Russell Tovey on his favourite places to eat, shop and hang out with his dog in New York
"When I was doing The History Boys on Broadway, I used to run around Central Park every morning and I’d salute the Angel of the Waters as I went past"
Russell Tovey, best known for Being Human, knows New York like a local. After starring on Broadway in The History Boys and more recently in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, he returned to the Big Apple to film the second series of FBI drama Quantico, in which he plays new character Harry Doyle.
“If you’re going to work somewhere other than London, I can’t think of anywhere better to be than New York,” says Tovey, now 35. We picked his brains for the places that make him – and his dog Rocky – feel like a native New Yorker.
Best for hanging out
Bleecker Street – there’s just loads going on. I lived in Greenwich Village when I was doing A View from the Bridge and I’d spend a lot of time there. I’d walk all the way from Broadway and then carry on down to the Hudson river.
Best for smart shops
If you want to see some good high-end shops, Madison Avenue is a nice street to walk down, from about 80th down to 60th. And at 660 Madison there’s a Barneys department store, which I’m obsessed with.
Best for burgers — and brunch
There’s a real food culture in New York so I eat out a lot. I usually try to smuggle Rocky in with me and he sits on my lap or we get a table outside if it’s hot. You can get the best turkey burger, which we don’t really get in the UK, at a superb place called JG Melon (89 MacDougal St) in the West Village. And The Minetta Tavern (113 MacDougal St) is a small, dimly lit place with really nice food.
In general, I’m trying to be healthy, but in New York the mac and cheese [macaroni cheese] is amazing. But even if you order a chicken salad, it’s usually the best you’ve ever had – in the UK they’re always limp.
I love diner food and I’m obsessed with eggs, so I love all the different ways they cook them in New York. Great places for brunch are Extra Virgin (259 West 4th St) and French Roast (78 W 11th S, corner of Sixth Avenue).
Best for hipsters
The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery) is just so cool. The food is amazing, and the lighting is great. I came here for New Year’s Eve a few years back and Liam Gallagher was in the bar. I was like, “All right?” and he said, “All right.” Nobody was bothering him.
The Polo Bar Ralph Lauren
And I got taken out by a good friend of mine, not a date, to The Polo Bar Ralph Lauren (1 E 55th St), which is the place. The food there is superb and it’s the perfect place if you’re trying to show off.
The place I go to on the first day I arrive in New York is Bethesda Fountain in the middle of Central Park. When I was doing The History Boys in 2006 on Broadway, I used to run around the park every morning and I’d salute the Angel of the Waters as I went past.
The fountain’s in the title sequence of the TV show Angels in America – and now I’m playing Joe Pitt in the play Angels in America [at London’s National Theatre from April]! It’s become one of my favourite places in the world, whether the water’s frozen over or it’s surrounded by flowers.
Best for a workout
For me, probably the gym. Your mind relaxes even though you’re working your body hard. I use that time to learn lines. As soon as I find a gym, it gives me a routine, a hobby and a social place.
Having a dog also means you really explore the city because everyone lives in tiny apartments and dogs aren’t allowed off the leash after 9am. So the city has created these Dog Runs – fenced-off areas around Manhattan that are just for dogs to socialise with each other and burn off some energy. There’s one in Theodore Roosevelt Park (Central Park West at W 81st St) by the Museum of Natural History that is lovely: I can just sit there and lose an hour while Rocky goes off and plays. There are other great Dog Runs on Washington Square Park (W 4th Street) and in Riverside Park (Riverside Drive at W 72nd, W 87th, W 105th). It’s fun stumbling across a new one. I’m like, “Oooh, Rocky, come on then, in we go!” He loves it.
Best for culture
The Guggenheim (1071 Fifth Ave) is phenomenal, as is the Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St). But the Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort St) is special and you can walk along the High Line [above] to get there. When the sun’s going down it’s spectacular.
Quantico is on Thursdays on Alibi at 9pm