Anthony Bourdain's The Layover: Tony Takes Manhattan (A Recap)

Categories: Musings
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The Travel Channel
Bourdain at Bemelmans Bar
Last week, The Layover premiered to audible groans of pain...by me. Anthony Bourdain's new travel show had an interesting premise -- what would Tony do if stuck in a city for 24 hours?  Unfortunately, the show had a frenetic overly produced feel about it. I disliked the clock counting down the hours until the cab ride back to the airport and the vignettes of locals giving tips to tourists. Tony seemed a little bored.

What did I want to see from this episode of The Layover, set in New York?  I wanted to be wowed! I'm a native New Yorker. Tony is too. I wanted to see a mix of places I've never been to, along with classic New York spots that only insiders know about. I got what I wanted...maybe a little too much.

Tattoo artist: "You can always spot a tourist because they're looking up." This is the first in a series of shots of native New Yorkers saying horrible things about tourists and just making themselves look like snotty dickweeds.

Anthony Bourdain: "This ain't no layover for me, but considering how much I travel maybe it kind of is. I tend to eat my way through a city and New York is no exception."

Bourdain tells us about the three major airports and their high suckage factors. That there's no good way to get into the city from any airport, so take a cab for fifty bucks because New York's mass transit system is completely f**ked. Apparently, this show is not endorsed by the New York City Tourist Board.

Girl in a flowered dress: "Ditch the fanny pack."


Anthony Bourdain: "Drop your bags at the hotel. Wandering around with a bag, even an overnighter, isn't done here."


Tony's stuck on the Upper East Side, which "has a lot of lousy restaurants". He does recommend Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle hotel. "If you were having an affair or a clandestine meeting or engaged in insider trading this is the perfect place to meet. I don't know who goes there. I don't care. Its just one of the great NY institutions", he tells us. And it is. The bar is classic Manhattan, filled with murals drawn by the author of the Madeline books, Ludwig Bemelmans.  Tony sucks down a gin Martini, "is there any other kind?", and notes this is not the place to go if you want to get laid.

Anthony Bourdain: "Never look anyone in the eye in the New York subway system. It's not a safety matter anymore, it's just polite. Look down."


Tony takes us on an eating montage. Granted, there are a lot of places to pack in to a 24 hour layover in New York, but the pace is insane and doesn't allow us to really enjoy any of them: The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian Hotel (cheeseburger and a beer $13.50 -- cash only), Shake Shack (double burger and a shake), Minetta Tavern ($26 black label burger), Eataly (beers on the rooftop).

In the New York shopping segment, Bourdain peruses rare books at Kitchen Arts and Letters, a store devoted to collectibles, then heads to Strand Bookstore, St. Mark's Books, and the Restaurant Supply stores on the Bowery.

Two guys in suits: "The subway is the only way to get around New York because you can get killed by a cab.

Anthony Bourdain: "The best you can say about the NY subway system is that it works and it's cheap. It's safe but don't be an idiot."


In the dive bar/hipster segment, Tony meets Momofuku's chef/owner David Chang for a drink at Subway Inn across from Bloomingdale's. Tony notes that it's one of the few dive bars that's not being ironic. (In fact, there's an un-ironic dive bar on almost every block in Manhattan. Usually next to the Off Track Betting parlors). They head to the East Village. Tony notes the neighborhood was, "Like Mad Max. Now its hipster. But what are you going to do? Reminisce about junkies?"

They go to Crif Dogs, where Tony eats tots with cheese whiz and says "it's only out of deference to you that I'm not thrusting my penis" into the molten cheese. David and Tony go to PDT, a speakeasy (secret word? swordfish). There's a "no standing" policy so if there's no seat there's no way of getting a drink. Tony gets a classic Manhattan. There's also a specialty dog selection, like the Momofuku dog and the Wiley dog, named after WD50's Wylie Dufrense.

The clock ticks 12 hours to go. I hate that f**king clock.

Blonde with a Village People Leather-Guy puppet: "New York is a great place to be a ventriloquist."


Clearly, we're into the ethnic foods segment. Tony savors beef nuts escargot style at Takashi on Hudson Street. He talks about Chinatown and Koreatown and gets a bagel but shows no love for Little Italy, Little Odessa, Washington Heights, or any of the other ethnic neighborhoods in New York.
 
Eccentric New York woman of a certain age: "Tourists are very badly dressed. Bring some nice clothes. You may not care what you look like but we have to look at you."

Anthony Bourdain: "I have to check Twatter."

In the street food segment, Tony devours a salty pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Eddie Wong, a wanna-be hip hop dude, says that "cupcakes and trendy Asian sandwiches are the nails in the coffin of the Lower East Side" as he presents Bourdain with two trendy Asian sandwiches from his restaurant Baohaus. And no, he doesn't see the irony...at all.

Big slacker dude: "I drive around. I smoke weed, I look for cheese shops and artisan breads."


The clock runs out as we leave Tony on his way home on the Upper East Side. I realize the problem. Anthony Bourdain has moved to the most white bread part of New York City. He's become civilized. Good for his family but not so good for television, I think.

Some notes for the show producers: Slow down the pace. Visit less than 50 places in the imaginary 24 hour span of time that's ticking down. And please get rid of the f**king clock!

Anthony Bourdain: "Don't play three card Monty. Sixth Avenue is not Avenue of the Americas. Don't put ketchup on your hot dog because god doesn't want you to do that."

Next week: Tony goes to Rome, where we'll get friendly tips from native Romans like "Your wife's ass looks hot", "that's not Chianti..that's donkey piss", and "A bowl of pasta is four bucks for locals, twenty-five for Americans."

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21 comments
Donaldhayjr
Donaldhayjr

I just watched the montrel episode and zzzzzzzzzzzz

Lizeskridge7
Lizeskridge7

If you are planning a trip and have a  New York layover   you need to check out Family In New York! They provide custom private sightseeing tours and one of their specialties is layover tours! They also specialize in tours that show you things other than the typical New York sights. Let Family In New York show you a New York City you haven't seen on your next layover! 

Lizeskridge7
Lizeskridge7

 If you are planning a trip and have a New York layover you need to check out Family In New York! They provide custom private sightseeing tours and one of their specialties is layover tours! They also specialize in tours that show you things other than the typical New York sights. Let Family In New York show you a New York City you haven't seen on your next layover!

Dspruill23
Dspruill23

Can someone list the books he purchased in this episode.

Steve
Steve

I like Bourdain but I don't like the Layover.  Its a good concept but the execution suksht.

Rosebud04
Rosebud04

I don't think you understood the premise of the show. It's about not having a lot of time in a certain place and packing in a bunch of things while you can. I thought the clock and the number of restaurants that they fit in was appropriate considering that and it gave tourists a lot of options and stressed the short amount of time a layover can be. They are foodie tourist friendly establishments. Sure, maybe a little hipster, but take into account it's not an episode of No Reservations. 

Darren Seelye
Darren Seelye

I liked both episodes of the The Layover so far. I was annoyed by some things in the New York episode but I find his shows to be entertaining overall. I liked your review Mr. Doss.

linus74
linus74

Laine, the hot dog/tater-tot restaurant in the East Village is "Crif Dogs" (not Crib Dogs). 

stevo
stevo

The layover is nothing but fast food crap for stupid people. It totally sucked!

Casturdreams
Casturdreams

Spot on recap. I liked the way he put those wise ass bitches in their place when they questioned his suggestions

Trenchetiquette
Trenchetiquette

U pretty much discredited this bullshit article when u shouted out little Italy. No one eats there. Shit, Italians haven't been there since godfather 2

Erin
Erin

El Bulli - Ferran AndriaOn Food and Cooking - Harold McGeeThe Whole Beast - Fergus HendersonWhen You Lunch with the Emperor - Ludwig BemelmansLe Bonne Table - Ludwig BemelmansHeat - Bill BufordThe Belly of Paris - Emile ZolaMastering the Fine Art of Slicing Spanish Ham - Pilar Esteban-Ordorica

:-) - enjoy

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

Rosebud:  If we're doing this in real time, then Tony would have had to eat nonstop without sleeping for 24 hours. Not only does he visit restaurant, but he just lists off other restaurants tha might be visited?  Might be alternates? Not sure. In any case - too much packed into one show isn't helpful.  How about a real time scenario (like 24 used to be) and whatever he can fit into that is what he talks about?

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

That's what I wrote. I think my editor thought I made a mistake. Changed it back! Thanks!

anon_e_m00se
anon_e_m00se

He's a commercialized over-hyped celebrity chef now-a-days anyway... the same thing he railed against in the earliest episodes of No Reservations. I know he's got the recognizable factor when he travels but he needs to go back to the concept behind the show to gain my viewership again. [Granted... not that he gives a damn if I watch or not].

J_harlacher717@yahoo.com
J_harlacher717@yahoo.com

I'm going on the 16th of dec with my wife and would love a few more suggestions on places to eat! Open to all great food

linus74
linus74

I agree that most of Little Italy is crap, but you might want to check out Torrisi at Mulberry and Prince.  I think it was nominated for James Beard best new restaurant recently.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

Granted there are a lot of tourist traps - but there are also a lot of legit places where you can see old men sipping coffee, get some pork, and peruse the dustiest, mustiest emporiums of nativity scenes.  Go to the side streets off Mulberry Street and embrace the aroma of pork, scungilli, and pastries.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

What kinds of food do you like/where in New York are you staying?  I suggest you read our sister Village Voice food blog, too!

MK- Ohio
MK- Ohio

How about the woman - who said "Wear decent clothes because we have to look at you.."  I suggest she move up to a higher clientele, or even city - that doesn't cater to tourists, who dress (imagine) - for comfort...and who are the LIFE BLOOD of NY.I would rather look at anyone, disgusting as all get out - than see her face & hear her horrible words again...Nasty.

MK-Ohio
MK-Ohio

Oops - the show - It's too early to tell - but I could see them using this to separate this from No Reservations to keep the focus on simple, delicious - quicker fare & maybe getting to focus more on fine dining on No Res..I wouldn't have a clue if that's what they are doing.  I found it watchable.  Anthony always makes me laugh.

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