The fact that one of my closest friends lives on the other side of the world to me is a bit sucky. BUT she redeems herself by providing stellar food options for the Big Apple. Introducing one of the most wonderful souls I know – Erin Hammond x
- Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I moved to New York last April after graduating from UWA with my undergraduate degree in psychology. I am currently working in New York finance as an executive assistant plus completing an internship in holistic psychology. I live in the tiniest shoebox that you can imagine in Nolita, Manhattan but I couldn’t be loving life more!
- What’s your favourite thing about living in NYC?
There’s a lot of things I love about NYC. Being foodies, my friends and I regularly laugh about the fact that the top five things we list about NYC are all food related in some way. The food is incredible and they say that with the rate at which NYC restaurants open and close, you can try a different restaurant every single night for six years years (I checked the U.S Census statistics and it’s actually closer to 40 years!). I also love that you can get almost anything delivered at any hour and that most of all, despite it being such a cliché, this city is truly magical.
- What are your top five brekkie spots in NYC?
Café Gitane (Nolita) – an adorable French Moroccan café on Mott St. The avocado toast, baked eggs and cous-cous are legendary. Nothing beats enjoying any of these on their beautiful sidewalk in the summer with a glass of rosé. The highlight of one visit was sitting next to Kanye West (and yes, he is exactly in person how you would imagine him to be).
Tom’s Restaurant (Brooklyn) – You can’t beat a good old-fashioned diner breakfast. Tucked away in the heart of Brooklyn, Tom’s Restaurant has made an appearance in a number of movies and was the inspiration for Suzanne Vega’s song, “Tom’s Diner”. Free coffee refills, complimentary cookies handed to you on a tong and a menu that hasn’t changed since the eighties, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Bonbonnierre in the West Village and Square Diner in Tribeca are also famed Manhattan diners that are delicious and make you feel like an extra in a seventies made-for-tv movie.
Cafeteria (Chelsea) – A Chelsea staple, my menu favourites are the croissant french toast, biscuits with eggs and spicy sausage gravy and their truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. In the evenings, they do a deep fried Oreo dessert that comes with mint chip ice cream and a vanilla shake shot that is to die for. Delicatessen is their sister restaurant in Soho which you can recognize from the herds of scenesters pouting at everyone from their sidewalk table in the summertime – BYO Rag and Bone hat and Acne Pistol boots.
Norma’s (Midtown) – I’ve never actually been here but they boast one of the most ridiculously over the top breakfast menus I’ve ever seen. From their ‘Donut Even Go There French Toast’ (cheesecake-stuffed, coconut-rolled with orange drizzle and vanilla ice cream) to the ‘PB&C Waffle ‘Wich’ (chocolate waffle with a peanut butter and toffee crunch filling) and the ‘Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata’ ($1000 for 10oz of caviar), don’t tell me you’re not just a bit curious to check it out!
- If someone only had 24 hours in NYC – where are the foodie spots they should check out?
There’s so many! Walk the Highline in Chelsea along the Hudson River and pop into the Chelsea Markets afterwards for a snack. There’s a phenomenal taco store, incredibly creative vegan sushi, doughnuts and of course, the infamous Buddakan restaurant which is great for dinner. There’s even an Australian store in there called Tuck Shop that sells party pies, sausage rolls and lamingtons!
What’s good for your soul is not necessarily good for your waistline but do it anyway – try some classic American soul food like fried chicken, waffles, cornbread and deviled eggs at Root n Bone (East Village), Sweet Chick (Lower East Side) or Red Rooster (Harlem).
The Italian food market Eataly (Flatiron) is also great for a wander through – have dinner or lunch there then finish off with a dessert from their newly opened Nutella store downstairs.
And if in Brooklyn, definitely check out Smorgasburg on the Williamsburg waterfront. It’s an open-air market in the summertime that has stalls of the best New York eats you can imagine.
- Best meal/food you’ve ever had?
The first time I ever tried Caribbean food, without a doubt. The mix of spices, sauce and meat was like nothing I had ever tasted before and it just blew me away. Miss Lily’s (Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side) is a must-try for great Jamaican fare, a fun vibe and a staff team that all look like supermodels. The sweet plantains, jerk corn and oxtail stew are my menu go-tos! Café Habana (Nolita) and Victor’s on 52nd St (Midtown West) also both do fab Cuban food.
NB: New York is more about brunch than breakfast so it typically starts a lot later (1pm onwards) and specially priced (or unlimited!) cocktails are part and parcel of the experience. Some places have escalated the brunch experience to the next level and hold proper “brunch parties” that feature live djs, tabletop dancers and champagne showers. Lavo, Bagatelle and Ph.D at the Dream Hotel host the most notorious (okay, wild) ones. Click on the link below for an idea of what to expect at any of these parties – maybe Breakfast In can bring these back to Australia?
Follow Erin on Instagram at @_erinjane_