Culture

How to Live Like a Brit in NYC

Don’t get your knickers in a twist. You can keep calm and carry on—even on this side of the pond.

Photo courtesy of Tea & Sympathy/Facebook

With an American making her merry way into the royal family, the U.S. has become utterly enchanted—as a Londoner might say—with all things British. Although we share a language with the United Kingdom, our cultures parted ways after we won our independence (though King George’s tyranny isn’t looking too shabby right about now, amiright?). Thankfully, plenty of NYC businesses are catering to our Anglican obsession. Here’s how to live like a bloody Brit in the Big Apple. Pinkies up! 

  1. Pretend you’re on the West End and nab tickets to the many British imports this fall theater season. The standout hit from London, the Irish family drama The Ferryman, previews on Broadway starting October 2. Until then, laugh your arse off at The Play That Goes Wrong or try to snag some tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

    the play that goes wrong broadway
    Photo by Jeremy Daniel
  2. Posh Brits sure love their high tea. The Whitby Hotel, run by the London-based Firmdale Group, offers the chicest high tea in the city. The decor is eclectic, mixing patterns, styles, and colors in unexpected yet complementary ways. Nosh on scones and clotted cream, and wash it all down with bubbles.
  3. Knock back a few at your local pub with your chaps. We enjoy Yorkville’s Jones Wood Foundry for its large draft selection and quiet outdoor patio. Or seek out some of New York’s best gin cocktails and toast to the Queen’s choice drink. Loosen up—Brits love to get a wee bit pissed.
  4. It may sound strange, but the English also love to form orderly queues, even if it’s just for the loo. Get in line at our favorite place to wait in NYC: Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Politely tell any cutters to “bugger off!”

    shake shack fries
    Photo courtesy of Shake Shack
  5. With the New York fashion world waking up after a sleepy summer, many designers will be showcasing their best cuts in the coming weeks. Seek out British designers at such storefronts as Barbour, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Topshop. Don’t skimp on a stop to the Upper East Side’s Givenchy store, showcasing designs by Clare Waight Keller—who created Meghan Markle’s wedding dress!
  6. Some of London’s best eating can be done at food markets. (We dream daily about the cheese toastie at Borough Market.) Check out the Queens International Night Market for authentic ethnic eats or the brand-spanking-new North 3rd Market for Di Fara pizza and Corner Bistro goods.
  7. London’s top restaurants are overwhelmingly Indian. Lucky for us New Yorkers, Indian food has seen a bit of a resurgence in the past year. Stop by Bombay Bread Bar for a modern interpretation and a space designed by Wes Anderson’s set designer; Rahi for an upscale experience in the West Village; or Indian Accent, which originated in London. Fun fact: Chicken tikka masala was actually invented in Glasgow, Scotland!

    Photo courtesy of Rahi
  8. Another odd quirk: The Brits love to discuss the weather. According to City Base, “Surveys have shown that six in 10 Britons talk about the weather as a social prop.” Although New York does not suffer from the same fickle and gloomy weather patterns, you can involve yourself in the conversation by signing up for the Climate Museum’s programming, including a stroll in Rockaway Park to note the effects of climate change on the seaside community.
  9. Americans miss out on a lot of London’s best snacks. Brits can find some of their hometown favorites at the West Village’s Myers of Keswick. Choose from Walkers prawn cocktail crisps and a major selection of Cadbury chocolates—or grab a savory pie to go.
  10. From Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, the Brits seem to have a way with their words…or is it just their accents? The Sunday Times bestselling author Kate Atkinson will make her only visit to the U.S. on September 25 to discuss her new book, Transcription, at the 92nd Street Y. Nab a seat to pay homage to one of the modern-day greats!
  11. Some of the best art museums in the world are in London; the Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, and National Portrait Gallery just scratch the surface. Revel in the accomplishments of British countrymen by paying a visit to the New Museum’s survey of Sarah Lucas’s cheeky sculptures, which transform rubbish into commentary on sexuality, gender, and identity.

    Sarah Lucas, Edith, 2015. Plaster, cigarette, toilet, and table, 54 3/4 x 73 5/8 x 38 3/4 inches (139 x 187 x 98.5 cm). © Sarah Lucas. Courtesy of Sadie Coles HQ, London.
  12. Sunday scaries don’t exist across the pond. Take the whole gang to The Churchill for the Sunday Roast, which includes roast beef with horseradish, leg of lamb with mint sauce, and stuffed pork loin with applesauce, along with all the trimmings (Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, and gravy). Then send yourself straight off to Bedfordshire! If a meat-heavy Sunday is not your cup of tea, try Tea & Sympathy’s Full Monty breakfast instead: scrambled eggs, sausage, grilled tomatoes, orange juice, and your choice of tea or coffee. Make it extra British by adding some black pudding!
  13. London has the luxury of exceptionally clean and timely public transportation. After more than two decades of construction, Second Avenue finally has a slightly dodgier version of the tube. Ride the Q, getting off to admire the Chuck Close art at the 86th Street stop. And always remember to mind the gap—or as Americans say, “Do Not Hold Doors.”
  14. Many of the best musicians hail from the Big Smoke. Bring along all the blokes to Cafe Wha? on September 26 for a tribute to a duo of British female powerhouses, Adele and Amy Winehouse.
  15. Footie fever is, of course, an acute condition for many English citizens (ohhh to be a gooner!). While the beautiful game that is football (don’t even think about calling it soccer) is not quite as lovely in the States, local teams the Red Bulls and New York City FC do play spirited matches and provide a crisp two-hour alternative to endless baseball games. Plus you’ll work up a powerful thirst for a pint just watching!
  16. London definitely has a leg up on New York when it comes to medieval castles. If you’re missing Westminster Abbey or Oxford University, drive up the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Cloisters. Take a walk through its abbey and gardens while admiring the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval art collection.

    Photo by Brett Beyer/Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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