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.

Clinton Street Baking Company

Clinton Street Baking Company

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.

Home is…
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.

Central Park Reservoir Ellie Seymour

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.

Favourite discoveries?
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.

Pearl Oyster Bar New York

Favourite shop?
The No.6 Store. I am obsessive about clogs.

No.6 Store New York

Building you’d most love to live in?
The Police Building at 240 Centre Street, Little Italy. It’s majestic.

the Police Building Lolita

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.

Best-kept secret?
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!

Red Farm New York

Clinton Street Bakery cakes

Clinton Street Bakery famous pancakes

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.

(Photos via The New York Times , John Mariani and my Instagram feed)


  1. Love this article — Dede makes fabulous suggestions! Here’s my insider tip — while Clinton Street Baking Co. has a fantastic brunch and is a not to miss if you’re a pancake freak especially, their dinners are AMAZING and much less of a wait. Go & enjoy!

    • Hey Trudi – glad you enjoyed it. And that is a great tip! I hadn’t thought of that so will definitely add it to my itinerary!

  2. Cindy Goodwin Reply

    Clinton Street Baking Co. is our favorite go-to yummy place when we visit New York. We try different items every time and have never had a thing that is not fantastic! Cookbook rocks too! Dede, I will be checking out the link about Greenhouse Project for sure; husband is interested in bringing it to his school!

    • Hi Cindy – sounds like I’ll have a tough time knowing what to choose when I visit Clinton Street for the first time! It’s got to be the pancakes though, surely!

  3. Hi Ellie. This post is so great. I love it – thanks! It was lovely talking to you and I hope I’ve helped to inspire your next trip to New York City!

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