My XO-inspired Guide To Detroit And New York!

In which we visit TWO eateries from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!
Publish date:
April 15, 2013
travel, new york, nyc, xoJane, detroit, fleetwood mac

Ok, bear with me because I am reeeeally jet-lagged - our flight from NYC got in at 6am yesterday morning and so this, ahem, 'article' is basically a list, with pics, telling you about my American adventures because quite frankly I'm barely capable of stringing together a sentence right now.

One of the highlights of the trip, obviously, was getting to meet my xo-sisters IRL*. We descended upon the unsuspecting xoJane office brandishing M&S shortbread and teabags. Here I am with Madeline and Corynne (and I met the supercool Olivia and the xoVain gang too!)

I finally got my hands on some 'half and half' - a mythical substance which I've always read about but never tried. It was nice.

The entire office scribbled their recommendations for places to eat, shop and hang out - here's one of Madeline's extremely helpful notes. We couldn't possibly get through everything suggested, so we're just going to have to make another trip - I know, tough eh?

But let me backtrack a bit to the week before we arrived in NYC, as we also spent a night in Detroit and here's what was awesome:

Stay: The Inn on Ferry StreetYou know the film Meet Me In St. Louis? And the family's beautiful house that they think they're going to have to leave because the dad's got a job in New York, but then he changes his mind? That's EXACTLY what this hotel is like. Located in an old neighbourhood of Detroit, the Inn on Ferry Street is made up of two stunning houses, complete with grand front porches, carved wooden staircases, stained glass windows and grandfather clocks. Warm and welcoming, we felt like guests in a well-to-do, turn of the century American family's home.

Eat: Traffic Jam and SnugIf you're planning a trip to the US, make sure you visit the website of the cult TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives first because if the two places it directed us to are anything to go by, it's a foolproof way to find excellent places to eat. In Detroit we visited Traffic Jam and Snug (a 15 minute walk from our hotel) and stuffed our greedy little faces on burgers, mac 'n' cheese and wild mushroom soup. Oh, and salted caramel ice cream.

Ok, onto NYC... Our plan here was to stay in three different neighbourhoods and walk them comprehensively, in an attempt to really get to know some of the many corners of the city in a bit more detail. I think it worked, but during our long marches up and down the famous grid system we discovered even more fascinating villages which will require further investigation on the next trip.

Stay: The FranklinOur first stop was The Franklin on the Upper East Side. This was the perfect spot from which to explore the swanky uptown streets, with those iconic brownstones and awnings that you recognise from every NY movie and TV show (SATC!) Central Park was just three blocks away and the Met just down the street, and the hotel was just lovely - traditional, with 'petite' rooms (but really all you need) and a nice breakfast served in a sunny room looking onto the street.

The WytheFor a total change of scene we then moved to the Wythe in Williamsburg, which was about as different from the Franklin as you could possibly get. This converted factory has gigantic bedrooms with stunning views of Manhattan on one side and Brooklyn on the other. The style is industrial, minimalist chic with cosy touches - all the products in the rooms, from the minibar to the bathroom, are made in Brooklyn and the furniture, wallpaper and even the stationary has a homespun, local feel. But the most outstanding feature is the rooftop bar, where we spent a pleasant evening observing the differences between the hipsters of London and Brooklyn (there are many, but that's for another post.)

Eat:Nicola'sThis Upper East Side institution welcomed hungry, desolate diners after the legendary Elaine's closed down. I ate a delicious, comforting bowl of spaghetti bolognese and gawped shamelessly at the blazer-clad clientele.

Asiate at the Mandarin OrientalFor brunch with a view, you can't beat Asiate - the Mandarin Oriental New York's spectacular restaurant which fuses Asian cuisine with classic American dishes like French toast to create something unique and very tasty. The view would make a meal here worthwhile - you can see right across Central Park to the Upper East Side - but the dishes (there's a set menu of five courses for $54) more than match the scenery.

Lili's Noodle Shop & GrillI've always wanted to eat Chinese food out of those little cardboard boxes like they do in American movies and TV shows and on this trip, my dream came true. We went to Lili's on the Upper East Side, ordered an obscene amount of food and smuggled it up to our hotel room. The sesame chicken was awesome.

Hot & CrustyA sandwich from this chain of bakeries is easily enough for two (plus it comes with pickles and crisps.) A classic salt beef number eaten in Central Park on a balmy spring day was pretty special.

RedheadOur second Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives recommendation was The Redhead - a tiny bar and restaurant in the East Village that's famous for its buttermilk fried chicken and peanut bacon brittle. It was awesome.

Schnippers (posh McDonalds)This place is just a short walk from Times Square and it's AWESOME. You choose your meal from a huge menu on the wall (burgers, traditional American grub like Sloppy Joes and mac 'n' cheese, fish tacos and all sorts, plus root beer floats and wine!) then sit down and it's brought to your table. The meat is absolutely incredible and it was all freshly cooked from scratch in the open kitchen. Dare I say it, Schnippers is actually better than the sainted Shake Shack. I know, blasphemy...


Baggu (3rd and Whythe, Williamsburg)

Lovely leather and nylon bags in all shapes, sizes and colours (I particularly liked the neon yellow options) at very reasonable prices. Like the Cambridge Satchel Co. of Brooklyn.

MadewellI made a pilgrimage to Madewell just for its Alexa Chung associations and was not disappointed. Wearable, whimsical clothes, denim and accessories that are just the right blend of preppy and retro (the sunglasses and sandals are particularly impressive.)

Opening CeremonyThe mecca of NY cool, Opening Ceremony is like Manhattan's Colette, with the edgiest designers (nice to see Simone Rocha and Christopher Kane representing London) and hip collaborations with the likes of Chloe Sevigny. There was plenty of Kenzo too, so I got to fondle the statement sweatershirts of my dreams.

EquipmentI've wanted an Equipment shirt forever and they are so much cheaper in the States (roughly the same price in dollars as they are in pounds here) so I had to get one. The Soho store is a minimalist temple, with row upon row of pristine silk shirts and cashmere sweaters in every colour of the rainbow. I went for the classic cream silk shirt with two breast pockets and it's perfect. If I spill Ribena on it or something I will cry.

*In Real Life, noobs!