Some years ago I used to contribute to a radio show. Pretty simple really, I would write and record a piece of my choice and once a week one of my three straight men would bung it on the air and all present would listen hard.
One of the presenters suggested that I should go on outside broadcasts and, while doing vox pops, pick arguments with members of the public, upset people, and generally get into scrapes. Their working title for this - let’s be honest, desperate and risible idea - was, Phil’s Fights, and the only worthwhile thing to come out of that episode is a slight adjustment to the title.
Episode 1 of Phil’s Feeds: New York City
A splendid joint. We were delivered of an upgrade and dinner on the house because our room wasn’t ready (at 7PM, mind). On our first morning we decided on breakfast in the hotel so we could get out early and up to Central Park.
We had orange juice and coffee, but it was only while waiting for the food that I had a proper look at the menu and did some mental arithmetic. 3 x juices at 7 bucks a glass, 3 x coffees at 8 bucks a cup meant that we were already $45 down and hadn’t had any food yet.
“More juice, sir?” asked the waitress, poised like Hebe with her jug of ambrosia.
“NO! Ha. Sorry, er, no thank you.”
The food was fine, and it had all been very nice, but not – after tax and the New York Tip had been clamped on - $155.01 of nice. Not when we discovered the diner 2 doors down where an immediate $100 saving could be had.
The Coffee Shop
“Two lattes, oh, medium please. Sorry? Er, whole milk, please. And an English tea, sorry. Yes, medium as well, please. Pardon? Some room for the milk would be lovely, yes, thank you. Ah, can I have an iced donut as well please? Thank you. Ahem "to go". Thank you.”
The busy New York coffee shop at 8AM really isn't the place for an Englishman who is hazy about the rules.
Friendly, funny, atmospheric, great food, a proper pint, and got photo-bombed by the waitress. Perfect first day lunch, really.
The Italian Restaurant
Sunday night and everywhere we tried was rammed. Waits of up to an hour, so we were delighted when we found this place. Big and crowded, but they found us a table. Great. Except it wasn’t.
But I’ll tell you, if they ever get the, ‘If it ain’t overcooked - it’ll be undercooked for sure’ guarantee and strapline thing sorted out, start serving wine that isn’t corked, and stop sniggering when people send their dinner back, they might reach the dizzying ranking of ‘mediocre’.
I could tell the head waitress had got the message when far from coming over to ask if everything was alright, she seemed to be repelled from the vicinity of our table by an invisible forcefield. This was the only place, taxi-driver, hotel doorman or bellboy that I dared not to favour with a tip.
Famous, this one. This was one of the places where we would have had to queue for a table on the Sunday evening, so a few days later we got there early and had lunch.
The verdict on this renowned pizza pie eaterie? Like a lot of American food, all quantity over quality, and hugely disappointing. There’s a better place in Bath – Dough, ask for Sam, mention my name, etc..
The Novelty Restaurant
Mrs B’s verdict on their shepherd’s pie? It’s not as good as mine. I talked up my chicken pot pie, but it wasn’t all that, not that I was particularly worried as my main concern was beetling off uptown to see Steely Dan.
We sat there enveloped in cobwebs, surrounded by bloodstains and spiders, and my main thought was how long it was going to take to clean it all up. Still, 5-stars for effort on Halloween.
The Other Italian Restaurant
Family style. You know what that means? Massive portions. How is that different from other New York restaurants? By being even more massive, of course.
The meal here was good, but daunting.
An amorphous 6-headed form jellified itself around a nearby table. The waiter came over with a dish the size of the bucket on a JCB, “Here you go,” he cried, “5 cubic yards of pasta and a voucher for 10% off a triple heart bypass".