Romantic New York: An Affair to Remember

    Author, Stacey Ballis

    Romantic New York.  Anyone who has ever been married, or had a serious long-term relationship, knows that there are temptations everywhere. Even the most devoutly monogamous person can find herself drawn in other directions, intrigued by the new. If you are smart, your crush remains chaste; taking the best of what is possible, breaking neither trust nor vows. After all, there is nothing wrong with building a deep friendship; even if underneath that friendship is the tacit understanding that in a different world, in a parallel reality, the boundaries would be very different. If you are less disciplined, the passion takes over and you can find yourself in a full -fledged affair of the heart.

    And so it is for me.

    Love in the Big City

    I am very happily married to Chicago, would never dream of living elsewhere, cannot imagine a life as full or rich as the one I have here. I want to spend all of my remaining days in my glorious apartment, which could not exist anywhere but on Logan Boulevard. I need everything about this city, up to and including our ridiculous weather, our endlessly heartbreaking sports teams, our amazing culture and, it goes without saying, our spectacular food. I need it like I need oxygen. This city feeds my soul, and I am grateful everyday to live here. As much as I love traveling to far-flung reaches of the planet, even taking extended multiple-month trips, Chicago waits for me, and I’ve never thought for a second of leaving it. I’m not really meaningfully me in any sense without Chicago. I am the fifth generation of my family to call the city home; Chicago is in my blood and bones.

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    But I’m totally sleeping with New York.

    I could never be married to New York. New York is moody, and expensive, and fickle, and that bad-boy edge which is so irresistible in a lover, would be a huge impediment to making a life together. New York is impulsive, loud, brash and occasionally cruel. New York would never remember to take the garbage out, would be rude to your mother and would flirt with your best friend. New York wouldn’t always come home at night. New York would forget the mortgage payment and chip the good china. New York doesn’t apologize. But for a little something on the side, New York is both irresistible and ideal. I have a wonderful group of friends there, people to play with. A great spa where I can get a mani/pedi almost as good as Margaret’s at EBella. A hairdresser who can give me a blowout almost as good as Michael’s at Fringe. I have a regular hotel where they know that I like the rooms that end in the number 10, down pillows not foam, extra towels, and a fridge in the room.

    And if you, like me, despite your deep and powerful love and connection to your hometown, occasionally need a wicked little fling…New York is the place to sow your outlaw oats.


    In the past few years I’ve been spending more and more time in the Big Apple, traveling there for work and play, sometimes as often as once a month. I’ve gotten past the awkward first stages of the relationship, when you are on pins and needles all the time, not really quite yourself, unsure and a little lost, still jumping out of bed first thing in the morning to fix your hair and brush your teeth. I’m now solidly in the best stage, when you feel like you can be yourself, are free and uninhibited, when you know your way around and have figured out exactly what works best. I know where things are, which streets to take, when to jump on the subway and when to hail a cab–and most importantly, where to eat.

    So I thought I would share my thoughts for the perfect NYC weekend fling, a little bit off the beaten path, so that you can be private.

    The Ritz Carlton Battery Park

    First off, see if you can get a deal at The Ritz-Carlton…in Battery Park.  Yep, right at the bottom of the island.  After all, don’t want to bump into your boss by staying at one of the usual suspects in Midtown.  The views are terrific, and you have easy access to the train.  Plus, let’s be honest, it’s a romantic weekend.  You don’t want to be in some hipster hotel room the size of a walnut with no tub.  The Ritz is, well, THE RITZ.  They will take exceptional care of you.  You will want to live here.  Tell them I sent you.

    The Drawing Center

    In terms of activities?  For art, forget museums and go for galleries instead.  Much more intimate.  I like Matthew Marks in Chelsea, and The Drawing Center, and David Zwirner in SoHo.  They dependably have really interesting shows, and it doesn’t suck up your whole day.  Shopping?  I like to wander around the side streets of SoHo (especially since it gives me an excuse to stop by Rice to Riches for an afternoon snack) or hit the Chelsea Market for cooking supplies and interesting pop-up stores.  Found a fabulous new jeweler last time I was there. Cynthia Rybakoff does very unusual stuff, and is both affordable and crave-worthy.  And The High Line in the Meatpacking is a lovely way to end a day, taking a walk at sunset is dreamy.

    The Main Room at Buddakan is Touristy but Stunning

    And as long as you are in the neighborhood, head over to Buddakan for dinner.  And no, don’t make a reservation and sit at a table in the main room.  Too pedestrian.  Too touristy.  Grab a couple seats in the bar and order nibbles till you burst.  The edamame dumplings are the single most perfect sensual food I have ever eaten.  I also recommend the General Tsao Dumplngs, the potstickers, the spareribs, and get one order of the fried rice.  For your fancy date night out, you will not do better than letting Chef Michael White and his team at Osteria Morini take care of you.  His pasta is made of butterfly kisses and rainbows.  Do not skip the prosciutto and mortadella meatballs.  Best fine dining Italian anywhere outside of Italy, full stop.  And be sure to let them recommend a slightly fizzy Lambrusco for your meal, it is a game changing wine, and rarely celebrated.

    Best Cocktails at Death and Company

    Need a place for the world’s most fabulous cocktail?  Death & Company will shake you a glass full of delicious.  Tell them your usual tipple and let them guide you.

    For your decadent, morning-after, mussed hair, need sustenance now Sunday brunch?

    Norma’s in The Parker Meridien for Breakfast!

    Norma’s (in the Parker Meridian Hotel) Succulent eggs, amazing French toast, perfectly crispy bacon, and they bring the hot chocolate with a whole separate bowl of whipped cream on the side. Enough said.

    And don’t worry. If you decide to have your own affair with New York, I promise not to tell your hometown.

    For more on Stacey, click here.

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