Once named the "Cast Iron District," for its many buildings made of the material, the neighborhood commonly known as Soho, (South of Houston) has become one of the main tourist and local attractions in New York City. Among a number of "hip" places to live within the city, Soho is completely surrounded by great art, great food, and great shopping. Furthermore, it is an ideal destination for a food fan or a cooking aficionado to spend an entire day.
Begin your day with a memorable experience at Balthazar. Decide between their sit down, full on French bistro breakfast with items such as brioche French toast and eggs en cocotte or head next door for a to-go café au lait and a dangerous yet pleasant selection from their bakery items. With hours starting from 7:30am til 2am on the weekends, you are also at liberty to make Balthazar your final impede in Soho.
Keeping with the French premise, just across the street is Sur La Table, French for "On the Table." Though a nationwide establishment, Sur La Table remains unique in that you are able to find every form of both common and rare pieces of cooking apparatus that you may desire. With basic yet traditional tableware and flatware, this store is all about the kitchen. Desired brand selections from All-Clad to Wusthof, Sur La Table can meet any if not all of your kitchen dreams.
Moving up Broadway, to Gourmet Garage, anyone who likes to eat will enjoy this food filled market. Once an establishment distributing fish, game, and organic specialty items to restaurants and chefs, Gourmet Garage is now open to all. Refrigerators are stuffed with items such as, cheeses from all over the world, fine cured meats, and prepared meals ready to be heated and served. The butcher and fish monger display their beautiful cuts of meat and sides of fish, eagerly waiting to help you with your selection process. Though referred to as a "supermarket," Gourmet Garage still holds that old neighborhood grocery store feeling that is simply comforting.
The next stop in Soho is a store that has become widely popular, Pearl River Mart. From clothing to house wares, you can find Asian inspired paraphernalia of every kind. Integrate your kitchen with items like, bamboo steamers, Japanese mandolins, Chinese cleavers, and Asian woks. Set your table with one of the many beautiful selections of dishware and a wonderful array of chopsticks. While in the store, visit the Tea Bar located upstairs for an afternoon treat of tea and snacks.
Just across the street, the hustle and bustle from the outside is brought inside to the kitchen classrooms of the French Culinary Institute. Here, while students are learning the fundamentals of French cooking, you can satisfy your appetite with lunch or dinner in the school’s restaurant, L’Ecole, (literal French translation, "the school").
Lunch provides a three-course prix fix selection while you also have the option of a four or five-course prix fix dinner. No matter what time of the day you dine at L’Ecole, the service is friendly and the food is spot on. You will walk out feeling a little heavier, while not shrinking your wallet, as L’Ecole is considered a, "cheap eats," in New York City. Feel free to ask your server if a tour of the school is possible.
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What & Where:
Balthazar Restaurant and Bakery (80 Spring St; 212-965-1785)
Sur La Table (75 Spring St; 212-966-3375)
Gourmet Garage (436 Broome St; 212-941-5850)
Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway; 212-431-4770)
French Culinary Inst./L’Ecole (462 Broadway; 212-219-3300)