The Shops at Columbus Circle – Time Warner Center

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Ah, the mall.  This seems like such a cheesy thing for a New Yorker to appreciate – a mall is so suburban, so “middle-America”, so teenager-y.  But, maybe it is because as a kid I had to travel two and a half hours to get to a mall   I have always thought of it as a real treat .  Our “local” mall was in Billings, Montana (yes, in a different state from where I lived) and every time without fail I would go to the Nuthouse and get one dollar worth of cashews and another dollar worth of gummy coke bottles.  I would mix them together and eat them while sitting in the food court, marveling at all the city kids.  If I was especially lucky I would get to buy some new clothes (anything not ordered out of a catalog was extra-special).  Really, it was a great time.   As I got older, though, the thrill began to wear off, and I think that is because most malls cater toward the teenage crowd who hang out in the food courts and buy skateboard clothing at the trendy and cheap stores.  My favorite mall in New York City – the Shops at the Time Warner Center –  caters has a decidedly upscale vibe (it houses some very fancy restaurants including Per Se, Landmarc, Masa, and Center Bar) and offers an oasis from the hectic streets of New York City.   This doesn’t mean you can’t bring your kids – it has more open space than a city kid has probably seen in a year and kids seem to be welcome here: the sheer number of strollers parked in front of Landmarc makes Park Slope look like Ft. Lauderdale in wintertime.  I heard a gentleman say to a friend while gesturing toward the strollers  “see why I don’t want to eat here?” and then looking a tad bit embarrassed that I overheard him while I strolled by with my kids.  I wanted to pat him on the back and say, “listen fella, I don’t want to eat there either.  If I am dropping some serious cash to eat at Landmarc I am leaving the kids at home.”  If I happen to have my kids with me, we eat at the Bouchon bakery outpost: they always seems to have delicious brioche bread cheddar cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on special.  If I am without my kids I take a leisurely stroll through some of my favorite stores:   J.Crew, O & Co., L’Occitane, Williams-Sonoma, and C. Wonder.  (If I am with my kids I still visit those stores, just at warp speed. ) Then, if I want to sit and read I visit the restaurant portion of Bouchon and spend some time staring out onto Columbus Circle and the statue through large windows.  It is very calming.

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