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Drawn by the creative vibe and friends in the area, Topher stepped off the train and made New York his home about four and a half years ago. A marketer by day, he spends off hours working in the arts (he helps run the Arts, Culture, & Technology meetup), watching buskers in the subway system, snapping photos and trying out new food. Usually these pursuits find him exploring Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side and Chelsea in Manhattan, and Jackson Heights and Woodside in Queens.
Do you have any secret talents?
Haha, I actually was in a show about PT Barnum in college where I learned how to juggle, stilt walk, walk on a high wire, and some acrobatics.
What’s your favorite Google event you’ve been to and why?
The Akira Back Zagat dinner at the David Bouley Test Kitchen. The wine paired perfectly with the food, the bites were simple but unique, and Akira was just a really nice guy. Getting to hang out with the chef and meeting some of NYC’s restaurateurs was just a lot of fun and we felt like we were let in on a secret location in the city.
If you were going to draw a Google Doodle, what would it look like?
It might include Batman…or a wheatpaste in collaboration with Swoon. Actually, let’s be honest there would be lots of bacon.
What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?
I could spend hours wandering the city, headphones in and tunes blasting, as I take photos with my iPhone or Nikon.
Have any embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
Haha, let’s just say I can be a giant klutz sometimes.
If you could see any celebrity’s reviews on Places, who would you choose and why?
Hmm, probably Sir Ian McKellen to learn about great theatre places and book shops, Charlize Theron because she seems to be very adventurous with the food spots she tries out, Jimmy Fallon because he seems very genuine and would know good comedy and comfort food places, and Jason Statham who seems like he would know the best places to stay fit and also where to grab a drink.
We could go for a dinner with Gandalf and Tebowie! What are some local favorites you could share with us that are unique like them?
Fish – Old Bay and fresh seafood, one of the best combinations and it speaks to my heart having grown up near the Chesapeake Bay area. Fresh oyster bar in this cozy place and beautiful pictures on the wall make you feel right at home. Specials include the Red, White & Blue: 8 oysters or clams and red/white wine or a Pabst Blue Ribbon for only 8 dollars. Fun dishes, good service, no wonder this place is usually full
Cuckoo’s Nest – Comfort food and live music. Come on Sundays to listen to Irish music from the jam band that meets to play and drink together all afternoon/evening. Some other nights of the week it almost turns into a dance club later at night (so it’s better to go earlier). After a brief stumble last year with a temporary cook, they are back to their old ways making simple Shepherds Pie, good burgers, and more. Great place to grab a pint, watch some Rugby or the Premiership and argue the merits of certain players with some of the regulars or international visitors.
Pepolino – One of the best Italian places in the city. They make you feel like part of the family with wonderful service, classic dishes expertly prepared and a simple but good wine selection. Come with a few people and get several dishes to share so you can try more of the delicious options.
Fette Sau – Melt in your mouth BBQ w/ huge flavor and a whiskey bar attached? Oh yes. This is a must go if you want quality BBQ. Order by the 1/4 pound of local farm-sourced meats delivered each day (meaning popular items run out, so get there early) and grab a few sides like German potato salad. Need a drink? They have that, from craft beers to sampling flights of whiskeys from around the world.
Robicelli’s at DeKalb Market – Best cupcakes ever. You will not find two more adventurous and ambitious pastry chefs than the Robicellis. With over 150 flavor options (not to be excessive but because they genuinely enjoy experimenting to make great new options) nothing in this store is typical and most can’t be found anywhere else. From the Elvis to Chicken & Waffles to Horchata, it’s worth getting off the subway even if you’re in a rush just to sample their wares.
Photos courtesy of Clay Williams
Posted by Esther Brown, New York City community manager