backyard) spots.

Hummus Market is located at 361 Graham Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn