| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    With a blanket of fresh snow on the ground and holiday lights strung on trees, awnings and lampposts, it"s easy to appreciate the beauty of Manhattan. Not so much when you"re schlepping groceries in the driving wind, slipping on the ice or cursing the guy who cut in front of you and stole your taxi. So to mark our 38th anniversary, we thought we"d remind ourselves of just a few events, places, edibles and other quintessentially East Side things that make us smile. We hope they make you smile, too. 's Charlotte Eichna, Editor Restore & More on East 77th Street: Walk this block, between Second and Third avenues, on a rainy afternoon and be transported to an earlier time. The stores are small and stacked in pairs. The sign at Paul Karner Restoration and Design Studio (249 E. 77th St.) reads like a poem: â??Silver, brass, copper, bronze. Lamps Restore, Rewire & More. Time warps and slows here. Watches are fixed. Silver is polished. At Alexis Custom Tailor, Inc. (242 E. 77th St.), an array of perfectly folded gray fabric awaits measurement. In the back alcove, a white-haired gentleman stands in shirtsleeves, his head bent over an iron. The Lifshitz Art Gallery (247 E. 77th St.) sits unapologetically below Hi-Tech Computer Services, touting the aesthetically and spiritually intriguing motto, â??We Can Bring Your Antique Lamps or Fixtures Back to Life. (LR) Rx for the Fussy: Each of the antiquated pharmacies of the Upper East Side could fit in the greeting card aisle of a Duane Reade or CVS, but these tiny throwbacks to old New York are more likely to have just what you need. If, that is, you"re fussy like me and what you need is imported blackcurrant Strepsil cough drops from England, blue cotton balls, a roll-on deodorant called â??Lavalin that lasts seven days or a packet of â??Dresdner Essenz Eucalyptus Citrus Herbal Bath. When you walk into Eisler Chemists (1142 Lexington Ave. at 79th), L&H Pharmacy (1065 Lexington Ave. betw. 75th and 76th), and Clayton & Edwards (1004 Lexington Ave. betw 72nd and 73rd) you"re catapulted back to circa 1898 when a visit to the pharmacist cured your ills, or at least drained your sinuses via a blown-glass nasal douche ($13.95 at L&H). (NJB) One of the World"s Greatest Cheeseburgers: A handful of East Siders can wake up every day and congratulate themselves on living so close to one of the world"s greatest cheeseburgers, at J. G. Melon"s, on 74th and Third. Sit at the bar and enjoy a great juicy burger on a perfect bun (not too hard, not too soft) and a mixed green salad with a bleu cheese dressing. If there"s room for your shirt and rear-end in the same pair of pants, go for the perfectly crisp home fries, too. Tom, the bartender, is pretty tasty as well, but he"s engaged; so instead sink your teeth into a slice of intensive chocolate chip layer cake with chocolate frosting. (JW) Finding Freebies in the Most Expensive City in the World: The rents are expensive. The shops are expensive. Butâ?¦the Metropolitan Museum of Art is free! It is supported by tax dollars and the admission fee is a suggested donation. You can walk up and say, â??Gimme the button, baby, and they would. They would also think you rude, but they would give you the button. There"s also Shakespeare in the Park, the pool at John Jay Park and summer movies at Carl Schurz Park. Baskin Robbins, Tasti D-Lite and Coldstone Creamery all give free tastings, and something"s always cooking at William Sonoma. One day, my mother and daughter had a quite a nice little turkey lunch with all the trimmings, gratis. Candice Bushnell"s latest best-seller costs $25. Good for her. I read it for free from the New York Public Library (79th betw. Second and Third; York & 78th; 96th betw. Lex & Park; and 67th betw. First and Second). Don"t want to lug a book around's how about a free newspaper? There"s an Our Town blue box on just about every corner. You can read it with your Starbucks refill that costs 55ˆ¢ (okay, not free, but close enough.) (LDM) Payard Patisserie & Bistro: I can"t believe there"s a finer Gâteau Saint HonorÃ&Copy; (a kind of puff pastry withˆ caramel and whipped cream) than the one I unceremoniously wolfed down at Payard, the great bistro and pastry shop (1032 Lexington, betw. 73rd and 74th). For le dejeuner, classier types can savor the red endive and Bartlett pear salad with fresh goat cheese, pomegranate and hazelnuts. My hopeless Midwestern palate still thinks it"s hard to beat a good grilled cheese sandwich; give that assignment to a great French chef and voila!, it"s the croque monsieur. Between 3:30 and 5 p.m., Payard also has a perfect afternoon tea. (JW) [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="325" caption="Bemelman"s Bar, with murals by Madeleine creator Ludwig Bemelman: just another reason why the East Side is New York"s art epicenter."][/caption] The Rudolf Steiner School Fair: The first Waldorf School in North America is dressed to the nines on a Saturday in late November. Fairies float down the stairwell on inverted parasols. Red felt roses cling to a latticework trellis. Waldorf education emphasizes practical, artistic and intellectual development, and the fair embodies this. Weeks before the event, parents, nannies and grandparents build old-fashioned community in this 80-year-old school. They knit geese, kittens and baby ducks; carve wooden shields and swords; and stitch handmade dolls stuffed with fine soft wool. Sales help fund student scholarships. At the fair itself, your child can participate in making low-tech bargains: a hand-dipped beeswax candle, a sturdy jump rope or a little gnome wearing a red wool cap. (LR) The Group of Bears: The appeal of Paul Manship"s â??Group of Bears is its climb-ability. â??You can ride the bears or climb on top of them, says my son, the expert. â??Or you can sit on them. Unveiled in 1990, the three life-size bronze bears are in the Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street. Parents can grab a cup of coffee at the nearby Nectar CafÃ&Copy; then sit on a lovely curved bench and watch their children clamber up. The edges are smooth and worn, unlike the bumpier-edged Alice in Wonderland sculpture at the Conservatory Pond. â??Did you know, you might even say casually to your little cub, â??That a group of bears is called a sloth? (LR) The Light of the Façade: There is no lovelier place to be first thing in the morning than in the peachy-pink morning light cast off by the neoclassical façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The luminous bounce of light off limestone makes that whole stretch of Fifth Avenue glow. Add Corinthian columns, rectangular reflecting pools andˆ broad welcoming steps, and you don"t even have to enter the museum to experience art. (LR) Via Quadronno: A modest clump of men in tailored suits, junior high girls in uniform and carefully coiffed moms gathers on East 73rd Street off Madison Avenue shortly before 8 a.m. on weekdays. Via Quadronno is a cozy, traditional Milanese panini bar serving wine, espresso and light fare. But it"s the creamy cappuccino that"s worth the price. Pair it with a chocolate croissant's the hazelnut melt-in-your-mouth kind, not the bittersweet stick-in-the-middle ones. It"s worth a trip over from the West Side, which has yet to come up with coffee like this. (LR) Homeless Offerings: A small, easily pocketed purple pamphlet produced by the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter brings order to the soup kitchen and shelter offerings of the Upper East Side. A stack can be found at St. James" Church on Madison Avenueˆ and at other participating programs. Listings are categorized: breakfast, lunch, dinner, walk-away meals, drop-in centers, outreach, shelter for men, shelter for women and more. It"s ecumenical, interfaith and easy-to-use. (LR) Best Kitchen Lit: My husband"s Christmas gift list often contains hard-to-find cookbooks, such as Alan Davidson"s Fish and Fish Cooking of Laos (Laos has no coastline, by the way). Yet, when I walked into Kitchen Arts and Letters years ago, owner Nach Waxman acted as if I"d just asked for The Joy of Cooking. â??Oh, yes that"s on back order, he told me casually. Along with the most au currant food and wine tomes, Kitchen Arts & Letters (1435 Lexington betw. 93rd and 94th) has a sizeable section of out-of-prints and imports and gastronomic memoirs such as Mouth Wide Open by John Thorne or oddities like Kafka"s Soup: A Complete History of World Lit in 14 Recipes. Like Waxman, Manager Matt Sartwell is extremely knowledgeable and honest, matching cookbooks to one"s comfort level, skill and passion. (NJB) [caption id="" align="alignright" width="400" caption="It"s not high on a hill like Gracie, but Mansion Diner has better food. "][/caption] Window Peeping: When I used to live in a tiny sixth-floor walk up railway flat in Yorkville, one of my favorite activities was strolling along the blocks of well-heeled townhouses in the 70s between Park and Lex. I treasured the glimpses of how â??the other half lives, the golden slivers of luxuriously lit high-ceilinged rooms between swags of satiny curtains. This year on 78th, #115"s Christmas decorations feature giant ponderosa pine cones, flowing garlands and beaded fruits, while #121 has a disembodied golden hand as a doorknocker. On 70th the townhouse I used to call â??the spooky place, with its multi-storied verdigris framed bay windows and shadowy figures behind smoky glass, is now an upscale salon called Mish. Annie Hall lived somewhere on this block, if only I knew where! (NJB) The Best Pick A Bagel on the Planet: A chewy bagel, a smother of cream cheese, a cup of coffee...what more could a New Yorker want from life? Truly, the best bagels in the nabe can be found at Pick A Bagel on Second Avenue between 76th and 77th streets. I usually go with sesame, but all the bagels are worth rhapsodizing about. Employees treat you like family, and if you"re a regular customer, they"ll whip your order together in a nanosecond. I like the fact that customers are a cross-section of New Yorkers: joggers, folks on the way to work, families, construction workers, police on their beat and, of course, tourists. (DD) Art, Art and More Art: Remember the public service message from the late 1970s with people in the streets singing, â??You gotta have art. All you really need is art ? Well you can"t shake a stick along Fifth and Madison avenues from 75th Street north without encountering at least one major museum or famous art gallery. There are, of course, world-renowned museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, and major galleries, like Gagosian Gallery Uptown, Helly Nahmad in the Carlyle Hotel. Add to that the many over-looked but still fabulous cultural institutions like the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, Museum of the City of New York and the Ronald Lauder-founded Neue Gallery, which highlights notableˆ Hungarian and Austrian artists. Even our bars have art: check out the murals by Madeleine creator Ludwig Bemelman at the eponymous bar in the Carlyle Hotel. (WIF) Frozen Yogurt at Bloomingdale"s: Pinkberry and Red Mango lovers, step aside's the original tangy deliciousness belongs to the frozen yogurt at Bloomingdale"s Forty Carrots restaurant. My mother says she remembers countless shopping trips with her mother, during which sharing a cup of Forty Carrots fro yo was her favorite part of the day. All these years later, so much has changed about Manhattan, but that frozen yogurt has stayed just the same. Every time I stop into Bloomie"s, I leave with a towering swirl of the tart, creamy treat, topped with bananas and granola. As a longtime devotee, I can report that all the trendy newcomers pale in comparison. (EG) St. Jean Baptiste Thrift Shop: Old Burberry coats and secondhand books can"t hide the elegant bones of this basement thrift shop underneath St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church (184 E. 76th St.). The tile mosaic floor is a fleur de lis-type pattern in maroon, mustard, aqua and white. The smooth, curved white wall behind the register has a mysterious dark door in the middle that hasn"t been opened in ages. The first of two rooms has orange and cucumber suede shoes and snake skin boots. The second has dark-colored clothes on hangars. Purchases are rung up by two white-haired women, one wearing a lilac twin-set with sturdy black shoes and the other in a shimmery orange top. Both banter easily with their mostly female customers who speak mostly accented English. (LR) Reservoir Jogging Track, at Sunrise, in Winter: If you"re a runner living in Manhattan, there"s no better place for a jog than the track circling the Central Park reservoir. It"s flat, even and surrounded enough by greenery that you can almost forget you"re in one of the world"s most vibrant citiesâ?¦until you round the north end of the track and are met with a spectacular view of Midtown skyscrapers proudly towering above the tree line. Even in the half-light of a bitterly cold winter morning, you can find yourself surrounded by a vast number of other runners, all braving the elements in determination to do their daily rounds of the 2,500-meter loop. Only in New York. (EG) The Little Dogs of Sutton Place: One of the best spots for dog-watching has to be Sutton Place, where you can see delicate Yorkies, feisty Westies and comical Dachsunds trotting along 57th Street on a Saturday morning. Often, they"re clad in sweaters or raincoats's I"ve even seen a pair of overalls's and being walked by sheepish husbands dreaming of the sloppy Labradors that they wanted instead. (EG) Grand Central Terminal: I only go to Penn Station when I absolutely have to, but Grand Central Terminal is a destination in itself. It"s one of the most stunning public spaces in Manhattan, and I find myself there regularly, even when I don"t have a train to catch. There"s no shortage of reasons to go: shopping for dinner at the Grand Central Market, grabbing a steaming slice of pizza at Two Boots, meeting friends for a drink at Cipriani or just stopping in to soak up the stunning architecture (OK, OK's and picking up a Black and White from Zaro"s on the way out). (EG) Getting Trumped: I love (in that â??Ya gotta love it kinda way) that Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose as you glide on the ice at Wollman Rink, but your eyes can"t help but notice Donald Trump"s last name plastered on the walls of the rink. Then you look up and see Trump Tower, just one of his many holdings that surrounds you, looming large in the background. Further proof that it"s Trump"s city, we just live in it. (LDM) [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="A subtle reminder appears on the walls of Wollman Rink, lest you forget that this is Trump"s city."][/caption] The Many Excuses Not to Diet: Pinkberry, Pintaile"s Pizza, Papaya King, Big Daddy"s, Jackson Hole Burgers, The Mansion Diner, Maz Mezcal, Szechuan Cottage and all the restaurants that line Second Avenue. Counting Weight Watchers points? Hope you can count to a million if you"re eating anywhere between York and Lex. (LDM) The Promenade along the East River: I feel like I have a terrace; one with a view of Uptown, Downtown and Queens. On warm summer evenings, my husband and I walk over there and snuggle on the bench. Watching the boats and moon sparkle on the water beats watching TV any day. (LDM) The â??Other Upper East Side Mansion: It may not sit high on a hill like Gracie, but Mansion Diner is its neighborhood â??kitchen. Last year, while the place was being renovated, many a Yorkville resident was heard to shout to the owner, â??Hey Phil, when you reopening? I"m hungry! And reopen they did. Good comfort food and Phil has more stories than Hans Christian Andersen. (LDM) Angel on My Shoulder: Literally. Angel Nails on York and 86th will ease your pain and relax your sore muscles with a 10-minute massage. They will watch over your manis and pedis. And because you don"t need an appointment, you can also consider them angels of mercy. (LDM)