Sunday, January 26, 2014

Overnight In NYC With Madison County's 'Bridges'

Bridges, bridges, bridges.
While the media still seem to be obsessed with Bridgegate, on Broadway the focus is shifting to not just one but many bridges. Many, as in The Bridges of Madison County, the new musical adapted from the 1995 film which was itself based on the 1992 novel of the same name.
We never read the book nor did we see the movie which was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Eastwood and Meryl Streep. But over the weekend we did see the musical which has been put together by many of the same team members who gave us the musical, The Light in the Piazza.
The Bridges of Madison County tells the story of a married but lonely Italian woman, living in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, who has an affair with a National Geographic photographer from Washington state who is visiting Madison County to create a photographic essay on the covered bridges in the area. This new musical version of the story stars Tony award-winner Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale (from TV's Rescue Me) in the principal roles. Pasquale is making his Broadway debut in this musical.
The show is now in previews and doesn't officially open till February 20 so it would be unfair for us to give you a review here. We'll hold off and weigh in on this show when it officially opens.
But, we will tell you this: There are no actual bridges in The Bridges of Madison County, the musical.

While we were in New York we stayed right on Times Square at Marriott's Renaissance Times Square hotel and we were delighted with our stay. The hotel could not have a more perfect location. But, beyond that, the staff is friendly and helpful, our room was spacious (with a king size bed and large bath) and beautifully appointed and the hotel's extraordinary R Lounge at Two Times Square boasts panoramic views of Times Square and theatre district.
Rising 26 stories above Times Square (we stayed on the 20th floor) this full-service hotel has the soul of a boutique hotel with beautifully crafted interiors by renowned designer Jordan Mozer. Distinct among hotels in New York, it features completely redesigned guest rooms with hardwood furniture, luxurious bathrooms and state-of-the-art technology. 
Only steps away from midtown's famed entertainment, attractions and Fortune 500 headquarters, guests can enjoy cocktails or a snack at R Lounge, before venturing out to Rockefeller Center or the theater district. With a AAA Four-Diamond rating and a prime location on Broadway and Seventh, we have to agree that this luxury hotel is the epitome of urban oasis.

We dined a couple of blocks away from the hotel at a restaurant we've often passed by but never tried: Cafe Un Deux Trois, a spacious French bistro that attracts a big crowd.
What attracted us was the $30, three-course, pre theatre dinner menu. Here is one our entrees (talapia) shown exactly as it was presented to us:

The service was prompt but the entrees (the other one was chicken cordon bleau) were only lukewarm and the food service staff seemed to have little time to indulge any comments, requests or chit chat. The place has been at the same location for decades and was very crowded on Friday night, so it does have a following. But, in the end we're afraid this was a case of  "you get what you pay for, sorta."

For breakfast the next morning we ventured over to T45, the bright, sleek American diner inside the brand new Hyatt Times Square on 45th St. near Broadway.
Thank goodness Hyatt has finally come to the Times Square area. This  was long overdue. The 54-story hotel is a new generation of Hyatt. Each floor contains only 11 larger-than-usual rooms (averaging 364 square-feet), all featuring floor to ceiling windows. Guests are greeted and comfortably checked in via iPad, as a wave-like undulation of bronze and walnut draws your eyes around the sleek, oasis-like lobby.
The George Wong designed T45 Midtown Diner on the ground floor serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, including takeout service so whenever the mood strikes, you can order ready-to-go meals and snacks – either on the hotel's app or by phone-- and (if your a guest of the hotel) have your food delivered straight to your room. 
Of course, there's plenty of space to dine-in (with big, comfortable booths and soft tones throughout) and that's what we decided to do. Hyatt says the diner is designed to "reflect the energy of Broadway, complete with a theatrical back wall of moving lights." Cool! The young and eager-to-please staff is friendly and very accommodating. 
We must warn you, however: A very nice American breakfast for two here will set you back $50 or more. We did check the lunch menu though and found it to be quite reasonable and much more price competitive. 
Anyway, our breakfast was wonderful: Fresh hot coffee, two eggs with bacon, home fries and toast exactly as we ordered them and a huge bowl of delicious, steel-cut oatmeal perfectly cooked. Below, the photos of the diner itself and our entrees:

Suffice it to say we definitely will be returning to T45, especially for lunch. 
BTW: Hyatt's new Bar54 at the top of the hotel will open on February 14 and it promises not only spectacular views but specialty cocktails, fine wines and gourmet small plates where guests can mingle around cozy fireplaces, indoors and out. We're told this hot new nightlife destination is already being acclaimed as an exciting addition to Times Square’s bar scene.

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