The Worst Spice Girls Brunch Of All Time

I want to preface this entire post by saying that I don’t look at my blog as a giant Yelp review, but sometimes a review needs to be given. This is one of those times.

I’m writing this at the request of my girlfriends who were subjected to the Spice Girls themed brunch that was hosted at 5th & Mad this Saturday. Ladies, what would your reaction be if you were told that for $35, you could attend a themed Spice Girls brunch with your besties and would get unlimited Prosecco, an entre and dessert? If you’re not saying that you’d be willing to give up a few hours on a Saturday for that, we can’t be friends because you’re a liar and I’m not friends with liars. But I digress.

I was pumped when I came across an article in Time Out NYC about this because tbh, I’ve seen Spice World no less than 63 times and I swear that I missed my calling as a singer in a British girlband. I’d consider myself to be 3 parts Posh, 2 parts Baby and 1 part Sport – thanks for asking! I immediately group texted my girls and two of them got back to me and said they were SO in, because DUH. I also read in the article that we were encouraged to dress up. Thank G-d I didn’t because I would probs have died if I walked into the restaurant on Saturday afternoon and saw what was waiting for us…

A disaster. A disaster is what was waiting for us. 5th and Mad doesn’t open until noon on Saturdays, and our tickets were for the first wave – the brunchers that were to be seated at 12:15. I got there at 12:10 and quickly realized I was the first to arrive of literally anyone who’d be attending this, but whatever. My girlfriends got there and we were seated quickly because like I said, we were the only ones there….

Let me set the scene: There’s a large bar that wraps around the middle of the restaurant, and then booths all along the walls. Every 3rd or 5th stool at the bar had a random balloon tied to it (like the kind you’d see at a regular party, not a fancy kind). There was a DJ booth in the window with a cheap looking pink tablecloth draped over it, and then the booths had equally cheap purple tablecloths on them. There was old Spice Girls footage playing on the TV (with no sound). For reasons I cannot explain, music such as Ciara’s 1,2, Step and a song by Da Goddess were playing over the speakers. The DJ could not for the LIFE of him figure out a consistent volume. It was either seconds from shattering my eardrum, or barely audible. This would change every 45 seconds or – to keep us on our toes, I assume. We were there for 45 minutes before I even heard a single Spice Girls song play. 45 minutes. at a Spice Girls themed brunch. Let that sink in.

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The menus were an atrocity of their own. First of all, they were printed off on computer paper and for the food menu, the only relation that there was to Spice Girls was some poorly cropped clip art. It also had zero connection to the Spice Girls- they didn’t even name the dishes after popular songs, which would have been the CLEAR WAY TO GO. The selection was also confusing af. Not only was the only breakfast related food on the menu Chick & Waffles, but the selection also included Penne a la Vodka. Have you ever seen this on a brunch menu? Because I certainly have not. They did have a small drink menu to go in tandem with the food menu. Inexplicably, the drinks were named after songs and were priced at a ridiculous amount – $16 a piece. BUHBYE.

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So we were there for about 5 minutes before I had figurative steam coming out of my ears. First of all, it was embarrassing that I had dragged my friends here – luckily for me, they thought this whole thing was funny AF and kept saying that I had to write a blog post about it. So consider this my apology gift to them. Second of all, I couldn’t understand why there was basically no decor, no Spice Girls music playing, and why there was a single random drag queen who came out of nowhere dressed like Scary Spice and accosting the 15 or so attendees who had started to filter in. Any time she would talk, they would turn the music off. It was bizarre. As my friend said, “it’s like their B team is here and phoning it all in.” That’s EXACTLY what it was like. Actually, it almost seemed as though they’d never thrown a brunch before let alone a themed brunch… which I quickly learned from looking at their Yelp reviews is pretty much how anyone who’s been duped into attending one of these disasters has felt. Apparently at the Harry Potter themed one in December, they started playing a game of trivia that included questions from Lord of the Rings. Potter fans were PISSED.

The funniest part about all of this was watching people’s reactions when they first walked in. It was a mix of, “are we in the right place?” (can’t blame them, when there’s hardly any indication of Spice Girls anywhere), and, “should I just eat my $35 and go somewhere else?” (yes, yes you should). People were legit LAUGHING when they saw it all, and then they’d turn around and leave. I’m so happy my friends were there to keep me laughing, because I was so irritated. I’m usually really chill & go with the flow, but I was just so insulted my the lack of effort and poor execution of it all. It was even more infuriating to know that this place had dozens of reviews saying how bad the themed brunches were, and that the restaurant clearly has done NOTHING to improve them. We were there for an hour flat and not a minute more. We spent the next hour sitting in a Starbucks around the corner laughing our asses off and comparing reactions to what we’d just experienced.

My Advice for Themed Brunches

  • Check Yelp for reviews of the place before you buy your tickets
  • Make sure that you check to see the menu prices of the food – if their prices are way lower than the cost of your ticket, decide if the experience is worth the cost
  • Make your reservation for later in the day (I’m hoping that the experience got better as the afternoon went on, but I had zero interest in sticking around to find out).

Have you ever attended a themed brunch or party and had a bad experience? Or maybe you attended a great one and have details to share?! Comment or send me a DM – I’d love to hear about it! xo, AJ

10 Things to Do in NYC This Spring

The weather has been teasing us in NYC in a MAJOR way lately. One day it’s 30 degrees, the next it’s 60, and then the day after that it’s back down to 37. What the heck is going on?! Idk about you guys, but I’m ready to break out my florals and peep toes again. With that in mind, I’ve been daydreaming of all the things I’ll be able to do once the weather is warmer again. Check out my list of fun things to do in the city during spring!

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  1. The Bubble Bar: On April 17th, 23rd, 24th and 30th, head to the Rainbow Room at 30 Rock to check out the Champagne Bar pop up that’s sure to be v. instagrammable. Think you’ve had enough overpriced alcohol in this city to last you a lifetime aka you’re wondering why you should go? I’ll tell you why. BECAUSE THERE’S A DESSERT CHAMPAGNE GARDEN. And also a banana soufflé with champagne sorbet. Yeah, I know. You’re welcome.
  2. Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival: Speaking of flowers, I’m sure you’ve heard of DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival, right? Well did you know Brooklyn has its very own version? On April 28th and 29th, head to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where you’ll have unlimited access from 10am-6pm for just $30. Idk about you, but I’m obsessed with Cherry Blossoms, so you’ll definitely be seeing me there.
  3. Five Boro Craft Beer Fest: On May 19th, head to The Well in Brooklyn for the time of your life! TimeOut says, “This all-you-can-drink tasting includes more than 100 event-exclusive small-batch beers by 50 local and out-of-state breweries plus a performance by a live band. Sip unlimited two-ounce pours and pick the brains of craft brewers, then choose your favorite suds from the home-brew contest and take home a glass.” Tickets are a little bit pricier – $75 per person. But considering it’s all you can drink, I’m sure most attendees will get a good amount of bang for their buck!
  4. Cat Camp: Ok, I feel like I need to state that I am NOT a cat person like, at all. But I need to play to my audience, and I know I have a lot of cat lovers, so here you go. For $20 on May 5th and 6th, you can join fellow kitty lovers and discuss your love for all things feline. There will be meet and greets, talks from Animal Planet experts, even adopt a new furry friend! This promises to be a fun time, as long as you’re not allergic to cats…
  5. Take a Cruise On The River: I’ve done this before, and I highly recommend it. It’s soo much fun to just be with your friends, enjoying the fact that you can be outside for longer than 6 minutes without the face going numb and getting to see the stunning views. Depending on the cruise you choose, there may be food + alcohol provided as well. 100% recommend trying this out!
  6. Head to Coney Island: Ok yeah so Coney Island isn’t like, the nicest place on the planet. In fact, it’s kinda dirty. But if you embrace it, it’s also really fun. BE WARNED: The seagulls there to not give a single f*ck about you, and if you’re afraid of birds like me, you will likely need to face your fears and suck it up because they are savages and will circle above you for hours waiting for you to turn away from your food for a millisecond. When it comes to Coney Island, you may convince yourself that you’re going for the rides, or the games or the hotdogs. But the reason you’re really going there is for the people watching. And that, my friends, will not disappoint you.
  7. Go to a Baseball Game: I absolutely despise watching more than 5 minutes of baseball on TV, but love when I can actually go to a game. I’m not a Yankees fan, or even a Mets fan. If I had to choose, I guess I would be a Dodgers fan because I would go to games with Patrick all the time when I visited him in LA, so I’ve seen them the most. Plus his dad gave me at least 7 pieces of Dodgers apparel, so I’m fully decked out when duty calls. But anyway, being at the ballpark with your friends (especially in the spring when the weather is nice and you’re not sweating your ass is) is a freaking blast. Get a ticket in the cheap seats, buy a beer (that will prob cost more than your ticket), and enjoy sitting there for three hours to watch 15 minutes of actual athletic effort.
  8. BrunchCon: On May 20th at the Brooklyn Expo Center, because there really are angels among us, you can attend BrunchCon – a brunch-themed convention/festival with 30+ participating vendors. Idk about you, but there is literally nothing in this world that can keep me from attending this. See you there!
  9. 9th Avenue International Food Festival: Have I made it abundantly clear yet that I love food? Because I do. A lot. May 19th-20th will have thousands of people taste-testing foods from all around the world on a 15 block stretch across 9th avenue. Next to BrunchCon, I truly can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than hanging out with my friends, trying new types of food and enjoying the beautiful weather.
  10. Citibike: This isn’t an event or anything that’s time-sensitive, but spring is one of the best times to rent a Citibike and just cruise around. Join hundreds (maybe thousands?) of New Yorkers who are enjoying the sunshine and cruising around Central Park on their rented wheels. Bring a picnic basket with you, and you can make a whole day of it!

 

Which ones do you think you’ll make it to? Any that are missing from the list? Send me a DM, comment here or shoot me a comment on Instagram – can’t wait to see you there!

xo, AJ

4 Places You NEED To Check Out Before Summer Ends

GUYS. August in NYC is no joke. This is my 4th year suffering through it, and if anyone tells you that you get used to it, they’re a big fat liar. I went out to dinner with my girlfriends the other night and it was so unbearably humid that one of the girls literally stood in front of the hand dryer for 10 minutes trying to dry up her sweat. UGH. Fall 2017, WHERE YOU AT?!

Anyways, I’m really excited to tell you guys about my new partnership with Sapahn! This amazing company was founded in rural Thailand by the incredibly sweet Brooke Mullen. She came across artisans with beautiful hand-crafted pieces and saw that due to market challenges, they were earning less than they deserved because of what she referred to as, “minimum bargaining power and a lack of adequate resources.” Brooke instantly wanted to help these people, and she did just that! How? Sapahn knows exactly who is making each piece and how it’s crafted, as well as where the materials are coming from. Their artisans set their own prices for what they create – bargaining is not allowed! They’re paid 50% when they begin making the piece, and the other 50% when the order is delivered. Why? “We recognize the increased vulnerability artisans may face when having to pay for supplies, labor, and life expenses until a month or two later when the full order is completed.”

So basically, when I learned that I’d be able to work with a company that had beautiful and versatile pieces, and that also values and appreciates incredible talent, I was sold! I always want to be really transparent with you guys, so here it is: whether or not you buy a bag from Sapahn, it doesn’t effect me personally. I’m not being paid to write this post (although Brooke did sent me the amazing bag I’ll be writing about) and I won’t get a commission off of anything you buy. So you can rest assured that everything I write here is totally my opinion- I truly believe in this company 🙂 

Now for the fun part! I’ve been so crazy busy this summer that I haven’t had a chance to tell you about some of my favorite spots in the city for you to try out! So here we go- 4 places for you to check out before summer ~officially~ ends. 

  • Exchange Place – Jersey City – Ok so yes, this is technically not in NYC, but it’s literally right across the river and a 5 minute ride on the PATH, which is cleaner than the subway so you’re welcome. Exchange Place in Jersey City is stunning. It has unbeatable views of NYC, and they’re all insta-worthy ;). The boardwalk multiple piers that you can stroll on- if you read my running posts, you’ll know that I’m here all the time. They have food trucks, occasional street performers, and a brand new beer garden just opened up down there as well! My Sapahn bag happens to be perfect for a Saturday afternoon on the pier, because it actually holds a ton. I can fit my wallet, sunglasses, headphones, snacks and even my Fujifilm camera in there (if I force it, lol). Check it out- I promise it’s worth it.

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  • Shopping in SoHo. I mean, yaaaassss, but also, noooo because I’m broke and there’s nothing in SoHo that doesn’t make you poor. Yet another reason why I feel personally victimized by this city. However, my friend Danielle and I decided to take our lunch hour and head over to LF because they were having a massive blowout sale and like, ok fine twist my arm, I guess I’ll go shopping. I walked in and immediately got anxiety because this place makes TJMAXX look as organized as the container store. Like, holy crap. It was so overwhelming that I literally had to take deep breaths. I silently thanked God that my bag was a cross-body bc I honestly think I would’ve lost it and never recovered it in the MOUNTAINS of clothes otherwise. Long story short, I bought a super cute fall sweater for 60% off and was like, #blessed. Oh and then we went to Dominique Ansel’s bakery (famous for the Cronut) and bought frozen s’mores. They were good in theory, but there was too much ‘mallow and not enough ice cream IMO. But let’s be honest, there’s never really enough ice cream, ever.lf1

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  • Dinner with the girls. VERY IMPORTANT. We went to La Palapa in the East Village and it was great all around. My girl Erin was back in town for the weekend after moving to D.C. at the beginning of this summer, and you guys, I didn’t even realize exactly how much I missed her until I had her back and almost cried I was so happy. Some people just get you, ya know? So to celebrate, 10 of us got together and bonded over tacos, guac and margs. For a place that’s cute and has really good food, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was priced – the bill (with tip) came out to just under $300 for the whole group. Not bad at all, especially with alcohol on the tab. It’s also really close to some fun bars, so you don’t need to run around the whole damn city looking for your next spot to go- a major win! 

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  • Tribeca Drive-In at Oculus Plaza. I LOVE this! Outdoor screenings of some serious classics on the first weekend of every month (from June-October). It’s so close to Eataly, it’s the perfect way to kick off a good weekend- great Italian food and a fun movie on a summer night in the city? Just make sure you grab an ice cream cone to top it off 😉 Sticking some snacks, your wallet and a good pair of sunnies into my Sapahn bag is the best way to bring what I need to the movies without worrying about leaving anything behind while I move from spot to spot trying to find the best view! Next Viewings: 9/1 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 9/2- Enchanted.

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Why the apartment hunt struggle is SO REAL for New Yorkers

If you’ve ever had to move, you know that even though you’re so excited to have a fresh space, it’s not an easy task to accomplish. First of all, it’s expensive. There’s the first month/ last month bit, the security deposit, the cost of buying packing materials and then the cost of movers. Basically, if you’re not ready to liquidate some assets, you may start seeing you bank account in the red. #SoBlessed.

Apartment hunting in NYC is an entirely different beast, similar to what I would imagine the Hunger Games was like IRL. There’s 1 of 2 ways you’re doing this. You’re either living with roommates, or trying to live by yourself. And you know what? They both suck. A lot. If you’re trying to move somewhere with roommates, here are some of the scenarios you’ll undoubtedly face:

  • Different budgets- you probably don’t all make the same amount of money, so some of the group will want to ball out for central AC and an elevator building, while others will want to skimp on a 6th floor walk-up. Thank God for the American Dream, amirite?
  • Timing- If you’re not first you’re last: that’s the name of the game for NYC real estate. If you’re looking for an apartment with your roommates, you better all be there to see it and be prepared to sign on the spot because if you decide to wait until Becky can be conferenced into the roomie FaceTime chat later to discuss your options since she couldn’t be at the showing, you’re out. Someone already signed in blood and offered up their first born for it. Better luck next time.
  • Converted spaces- do I really need to say anything else about this? There’s nothing more irritating than a listing saying that there’s a 3 bedroom (and it’s reasonably priced!) available in Murray Hill, and then you find out that they’re a bunch of liars. Do you know how many weeknights I spend sprinting from my downtown office up to midtown, sweat dripping from every pore on my body and a crazed look in my eye, just to see that the place that I thought would comfortably house 3 20-something year old females was actually a “converted” apartment? All that means is that this place was originally only meant for two bedrooms and you decided that future tenants either a) didn’t want you to have a living room or b) didn’t really care if you never see the light of day again because lol your “bedroom” doesn’t have a window in it.

I just battled literally millions of other New Yorkers this last month to find a reasonably priced (lol jokes on us bc those don’t exist) and somewhat safe apartment to sign on for the next 12 months. It was like stab to the heart having to write a check for a full month’s rent (while I’m still living in my Brooklyn apartment) as well as 1.5x rent for the security deposit. Bible, I saw stars. I had to sit down with my head between my knees. Not a drill.

In the hopes of reminding myself what else was out there, I played around with Craigslist and Street Easy to see just how voraciously some of my fellow NYers are being ripped off. I felt slightly better after seeing the below:

 

First of all, there’s this:

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none_for_rent See? I wasn’t exaggerating. THERE ARE LITERALLY 0 APARTMENTS IN ALL OF MANHATTAN $1,250/MONTH OR LESS FOR RENT. Not even a a studio on friggen E. 158th street. WHAT THE HELL NYC!?

Then there’s this – $800/month for a 1 bedroom in a 700 sq. foot 3-bedroom apartment. What a BEAUT!

 

There’s this one, which I’m 600% sure is an actual walk-in closet that someone is being charged $1300/mo to suffer in

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You have this one – which wouldn’t be the worst one on the list… until you notice that there’s a shared bathroom with the rest of the floor -___-

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And finally, this iconic $1,000/mo  UWS apartment that literally went viral for how pathetic it is. Sad.

*Listed amenities include: mini-refrigerator, hot plate, closet, large window, shared bathroom

 

So as I cry over what my savings account could’ve been (but probably never will be thanks to this new apartment I’m moving into), I save a few tears for the poor souls who are stuck with these nightmares. People of New York: When it comes to apartment hunting, may the odds be ever in your favor.

xo, AJ

Summer 2017 – The Hottest Places to Cool Off in NYC

I have to say, I’m feeling personally victimized by the NYC weather these last few weeks. No word of a lie, there were people wearing freakin’ overcoats to work last week but come Saturday, I was sweating through my t-shirt on the way back from the subway to my apartment. Like, WTF? Nahh, I’m not about that life. Summer in NYC means millions of angry New Yorkers crammed on subways (you just know you’re going to end up getting stuck underground in the car with the broken AC). From the subway, we all then cram into elevators and at least attempt to air our our sweaty clothes without being overtly disgusting about it. It is what it is, we’re all animals when the temps break 80 degrees.

So now that it seems like summer is here to stay, it’s time to break out the top list of places to cool off as NYC heats up.

1. Magnum

Customize your ice cream bar in over 200,000 ways! It’s pricey for what you’re getting, but the experience is extremely cool. Mini mint chocolate chips? Pile them on! Rose petals? They’ve got ’em! When it comes to dipping, you’ve got milk, dark and white chocolate to choose from. Don’t put it off too long though, because this is a pop-up shop and won’t be around for much longer.

875 Washington Street, New York, NY

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2. Berry Park

This Brooklyn beer hall has 3,500 square feet of inside space, and a roof deck that’s almost as large. The atmosphere is casual/relaxed, unlike a lot of summertime rooftop bars where ‘casual’ means a minimum of white jeans and Jack Rodgers. This place has a 13 ft wide TV to display whatever sports match is going on that day, and is the perfect place to test out some imported beers with your friends.

4 Berry Street, Brooklyn, NY

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3. La Birreria

Easily one of my favorite rooftop bars in the city. If you’ve ever been to Flat Iron, you know that there’s tons of cool things that the district offers for summer time fun! Ground level has Eataly, which is overflowing with insanely delicious treats (including gelato – PSA: you’ll likely stand is a 20+ minute wait for the gelato because it’s heaven-sent). If you’re looking for a cooler view of the city, head up 14 floors to La Birreria, a beer garden where, if you snag the right seat, you’ll have a stunning view of the Empire State building. Makes for the perfect setting for a ~sUpEr CaNdId InStAgRaM pOsT~ ya know, the one where you and all your girls fake laugh so hard that it turns into real laughs because y’all know you looks like fools 🙂

200 5th Ave, New York, NY

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4. The Heights at Arlo NoMad

All I can say about this place is that a) I hope you like frosé and b) I hope you’re not afraid of heights 😉 This brand-new establishment opened its doors just in time for #RooftopSzn and it’s already pulling in fab reviews! All the drinks are named after cool NYC neighborhoods, so New Yorkers and tourists alike will have a fun time ordering the Jackson Heights (a.k.a. blueberry lemon, lime and ginger slush) or the Brooklyn Heights (a.k.a. tequila, lime, lemon and fresh pressed watermelon juice). The best part? The somewhat death-defying, snap-chat worthy clear floor that gives you a *clear* view all the way down the 31st street. Very cool.

11 E. 31st Street, New York, NY

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5. Loopy Doopy

The practically classic NYC summer cocktail institution became famous a few summers ago when the Prosecco + ice pop combo took Instagram by storm. Basic White Girls everywhere rejoiced at the amount of ‘likes’ they’d receive from styling their $22 drinks against the NYC backdrop. And believe me, I’m not judging- you’ll for sure be seeing me up there more than once this summer because at the end of the day, was it even summer if you didn’t insta your happy hours?

102 N. End Ave, New York, New York

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