Outdoor Dining in NYC

What are the COVID rules for eating out in NYC? If you want to eat inside a restaurant you need to show proof of vaccination. Otherwise, you can order take out or it appears eat outside. A lot of restaurants in NYC have built outdoor structures to accommodate diners for distancing.

Many have plants to give diners more privacy and to make the space more eye appealing. Many have roofs and or windows.

Some have decorative lighting and heat in colder weather.
Diners are well camouflaged here.
Some like this one have barriers between diners so they can fit more within the structure.
This restaurant made booth seating. They had separate spaces for each table. Each table was within its own room.
This one has a pergola feel.

If you are coming to NYC, be aware of the rules. You can only eat inside if you are fully vaccinated. Come out and support these local restaurants. Many others did not survive the lockdowns.

Kayaking in Saratoga

This trip was killing two birds with one stone. I needed to go to this location to get a part for a roof rack. It has been hard to get every part I needed since the start of COVID. I have been hearing there is a worldwide metal shortage and of course many companies do not have all their workers back so production is slow. I went to Mountainman’s Saratoga kayaking location to get the last part and have it installed. I wanted to find a place in the area to kayak after I made that long trek and low and behold there was a kayak launch on the same grounds as Mountainman.

Location

This kayak launch is owned by Kayak Shak. My understanding is they own the property the other neighbouring businesses on the water are on. The address is 251 County Route 67 (or Stafford Bridge Road) Saratoga Springs, NY. You can get there without going the town of Saratoga. The way my GPS sent me was through a rural area. The cost for someone with their own kayak was $10. If you are renting a single kayak or paddle board (SUP) the coast is $25 dollars for three hours. They have another deal for renting for a longer period of time. They do not allow dogs, so leave them at home. This business advertises they have paddle board (SUP) yoga on Saturday mornings.

It is two miles I was told to Saratoga Lake from this boat launch. I believe they said you could paddle up the creek in the opposite direction 5 miles. I decided to go to Saratoga Lake.

On Saratoga Lake despite houses along it the water seems to be very clean. You can see a good distance to the bottom.

I did not take many pictures on my trip out to the lake. The sky got dark and my goal was to get to the next bridge, close to the lake before the storm came through. I made it under the bridge justo in time and hung out there until it was over with some fishermen.

Heading back towards where I started- about 2 miles away.
dHeading back from the lake into Fish Creek. That is the bridge I hid under on my trip out.
A tour boat that must have originated on Saratoga Lake. It came up Fish Creek a little ways then turned back.

There are some marinas in different spots. One marina has a campground with RVs/campers viewable from the water.

Wildlife

Since a lot of the land on one side is marshy and not developed you can observe gulls, geese and Great Blue Herons along the way. As always do not get too close. I have a long lens and crop the photos quite a bit.

There were several Great Blue Herons in the area.
Seagull observing the heron’s fishing technique.
Wearing an ankle bracelet? Was this Canadian Goose being monitored for offences? During COVID he is here illegally. The border is still closed.
Almost back.
Those who rent their boat get to take off from this beach.
If you bring your own you have to paddle to the end of the boats and go around them. Basically you are going under the bridge.
Heading back behind the boats.
Where those who own their boat can take their kayak out of the water.
I have seen Adirondack chairs painted many different solid colours. I like this multi-coloured one. It goes well with the kayak and SUP colours.
Where those who own their own boat pay $10 to launch or those who want to rent go to get their gear for a few hours.
You may need to reserve in advance. They do get a lot of people renting kayaks at this location.
Harvest and Hearth Wood Fired Artisan Pizza.
Gluten free pizza made with cauliflower crust from Harvest and Hearth Wood Fired Artisan Pizza.

After my trip it was dinner time. I decided to look at the menu of the pizza place on the same grounds as the boat launch, Harvest and Hearth Wood Fired Artisian Pizza, and they indeed had gluten free options. Any pizza on their menu can be ordered with a gluten-free (cauliflower) crust. I ordered the Epiphany. This pizza had kalamata olives, fire roasted peppers, red onions, organic rosemary, mozzarella and goat cheese. If you are lactose intolerant you may need to ask if it can be made with just the goat cheese. It was very delicious! Their hours are Tuesday- Saturday 4:30-9. To learn more about this pizza place go to the link for it down at the bottom.

During the week in the afternoon there were not many boats or jets skis out until you got close to the lake. Most of my trip I saw fellow kayakers and those on paddleboards.

I like this location for several reasons. Firstly, what is available on the grounds is convenient. You have a shop that sells paddling supplies, a pizza place, the boat launch, restrooms, and a park. If you have friends who want to go but don’t have their own kayak, they can rent. Also you can go two directions. So it makes for two different trip choices. In addition, the chance to view wildlife is always a plus to me. During the week it is fairly quiet with few motorboats. The short of it is I would return to this location.

Get out and experience nature. Get some exercise along the way. It will help you maintain your health.

Mountainman Outdoor Supply is the largest dealer in paddlesports in New York State from what I understand. https://www.mountainmanoutdoors.com/store-locations.html

To learn more about the wood fired pizza: https://www.harvestandhearth.com

To reserve a kayak or SUP at Kayak Shak: https://www.kayakshak.com/?utm_source=Saratoga.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=microsite&utm_campaign=Saratoga.com

Bina’s Cafe

Are you heading to Hits on the Hudson, the Garlic Festival, the Saugerties Lighthouse, or just want to pull off the New York State Thruway to walk around and grab some good food? Saugerties is at Exit 20 of the New York State Thruway and besides these attractions it has many antique shops and many fine little restaurants. One I am particularly fond of is Bina’s Cafe.

Bina’s Cafe is at 78 Partition Street in the village of Saugerties. This is in the heart of the business area with many nice little shops and eateries. Bina’s serves some American style dishes as well as a few Indian/Pakistani choices. If you are adventurous but your travel mate is not, you could satisfy both people at this restaurant.

I have been to this spot a few times. Once I tried Indian Style scrambled eggs from the breakfast menu. . They make it with scallions, onions, ginger, red bell peppers and traditional spices. As with anything on the menu, if a certain ingredient does to fancy you, they can leave it out of the dish when they prepare it for you. It was a delicious take on scrambled eggs. Other breakfast choices on their menu include American style breakfast sandwiches, omelets, French toast, Indian Style Tofu, and breakfast burritos. They have a variety of bread choices including gluten free.

On another trip I ordered the Mango Lassi. This is a smoothie that the owner makes with homemade yogurt and mango. It was Devine.

My favourite item to order is the vegan sandwich, It includes grilled zucchini, squash, red bell peppers, and pesto on ciabatta bread. It is a very health choice. You can get your sandwiches with fries or a salad. Other choices on the lunch menu include burger, wings buffalo chicken wrap, salad, falafel, gyro, chicken tikka sandwich, and for kids chicken tenders and grilled cheese.

If you are planning to see the Butterfly Street Art or explore the other things that draw people to Saugerties stop by Bina’s Cafe. You won’t be disappointed.

Beauport Hotel

What hotel near Boston has a lot of Christmas spirit? Are you looking to plan a trip to the Boston area or North Shore in December? I highly recommend the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Downstairs near the front entrance
Another tree in the lobby area outside the bar.
The tree near the fireplace in the bar area.

The Beauport has a nice location. Its on the beach in Gloucester. Its a short drive to Rockport, an artsy town on the sea. Marvelous sunrises and sunsets are to be had in their rooms facing the water. It is really a great location all year long.

The Beauport had numerous holiday displays. They had multiple Christmas trees up stairs and down. The seating around the two fireplaces, one in the bar area and one outside the restaurant is grand. The mantles are decorated beautifully for the season.

Nautical theme- trees in a boat
It was hard to capture these fireplaces. They were popular sitting spots.

The Beauport is about the only gig in town on Christmas Day for food. I was told the only other option was Chinese. They had the choice between a four course meal or something off their menu. They were booked at the restaurant in advance, but no worries. I was able to order food at the bar which included the four course dinner if that is what you fancied.

The service at this hotel is top notch. They have doormen that will assist you. They have a van service. The drivers will take you to where you want to go locally for free. I used them twice since I messed up my foot prior to my trip and wanted to walk as little a possible. It also helped me get to know the area from a local before I tried to drive around and explore. You woke up Christmas morning to a large candy cane hanging on your door and they came around at night offering chocolates. They had a nice store within the hotel that was open even on Christmas selling snacks, lovely gift items, clothing, etc.

This trip was last minute so to speak. I am trying to finish some photo projects for a class. I may have booked the room a day or two in advance. What I paid was much less than their regular rates in the warmer months.

If you want a quiet vacation with lovely decor, great service, delicious food, and marvelous views, stay at the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I highly recommend it.

Elephant House-Harry Potter

Have you ever wondered where great writers have set up their office? Have you ever wondered where they get the inspiration to write? If you are a Harry Potter fan, one location the author J.K. Rowling worked on writing the series was The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Rowling took a lot of her inspiration for the books from different locations in Edinburgh. So if you plan to visit some of these locations, add the Elephant House to your itinerary.

There are new articles about Rowling posted in the restaurant as well as photos of her working on the story lines for the series.

As the name suggests, this restaurant has an elephant theme. There are elephants around the restaurant. There are elephant figurines, posters, and even an elephant chair in the restaurant. They also encourage you to donate to a charity that benefits elephants.

I went with a friend who is a big Harry Potter fan. We ate lunch, although they are known for their coffee and pastries/ desserts we were told.

Chicken wrap
My friend ordered the pizza. She ended up sharing some with a little girl next to our table who was visiting from Shanghai. Her aunt was taking her to various Harry Potter locations.

If you would like to see a location J.K. Rowling penned the Harry Potter series visit The Elephant house in Edinburgh, Scotland. See where a great writer worked and have a cup of coffee or more.

Korea Town Jongro BBQ

Did you know Manhattan has a Korea Town? Do you know where it is? Which restaurant has decor that makes you feel you are in Korea? Jongro BBQ can transport you to Asia.

Korea Town, also known as K-Town, is south of the Empire State Building. It is on 32nd Street roughly between Broadway and 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The neighborhood has several restaurants. The first few I walked into that were on street level were packed on a Sunday afternoon. I decided to try Jongro- which was on the second floor of a building at 22 West 32nd Street. I was pleasantly surprised.

The decor of the restaurant brings you to Korea. I lived in Korea for two years and it reminded me of a restaurant in the country we stopped in on the way back from hiking a mountain. Jongro BBQ has antique items from Korea on the walls and on poles. They have old signage, a post box, and a vintage delivery bike to name a few. They also constructed areas of the restaurant to look like architecture you would find in Korea.

Newer signage with some of the architecture indoors
Korean post box- I love post boxes.
Vintage delivery bike

This is a BBQ, so you will find cooker areas on the tables. I am supposed to avoid beef and pork. A lot of items on the menu include those things. However, they did have my old standby, BeBimBop. This dish can be served hot or cold. I like it both ways. They only serve it cold at Jongro. It was excellent. I asked for it with egg on top instead of beef and they obliged. The rest of the dish is vegetables and rice. They had a couple of other items on the menu if you did not want a meat dish.

Bebimbop-This was has fried egg, vegetables, and rice.

If you are visiting Manhattan and want to eat Korean food or something healthy, head to Jongro BBQ. Enjoy the decor while you are there. It is one of the gems of Korea Town.

You can visit there website at: http://www.jongrobbqny.com

Cinco de Mayo at Casa Villa

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish for a day. Another ethnic holiday that is starting to be celebrated by many, not just those who are from where it originates, is Cinco de Mayo. At Casa Villa everyone is invited to experience the food and culture of Mexico.

Besides food they have live music, folk dancing, bouncy houses for the kids, and vendors. I was only there for about 40 minutes and it was back to back entertainment.

I was able to see a more contemporary Mexican music group when I arrived.

Then, Folklorica of Poughkeepsie performed four dances from Oaxaca, Mexico. First, a man and a woman performed a dance known as Mixteco.

Mixteco
Dancing the Oaxaca Dance the Mixteca. At this point he had a rose in his mouth.

Next, the Folklorica of Poughkeepsie performed a dance with puppets called Chinas Oaxaquenas.

Chinas Oaxaquenas

A group of girls from the same group then performed a folkloric dance.

Lastly, a dance called El Torito, with a bull puppet, was performed.

El Torito

The food was delicious. They had food and drinks being sold outside, but during the celebrations a limited menu was offered indoors if you preferred less action.

The party started around lunchtime and went into the night. Some stay most of the day, while others stop in for a short visit. Again, I was only there for about 40 minutes. I understand I missed other performances before I arrived and I am sure others went on after I left.

I wish I could have stayed longer. From what I experienced I highly recommend stopping by Casa Villa around Cinco de Mayo. You can experience the food and culture of Mexico.

Check out their Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Tex-Mex-Restaurant/Casa-Villa-Mexican-Restaurant-1442301769167523/

Pandorica

Are you familiar with the phrase “It’s bigger on the inside?” Do you know about a time traveler known as the Doctor? If so, you probably are a fan of the British TV show, Dr. Who, that airs on BBC and BBC America.

In Beacon, N.Y. there is a Dr. Who-themed restaurant run by a British ex-pat. The establishment on Main Street is decorated with show memorabilia and artwork related to the show. (The art is for sale by local artists). The restroom/ water closet resembles a Tardis inside and out, and, yes, it is bigger on the inside.

Exploding Tardis from the Van Gogh Episode
Door to the restroom decorated like a Tardis

There are a variety of items on the menu at Pandorica. Some traditional British fare includes: Bangers and Mash and Chicken or Beef Cottage Pie. Other items include pierogies and Caribbean spiced salmon. In homage to the show, some dishes have Doc Who inspired names that include: Are You My Mummy Meatloaf, Madame Vastra Clev’r Boy, WHOmmus (hummus), and Gallifreyed Potato Pancakes. Pandorica carries some salad choices on the menu as well as some gluten-free and vegan items.

Broiled Caribbean Spiced Faroe Islands Salmon with Coconut Rice and Broiled Mango

Madame De Pompadour Cake with Blueberries and Mascarpone Filling

How to get there From Manhattan take the Metro-North Hudson Line to the Beacon station. You could either walk up to Main Street or take a cab from the station. The restaurant is only a block or two from the corner of Main Street and 9D. See more details on the restaurant website.

If driving, there are parking spots on Main Street and side streets off Main Street. Parking in Beacon is free. The address of Pandora is 165 Main Street.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have friends or relatives who are fans of the show? This would be a great destination to experience. You don’t have to be a fan of the show. If you are looking for a spot with a different atmosphere and great food, pop on over to Beacon. For more information check out Pandorica’s websites at: https://www.thepandoricarestaurant.com and https://www.facebook.com/thePandoricaRestaurant/ .

Pandorica- Prison beneath Stonehenge
Weeping Angel
Decoration based on “The Snowmen” Season 7 Episode 6