LOCATION SCOUT:  THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NYC

Thursday January 15, 2015

the ultimate guide to insider hotspots from stylish locals that call Fidi home


INSTAGRAMS FROM THE #FIDI COMMUNITY‚Äč

 

 

 

 

 

 

She's candid, funny and beyond best dressed everyday.  she's Karen Duffy- SVP & Fashion director of DDC PARTNERS and hands down one of the CHICEST women I knoW.  Karen is a "TRUE" fidi resident.  Not only does she live in the neighborhood but her commute is just a short walk to her lower manhattan office. SHE SAYS AS A WORKING MOM IN THE CITY, "I TEND to be more of a Wes Gordon-sportswear girl in reality but I always strive to connect with the Valentino side of life".  I've known Karen since my days as an editor at Vanity FAIR and she has always been A FASHION favorite- besides the obvious (what girl doesn't want to have her perfect hair and gazelle-like features)- she's so incredibly real.  She strikes a hard balance in the fashion industy- establishing yourself as a respected authority and building up those around you at the same time.  her swoon-worthy career emcompasses high level positions at christian dior, valentino and now she blends business and style as FASHION DIRECTOR of DDC scouting and developing young and established design talents.  if you only knew that about her you might think her recommendations would lead you to fancy dinners, but Sit with Karen for an hour an you'll hear a host of unexpected ideas; from taking a break from "what's in" for a non-fancy post-work beer at "THE FULL SHILLING", an authentic 101-YEAR-OLD IRISH BAR ON PEARL STREET to skipping the statue of liberty and taking jaunt on the ikea ferry (for free) for great views FROM THE water. now that's awesome.

INSTAGRAM @KCD300

 

 

 as content director for rebecca minkoff, Tammy eckenswiller is a style "jack of all trades".  She writes, edits, styles and even produces all the creative surrounding the minkoff brand.  she, nick and buttercup (husband & dog, respectively) love to cook and entertain so this is your girl for drinks and eats.  on a personal mission, she's tried more than she cares to share on the extensive "DEAD RABBIT" cocktail list.  "The dead rabbit" by far and away is the best bar in neighborhood (it was the top pick of not only tammy but also karen, lindsay and myself) so it's a must when you're down here.  Tammy shares her one clear winner for the cocktail you need to have next time you swing by (see above).

 

 

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MIX A CLEVER SENSE OF STYLE WITH A WITTY SENSE OF HUMOR and you get lindsay more nisbett, gilt's creative director and mom of two (can you believe it?  I cAN'T!) when you see Lindsay strolling through the neighborhood you are probably taken aback at first.  Truth be told, at 5"2' you may think she's the sister to the two cuties she's pushing to the park.  But make no mistake- she is a style powerhouse. her fearless style mixes modern pieces with vintage...she's the girl you see taking the fashion risk you wish you had the guts to try.   i have such a deep appreciation for her thoughtfully creative styling ideas.  She's given me the inside scoop on how (where) to rescue and revive a vintage fur coat and i've taken mental notes to single white female a brooch cluster she was wearing.  

INSTAGRAM @lindsaymore

 

BUY/ SHOP LIKE YOU'rE IN A PARISIAN PHARMACY,  DUANE READE FLAGSHIP, 40 Wall street

@duanereadenyc

A chain drugstore is the last place you would imagine browsing rows of independent, and international skincare brands, but the 22,000sq ft. flagship Duane Reade at 40 Wall Street may just be the best Duane reade, and i'll go bold and even say -the best drugstore- you'll ever visit.  Sip on a smoothie from the bar or get your nails done or hair blown out while perusing the massive beauty section devoted to upscale skincare.  PICK UP ONE OF ELLE MAGAZINE’S 2015 "BEST IN BEAUTY" MOISTURIZERS- LIKE VICHY’S, AQUALIA THERMAL- or TEST a MYRIAD OF international cult favorites like; LA ROCHE POSAY, LIERAC PARIS OR RODIAL dragon's BLOOD moisterizer (A PERSONAL FAV FOUNDED BY VICTORIA BECKHAM).   For all the space devoted to the maybelline's and L'oreals of the world they have equal space for high end products.  The non-beauty sections of this DR are equally impressive- located in a previous bank on the bottom floor of the Trump building, it's high vaulted ceilings and marble columns are incredibly grand making even the smallest purchase feel like luxury.

GO/ bike an uninhabited island only feet from lower manhattan, GOVErNORS ISLAND

@governorsisland

a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, is only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan yet surprisingly, most manhattanites have never made the quick ferry trip.  governors was once home to home to the US Army and later the Coast Guard. In 2003, the federal government sold 150 acres of Island to the people of New York. The remaining 22 acres of the Island was declared the Governors Island National Monument that is overseen by the National Park Service. Closed until may of this year, a Trust is currently transforming the Island and adding multiple great public spaces.  Taking a day trip literally means a five minute ferry ride from the terminal in FIDI - but feels like you've been transported to another world.  the relaxed, serene, green environment is opposite to the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan.   pack a picnic and rent bikes once on the island for sweeping city views and a relaxing day of exploration. Governors Island is Also home to the Billion Oyster Project (BOP).  The project is a long-term plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor over the next twenty years.  Oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the Harbor and provided massive ecological benefits including water filtration, wave attenuation and a habitat for thousands of marine species.  Over time, excessive harvesting and pollutants flowing into the waters around New York degraded the oyster population into extinction. As waterways around New York Harbor have started to become cleaner, oysters can once again survive in the Harbor waters.  details on the Governor's island ferry here.

 

 


SEE/ A heartbreakingly beautiful VIEW OF new york life FROM MY "SECRET BACKYARD", 55 WATER STREET

"The elevated acre", as it's often referred to by locals, IS the most perfect start to any day.  the BEST place to clear your head, share a kiss with a loved one OR JUST have your "new york moment" in this often quiet throne overlooking the FDR, brooklyn bridge and dumbo with A morning cup of coffee from fika. the sunrise over the brooklyn bridge gives you that only-in-new york feelING THAT truly ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

 

 

 



MEET/ THE GREEK SHOE DOCTOR that's good for your soul (& your sole) @ MINAS SHOE repair, 67 WALL STREET

@MINASSHOEREPAIR

step into minas and you'll feel like you've been transported to another era.  shoe shine chairs line the wall and two adorable old men donning workmans aprons smeared with signs of a busy workshop stand behind the counter.  let's back up...last week two rivets popped out of a pair of my new Prada boots- the ones i looked at for months before finally taking the plunge when they went on sale (but still silently vowing to cook more at home in exchange...um-hum).  I usually take all my shoe fixes to my usual spot on my block not thinking anything of it- but a friend in the neighborhood swore up and down that Minas shoe repair would change my life- so i decided to see what this guy could do that my guy couldn't.   I set my boots in front of the hunched over, older gentleman and handed him the loose rivets explaining my debaucle.  He slowly examined the boots- no expression on his face- and without even looking up, held out the rivets for me to take back.  was he rejecting me???  he looked up and shared in a slow, thick, Greek accent that once a rivet comes out it is done.  he asked if I had called the "company" to request they send me more as if it was obvious that Miuccia (Prada) should have been my first call. ah, no, no i havent sir- i'm pretty sure she might have more important things to do then send me two rivets.  (Ok, I said that in my head- somehow i think my witty sarcasm might be lost on this audience). "No", i reply...but does he have anything that's similar?  he nods and As goes to look in the back.  As i'm waiting I overhear the woman next to me shouting to him in the back- (and now, btw there is a line out the door waiting for Minas's expertise) someone has spilled something on her white leather boots- can he clean them?  can they be saved?  she's panicked and almost in tears.  person after person comes up with shoe tradgedy after shoe tradgety and Minas and his sidekicks calmly explain they will do everything they can do.  
Minas comes back with some rivets, nods towards the woman next to me and explains to me that he works on many high designer shoes but the ones that he just can't say no to are the "favorites"...The ones you love and you've worn to death.  he tells me when this happens to me he will save them for me.  it's so gentle and kind that i suddenly feel like my grandfather is giving me advice- much deeper than shoes.  He asks me to give him my number and reaches for my hand which he shakes and calls me sweetie.  I ask his name and he hands me the ticket which has MINAS SHOE REPAIR stamped on it.  "This is my name", he says.  You can tell by his pride, he built this business from the ground up.  he shares that he was located in the world trade center until the attacks.  he still has a jar of ash to remind him of how lucky he is.   It's not often you find someone who cares so deeply about their trade and with such integrity and pride in their work.  But judging from the stories I overheard, when you have something loved, old or in need of an all out revival, the doctor is in.



TRY/ the best crossiant you will eat outside of paris @ FIKA ON PEARL STREET

@FIKANewyork

I have a morning ritual that I can't shake.  a double americano with half and half and honey and a piping hot croissant...or homemade blueberry muffin...or cinnamon roll- from Fika.  Peter and I actually have dualing coffeeshops.  He loves Blue Spoon on william (which truth be told, I like their coffee too) but i would go on the sword for a pastry from fika.  they bake them fresh every morning and Literally, the croissant is Better than Balthazar (there, i said it).  there's something else that draws me here too...maybe it's because FIKA is a swedish coffeeshop and in Sweden a fika means coffee with friends or maybe because the staff is what I call wisconsin nice.  they know me by name and make my coffee before i even get to the front of the line.  I'm originally from wisconsin and you've never met nice people until you've been there.  it's comforting and sweet and i always leave there ready to conquer the day.  get there early when they croissants are still piping hot.  

 

 

STAY/ GILD HALL AT GOLD STREET

@THOmpsonhotels

this cool designer hotel is tucked away on gold street deep in the fidi maze.  it's quaint location is such that you might never know it exists, even passing it on the street.  gild hall is actually a thompson hotel but gets little to no airtime vs. the popular 60 thompson and the thompson les.  it's better that way because it manages to stay a hidden gem to stay, grab a drink at the bar or eat a quiet (but good) weekend brunch.  the man-cave, lodge-like decor feels like a rustic, chic cozy home upstate. antler chandeliers, cowhide rugs, leather tufted sofas and wide wood plank floors give this hotel a modern yet welcoming edge.  Borrow one of the hotels "house" bicycles to explore the surrounding waterfront on wheels.



 

 

EAT/ raise a glass at george washington's old favorite haunt, FRAUNCES TAVERN, 54 Pearl Street

@frauncestavern

The financial district was the first neighborhood to be settled in new york city so there is a charming historic element to many of my favorite haunts.  The land on which Fraunces Tavern stands was occupied by water until the end of the 1600s. By the last decade of the 17th century, New York City was rapidly growing into a leading colonial port. Taverns were centers of community in the 18th century. Fraunces Tavern was a place were travelers and locals would exchange the latest news and ideas.  when British troops left New York City in 1783 (referred to as Evacuation Day) George Washington invited the officers of the Continental Army to join him in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern.Today the bar and restaurant is not only a museum but a cool establishment for a cozy meal.  Think traditional fish and chips, slow roasted chicken pot pie and surpringly awesome jambalaya.  Reserve the chef’s table in the middle of the pub (seating up to a fourteen people- picture above) for a cool private space all to yourself.  After, move to the whiskey room for an Irish, scottish or american whiskey flight.


 

other favorites

 

ADRIENNE’S PIZZABAR, 54 Stone Street

@adriennes-pizzabar

great for big groups, Adrienne's is one of my favorite pizza places in new york.  chill in the casual atmosphere with a bottle of red and a square Old Fashioned Pie (with sliced meatballs) for an delic meal in a lively atmosphere (rowdy groups accepted).  historic Stone Street. is home to approx. 12 restaurants and bars. this quaint cobblestone street is filled with outdoor tables from every establishment most months of the year. In a city where outdoor seating is hard to come by- this bustling little street nestled in the heart of fidi becomes the heart of the party.

DELMONICO’S GRILL, 56 Beaver Street

@DELMONICOSNYC

In 1827, at the beginning of New York City's evolution as the financial center of the world A small shop selling classically prepared pastries, fine coffee, chocolate AND WINE was operated by the Delmonico brothers. Its success led them to purchase a triangular plot of land at the intersection of Beaver, William and South William Streets where, in 1837, they opened the first fine dining restaurant in the country.  There’s two ways to go about your experience here…1) get right in there with history and order lobster newberg and a dry martini in the white tablecloth- Slightly stuffy formal dining room. fun fact here- lobster Newberg is named after Ben Wenberg, a wealthy sea captain who customarily ate at Delmonico's. One day in 1876, home from a cruise, he entered the cafe and announced that he had brought back a new way to cook lobster. Calling for a chafing dish, he demonstrated his discovery by cooking the dish at the table and invited Charles Delmonico to taste it thus entering the dish on the restaurant menu. While i love a fancy night out i usually opt for delmonico's less formal bar next door, Delmonico's grill.  (while they serve a bar menu if you ask they'll sneak you the main dining room menu).  Ask for Amy- she’ll make you the best lemondrop martini (in a rocks glass) you’ve ever had.


HARRY’S STEAK AND CAFÉ, 1 Hanover Square

@harrys-cafe-and-steak

Harry is a bit of a FiDi legend.  A native of Greece, Harry Poulakakos traveled to the United States in 1956 in hopes of finding a wealthy uncle in America. When the man turned out to be a coffee shop counterman, Harry took his first job in Brooklyn at an ice cream parlor. In 1972, Harry found the perfect space for his own venture, Harry's at Hanover Square, in the basement of the historic India House. Harry's at Hanover Square quickly became a Wall Street institution, and was even featured in American Psycho.  You’ll notice multiple establishments downtown called Harry’s.  Skip Harry’s Pasta and instead head to the sub-parlor level, Harry’s Steak and Cafe on Hanover Square.  In winter it has all the makings of cozy, warm British pub.  While the there’s nothing stand out about the cocktail menu the bar staff does know how to mix a good standard drink.  Sit at the bar with the lively after work crowd snacking on the seafood taco app.  If you stay for dinner the menu doesn’t disappoint.  The corner back right raised banquette is a prime spot to watch all the action.
OBAO, 38 Water Street@obaonyFor quick, yummy and super casual thai, grab a window stool and order the spicy Pho Bo (thin sliced beef in a ginger anise broth- and you just go ahead and put as much extra sriracha in there as you need)... or get my usual take-out order; sautéed chinese broccoli, shrimp pad thai and basil chicken.


THE LUNCH TRUCKS AT HANOVER SQUARE

Nothing pleases a picky group more than a slew of international cuisines all in the same block.  Every Monday-Friday from 11am-3pm, over a dozen food trucks park around Hanover Square.  While selections change daily this cheap and cheerful lunch option is an awesome opportunity to test out international fares without a major dinner commitment such as, traditional Polish, Greek, Hungarian, East Asian, Vietnamese and Indian. check out yelp here to read about each truck

 

 


DRINK/ THE DEAD RABBIT GROG AND GROCERY, 30 WATER STREET

@thedeadrabbitnyc
NOT MANY BARS CAN SAY THEY'VE BEEN VOTED ONE OF THE 50 BEST BARS IN THE WORLD TWO YEARS STANDING-BUT THE DEAD RABBIT MANAGED TO CLAIM THE TITLE CONSECUTIVELY IN 2013 AND 2014.  JACK MCGARRY, THE DEAD RABBIT'S CO-FOUNDER CREATED ITS EXTENSIVE HISTORICALLY-BASED DRINKS PROGRAM. TO REALIZE THE DEAD RABBIT PROJECT, MCGARRY TESTED THOUSANDS OF RECIPES FROM SCORES OF COCKTAIL BOOKS FROM THE MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY.   EACH RECIPE WAS ADJUSTED TO ACCOUNT FOR THE CONTEMPORARY PALATE, WHICH SOMETIMES INVOLVED MAKING 50 TO 70 VERSIONS OF A SINGLE DRINK BEFORE ONE WAS DEEMED THE BEST. THE RESULT IS A VOLUMINOUS COCKTAIL MENU WITH 72 LIBATIONS, BOTTLED AND COMMUNAL PUNCHES, BEER “POP-INNS,”¬Ě AND THE LARGEST SELECTION OF IRISH WHISKEY IN NEW YORK. 

WORTH checking out for a cocktail/ THE BLUE ROOM BAR @ INDIA HOUSE, 1 HANOVER SQUARE
LOCATED ONLY A FEW HUNDRED FEET AWAY (AND QUITE THE OPPOSITE) OF THE STONE STREET DEBAUCHERY, THE INDIA HOUSE, IS A PRIVATE MEMBER CLUB FORMED IN 1914, BY PROMINENT BUSINESSMEN IN NEW YORK TO PROMOTE FOREIGN TRADE. DUE TO ITS LOCATION, ITS LANDMARK STATUS AND ITS ORIGINS AS A TRADING CENTER, INDIA HOUSE CLUB EPITOMIZES THE GRANDEUR AND IMPORTANCE OF THE BEGINNINGS OF LOWER MANHATTAN AS THE FINANCIAL HUB OF NEW YORK.  THE NATIONAL FOREIGN TRADE COUNCIL MADE INDIA HOUSE ITS HEADQUARTERS. THE ROSTER OF EARLY MEMBERS INCLUDES TRADING GIANTS, PROMINENT CITY OFFICIALS AND EVEN FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.  BLUE BAR IS A PUBLIC BAR LOCATED WITHIN THIS EXTRAVAGANT TOWNHOUSE.  
NOT A PLACE TO MAKE A WHOLE EVENING OF IT- BUT A DEFINITE STOP FOR A FANCY COCKTAIL TO APPRECIATE THE HISTORY AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE MARITIME ART COLLECTIONS IN THE WORLD. THE MARITIME HISTORIAN, FRANK O. BRAYNARD, HAS SAID THAT "ENGLAND COULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED [WORLD WAR TWO] WITHOUT THE ARMADA OF AMERICAN-BUILT, AMERICAN-MANNED, AMERICAN-OPERATED MERCHANT VESSELS...MANAGED BY MANY OF THE OUTSTANDING MEMBERS OF INDIA HOUSE."

 

 

DISCOVER/ HARBOR HOUSE @ PIER A,

BATTERY PARK@piera_nYC
OPENED IN LATE 2014, HARBOR HOUSE IS A RENOVATED CUSTOMS HOUSE FROM THE LATE 1800'S WHICH HAD BEEN UNUSED, FENCED OFF AND CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL THE DOWNTOWN MAFIA- THE POULAKAKOS GROUP (OF the HARRY'S empire, ADRIENNE'S pizza AND 20 OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS IN NYC) RENOVATED this BROKE DOWN, ABANDONED PALACE on the pier INTO THREE CHIC dining FLOORS.  ON THE BOTTOM FLOOR YOU'll find PUB FARE, A FORMAL DINING ROOM on the second floor AND PRIVATE RENTAL SPACE on the top.  Conde nast recently moved into the World trade center (the magazine publishers of vogue, GQ, Glamour, among other popular titles) so you can expect a few fashion parties to be hosted here soon in the private space overlooking all of the harbor. the owner tells me COME SUMMER they plan to have OUTDOOR TABLES lining the PIER with an outdoor OYSTER BAR. YES, PLEASE.  

PHOTO CREDITS courtesy of: BUY/Pinterest.com, GO/Bergdorf Goodman Blog, SEE/thenextweb.com, MEET/kiatlin.wordpress & vogue.com, TRY/ kinfolk, STAY/TRIPADVISOR.com, EAT/FRAuncestavern.com, DRINK/epicurious.com, DISCOVER/EATER.COM