Ever wanted a New Yorker’s opinion on something? Where to go? How to avoid everyone? Where to find hidden spots? This week in the New York on My Mind interview series, My New York, Upper West Sider Dede Lahman, co-owner of the Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant on the Lower East Side and Community Food & Juice in Morningside Heights recommends venturing to the outer suburbs for dinner at least once and heading to Korea Town for a body scrub.
Are you a native New Yorker?
Only by association. My husband is Brooklyn born and bred. My grandmother lived in Manhattan, but I grew up in Connecticut.
I live on the Upper West Side.
What do you love most about your neighbourhood?
Central Park Reservoir for walking (below), Riverside Park for tennis (clay courts!) and the Apthorp building – a grand architectural beauty that I can see from my bedroom window.
Favourite time of year in the city?
Winter! Festive, sexy, everything all aglow. Perfect eating weather, too.
Best brunch spot?
Having two restaurants in Manhattan acclaimed for brunch makes this an obvious answer, but the truth is, I really love them both. Our Chef (Neil Kleinberg) is also my husband, and he makes the best brunches in our apartment. We smoke and cure our own salmon at both restaurants so he usually brings that home with Absolute Bagels or an Eric Kayser baguette and luscious fruit from The Orchard on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn.
Jazz at Lincoln Center. It’s world class and totally unpretentious. I always see the most interesting looking people there. Also, Korean body scrubs in Koreatown. Epic.
Best meal ever?
Favourite meal ever in New York was when I was sitting next to Richard Avedon, the famous photographer. I was working as a magazine journalist for a famous reporter at the time and was at an awards dinner for Vanity Fair magazine. I can’t remember what we ate or what restaurant we were in – it was 20 years ago! – but his company was a thrill. It was incredibly exciting! He chatted me up all night! In terms of the best food ever, it’s a tie between Pearl Oyster Bar (below) and Le Bernardin.
The No.6 Store. I am obsessive about clogs.
Building you’d most love to live in?
The Police Building at 240 Centre Street, Little Italy. It’s majestic.
City’s most overlooked site?
Lincoln Center. Seems like it’s more a magnet for out-of-towners, but it’s my favourite hang. And in summer they have a L’Arte Del Gelato cart, although our family favourite is pistachio-cherry ice cream made across the street at Epicerie Boulud.
There is a very modern (and hidden) promenade and wading pool adjacent to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. It’s beautifully serene and nothing beats the cosmic coolness of those planetary sculptures.
What would you do as Mayor?
Build green roofs everywhere! I serve on the Board of Directors of the Sunworks Greenhouse Project. Our 21st-century greenhouse labs are revolutionising the science of sustainability in NYC schools.
How would you spend a spare afternoon?
I’d take a vinyasa class at Pure Yoga, have lunch at Red Farm, go shopping at ABC Home, and finally indulge some sweet treats at the Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, of course!
Best thing a taxi driver has said to you?
“I make small batch gin in Albania.”
What inspires you about New York City?
I love that it’s a walking city. I feel as though I live half my life on the street. It forces me to be judicious with my choices, clothing and otherwise. When fellow citizens are moving on foot through rush hour traffic on sidewalks and streets, I feel the ‘energy’ that’s uniquely New York.
Craziest thing about living in the city?
Raising a child here probably seems crazy to others but, to me, it’s the only way to be a parent and stay sane.
A word of advice for tourists…
Eat in an outer borough at least once if you can. You are sure to experience true ethnic culture.
Find the Clinton Street Baking Co + Restaurant at 4 Clinton Street on the Lower East Side.