Brunch Bites at Lillie’s Union Square

In my ongoing quest to find the best in Big Apple brunch in New York City, I recently came upon Lillie’s in Union Square (13 East 17th Street, NYC).  And what a find! By chance, I happened upon it on Chowhound when scouting a location for a fan brunch for Amalfi Blue.

The comments and pictures lured us in and we were hooked.  At first blush you enter and feel like you’ve stepped back in time a hundred years or so, to the days of Lillie Langtry, the Victorian actress and social rebel for whom the restaurant gets its name.  But the journalist in me couldn’t help but research to discover that the vintage bar and decor were brought in piece by piece from as far away as Northern Ireland.

Lillies NYC.Union SquareWhat was authentic was the good food on their $15 prix fixe brunch menu.  We were unanimous in ordering Crab Cakes Benedict, the special of the day.  The cakes were a decent size and quite tasty and the hollandaise sauce was a creamy but not overpowering accompaniment.  I was won over by the homefries. They were well done but not overdone. They were seasoned and sweet, savory and yummy.  Who could ask for more? Oh yeah, toss in a mimosa and my NYC brunch was complete.  A great foodie brunch find in New York City.

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A Wright Day Trip to Kentuck Knob

Anyone with a passing knowledge of American icons has heard of Frank Lloyd Wright’s  Guggenheim Museum in New York City or Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.  Yet, I can almost guarantee that most people have never heard of Kentuck Knob (723 Kentuck Road, Dunbar, PA).  It’s just down the road from Fallingwater, as the crow flies, off the beaten path.  (You see, one weekend in rural Pennsylvania and I’m reverting to my country life idioms.)

Kentuck Knob panoramaIt’s a pleasant surprise for architecture buffs who travel to sites around the globe looking for the unique and extraordinary buildings which dot the global landscape.  Kentuck Knob started as one neighbor coveting his friends’ house.  Ice cream tycoons I.N. and Bernardine Hagan gave the legendary architect a budget of $60,000 and knew that financial constraints would be tossed out the window when Frank Lloyd Wright was on the job, literally molding a house into its landscape and bringing the outdoors in.  Kentuck Knob is a small, practical example of Wright’s concept of organic architecture.  As you approach through a wooded driveway, the surrounding hills appear to hug the house, the car portico rising from the land and the front door welcoming guests who can see straight through to the watery gorge and mountains beyond.  Wright put his stamp of approval on the finished project right at the front door, where a red tile bearing his initials is the perfect maker’s mark!

The property was eventually sold to Lord Peter Palumbo of England in 1985.  Lord Palumbo is an avid art collector and visitors to Kentuck Knob can observe the breadth of his collection throughout the extensive grounds and inside the home.  The Palumbos don’t use it as a private residence any longer but invite guests inside to explore Wright’s one-story hexagonal Usonian design.  Lucky brides can even host their wedding ceremony on the panoramic veranda.  Any time you can experience architecture which is as much a part of its surroundings as the landscape is a part of it, you have enjoyed a unique travel experience.  Kentuck Knob is just that, especially when the leaves of autumn highlight the ambers and red riches of its natural palette.

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A Cinematic Stroll through Edinburgh

Time for Friday Flicks through Edinburgh.  It’s a great city which has been in the news a lot lately.  So many movies have been filmed in its alleys, byways, highlands and castles that I’ve had to narrow the Top 5 list to the last twenty years:

1.  Trainspotting (1996) The cult classic launched the career of Ewan McGregor and TV’s Sherlock Holmes, Jonny Lee Miller.  And while the story is said to take place in Edinburgh, many of the scenes were shot across Scotland and London.  It’s basically the opening scene, when McGregor’s character Renton nearly gets killed on Calton Road and a subsequent run down Princes Street and Hanover Street that you get to see the real Edinburgh.

2.  Mary Reilly (1996) – an atypical role for the effervescent Julia Roberts who stars in this dark psychological thriller as a housemaid who falls in love with the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Much of the film takes place in Edinburgh, the birthplace of Jekyll and Hyde author Robert Louis Stevenson.  Mary strolls through the Cowgate and down Calton Road, easy to picture the darkness of Victorian times.

3.  Great Expectations (1999) – In this TV version of the Charles Dickens classic tale of the grass is always greener, many of the scenes were shot in Edinburgh including Cowgate. as in Mary Reilly.  Characters stroll the streets of the city past the Greyfriars Churchyard, Old College on South Bridge and Parliament Square.

4.  Cloud Atlas (2012) – the film based on the bestselling book by David Mitchell starred Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.  While scouting locations, the film’s supervising location manager said they were looking for a large monument with sweeping views.  Anyone who’s ever been to Edinburgh knows that Scott Monument fit the bill.

Do you know any other movies filmed on location in Edinburgh?  Add a comment below with the movie title and scene.

Let our U.K travel specialist help plan your next journey on location!

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