If you"re a Francophile New Yorker like me, there is no such thing as bistro and brasserie burnout. We Francophiles dream of New York City boulevards bountiful with boulangeries and patisseries's which is why we take special notice (and remain in mourning) when any of our beloved cafÃ©s FranÃ§ais bid us au revoir.
This summer, the Upper East Side lost two of its favorite French bistros, La Goulue on Madison and Payard on Lexington. La Goulue, which had originally been slated to close last April, extended its business until Aug. 26, when it closed after 36 years. The New York TimesÂ reported that one of the owners is â€œaggressively looking for a new spot within three or four blocks of La Goulue"s former location. Apparently, the landlord is building extra floors on top of the two-story building, requiring the restaurant to close.
Meanwhile, Payard Patisserie and Bistro closed its doors after â€œuntenable rent increases, according to various blogs and websites. Rent was reportedly slated to go up by as much as 60 percent, forcing the popular pastry stop and gourmet eatery to shut its doors at the beginning of July. The good news? The catering arm of Payard, Tastings, led by Alexandra Payard and Chef Ken Tagima, is still in operation.
With Columbus Day fast approaching, I can"t forget to mention something Italian besides my yellow Vespa's which is how I"m always able to bring you such a comprehensive Shop Girl scoop. How about celebrating Italian heritage at Caravaggio, a newly opened, upscale Italian ristorante in the former Coco Pazzo space, 23 E. 74th St. between Fifth and Madison? House-made garganelli is calling!
Speaking of cafÃ©s with European charm to spare, have you checked out the aptly named Heavenly Rest Stop, on Fifth Avenue just across the entrance to Central Park at East 90th Street? It is a dream's and a much-needed place to sit and sip. An annex of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, Heavenly Rest Stop (2 E. 90th St.) serves coffee, tea, espresso, hot chocolate, homemade lemonade, sandwiches, salads and pastries seven days a week in an area pretty much devoid of cafÃ© options. Outside seating offers one of the best spots to while away a pleasant autumn afternoon.
Just a few blocks away, browse the latest in kids prepster wear at the new Crew Cuts store, at 1190 Madison (corner of 87th). A junior spin-off of J Crew, Crew Cuts opened this location in mid-August directly across the street from Food Emporium, making it easier for you to check tomatoes and turtlenecks off your list in one swoop.
While I"m on the subject of prepsters, I must alert you to the fact that you will have to redirect yourself a few blocks when on the hunt for those ultra-WASP-y, yet iconoclastic Stubbs & Wootton loafers. Whether you"re looking for needlepoint fleur-de-lis slippers or black velvet skimmers with a picture of a screw on one toe and the letter â€œU on the other (no joke!), the location on Lexington and 74th has closed. Visit the new, even fancier digs at the Carlyle Hotel, 987 Madison Ave., between 76th and 77th.
Once you purchase your loafers with the red devil embroidered on them, be sure to saunter down to Arthur & Co. (828 Lexington at 63rd) to pick out a new purse to match. The store, which opened at the beginning of June, specializes in totes, handbags, clutches and small leather goods's all made right here in New York. Handbags start at a reasonable $108 and can be customized. Who said you can"t get bespoke when you"re broke?
In fact, you may want to stop by the new TD Bank branch at 53rd and Third to withdraw more cash for your spree. The outpost celebrated its opening on Sept. 10 with a free party open to the public.
There"s no point in owning new loafers and a handbag if you aren"t going anywhere good to strut your stuff. Pop into the Upper East Side"s newest's and only's Scottish pub, Jock Tamson"s Bairns, or â€œJTB, as many regulars refer to it (1609 Second, between 83rd and 84th). It"s a welcome departure from the ramshackle, frat-house vibe at most of the dingy pubs up and down the avenue (sorry dingy pubs, but you never have champagne, decent wine or clean bathrooms). JTB is just the kind of bar the neighborhood craves's a sleek, handsome and sophisticated pub that doesn"t take itself too seriously, yet seems to buck the â€œpack â€˜em deep and sell â€˜em cheap philosophy of most Second Avenue bars. Brick walls, a tin ceiling and dim lighting create an appealing atmosphere in which to enjoy lovely libations, like Scottish beers on tap and a notable selection of top-shelf scotches, whiskeys and bourbons. â€œJock Tamson"s Bairns is a Northumbrian English and Lowland Scotch term for â€œJohn Thompson"s children, an expression that has come to mean, â€œwe"re all the same under the skin. A beautiful truth and figurative welcome mat for a place where Upper East Siders, downtowners and B&T"ers can come together to toast to this great city.