Here’s To 2014: A Year In Review

New York. Each year, the city is filled with musical debuts, clothing launches, restaurant openings, and more. And 2014 was no exception: Broadway hosted a slew of A-list celebrities. Major retailers hopped the pond to set up shop on Fifth Avenue. Iconic eateries were revamped and reopened, bringing back a little glitz to our fair Gotham. But with so much going on, it’s almost impossible to keep up – and that goes for city dwellers and visitors alike. Luckily, the best of 2014 are sticking around for another year, so if you missed something, don’t fret. Simply read up, and get planning post-ball drop.

TASTE MAKERS

Striking spaces. Intricate flavors. In the crowded world of NYC dining, it’s hard to pick just one place to eat. Our suggestion? Revisit an old favorite like Tavern on the Green (Central Park West & W. 67th Street). After a four-year hiatus and two-year renovation, the New York institution has reemerged with a much more subdued, albeit still grand, interior and a focus on farm-driven American food. The Rainbow Room (30 Rockefeller Plz., 65th fl.) has also rejoined the New York City skyline after a five-year absence. The new space features widened windows, a renovated dance floor, and two new lounges. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, however, check out The Spotted Pig (314 W. 11th Street), inciter of the New York City’s gastropub trend and winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City. Serving straightforward – yet-far-above-average – fare, this Mario Batali-backed spot sets the standard for across the pond cuisine (and it also serves up great celeb spottings). Lastly, make sure you hit up Daniel (60 E. 65th Street). Named number 40 on The World’s Best Restaurant list, Chef Boulud’s eponymous Upper East Side restaurant dishes out contemporary French cuisine and a wine list that just can’t be missed.

FIFTH AVENUE FASHION

Once you’ve satiated your food cravings, gear up for a day of marathon shopping. Boasting luxurious timepieces, talked-about collections, and legendary labels, the newest arrivals on the fabled Fifth Avenue are not to be missed. First stop? Topshop (608 5th Avenue). At 40,000 square feet, it’s the store’s second largest location in the world – second only in size to the store’s branch on London’s Oxford Street. After stocking up on the latest designer collabs, head over to Tissot (666 5th Avenue) where you’ll notice a large clock similar to the one at Madison Square Garden (yes, that one is also made by the brand). Inside, you’ll find over 800 watches – a major upgrade from the abbreviated displays previously found in department stores. Now, it’s time to head over to Polo Ralph Lauren (711 5th Avenue) for a little more shopping and a bite to eat.  That’s right, in addition to finally introducing a complete women’s line – the first Polo store to ever do so – the flagship also houses the label’s first ever coffee shop and New York City Restaurant. Do a little browsing, grab a cup of coffee, hit up the register, and then head on over to Karen Millen (587 5th Avenue). The new 5,000-square-foot store (situated right next to the biggest-ever H&M) is the London-based brand’s second New York store, marking the start of the brand’s three-year growth strategy in the U.S. So expect to see a lot more of Millen in the coming years.

BEST IN SHOW

Following your shopping excursion, pick out something new to wear and treat yourself to a musical. From heartbreaking love stories to hilarious homicides, the 2014 Broadway season didn’t disappoint. If you’re looking to see something on the edgier side, take in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In the critically acclaimed play – which took home the 2014 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, Michael C. Hall plays a transgender singer, who tours the United States with a rock band, telling her heartbreaking story of love, loss, and betrayal through song. If you’d prefer something a little more family-friendly, however, grab tickets for Aladdin starring Adam Jacobs. The 1992 Disney animated fairy tale comes to life on stage with the rub of a lamp and classic scores like “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.” It’s sure to be a hit for all ages. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is yet another of 2014’s must-sees. Through a score that’s some kind of wonderful, the play (which won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical) tells the story of singer/songwriter Carole King, played by the talented Jessie Mueller, and her rather bumpy rise to fame. Now, if you’re looking for laughter, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is just what you need. Winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide follows Monty Navarro (played by Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays), a British commoner who discovers he’s the distant heir to a family fortune. Knowing his chances of outliving his predecessors are slim, Navarro decides to jump the line of succession… by way of murder – which may sound dark, but is, in fact, anything but.

CHAMPIONSHIP DREAMS

2014 was an historic year in New York Sports. The NFL held its Super Bowl here for the first time, the Rangers made an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals, and New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter retired after 20 amazing seasons. It’s a great time to look back at some highlights of the year, with one eye on the present and future.

Few events ignite the passion of the city like a team advancing on a run deep into the playoffs. The New York Rangers took the city on a thrilling ride last spring. They made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games. Hockey fans packed Bryant Park to watch the Finals, and Ranger jerseys could be seen everywhere. If you want to join the fun and experience hockey at its most intense, root on the Rangers as they host their rivals, the New York Islanders, on January 27th. The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets had disappointing seasons last year, but both teams made some substantial moves during the offseason to improve their teams. The Knicks resigned super scorer Carmelo Anthony who is hoping to lead the team back to the playoffs. They also hired Phil Jackson to run their basketball operations.  Jackson is revered in NYC as a member of the only two Knicks championship teams (1970 and 1973), and respected throughout basketball as an 11-time championship coach.

The Nets made the playoffs last year; after an exciting win in 7 games over the Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat knocked them out in the second round.  The Nets have brought in a new coach, Lionel Hollins, as well as some talented rookies, to try to build off of last year’s moderate success.  See the Nets take on the Raptors at Barclays Center on January 30th, while the Knicks host Kevin Durant and the Thunder at Madison Square Garden on January 28th.

CONCERTS TO REMEMBER

NYC’s biggest venues hosted a plethora of sold out concerts in 2014, connecting trailblazing musicians with an outstanding city crowd. Legendary music icon and “Piano Man” Billy Joel established himself as the first-ever music franchise at Madison Square Garden with an epic twelve electrifying performances, completing one each month of the year. The six-time Grammy-winning New Yorker is not done yet, however, with shows currently scheduled monthly through June 2015, with the possibility of more to follow. Fleetwood Mac rocked The Garden for two consecutive nights in October early on in their “On With the Show” tour, which conveniently is circling back around for another show on January 22nd. The tour includes Christine McVie who rejoined the band after a 16-year absence. Also noteworthy in 2014 and relevant in 2015 is Sam Smith, the record-setting 2014 superstar artist who rocked Webster Hall last March. Smith returns to The Big Apple this January with a performance at Madison Square Garden on January 15th, a venue with over ten times the capacity of his previous NYC performance! For more information on Sam Smith and other music highlights happening this month, turn to our music feature for expert coverage.