Selected Events (02/08) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

 Today’s FAB 5+ > MONDAY / FEB. 08, 2016

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.
(click on links for more complete event info.)

Have time for only one event today? Do this:
Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: 50th Anniversary (LAST DAY)
Village Vanguard,178 Seventh Avenue South, at 11th Street, 8:30PM +10:30PM, $
“Almost exactly half a century ago, the trumpeter-composer-arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis began their Monday-night big band residency at the Village Vanguard, establishing what became a hallowed tradition. “All My Yesterdays,” an album due out next month, documents the band’s inaugural performance. Here, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, a direct outgrowth of the Jones-Lewis band, hunkers down for a weeklong engagement, playing music from across the historical spectrum.” (Chinen-NYT)

Music, Dance, Performing Arts
T. Oliver Reid: Drop Me Off in Harlem
Birdland, 315 W44th St./ 7PM, $30
“The dapper T. Oliver Reid is a veteran of numerous Broadway musicals, but has more recently been making a name for himself as a standards singer in the classic tradition. This set is dedicated to songs drawn from early-1930s Harlem.” (TONY)

Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs with Friends
Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Ave./ 8PM, $45-$135
“The bright-eyed, bouncy-kneed Scottish stage-and-screen actor plays fast and louche with the cabaret format, sprinkling naughty words into long comic stories and putting a completely fresh interpretive spin on familiar songs. In this Carnegie Hall version of his 2015 Café Carlyle set, he performs songs by Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel, Miley Cyrus and many more, with Lance Horne at the piano. Guest stars include Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, Ricki Lake and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.” (TONY)

Elsewhere, but looks worth the detour, if you are a Bowie Fan:
Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am: A Tribute to David Bowie
Mercury Lounge, / 9:30PM, $10
“Though the clamor to honor the late David Bowie after his death in January has died down a bit, we have yet to see the last of the tribute shows and eulogies. This show features all-star indie supergroup the Pains of Being Teen. Alongside them is formidable singer-songwriter White Hinterland, a/k/a Casey Dienel, who released her fifth album, Baby, in 2014. Best Behavior (who we have to imagine irritate Drake) and ADESUWA finish out the lineup. Clearly, Bowie’s influence is not limited to mainstream rock, and hearing these bands cover his work will be an unusual treat.” (Sophie Weiner, VillageVoice)

Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

Fantastic Art China: International Creative Festival (through Tuesday)
Javits Center North, 11th Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets
Saturday through Monday from 10AM to 6PM; on Tuesday to 3PM
“Works from established and emerging artists at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts are on view in this exhibition tied to Lunar New Year celebrations in New York. The 72,000-square-foot exhibition space will also host live performances that showcase contemporary Chinese Art.” (NYT-SpareTimes)

How about some hot chocolate?
City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival (thru Feb.28)
City Bakery, 3 W18th St./ opens 7:30AM, $
“Regress to childhood with skillfully concocted mugs of hot chocolate courtesy of this downtown canteen. Owner-mastermind Maury Rubin will serve a different flavor of his intoxicating cocoa every day during February.” (TONY)

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Jazz Venues:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:
Greenwich Village:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th ave. South, — villagevanguard.com / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. — bluenotejazz.com / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave. South — 55bar.com / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.5 million, had a record 58 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015.  Quality shows draw crowds.
Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
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This week’s fave and FREE NYCity AppS: 
Trip Advisor
An enormous base of NYCity user reviews (2.1 million) provides the widest coverage of hotels (468), restaurants (12,645) and things to do (yes, 3,246). Have a specific question? Then try one of Trip Advisor’s forums. Just remember that with all those reviews you have to try to find the consistency among the comments, and ignore the outliers.

OpenTable
Instantly locate restaurants near you with open reservations and then place a reservation right from your iOS device. A great interface and the ability to see a menu from the restaurant you’re interested in makes this my go to restaurant reservation app.

Subway Time 
Need to catch your #1,2,3 subway to attend an event? Use the Subway Time app from the MTA to find out when the next train arrives at your station. The MTA also has Bus Time info available on their mobile website.
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A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village

Caffe Vivaldi / 32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker St./W4th St.)

Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’. ”

maxresdefaultEach night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.

There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.

There is also a good selection of fairly priced wines,  but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.

I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. Their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.

At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.

When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYCity will have lost a piece of it’s soul.

Website: http://caffevivaldi.com/
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11AM-on
Subway: #1 to Christopher St.
Walk 1 blk S. on 7th ave S. to Bleecker St., 1 blk left on Bleecker to Jones St., 50 yards left on Jones St. to Caffe V.

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“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.
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3 Good Eating places

It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:

Fish280 Bleecker St. (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $9 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.

Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S. (corner of Bleecker St.)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.

Num Pang – 21 E 12th St. (btw. University Place/5th ave.)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Square park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.

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“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
This covers a wide range of food – the traditional pizza, burgers, & hot dogs; but also food trucks & carts, soup & sandwiches, picnic fixins’, raw bars & lobster rolls, bbq, vegetarian, falafel, ramen, chopped salad & salad bars.
No reservations needed. ===========================================================================

NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24 thousand eating establishments you might welcome some advice.

◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places, and essays on my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods on Manhattan’s WestSide, order a copy of my e-book:
“Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($4.99, available Spring 2016).
◊ Order before May 31, 2016 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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