If you’re anything like my friend Erica and I, you constantly fake a British accent while discussing Duchess Kate’s shoes and the merits of cider and pasties. For the emerging anglophile within your soul, I bring you Flat 128. The boutique is a luxury lifestyle store, dedicated to bringing emerging and established UK talent to New York City.
Hold on to your knickers and wave your Union Jack, this cute shop is one part Mary Poppins, a touch of the Queen, a pinch of the Sex Pistols, and a lot of Vivienne Westwood. The owner, Elizabeth, explains, “Our cozy, West Village storefront resembles the feeling of entering your chicest friend’s home – their flat. The name FLAT 128 is a nod to our founder’s past, favorite home in Notting Hill in London. We hope you find the space as welcoming and beautiful as we do.”
A leather satchel, a fascinator and a croquet mallet? Yes, please.
One cannot fully immerse themselves in British culture without shopping in tartans or plaid.
The owner plays a tête-à-tête with the two great cities, separated by the pond of the Atlantic. Her favorite Grilled Cheese in London is at Kappacasein in Borough Market vs. Murray’s Cheese Shop in Bleecker Street in NYC. Want to catch a movie in London, why not visit The Electric where you can have a bottle of wine and cozy up in their plush seats? Catching a film in NYC, Elizabeth recommends The Angelika in Soho for its independent films and the ability to hear the subway trains beneath you during the movie. Her favorite independent stores in London are the Shop at Bluebird on the King’s Road and Summerhill & Bishop in Holland Park, however in NYC she swears 15 Christopher Street, NYC, 10014 is the best spot – aka Flat 128.
Meet Rachel. I can tell you right now that she is going to HATE me for using that photo – she is notoriously hard to get photographed, like an illusive unicorn. She is a close friend of mine who has now been living in New York City for about 2.5 years. She is originally a West Coaster (but her heart belongs on the East Coast) from Irvine, California. Rachel studied Film Production at The University of Southern California and is a Production Assistant for several TV shows (including Gossip Girl, The Big C, Mildred Pierce, Pan Am), and a few movies. I actually visited her on the set of a new pilot just last week. She and I both enjoy a clever cocktail. However, we hardly EVER go to the movies together, she is an extremely theoretical and judgmental critic (as she is well versed in cinematography) – she was definitely NOT the friend to ask to see Twilight at midnight. Har har. Rachel has lived in Barcelona, Spain were she gained a working knowledge of Spanish. I can only guess that this is where she had her love affair with Spanish director, screenwriter, and producer, Pedro Almodóvar Caballero. Her favorite quote by him (and in life) is thus, “Una película vista por mil personas se puede convertir en mil películas distintas, y todas son legítimas” – meaning, “A movie seen by a thousand people can be converted into a thousand distinct movies, and all are legitimate”.
Aside from one of the best senses of humor (wry, sarcastic, facetious, realist) among any of my friends, she also has one of the best personal styles. However, I do not think I have ever seen her wear a color (except in jewelry). She is the paragon of minimalistic greys, whites, and blacks.
As part of my ongoing EAT/SEE/SHOP/DO series, I asked her to come up with a short list of her favorites:
EAT: “Favorite place to eat is such a hard question. It depends on what mood you’re in. If you want formal, if you want casual, it all changes. My favorite hang out spot is The Grey Dog at Union Square – I take everyone there . But if we’re talking my favorite culinary delight, I would say Boqueria or I Sodi. A coffee shop is my absolute favorite, if you want to capture my essence…you know how I feel about coffee”
The Spanish tapas and paella joint in NYC has several types of Sangria (including a beer infused version) and amazing small plates. Boqueria, 53 West 19th Street New York. Image found HERE.
This tiny Italian restaurant on the West Village/Tribeca border is quaint, cozy, and familial. Aside from a perfect after dinner espresso, all the pastas and sorbets are handmade! Now, let us join together for a moment of silence as we thank Rita Sodi for honoring the integrity of fresh (including locally made olive oil) farm food and the authenticity of traditional italian cuisine. Image courtesy of the restaurant, I Sodi, 105 Christopher St., 10014 New York, NY.
The founders of The Grey Dog explain, “In 1996 the Grey Dog coffeehouse was created. She was named after Moose and Goose, our two labrador retrievers, one white the other black. The goal was to build a small coffeehouse in the world’s great city. We wanted to concentrate on little things that often get lost in big city life, like getting to know the names of our patrons and serving wonderful fresh foods at very reasonable prices.” The Grey Dog, 90 University Place New York, NY 10003. Also, Rachel and I always talk about how “laissez-faire-hot” the baristas are. Image found via Elaine is Eating, HERE.
SEE: “My favorite building in NYC is the Empire State Building, I never really go into it but, it’s the key symbol for An Affair To Remember (one of my favorite classic movies).”
SHOP: Of favorite places to shop she explains, “Oh my god, I love shopping up and down the entire Fifth Avenue strip in the Flatiron District. All my shops are there, such as Anthropologie, Free People, Zara.” She pauses, “….I don’t know I’m not very exciting, Keren. I should be saying some weird vintage shop that I love, something funky but, I like Rag & Bone – it brings happiness to my heart.”
Here is Rachel (or as we all call her “Jaros”) looking snazzy in her threads and hailing a cab. She’s the cab hailing expert, we all call her “the team captain”.
DO: “My favorite thing to do on a day off is to get a coffee at 11th Street Cafe and then to go to the Angelika Film Center by myself.”
Image courtesy of Parsons’ Urban Research Tool found HERE.
AND NOW, the grande finale, A TOUR OF HER WEST VILLAGE DIGS:
Do you have any friends whose style is extremely different from yours, and yet you LOVE it?
What a gorgeous spring week we have been having in New York City. Although I am currently living off of allergy medications and the pollen is at an all time high, I cannot help but smile at the perfect weather. Here are a few photos taken straight from my iPhone so that you can see the city through mine own eyes.
1. Walking around the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village I was awestruck by the juxtaposition of Greek Revival Style townhouses, cherry blossoms, and industrial parking signs.
2. I grabbed a healthy and “oh-so-European” brunch at Le Pain Quotidian in Chelsea complete with fruit tarts, pan au chocolate, soft boiled eggs, ricotta, figs, and jam.
3. At 100 11th Avenue right near the West Side Highway and the water appears the luxury residential condominium located in New York City’s West Chelsea with architecture by Atelier Jean Nouvel. The sprawling, stunning, sun-drenched penthouses in the location each have unique window placements making cookie cutter apartments a thing of the past.
4. After a five hour spring meander through the streets of downtown NYC (and a brief jaunt to to Film Forum to see when The Graduate is playing), my boyfriend and I broke our no carbohydrate diet at Trattoria Toscana with a rich antipasti. Come for the handmade, homemade pasta, stay for the mascarpone cheesecake.
5. In The Rubin Museum of Art’s gift shop I learned about Buddhist chanting, the wheel of existence, Nepalese jewelry, and almost purchased these vintage ledgers from Thailand.
6. My local bodega is undertaking in its spring cleaning and signage fix-up.
7. The New York Police Department’s mounted officers — sometimes called “10-foot tall cops” by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly — belong to one of the biggest mounted units in the country. The officers were keeping the neighborhood safe during confusing construction routes in high trafficked areas.
8. Near the Cherry Lane Theater on Commerce Street, one feels as if she time warped into 1876. The architecture, streets, and quaint neighborhood feel transport me to another time. These just budding tulips were found on a resident’s perfectly manicured lawn.
9. The Garden of St. Luke in the Fields is hidden behind tall brick fences and facades. Originally built as a summer chapel for Trinity Church, this austere Federal Style building is the third oldest Church in New York. Named after St. Luke, the physician evangelist, in recognition of the Village’s role as a refuge from yellow fever epidemics, the Episcoal church was organized in 1820. Now the space is a lively, inclusive parish refusing to deny access based on gender, sexuality, culture, socio-economics, or special needs. The space’s garden is an urban respite and park.
10. A 24/7 Cuban diner called Coppelia has some of my favorite hot-weather drinks (poured with a heavy hand). On the left is the HEMINGWAY ROYAL (Ginger infused dark rum, mint, lime, Royale Combier, champagne with a lemongrass salted rim) and on the right is the MATADOR (Heradura Blanco tequila, lime juice, jalapeño cointreau, cucumber, mint) created by Alex Valencia. Cheers!