One of the fun things to do in NYC during the holiday season is to go visit New York Botanical Garden. Why go to a botanical garden in a cold Winter? Well, they might not have all sorts of flowers blooming there, and their trees might not be full. So, what do they have? An amazing Holiday Train Show, that is what! If you have never been there, I strongly recommend you to visit the next holiday season. They have all kinds of NYC miniature landmarks, created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials. And cute little models trains runs through them. It is really fun to watch! You will sure to be amazed from the moment you step inside.
They usually have a replica of world’s biggest Macy’s right outside of the main exhibition space, just to give you a taste of what you are about to see in the inside. It is really detailed, intricate, and beautifully made. And yes, there is a train going around it! Let me clarify one thing though. When I say “miniature,” it is a smaller version of the real landmarks, but it is by no means “small.” Just look at the size of the Macy’s replica, next to my lovely mother. It is huge! You can really appreciate the artwork and all that went into creating this masterpiece.
Another thing is that we really got to appreciate the actual landmarks as a whole. When you are walking by or going to the particular buildings, you don’t get to see the entire building, especially if the building is rather large. Here, you get to see what the actual building looks like from every angle, and how large they really is. Here are just a couple of examples; Grand Central Station and NY Penn Station.
And here are few more awesome replica of NYC landmarks; Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and Statue of Liberty. Aren’t they just amazing??? You get to look at some beautiful plants and trees while you gaze at the detailed structure, and fun trains going by. And they have more than just buildings, they have all the bridges, Yankees Stadium, and even Airports.
After the Holiday Train Show, we stopped by the The Pine Tree Café for some lunch. I must say, the photos on NYBG site of this Café is so much nicer than what they actually have in front of you… They offer pizza, sandwiches, soups, and some baked goods. We visit NYBG during the weekday, and it was rainy and cold on that day. So, the park was kind of empty, which was good when we were looking at The Holiday Train, and we also didn’t need to wait for a table at this Café. But, when the food offering is not so attractive…
Since we didn’t want to walk far away to another restaurant in the rain, we decided to just get something here. They had pizza oven behind the pizza counter, so we decided to get nice hot pizza pie. They didn’t have option to have a slice, we had to buy the whole pie. They are not large pie, rather small, so it was no problem.
The problem we had with the pizza was its price and quality. They had Tomato, Cheese, or Pepperoni, and “Pizza of the Day” Pizza to choose from, and we ordered Pepperoni Pizza ($12). Even thought it was nice and hot after being re-heated in the oven, the pizza was nowhere near good. For $12, we should have gotten much nicer, tastier, bigger pizza…
We also ordered their Soup and Half Sandwich Combo ($10). Their sandwiches and paninis are anywhere from $10 to $13, and their soups were priced at $5.95. So, this combo deal sounded like a better deal. We chose Chili Soup and Chicken Milanese Sandwich, which is made with mozzarella, tomato, and lettuce.
The Chili was a surprising hit, it was really good. Hot, flavorful, hearty, and had just a little kick to it. On the other hand, the sandwich… Well, I am not sure how much earlier it was made, but it was not so fresh and not so tasty. Chicken was dry and a but hardened. Cheese helped a little, but not by much. So, out of the three items we had, chili was the only thing that was tasty, and worth its price.
The staffs behind the pizza and sandwich counters were horrible. Especially this one younger female staff, she looked like she hated working there, she had such mean attitude. When I asked her what the “Pizza of the Day” was, she said “Chi-cke-n” in a way that made me feel like I was stupid. I could see there were chickens on it, but I mean, seriously? I wanted to know what kind of pizza it was, such as “chicken and cheese” or “chicken and spinach” etc. Anyways, beware of the super rude staff. She only smiles when she is chatting with male co-worker instead of assisting customers.
After we finished with not-so-great lunch, we went back to the baked goods section and ordered a hot tea. An older female staff here was very nice and friendly. Thank goodness they have at least one nice staff to balance the really horrible one. They had several tea flavors, and we chose White Vanilla Grapefruit. The Hot Tea ($3.25) comes in a nice sized cup, and I really loved that the tea bags were from Harney & Sons, one of my favorite tea brand, here in NYC (you can read more about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/harney-sons/). It was as flavorful as I expected it to be, with great aroma, and comforts you from inside and out.
So, the food experience was not so great, but The Holiday Train Show is really spectacular. I still do recommend you to take a trip to NYBG, but maybe bring your own food, or their restaurant called Hudson Garden Grill, I hear they have pretty good food. The Holiday Train Show is usually from mid November to mid January, and advanced reservation is recommended (you can purchase the ticket on NYBG website), although it is not a requirement.
The Pine Tree Café @ NYBG – 2900 Southern Blvd. Bronx, NY 10458