On Our Radar

Smarter Than the Average Bar
Business/Location: Total Chi Yoga Bar
Address: 243 Baker St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: NW1 6XE
Phone: 020 7486 4676
Website: totalchi.com

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Total Chi Yoga Bar
You'd think that a yoga class would be relaxing, invigorating maybe, but definitely a mindful experience. Yet so many classes today are crammed full, with little one-on-one attention to make sure you're not doing yourself damage, and of course, always that girl (or guy). You know the one, clad in Lululemon, effortlessly weaving her limbs into binds which make the rest of us want to give up. We know, we should be focusing inwardly and not comparing ourselves to the rest of the class, but it happens. Total Chi is not one of those places. Classes contain no more than six people so you get the sense of actually being tutored and the two small studios are wonderfully light and warm (another bugbear of mine -- freezing cold community halls). I had an incredibly reaffirming yin yoga session, frequently and wrongly identified as "the more relaxing one" -- holding those postures is tough! But even though I hadn't attended a class in some months, my teacher Fern Ross guided me through with humour and gentle strength, getting my muscles supple so I felt safe with my practice whilst also getting lost in the flow. I left feeling suitably stretched but lighter on my feet. Oh, and it's called a yoga bar because you can pick up a delicious smoothie/coffee/kombucha upstairs on your way out.

Religious About Coffee
Business/Location: Saint Espresso
Address: 214 Baker St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: NW1 5RT
Website: www.saintespresso.com

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Saint Espresso
I had an interesting conversation with someone recently where they referred to "hipster coffee" with a derisory tone. "What do you mean 'hipster' coffee?" I asked. "Oh you know, all that agonising over fresh beans, provenance, what temperature it is, what pressure you use..." they responded. "Oh, you mean 'good' coffee?" I said. Because there is this misconception that this is a hipster thing when really, this kind of love and attention to detail has been going on for decades. It's just one of many things that hipsters have "discovered" and to be fair, they have probably contributed to the evolution of coffee as we know it now. I don't have a problem with it, I would just rather people acknowledge that this means "good" coffee. Baker Street is a terrible place for a Londoner to find herself: hordes of tourists search for Benedict Cumberbatch; it is a boulevard of chain eateries with the odd independent hanging on for dear life. Thank god for Saint Espresso then, where I can get a decent cup of joe, before bracing myself to face the masses like a salmon trying to swim upstream. The day I went, they had Alchemy beans from Guatemala in the hopper. Hey, it's hip to be square when it comes to coffee.

A Storm and a Teacup
Business/Location: Postcard Teas
Address: 9 Dering St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: W1S 1AG
Phone: 020 7629 3654
Website: www.postcardteas.com

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Postcard Teas
There is nothing more of an affront to your status as a Londoner than knowing about a place but never having been there. Postcard Teas is one of those places for me. It's been around about as long as I've lived here and I've heard it referred to in hushed tones amongst those in the know but didn't even realise it was an actual shop (you can order teas online too). In fact, this is one of those shops that people travel specifically to London to visit. It's not on a street that you may walk through regularly so stumbling across it as you search for a less congested route through the city (as I did on a wretched tube strike day) gives it an added aura of magic. It had actually started to tip it down as I arrived in what looks like a gallery space. The shopkeeper, taking pity, offered to make me a brew so I could sample my selected tea until the rain had passed. I've recently developed quite a taste for Pu-erh tea and discovered that trading in these leaves is a little bit like being part of a secret society. They come in different vintages according to age but for my entry level tastebuds I bought a caddy of Mr Liu's Nannuo Shan Cooked Pu-erh. Now you know about it--go visit.

Upgrade Your Coffee Break
Business/Location: Mah Ze Dahr
Address: 28 Greenwich Ave
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10011
Phone: 212-498-9810
Website: mahzedahrbakery.com

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson
   Mah Ze Dahr
When I need a break from my "office" (aka Jefferson Market Library), I can now run around the corner to the newly opened Mah Ze Dahr Bakery. Exquisitely crafted baked goods is the draw at this modern cafe space. Choose from beautiful pastries like brioche doughnuts, dark chocolate brownies, or brown butter blondies, and order your favorite espresso drink. If you're not in the mood for sweets, they also have savory items such as hand pies (spinach and feta was the choice on a recent afternoon). But whatever you decide, make sure to save room for the Mah-Ze-Dahr bar, their signature item that deserves the title. It's an oatmeal cookie topped with pecans and chocolate chips dipped in a salted caramel sauce. Is it time for another coffee break yet?

25th Annual Holiday Train Show At NYBG
Business/Location: New York Botanical Garden
Address: 200th St & Kazimiroff Blvd
City: Bronx
Zip Code: 10458
Phone: 718-817-8700
Website: www.nybg.org

Posted by:  Scott Sendrow
Photo:  Scott Sendrow
   New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is one of the highlights of Christmas in New York. I mean, yes, there is that gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center and, sure, the Christmas windows all around Midtown are a sight to behold, but there's nothing like taking in the collection of 150 New York City landmarks entirely constructed from plant material (!) in the Haupt Conservatory. And then there are the model trains. It would be demeaning to call this special tradition "outsider art," but the near-obsessive attention to detail evokes that spirit. When Christmas is almost entirely commercialized in a city where commercialism reigns supreme, NYBG's heartfelt and homespun Train Show is a welcome change of pace. And 2016 marks the 25th year! The Train Show runs through January 16, 2017. "Bar Car Nights" -- select Friday and Saturday evenings in December and January where adults enjoy a complimentary cocktail while perusing the exhibition -- would make a great date activity before an Arthur Avenue dinner (just a 15-minute walk from NYBG).

The Cube is Back!
Business/Location: The Alamo (The Cube)
Address: 4th Ave & Astor Pl
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10003

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson
   The Alamo (The Cube)
In October 2014, one of NYC's most beloved pieces of public art was taken from Astor Place. Did it need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city? Was the Cube priced out of its now fancy neighborhood (like the rest of us)? Did it go on a road trip looking for the meaning of life? We may never know, but two years after it was removed, the Cube has arrived back home. We stopped in our tracks when we stepped out of the 6 train station and saw it just looming there. Some things can come home again, even in New York City. We can't wait to give it a spin. 

Something to Look After
Business/Location: The Travel Cafe
Address: 139 Westminster Bridge Rd
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: SE1 7HR
Phone: 07941 051 050

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   The Travel Cafe
By their nature, areas around major train stations tend to be transient places with all kinds of stragglers and the residues of society present. Cheap, poor quality establishments take residence and take advantage of hungry and thirsty people arriving and departing. It often feels like a warning not to enter into the city where you find yourself, a joke on the part of the people who live in the wider environs. This was the case for Waterloo up until fairly recently. Lower Marsh has always had potential -- a cosy little community, like an undiscovered lane filled with small, local businesses and very few chains, that defies the norms of high streets up and down the country. Thankfully, for us and for travellers alighting here, the area has experienced rejuvenation in the past few years with vibrant cafés, restaurants and bars popping up and a regular street food market taking place. In fact there seems to be a particular focus on welcoming travellers with Four Corners café, Travelling Through bookshop and café, and now The Travel Café (which actually spills out onto Westminster Bridge Road next door to Sista Barista). A Korean enterprise which also organises tours in Korean and Japanese, the café is a breath of fresh air -- the perfect spot for a hit of caffeine whether you're on your laptop, reading a book or meeting a friend. In fact, I have no doubt that this is the kind of place where like-minded people will make new friends. As I left, I was asked to pick out one of the tiny potted succulents on the counter to take home, because, "People who live in London usually don't have something to look after." It was such a lovely sentiment and I am indeed looking after my new little friend.

Going Out Along the New Bowery
Business/Location: Saxon + Parole
Address: 316 Bowery
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10012
Phone: 212-254-0350
Website: www.saxonandparole.com

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Saxon + Parole
For old timers, and even people with just a decade or two under their belts here in New York, the transformation of The Bowery from forlorn skid row to the kind of street that can have expense account restaurants, and a clothing joint un-ironically called Blue and Cream, has been one of the stranger turnarounds in New York's recent history. One thing that has remained consistent: it's one of those areas New Yorkers avoid (once because of bums, now because of bros), but as with everything in the City, there are some gems among the fool's gold. Saxon + Parole comes across as a typical overpriced, unauthentic restaurant of the new Bowery, but it's actually not too bad. True, they have a “look at me” dish called the seafood tower (which is pretty much what it says it is) and a steak that costs $58, but with a bunch of dishes in the $25-$30 range, great cocktails and a lovely setting, it's a good option for a nice night out in hell.

2016 NFT Brooklyn Event on 11/18: Books & Beer at Word
Business/Location: WORD
Address: 126 Franklin St
City: Brooklyn
State: NY
Zip Code: 11222
Phone: 718-383-0096
Website: www.wordbrooklyn.com

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  NFT
Attention Brooklyn lovers: The NFT gang is headed back to Word Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Wednesday, November 18. We're celebrating the brand new 2016 Not For Tourists Guide to Brooklyn that's just rolled off the presses. Join co-founders Jane Pirone and Rob Tallia along with editors Scott Sendrow and Craig Nelson, plus a special guest, Chris Prout head brewer from Greepoint Beer & Ale Company, for a fun discussion on all things "local" regarding Brooklyn beer and NFT. You can RSVP on the Word website or just come as you are. We'll have some local snacks and sips from the neighborhood on hand including beer from Greenpoint Beer & Ale Company, and we'll have plenty of NFT books available for Brooklyn and beyond. Stop by to say hello and bring along your questions about Brooklyn. See you Wednesday!

Holiday Spirits Cruise
Business/Location: Holiday Spirits
City: New York
Zip Code:
Website: microapp.villagevoice.com/holidayspirits/2015/

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Nathalie Zaro
   Holiday Spirits
It's hard to believe, but the holidays are (almost) officially here. Why not prepare for the oncoming season of holiday parties by getting a jump on the action. Set sail on New York Harbor for a booze cruise to end all booze cruises. The Village Voice has put together over 25 distilleries and wineries that will be pouring festive cocktails to wet your whistle. Plus, there will be a full buffet to fill up on, and a salsa band to help you work off those extra calories. Oh yeah, the views of the NYC skyline from the harbor aren't bad either. If only your real holiday office party would be so cool! Get your tickets and maybe plan on Friday being "a work from home day."