This past weekend one of my oldest and best friends Cammy got married in New York. Happily, this was another excuse to visit my second home (not that I need one). Unhappily, the pope was also visiting.
Friday morning I hopped on my $23 Boltmobile and settled in for what I was sure would be a seven-hour ride thanks to the popemobile and resulting transit hysteria. Miraculously (and un-Mercury Retrograde-like), I arrived 25 minutes early. Unwilling to push my chances and try to meet up with my friend Stephanie in midtown, I opted to go hang out with Carly and her husband Joe, who were already at the hotel where the wedding would be.
Now, the wedding and surrounding wedding events were in Long Island City in Queens. For as much time as I've spent in NYC, I rarely ventured into any borough not named Manhattan. Brooklyn a few times, Queens and the Bronx for baseball games. But I was completely unfamiliar with Long Island City.
When I arrived at the hotel, Carly, Joe, and I agreed we needed lunch. With the exception of two pins showing up on our smartphone apps, all the other dozens of pins were over the Queensboro Bridge in Manhattan.
Clearly the hipsters have not yet arrived in Long Island City.
But they're starting to. Joe and I set out for a 10-minute walk to what Joe said was the "Yelpiest" spot, LIC Market, to bring back lunch. And there we found where the hipsters were hiding. Gentrification is on the horizon, LIC, fret not!
(Sidebar: I did notice that the LIC hipsters were a lot nicer than your garden-variety Brooklyn or Manhattan hipster. In fact, when I absentmindedly poured honey into my iced coffee instead of simple syrup and asked for a new one, they gave it to me free of charge. Bless their little hipster hearts.)
On the way back to the hotel, I looked around and remarked to Joe that LIC was, well, kind of a shithole. He responded that he felt a kinship with it; Carly was gentrifying him, but he was still rough around the edges. This description also seemed to apply to the hotel.
The Ravel Hotel (pronounced ruh-VELL, not ravel as in "unravel," like I had been pronouncing it) fancies itself a swanky boutique hotel, not unlike the scene-y (potentially swinger?) hotel I stayed in in Chicago a few years back with the see-through showers. But it's in the midst of being renovated and, to quote Carly, it's having a bit of an identity crisis. Parts of it are super luxe, and parts of it are -- ahem -- shabby chic.
When I tried to describe it to Steph, Subway, and Jen the next day, the best I could come up with was "bougie with a side of ratchet."
So I took some photos to demonstrate.
Ravel, pronounced my way, became the catch phrase of the weekend. And at the rehearsal dinner that evening at Manducatis Rustica, I was pretty ravel, getting tipsy off a half a glass of wine and not stopping there.
If the Ravel and Manducatis Rustica are indicative of Long Island City, then it's clear that all of LIC is in the midst of an identity crisis because Manducatis Rustica has that old-school Little Italy restaurant feel...but also has mini shrines to Andy Warhol all over the walls (?!).
After dinner, I left the hotel and saw some decidedly ravel patrons there for the nightclub on the penthouse level of the hotel. We're talking six-inch, electric blue, furry, muppet-like heels and Ru Paul makeup. I headed back to Manhattan to stay with Steph and Subway, and the next morning Steph and I did a quick run in Central Park before stopping at a newish spot on the Upper West Side for some iced coffee. Birch had some delicious iced coffee, simple syrup (which I would like to lobby for in all coffee shops), and some rull bitchy hipsters (point, LIC).
Later, Steph, Subway, and I met up with Jen who found a great spot, Distilled in Tribeca, for brunch. Our very fabulous waiter looked like a very fashionable bat in his all-black hooded ensemble, and I thought to myself that this was the type of patron the Ra-VELL hoped to attract, but probably wouldn't.
Now please enjoy some mouthwatering foodie photos I took of the RIDICULOUS food at Distilled.
After brunch, I got a blowout at Haute Air and headed back to Jen's to say hi to Mike and get a little more Jetlag Hag QT. We headed over to Elizabeth Street Garden, right across from her apartment to plot some moves for Lisbon and Madrid. (!!)
Later, it was wedding time, and I must say, the RaVELL did a really nice job. The wedding was perfect; the couple was happy, the weather was lovely, the view of Manhattan was stunning, the DJ played some great 90s hip hop jamz, and most importantly, I ate my face off. Full sushi bar, don't mind if I do. Spring rolls, mini chicken and waffles, dumplings, ceviche, fish tacos with margarita shots, truffle grilled cheese, lamb chops? Yes and please. Oh and B-T-dubs, those were only the appetizers. The entrees were fabulous as well, and even though I was stuffed, I killed the desserts -- also all mini. Mini ice cream cones, mini red velvet cookie ice cream sandwiches, mini root beer floats, mini french toast with cheesecake, pumpkin pie IN A FUCKING JAR.
Mmm. I'm hungry.
Not particularly recovered from the food coma the next morning, I still scarfed down some brunch in the Ravel (not RaVELL) "yard" area, said goodbye to my buds, and killed 45 minutes back at LIC Market because I wanted more iced coffee and I like the hipsters there.
Alas, Mercury Retrograde finally reared its ugly head when my Uber driver assumed he could take me for a ride and I had to tell him the route I wanted him to take to the bus. Trying not to yell at him for the slowest route through town, I watched the minutes go by as I got panicky after checking the Amtrak prices and seeing that the cheapest ride would set me back $190. $190!!! $190 to probably have to sit on someone's lap. Bastards.
Luckily, I made the bus, had to pee the whole way home, then grabbed dinner at Holy Frijoles in Baltimore's own hipster hood, Hampden.
LIC, it was real. Catch you later when you've grown into your skinny jeans and oversized glasses.