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A 9:30 Saturday morning flight put me in at La Guardia by 11, and I was at my hotel on 44th Street by 12:30 p.m. I settled into a club chair in the lobby of the storied Algonquin Hotel, waiting on my sister-in-law, who was coming in from Nashville, Tenn., on Southwest.
We were headed to see Jessica Chastain on Broadway that night, we were museum-bound on Sunday and we had a megastore on Monday's agenda.
Back in 2010, Marriott purchased and refurbished the 179-room Algonquin Hotel (212-840-6800 or algonquinhotel.com ). Built in 1902 on famous Club Row, this landmark played host to meetings of the Algonquin Round Table or "Vicious Circle." Actors, critics and writers such as Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Harpo Marx and George S. Kaufman gathered here for daily lunches from 1919 to 1929. Guests still receive a complimentary copy of The New Yorker because the magazine's founders secured its funding at the hotel. As we watched Beyonce's Super Bowl half-time show in the lobby and sipped whiskey-laced Texas Millionaires, Parker's quote about a little bad taste being like a nice dash of paprika came to mind.
The Algonquin is between Sixth and Fifth avenues, so we had our pick of tourist sites like St. Patrick's Cathedral and the New York Public Library, as well as shops. However, we chose to head over to the Flatiron district on Monday morning and take in the six-story ABC Carpet and Home stores (212-473-3000 or abchome.com ) at 888 Broadway and 881 Broadway, which have been rooted in the district since 1897. With almost 350,000 square feet of goods, ABC is a worldwide bazaar under two roofs. I walked away with some graphic Dwell Studio pillow covers and a cross-stitched Michael Jackson pillow (Off the Wall-era) stitched by female artisans in Albania. Prior to dinner on Sunday night, we also did some window-shopping along Designers Way on East 58th. This stretch was a trove of great shops, including one devoted to vintage lamps, lampshades and light bulbs called Illume. And as you exit the Museum of Modern Art, don't miss the MoMA Store (212-767-1050 or momastore.org ). This well-edited selection of housewares, jewelry and paper goods made TimeOut magazine's list of top museum shops.
Saturday night's early dinner put us on the path to Washington Square Park and the acclaimed Blue Hill (212-539-1776 or bluehillfarm.com) , run by chef Dan Barber and supplied by Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass., and Stone Barns Center, 45 minutes outside of the city. Below street level, the restaurant's space once housed a speakeasy, and it conveys an air of intrigue as you step down off the street and behind a velvet curtain. An amuse-bouche of grated beets on button-sized buns started our adventure. My bowl of roasted pork in horseradish-flavored broth served over Brussels sprouts was a perfect complement for the snowy night outside.
The following night we headed to Felidia (212-758-1479 or felidia-nyc.com ), which was packed on Super Bowl Sunday. One of Lidia Bastianich's restaurants, this old-school gem, which opened in 1981, definitely seemed to cater to an older crowd (fun to say, considering I'm 47), but it nevertheless delivered outstanding plates with impeccable service. I had their signature braised flat-iron steak with a kale-and-bean farrotto, and my sister-in-law went with a spicy wild boar ragu with andouille sausage. Our shared parsnip-and-apple cake with wild fennel pollen left us wanting more.
Monday's dining highlight was lunch at ABC Kitchen (212-475-5829 or abckitchennyc.com ), created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten within ABC Carpet and Home. It was packed on a Monday, and we were lucky to get a table since we didn't make a reservation. Named best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, ABC Kitchen sources a minimum of 70 percent of its food from within 90 miles between May and October. Considering our feast at Felidia the night before, salads were the order of the day: crispy shrimp over romaine served with a carrot-sesame vinaigrette. Simple, yet filling.
Be sure to check out 9 +1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design at the MoMA through June 9. Included in the exhibition is a sketch for the Richmond-based Best catalog showroom at 9008 Quioccasin Road (now home to West End Presbyterian Church) done by James Wines' Sculpture in the Environment firm, which radically re-imagined what big-box stores could look like.