I wrote recently on the blog about my brief but very enjoyable trip to San Francisco. One of the things that struck me most about the city was the integration of nature into a bustling metropolis; the city is plopped right into a beautiful bay and is surrounded by rolling hills. I experienced several “grass is always greener” moments, unable to stop myself from comparing San Francisco to the concrete jungle of my home in New York City. But last weekend I went on an urban hike with my friends Sandy and Lauren, and I quickly was reminded that I, too, have the good fortune to live in a city surrounded by natural beauty.
We took a quick subway ride to the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhoods of Manhattan and worked our way from the East River to the Hudson. We ended our trek in Inwood Hill Park in the north of Manhattan. After many a step over the recommended 10,000, we were starving! I used to live in Washington Heights, and knew of a great neighborhood haunt called the Indian Road Cafe. In addition to delicious food, the Cafe takes pride in being located on the very northernmost tip of Manhattan–on the last corner of island in fact. We wound our way through the park, past the plaque commemorating the alleged purchase of Manhattan for a handful of trinkets from the Lenape Indigenous tribe, and right to a table for three at the Indian Road Cafe.
Indian Road Cafe practices a farm to market philosophy, using as many ingredients as possible from the New York City area and the Hudson Valley in everything from food, to coffee, to cocktails. They also present menus seasonally, ensuring that fresh ingredients are used and enabling the food to taste as delicious as possible. Even the ambience of the restaurant is NYC-centric, featuring live music from local musicians and walls covered in art from local artists.
Everything on the menu sounded delicious and worthy of ordering on the night we dined. After a significant amount of contemplation I opted for the spaghetti squash carbonara, with applewood smoked bacon, pecorino romano, and duck egg yolk. The menu even specified that the ingredients came from Black Horse Farms, located in Athens, NY in the Hudson Valley. Noodles made out of vegetables rings a little trendy to me, but anything followed by the word carbonara on a menu gets my full attention. And I am quickly becoming a convert to veggie pasta; it really is a great way to get in extra vegetables while also making a dish well-suited to many different dietary needs.
The dish was definitely a hit:it managed to be both light and rich at the same time. Sometimes, I forget that savory food does not have to be heavy, and that fresh produce cooked the right way is both nourishing and comforting. The next time you find yourself in New York City, I encourage you to spend some time exploring the northern parts of the city. They often are relegated to “time pending” in favor of the more well-known destinations, but you’d be missing out. And whether it’s for brunch, lunch, or dinner, definitely eat at The Indian Road Cafe.
(Information regarding Indian Road Cafe taken from the restaurant’s menu can be found on their website)