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photo (9)I know I’m not the first to say it…but what the hell is going on in Battery Park City? What is this magical land adjacent to New York’s financial center and across the West Side Highway? Why are people going there?

If it’s not painfully obvious, I am a Battery Park City neophyte. The area of Manhattan roped off by the Hudson River and the West Side Highway, from Warren Street down to Battery Park, is a 92-acre planned community of luxury high rises and, until recently, not much else. Today, however, passersby will find restaurants (including a Shake Shack), a movie theater, and not one, but two luxury hotels.

Everyone knows the Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, but new to the ‘hood as of last year is the Conrad New York, a five-star hotel with modern suites and views of the city and the Hudson River. If you’re visiting NYC, this may be a great spot to rest your bones, as it is close to the bulk of the city’s major subway arteries. But if you’re a local, I highly recommend a stop to the restaurant and wine bar, Atrio.

Delicately touched with whites, creams and browns the restaurant gives off a chic, almost Miami feel, but the views are decidedly New York. I suggest ordering the Crispy Black Kale, which comes with Jersey Ricotta, Black Figs and Pine nuts. A plate of Charred Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Pine Nuts is another great option for the table to share. For your main course, I found the Hand Cut Pappardelle with Osso Bucco Ragout and Gaeta Olives over-the-top tasty, and gut-stuffing (but in the best way).

Prices are very reasonable, considering it is a hotel restaurant. Entrees do not go much above $30, so dinner for two will not be breaking the bank. Atrio also serves breakfast and lunch.

Stay tuned for our Springtime Report from the hotel’s Loopy Doopy Bar, a rooftop bar that opens in May.

The Conrad New York is at 102 North End Avenue.

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Photo courtesy of Orient Express

Photo courtesy of Orient Express

Here’s one for all you love birds out there. If you are looking for an intimate cocktail bar that will impress your date from “out of town,” (or at least confirm for him or her that you are in fact a total hipster), you should hit up Orient Express in New York’s West Village.

Named after the passenger train, the Orient Express is detailed as such, with curved ceilings, dim lighting and cocktails themed after old rail services. I went for the Mata Hari: Bulleit bourbon, Pierde Almas Abadaan mescal, lemon juice, agave, ginger and aloe. It was tangy, it was citrusy, it was whiskey-y. Not too shabby. Ok I’ll stop.

I hear they also serve food at this place, but I was really just there for the drinks. The bartenders wear button downs and old-timey vests that liken them to old railroad employees (how appropriate), and couples canoodle in dark corners pretending to be anywhere but here.

Be prepared to spend upwards of $11 on cocktails, which seems to be a trend when bars are billing themselves as the “best” in the city. I can’t say for sure whether or not this bar is actually numero uno, but the drinks were pretty damn good.

Orient Express is on W 11th between Greenwich and Washington.

smokinbone“A little Southeast Asian fermented funkiness and a whole helluva lot of smoke.” That’s who Fatty ‘Cue is, and that’s why I had to see what the hell they were talking about.

Very rarely (if ever) do you think of southern barbecue when you imagine Southeast Asia, but restaurant Fatty ‘Cue (of the Fatty Crab family) in the West Village is bringing you just that.

True to foodie scenes as of late, Fatty ‘Cue is a dimly lit restaurant in the West Village with waiters dressed in flannel and a bartender moving and shaking together ingredients that you never would have ever thought would meld, but somehow they just do. (Try the Smokin’ Bone: whiskey, smoked pineapple, lime, tabasco and chocolate bitters.)

The idea behind the menu is to share plates, but allow me to let you in on a little secret: these plates are huge. You really don’t need to share, but it’s definitely more fun if you do. The waiter will tell you that four to five plates are enough for a full meal but after two shared plates I was decidedly full. The additional plates we ordered put me over the top into “unbutton my pants and see you next month” mode. I guess you don’t have to clean your own plate, but that just seems like a horrible move; I’d rather roll myself out the door. Bikini season is still a healthy three months away.

friedbaconOrder yourself the lamb ribs, which come with a cincalok emulsion. They are succulent, tender and worth every fatty bite. Fatty ‘Cue is heralded for its 1/2 pound of deep fried bacon, served up with a sweet and spicy salsa verde. In my humble opinion it was definitely tasty, but the ratio of fat to meat left something to be desired. The green curry P.E.I. mussels are heaven-sent and I highly recommend dipping the generous slices of Texas toast into the broth. Finally, the smoked bobo chicken with red onion, cucumber and chili is good. Scratch that: very good, but I think that it’s worth being a tad more adventurous and going for the Isaan-style duck lab or the smoked brandt beef brisket.

Fatty ‘Cue is on Carmine Street in the West Village. There is also one in Williamsburg, but it is temporarily closed for renovations.