Within a couple of days of staying in Manhattan we found ourselves walking the High Line as many tourists tend to do on any visit to New York. It's a great way to escape the traffic and meander above the streets, especially in the morning when there are less humans jostling for their own piece of landscaped pathway.
Towards the southern end of the High Line, where it drops you off in the middle of the Meatpacking District, the former rail viaduct cuts beneath a modernist concrete building that looks like it was built in the 50's. This is The Standard.
The area in and around The Standard simmers with hipsters and fashionistas and it was the energy and variety of the neighbourhood that made us move from our 7th Avenue hotel, not that species of oh-so-cool urban folk, to spend our second week at The Standard. For a precinct that was once teeming with slaughter-houses, prostitution and debauched sex clubs, the modern hand of gentrification swept down the cobbled streets and made this part of the island one of New Yorks most desirable. It's still a bit grotty and a handful of the meat distribution companies can still be seen hauling carcasses from warehouse to truck just metres away from chic boutiques and swanky restaurants. I just hope it never looses its fundamental grit.
The base of hotel has a couple of drinking and eating holes - The Standard Grill, The Living Room and a Biergarten complete with German-style sausages, salted pretzels and ping-pong tables but it's what's up on the roof-top that I was more interested in. Something I came across when researching this trip many months prior to landing at JFK.
Make your way to the elevators and catch a ride whilst watching a trippy "music" video to the top floor Black Room Bar. Climb the dimly-lit graffitied stair-well and drop those designer sunglasses into place. Enter Le Bain.
Perched about 18 floors over the Meatpacking District is a roof terrace complete with cocktail bar, retro chairs, tables and lounges and round pink waterbeds. If you're willing you could even kick off your shoes and run that acrylic astro turf between your toes. Aahhh ... this is the life. Manhattan, Jersey and the Hudson River at your feet, glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, cool breezes, blistering sun and a cold bevvie ordered from some not-too-attentive staff members. (And now I have to tip for being neglected?) Suggestion - go up to the bar and place your orders. Self service does wonders.
Night-time at this joint undoubtedly attracts people teetering in killer heels and matching killer pouts, perhaps a killer sculpted body and bleached smile. Arrive after 2pm and it's ordinary folk peppered with the stray trendite, sipping on beer, champers, G&T or whatever the hell is going.
Need a mid afternoon snack? They've got it covered. The crêperie tucked over in the corner whips up a fresh Nutella crêpe that's a perfect accompaniment to the boozy and bubbly beverage you may be guzzling. Perfect for some. Not for me. My Napa red was way too precious to be diluted with sugary and nutty chocolate. Allow me to stand back and watch the crêpe queen in action.
As the sun sets over the sprawling city skyline we duck downstairs and take outside seats at The Standard Grill. I get the vibe that this is one of those places that people come to be seen. Sun glasses at night, pressed white linen trousers with a cardie over the shoulders, perfectly disheveled locks, more killer heels and an over-sized camoflage shirt fresh from an army surplus store. You've gotta love people watching.
The restaurant has two defined areas - a main dining room with red leather booths beneath a vaulted ceiling and floor shimmering with thousands of inlaid pannies, and the airy bar bleached with whitewash, tiles, blonde wood and big windows.
A few bread rolls come perched in a brown paper bag and some simple radishes and chunks of Parmesan settle us in with a white from California. Grilled foie gras terrine with rhubarb & date chutney ($17). I'm in love with the creamy terrine but struggle with the over-powering chutney and am happy tucking in to the terrine on its own with the toasted bread.
I was beginning to notice that Alaskan black cod ($32) was popular on many New York menu's so the other half opts with the one here, served with potato & leek salad and tomato & almond gazpacho. Within a couple of minutes the fish is made cold from the gazpacho and we discover most of it is raw and not pan-baked as it should have been. Our excellent waiter delt with the situation like a pro and even deducted it from our bill. Now that's service.
My Colorado lamb rack ($38) was perfectly blushed and came with a very fresh fava bean, shaved fennel, pea & pecorino salad. Loved this one. Especially the simple flavours of the salad.The Standard848 Washington StreetMeatpacking District 10014(212) 645 4646website---------------------------------The Standard Grill848 Washington StreetMeatpacking District 10014(212) 645 4100Breakfast: 7am-11.30amLunch: 11.30am-4pmBrunch: Sat & Sun 11.30am-4pm Dinner: Sun-Wed 5.30pm-12am; Thurs-Sat 5.30pm-1amLate night: 12am-4am website