Last week we went behind the scenes with MEATliquor founders Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins, in an attempt to uncover the challenges of providing flavourful food and drink in the air.
Our ongoing brand alliance with the pair will see us working together to continually refine and improve our culinary offering – all of which requires a lot of research, food and drink sampling, and trawling the world for inspiration.
So we recently packed Scott and Yianni off on an exploratory tasting mission across the pond to New York, with orders to bring back the lowdown on what to eat and drink in the Big Apple right now. Here’s a small sampling of where they dined…
Up in the air
First things first, and all good flights should kick off with a cocktail or two at our London Heathrow Clubhouse. In partnership with Bacardi, our Grey Goose Taste Studio offers a taste consultation to discover your perfect cocktail, with a sampling session which involves trying five differently flavoured gels representing the individual elements of taste – salty, bitter, sweet, sour and umami (savoury). ‘Salty’ is represented by salted caramel popcorn, ‘bitter’ by coffee and cardamom, ‘sweet’ by pear and elderflower, ‘sour’ by sour cherry and ‘umami’ by porcini and charred onion. Once your preference has been nailed, our resident mixologist will mix up an exclusive cocktail perfectly suited to your choice.
And the artfulness doesn’t come to a stop at the gate. Our onboard mixologists know a thing or two about knocking up the perfect mid-flight libation, and Yianni and Scott were lucky enough to have master mixologist Giles Looker onboard, not only the creator of our onboard cocktail menu, but designer of the drinks menu at MEATliquor too. According to Giles, a margerita is the perfect choice at 35,000 feet, especially when mixed with Aqua Riva tequila and a pinch of chilli salt. But now for New York…
This buzzing Caribbean diner in Greenwich Village has a “brilliant vibe” according to Scott. The sunny street-facing room is decked out with checkered flooring, bright orange booths and Formica tables, with a sultrier back room adorned with retro Jamaican album sleeves. Both are filled with laid back soca, ska and reggae vibes courtesy of Radio Lily, an internet radio station based in Miss Lily’s Variety; a Caribbean record store-themed gallery and boutique next door. So what’s on the menu? Opt for the signature Hellshire-style fried whole snapper, or tuck into classic West Indian favourites including slow-cooked jerk chicken, vegetable roti, curried pasture-raised goat, and jaquitos (Jamaican-style tacos).
Miss Lily’s, 132 West Houston Street (at Sullivan Street), New York
The Standard Grill
With our duo holed up at the Meatpacking District’s still-relentlessley-hip Standard (the hipness extends to serving up fondue for breakfast at 6am) it’s only fitting the hotel’s Grill is given due attention too. The subtly-lit dining room, with its buttoned, semi-circular booths and floor inlaid with thousands of copper pennies, is intimate and cosy – hence a reputation as a reliable star-spotting venue. Menu must-haves? Our pair tucked into the east and west coast oysters to start, followed by the charred Spanish octopus served on a bed of roasted sweet potato and red onion salad, cilantro jalapeño and lime.
The Standard Grill, 848 Washington Street (at 13th Street), New York (under the High Line)
Along with dispelling illnesses, Brooklyn Brewery’s award-winning beers have long since earned it a reputation as the stalwart of the New York craft beer scene. Small batch tours are available Monday – Thursday (reservations required) including 45 minutes in the Brewhouse and Packaging Room and a guided tasting of four different Brooklyn beers. Or get yourself down to the tasting room at weekends – Friday’s pizza nights start from 6pm but Saturdays and Sundays are all-day affairs (Sat noon-8pm, Sun noon-6pm).
Brooklyn Brewery, 1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Momofuku have got a little mini empire blossoming in New York, but our intrepid food-explorers concentrated their tastebuds on Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssäm; the latter’s speciality being wrapped meat dishes like the shredded slow-cooked pork shown above (ssäm meaning ‘wrapped’ in Korean). The Bo Ssäm, which the menu describes as ‘whole pork butt’ is a meal for 6-10 guests requiring advance notice, served with a dozen oysters, kimchi and rice – plus the large leaves of lettuce to wrap it all up in before folding it into one’s piehole.
Momofuku Ssam Bar, 207 Second Avenue at 13th Street, New York
Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171, 1st Avenue, between 10th Street and 11th Street, New York
Bushwick’s hipper-than-hip pizza joint sits in a former garage complete with graffiti-covered doorway and unassuming breeze block exterior. On the inside, long communal tables fill the length of the room and fairy lights hang from the walls. Though our pair had to partake in the set menu in order to get a reservation (a combo comprising mountains of cheese, meat, salad and yes, pizza) any other mere mortal would be more than satisfied by a singular pie. These are a cut above your average pizza toppings. We’re talking all kinds of cheeses for a start, including Taleggio, Crucolo and Gorgonzola, plus unusual combinations like honey, sopressata and chilli (The Bee Sting) and pepperoncini, peppadew peppers and garlic scapes (the Summer Sinclair).
Roberta’s Pizza , 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, NY
The name (fat pig in German) rather gives it away. But even this multi-award winning Williamsburg BBQ restaurant can’t defeat our pair, despite the arrival of yet another gargantuan platter of pork. Housed in an ex-motor repair warehouse, Fette Sau proudly serves up organic meats sourced only from small family-farmed heritage breeds, dry rubbed and smoked using a blend of locally-supplied woods including cherry, maple and red and white oak. “There are no reservations but it’s easy to get a table,” says Yianni. Good job too as the clear moonshine (white whiskey is a specialty here) might just as well knock you off your feet.
Fette Sau, 354 Metropolitan Ave, between Havemeyer & Roebling St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Header photo © Fette Sau BBQ by goodiesfirst
Virgin Atlantic operates six daily, directly flights to New York from London Heathrow – book your flight today.
We also have award-winning Clubhouses in the following destinations worldwide: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Newark, JFK New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.