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MARILYN HAGERTY: Scallops are nice but New Yorkers line up for burgers

Marilyn Hagerty with Anderson Cooper

NEW YORK CITY -- So where do the other people eat?

That's what Ryan and I set out to learn on our second day of my whirlwind tour as a celebrity in New York City. Ryan Babb of Forum Communications is my companion and technical person, or "techie" on this trip.

The day began with an interview in our Staybridge Suites hotel in Times Square. A reporter from the Associated Press came around to the hotel bright and early with a photographer. She lined a table with potato chips and cookies that have an Asian flair.

She explained they are doing a story for their business news on how people perceive products altered to taste Asian palates. There were potato chips and cookies.

I can tell you right now I don't care for potato chips laced with flavors strange to me. I did take a fancy to a package of cookies with Asian writing on the box. They were cookies similar to Hydrox with an orange-flavored filling. They were good.

We moved on from there to the posh Crown restaurant where I was filmed by the Anderson Cooper crew having lunch. I was treated like a celebrity with the camera following me and the waiters standing at attention.

I ate gingerly. I smiled at the camera. I tried to make intelligent comments. The whole meal was impeccable. It started with the unusual salad of beets with parsnips that I chose. This was followed by a main course of the most wonderful scallops I ever have seen. There were three of them perfectly presented. They were fresh from Maine and served still sizzling.

The restaurant at 24 E. 81st St., in New York City has an inviting long and cozy bar. You pass through it to a formal dining room with flickering lamps on the tables. Beyond there is a more informal brightly sunlit dining area with black and white art work.

"Look at the camera. Talk right into it," I was told. I finished this lunch in front of the camera and went right through to a chocolate crème anglais soufflé for dessert.

Well, for heaven's sake, I thought. I will enjoy it and think of it when I am back home again in North Dakota eating peanut butter sandwiches.

I asked the waiter if anyone ever asks for a doggie bag. I was thinking nobody would dare in this upscale setting. He smiles and told me, "All the time." He came back with a nice white bag that looked like a shopping bag. And he sent me away with the lunch I hadn't been able to finish. I do have a refrigerator in my room.

Shake Shack

Just to get back to reality for a few hours, Ryan and I walked around Times Square in the evening. We decided we should see how real New Yorkers eat.

So we found our way to the Shake Shack on Eighth between 44th and 43rd Streets. The line that forms each evening runs out of the Shack and down the sidewalk.

When we found our way into the counter we ordered a Shack Burger and a hamburger. Deep fried mushroom and cheese adorned the burger patty in the Shack Burger. We had a wine and a beer. We were given a buzzer that would beckon us when our food was ready.

During our 20-minute wait for our food, we sidled our way through the Shake Shack hoping to slide into a seat if anyone was leaving.

The Shake Shack is one of six scattered around the city and an employee said new ones are set to open on Long Island and in Grand Central Station. It has a menu complete with doggie bags. That is real food for dogs. There's a Pooch-In for $3.75 with vanilla custard, peanut butter and dog biscuits. Or you can buy a bag of bones for $7.50 complete with dog biscuits to go.

Our prowling around worked. We got a seat. We agreed the food was pretty good. Actually, the beef in my burger was better than any I have eaten for a while.

This was a break in the action, and we wandered around in Times Square. We saw huge lines of people going into Broadway Shows. And we passed a place called a bowling alley with a sign saying to come on in and see the live snake.

Times Square is alive with people from all walks of life. There are music makers and people passing out cards. The intersections are a study of nerves between cabs and people trying to cross.

It all seems to work out.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or at (701) 772-1055.