Every time I’ve come to New York, I’ve checked into hotels with rooms the size of closets, where the view is of brick walls and second-hand, filtered sunlight. This time, however, is different. Choice was limited and home base was pre-determined to be, euphemistically, “West Times Square.” This is apparently a neighborhood which is a block past the Garment District and one storefront over from Comfort Inn. I was skeptical when I walked in.
Skepticism was quickly dashed. As soon as I opened the door, I walked into a galley kitchen complete with two burners, a full size refrigerator, sink and dishwasher. The galley opened up into a room with an unobstructed view of the Worldwide Plaza’s glowing pyramid. The Element did not disappoint.
It’s a quick trip, business meal after business meal with a quick dinner stolen with friends. Within two hours of landing, I was sitting at the Maialino bar with an associate, sampling octopus, wild mushrooms and the luscious end of a pork belly. Upon the advice of my dining companion, I beat the rain home in a taxi. I shed the appropriate dress and donned baggy capris and a hoodie and headed out, but within two minutes, the sky opened up and rained down. I was stuck. I set aside my grand illusions of an undiscovered, non-descript Manhattan restaurant and settled for dinner from the lobby store…Lean Cuisine ravioli and a twist-top chardonnay.
I headed back up to my room and threw the ravioli in the microwave and the wine in a glass. As I watched the island go from dusk to night, I realized that I unwittingly got the opportunity to experience Manhattan as a local. Not every night is a culinary exploration, sometimes, there is simply finding home away from home.