NYC Food Fads: Worth the Wait or Not So Great

My name is Jasmine and I am addicted to food fads.

As much as it pains to me to admit this, for some reason something so simple always seems twelve times more delicious when it’s constantly in your face through either Instagram, Facebook, or even Buzzfeed articles.

If you’re like me and have either woken up way too early, or stood in an hour long line to try something that flashed it’s way across your Instagram feed, you’ve most likely also felt heartbreak. Because, let’s be honest here, whatever it is rarely lives up to expectations.

I can still remember the dissatisfaction when I tried my first Dominique Ansel cronut after three Monday’s of waiting on my computer (and phone) at exactly 10:59 AM for the pre-orders to open. Was it a good? Yes, but I’ve had way better and that includes the ones at the little Epcot stands in Disney World. (Disclaimer: While Dominique Ansel cronuts don’t top my list, nor do their other “trending” snacks such as their cookie shots; if you go for the basic pastries and deliquesces you will definitely be impressed.)

Fortunately, I’ve had way too much time on my hands the pleasure of getting my hands on a few must-eat/must-sip items. And I am about to tell which are worth the wait and which are not so great.

You’re welcome.

  1. Wine & Ice Pop Cocktails 

Location: Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar at the Conrad Hotel

I really wanted to find a way to describe these cocktails that made them seem refined and innovative, but you guys’, it’s literally a glass of average tasting wine or liquor with a popsicle in it. However, I can only say that now that I’ve actually tried one of their signature cocktails. Prior to that, my friends and I were beyond determined to get our hands on one of these due in a big part to Instagram. The online menu reels you in with pairings like Stolichnaya vodka with a peach-chamomile pop, and Citadelle Gin with a blackberry-lime pop. And then, they charge $25 bucks for each with an additional service charge on top of it.

You guys, I practically paid $30 bucks for a glass of less-then-stellar wine with a popsicle inside of it. And don’t let the smile in that photo fool you; I was mentally kicking myself the minute I took a sip.

Moral of the story: Go buy a whole bottle of wine instead because this place is not worth the wait or your money.

2. Cookie Dough…in a cup.

Location: DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections

This is the newest dessert fad sweeping it’s way across every Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feed in the tri-state area, so naturally I had to drop by.

If you’re like me, anytime cookies are made in your presence you are literally unable to stick them in the oven without skimming some raw, potentially salmonella-infused deliciousness off the tray. But now, you can have all of that in a cup! …or a waffle cone!

I wanted to love this; I really did. But it was…what it was. Did it taste delicious? Of course, it’s cookie dough in a friggen’ cup. Unfortunately, I could barely make it passed four bites. Should I be surprised by this? Absolutely not! Why wouldn’t sugar-infused, raw, cookie dough in a cup, not be too sweet?  But logic goes out the window when all your friends have tagged themselves in at cookie dough heaven and you havn’t yet.

I think the concept of DŌ is cute, and clearly the owners knew how to take something traditional and make it quirky and original. But waiting hours to even get in, when making your own cookie dough takes about five minutes, and probably tastes just as good, seems a bit unnecessary.

(*Update* Got dragged back to DŌ with a friend. While I planned not to purchase anything, I ended up grabbing a $4 cookie bomb on the way out. In case you don’t know, it’s essentially a cupcake made of a cooked chocolate chip cookie. But then the frosting is made of whipped uncooked cookie dough. OMGSOGOOD. Only downfall, it was filled with Nutella. I never thought Nutella could be a bad thing but it definitley made this already sweet snack WAY too sweet. Aside from the uneccessary filling, definitely worth a try.)

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3. Cereal Milkshakes

Location: KITH

Let me start off by saying that KITH confuses the life out of me. KITH itself, is a shoe and clothing store. But walk inside and you can find a small KITH Treats Cereal Bar, because why the hell not.

The concept of KITH isn’t too original, similar to Kellogg’s Cafe or the type of cereal shakes you can find at many cafes now; but a Facebook video let me know that it had to be KITH-way or the highway.

At KITH you essentially have two choices: cereal ice cream (Vanilla Ice Cream + 1 Cereal + 2 Toppings) or a cereal milkshake (Vanilla Ice Cream + 1 Cereal + 2 Toppings + 1 Milk)

My customized cereal shake consisted of vanilla ice cream, low fat milk, fruity pebbles, graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows. This thing was so simple but so delicious. The best part is that the wait is virtually non-existent at KITH. SO if you happen to be in the area or decide to make the trip, you won’t feel like you’re wasting half a day on line.

All-in-all, I’d say grabbing a cereal shake at KITH might be worth a few minutes of your time.

4. Christmas Booze

Location: Rolf’s

This one is less about the booze and more about the ambiance. In case you’ve never heard of Rolf’s, allow me to paint a Christmas miracle in photographs.

Rolf’s is a German restaurant and bar that, from October to May looks as if you made your way inyo of a snow globe. Only a snow globe probably has more space to move around. While the $13 dollar drinks at least tasted like the amount of liquor you were paying for, waiting on line for 45 minutes just to get a drink while hunched over up against the bar didn’t really make the experience the best for me.

I won’t say I had a bad time at Rolf’s, though that may be in part to it being only stop #1 on our week-before-Christmas pub crawl; but I don’t think Instagram photos show how compact the place truly is and how rushed you feel considering the “two people out, two more people in” type rotation they have going on.

When it comes to going out of your way for Rolf’s, I’m going to give this spot a neutral yes/no response. Part of me wants to say it wasn’t worth it, but the holiday loving, Christmas obsessed part of me actually enjoyed my fifteen minutes there.

Tip: Pass on the spiked eggnog and go for the cider or holiday martini. The flavors are way more palatable!

5. Hold My Knots

Location: Gansevoort Market

A few days ago I was scrolling Facebook, while I should have been working, and saw the most spectacular, mouth-watering masterpiece that I have ever seen; garlic knot sliders. Hold My Knots takes the most unhealthy, garlic butter deliciousness that is a garlic knot, cuts them in half and fills them with either meatball, eggplant parm. or chicken parm. I know! Genius right?

I finally headed over to Hold My Knots today, where there was only about a five minute line, and ordered one eggplant parm. slider and one meatball parm. slider.

Result?

I could eat these once a week, you guys. It’s been a few hours now and I am still questioning why I didn’t get a chicken parm. slider as well; EVen though two definitely suffice as a full meal. The garlic knots were soft enough to bite through, and the eggplant and meatball were seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Hold My Knots is definitely worth going out of your way and breaking your diet for.

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London: Day 3 – Cheers London!

Today was the day that I felt would never come, yet still came too soon. After a year and a half of planning and dreaming of this trip, it was now the final day of our adventure.

Stop number one of the day, was actually stop number 1 and 2.

You may have heard of The Breakfast Club, a local breakfast spot in London of which I believe their are three locations (and more throughout England). But one location is a bit more popular than the others, an for good reason. If you find yourself at The Breakfast Club,  try asking for the Mayor. If you’re lucky you’ll be led to a large blue fridge, which actually leads to The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, a hidden speakeasy.

That’s the first secret that I’m ruining today; the second is that if you stop in for breakfast and are having a challenging time making a choice on what to order, the chicken and waffles are out of this world.

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The remainder of our final day was essentially a self-guided, cliche tour of London.

So after our first stops, we obviously headed over to the Tower Bridge area. While planning our original itinerary, we had planned to spend a couple of hours touring the Tower of London, but due to time constraints this is yet another thing that will be saved for our next trip.

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The area surrounding Tower Bridge was probably one of my favorite locations in London, at least earlier in the morning. Relaxing along the Thames was super relaxing, and at the time there were very few visitors around.

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The peace didn’t last too long however, considering that our final plans involved us hanging around the most popular attraction in all of London. You guessed it, the London Eye.

Big thanks to Coco-Cola for developing the amazing deal that is the multi-attraction package, when you book your London Eye pre-timed tickets. We had decided, prior to traveling, to purchase a trio so we could see as much as possible and save a few bucks.

Was it worth it? …Eh.

We had decided to do the London Eye, the London Dungeon, and the SEA LIFE London Aquarium.

In case you’re wondering which high-volume tourist traps are worth visiting and which you’ll live without ever seeing, I’m about to break it down just for you.

For starters, if we compare pre-buying tickets to the three locations that we chose as a multi-ticket to pre-buying the same three attractions separately, we did end up saving approximately 16 euros each; 48 combined for all three of us. Savings are even higher if you compare the trio to buying day-of tickets.

However, if I were to make recommendations to a friend or fellow traveler, I might suggest really researching each attraction.

To help with that, I’ll be reviewing all three of the most touristy-trap tourist traps of London.

1. The London Eye

I understand that the London Eye, aside from the Palace of Westminster, may be a sight many think of when they think of London..but…for me…the London Eye may not have only been the most anticlimactic part of our trip to London, but maybe even our entire trip. It’s an overrated ferris wheel.

This is coming from someone who, when in Paris, had to travel to both the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse. I am a complete sucker for views, when there are in fact views to be seen. The only exciting view from the eye, would be the Palace of Westminster and believe me, it looks just as outstanding, if not more, from the ground. I would definitely be open to attempting the eye again at night, as maybe London lit up would be slightly more appealing; But I personally feel there is a lot more you could see of London, instead of wasting time in a half hour (much longer without pre-timed tickets) queue for lackluster view.

When it comes to my famous (I just made this up now) ranking system, Worth the Wait or Not So Great…the London Eye, unfortunately takes the latter.

2. SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Tiny children, especially those who don’t frequent larger aquariums or marine sanctuaries, might find SEA LIFE to be a fun time. I was very very unimpressed with SEA LIFE on many levels. From a tourist perspective, it just wasn’t enjoyable. SEA LIFE is very small, and compact, and awkwardly themed in certain areas but I wasn’t expecting the Georgia Aquarium in the middle of  London.

From the perspective of someone who advocates for wildlife conservation and proper restrictions on places that house any type of wildlife, I found SEA LIFE to not only be ridiculously undersized but also, to put it bluntly, filthy. I am all for attractions that aim to boost awareness of conservation and preservation for the average person, but this aquarium screams money-scheme and nothing more.

Worth the Wait or Not So Great?

3. The London Dungeon

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Of all three attractions, The London Dungeon is the one I would most definitely recommend and visit again during future visits. If you’re someone looking to really immerse yourself in some of London’s history and myths, in a short amount of time, this is the place. Each scene of the London Dungeon is so immersive and detailed, you almost feel as if you stepped back in time. The Great Fire of London and Jack the Ripper take the top spot as my new favorite areas, but the attraction as an entirety is not only worth the money, but exciting and something everyone in the family can enjoy.

Worth the Wait or Not So Great?

FYI, there isn’t even really much of a wait at the London Dungeon, as large groups are taken in at a time, making it even more worth it.

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The rest of our night was spent roaming the promenade surrounding the London Eye, sipping drinks from food stalls and gazing longingly across the Thames at the Palace of Westminster. I wish I could document exactly what I was feeling that night but it was most likely a cross between feeling anxious and content, but bittersweet.

Only three weeks prior, I had boarded a plane for this adventure and it had already come to an end, but the adventures experienced within that three weeks were enough to last me a lifetime, or at least a year.
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Read about the rest of our quick London visit:

London: Day 3 – Cheers London! (2016)

London: Day 2 – Churches, Fashion, and St. James Park (2016)

London: Day 1 – Just Touched Down in London Town (2016)

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London: Day 2 – Churches, Fashion, and St. James Park

Our second day in London began with grabbing breakfast twice.

Let me start off by saying that I am pretty open when it comes to trying new food and different flavors, but we definitely overestimated the tastes of chili jam with cheddar and Vegemite with cheddar. Starbucks had blown me away without how superior they are compared to those in the US for a majority of my trip, but these breakfast sandwiches were not doing it for us.

Breakfast numero deux, consisted of coffee and pastries from Paul. That was a winner, because you honestly can never go wrong with Paul especially when it comes to staying caffeinated for a jam-packed day in a new city.

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As mind blowing as it to finally see Big Ben right in front of you for the first time in your life, it’s even more amazing when you’re seeing it at nine in the morning before the hoard of visitors start to crowd around Parliament Square. Of course, this seclusion didn’t last too long.

I guess I should say, Elizabeth Tower is mind blowing to see. Little fact, for those as clueless as I was until about a year ago: Big Ben actually refers to the Great Bell of the clock and not the clock or tower itself. I know, I know. When I first found out, it felt like every movie I had ever watched based in Great Britain had lied to me.

*Geography Tip:  If you’re like me and have a hard time differentiating the United Kingdom, Great Britain, etc. just think of it in terms of The Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster is the entire United Kingdom. Great Britain is Elizabeth Tower, a part of the United Kingdom. And then England would be Big Ben, which is in the Elizabeth tower which makes up the Palace of Westminster.

If that confused you more than it helped, I apologize.

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Westminster Abbey was our next stop of the day.

I can describe Westminster Abbey in two words: brilliant and morbid.

I never cease to be amazed by European architecture, and Westminster Abbey doesn’t disappoint. Of course we wouldn’t have been satisfied simply taking photos from outside, as would’ve missed out on the unique stained glass windows, monuments, and carvings that make up the various memorials of Westminster Abbey.

That’s probably where it gets slightly morbid.

When I was growing up I had a mild obsession with Alice in the Wonderland. And now I was literally walking on the burial location of Lewis Carroll. Actually, I was essentially walking on my entire life’s worth of English class, also known as Poet’s corner.

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But while it was mildly morbid, it was no less brilliant.

We had planned to visit Buckingham Palace after Westminster Abbey but as had timed tickets which didn’t allow entry for another two hours, we spent some time roaming St. James Park.

Back home in New York, my absolute favorite place in city, especially when it comes to clearing my mind is Central Park. I love the open space, of which we have very little of; the adorable Alice in Wonderland statues, and the fact that it lies right in between my two favorite museums: The Museum of Natural History and The Museum of Metropolitan Art.

Naturally, I had no qualms with spending good portions of our days wandering St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, and St. James Park in London.

For those who don’t know, Buckingham Palace is only open during the summer months which I would assume has part to do with the fact that the Queen vacations to the Scottish Balmoral Estate all summer. Luckily for us (not as lucky as spending the summer in Scotland, but still pretty great), we were visiting in mid-July. Though it wasn’t necessarily the actual palace I was excited about. Personally, I feel like once you’ve seen one overly gaudy palace, you’ve seen a majority of ’em.

However, we were lucky enough to have been visiting during Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe; I’m a sucker for any fashion related exhibit. Unfortunately, photography inside this exhibit was prohibited but you can get a sneak peak at some of the Queen’s fashion items here.

I had so many questions while roaming this exhibit.

Where does she put all these? Do they have their own room? I mean there are three different living rooms in this place. Maybe she has a storage unit? Do Queens have storage units? You think she ever has worn the same thing twice? Does she wake up to a designer handing her a custom designed outfit each morning?

To answer one of my own questions, which I later found out, the Queen has in fact worn a couple of her outfits more than once.

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It seems we had visited every cliche London location we could think of, but our day was still not over.

Hopping the train to Covent Garden, we had made it just in time to peak into some of the shops before our dinner reservation at the Palm Court.

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This meal was to everything.

Palm Court leads with the triumphant score of  4.5/5

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In case you’re wondering, that is in fact chorizo jam on top of my pork chop.

I can think of no better way to end a full day in London other than chorizo jam.

But the London skyline against a beautiful sunset isn’t too bad either.

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Read about the rest of our quick London visit:

London: Day 3 – Cheers London! (2016)

London: Day 2 – Churches, Fashion, and St. James Park (2016)

London: Day 1 – Just Touched Down in London Town (2016)

Found this post helpful? Pin it to Pinterest for future reference!

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