Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Blow to New York

O.K. As anyone who knows me knows, I've been on vacation for the past month. When you start a vacation, you're always like "I'm going to blog Every Day, and practice my Japanese, and read that Delillo book that's been propping open my office door for the past 3 years, and..." And, and, and. And what ends up happening is (e) none of the above. O.K., so I'm pressing through the novel (and frankly it's kind of dated already, even though it's only from like the mid-late 90's, and I'm disappointed in this writer so indulging his clevernesses but then again who am I to throw those particular stones?) but none of the other things have happened. I went to New York for five days and I absolutely cannot get it up to write about the trip or the food and maybe it was/is the stifling heat and maybe it's that for whatever good food I ate there none of it even comes close to my welcome-home tacos at guess where and you better believe I didn't even start unpacking before I had 7 of them on the table with a giant Corona stuffed with lime and sure it was before noon but like my friend says, the sun was over the yardarm somewhere and I suppose in an indirect way I'm writing about the trip right now, well, let's just get it over with:

No fewer than 4 trips to Gray's Papaya for Recession Specials.

My first meal there was at Sake Bar Decibel, one of my all-time favorite spots, and my version of comfort food--where maybe someone else you know would screw directly to McDonald's, I go for a masu box of Mu and two servings of cold baby octopus in wasabi broth just like my mom used to make. Oh, wait--that was your mom. Anyway. (Sake Bar Decibel, 9th St. b/t 2nd & 3rd Aves., below street-level)

A Bob's Plate at Eva's health food grocery/restaurant. This was a place where I used to go when I was eating 10,000+ calories a day (story for another day) and get this Bob's plate thing that's brown rice drenched with lentil soup and topped with tart lemon chicken. You pour tahini over it, and it's supergood and quite probably the healthiest thing I've ever loved eating. (Eva's, 8th St. b/t 5th & 6th Aves.)

Pickled tongue sando at Blue Ribbon Bakery. A damned good sandwich. I waited tables there for about 3 weeks, back in like 1998. I was, probably, the worst waiter the place ever saw. Three guys I worked with still work there, and none of them even came close to remembering me, which worked in my favor viz-a-viz not having my food altered for the bad before it was brought out to me. I was such a bad waiter that my co-workers disliked me on that basis because I made their jobs harder. (Blue Ribbon Bakery, corner of I think Downing & Bedford Sts.)

Sushi and swanky Japanese apps at Matsuri, this cavernous downtempo-emporium/multiple-barred/Is That Lindsey Lohan-type darkness of a super-expensive new restaurant beneath what used to be Covenant House and apparently is now like a super-swanky hotel. O.K., so I drank a whole lot of sake here and have no recollection of the food, although I remember being not totally wowed. I went with one of my great friends who when we go to sushi he like orders the entire freakin menu and I think that's terrific, so maybe I shouldn't have had so much to drink so I'd have more to say than this, but my feet really hurt from walking like 5 miles in boots the day before and, well, sake helped a lot, so I just couldn't help myself. I do remember that there was a tile mosaic in the bathroom that depicted lesbianism, so I guess I recommend this place. (Matsuri, 16th St., just east of 9th Ave.)

Dinner at Blue Ribbon Restaurant. I am not a shill for those brothers who own this 3-spot bunch of restaurants. Waited for an hour for a table, but by "waited," I mean that my friend and I went next door to the Red Bench for drinks, then resumed waiting in the restaurant with a bottle of Sancerre, which was really good in the heat. It seriously never dropped below 80 the whole time I was in New York, even at night, and I won't say the thing everyone feels compelled to say about the humidity, but it's true. Dinner: oysters, squab. One of the oysters (Fanny Bay? Blue Point? Malpeque? Wonka Bar? Damn you, Sancerre!) was one of those uber-oysters that remind you that sometime you have to have a dinner of nothing by 30 raw oysters. The other two were fine. Oh, if anyone can tell me the name of the now-gone Italian sandwich shop that used to be on the same block as Blue Ribbon, I'd appreciate it--I used to go there at least once a week and now I can't remember what it was called. (Blue Ribbon Restaurant, 97 Sullivan St.)

Last meal was at Landmarc, the blurby New Yorker review of which I posted a link to a couple of months ago. Man, this place was good, and the thing about the below-retail-priced wines is true, and is so unbelievable when you're used to getting soaked by restaurant markups that even though I knew about and expected it, it was still totally shocking. Like being promised a real unicorn for your birthday and getting one, only this one you can drink for really cheap and it's delicious and gets you and your friends drunk. The boudin noir app was decent, although I prefer blood sausages of the firmer variety (shut up, Beavis) and this one was kind of the runnier kind, like they serve at Red Lion Tavern in Silverlake but it was still pretty good. And the sweetbreads were fine, too, but the green beans were a little too garlicky, and I like my sweetbreads a little crispier like pressed under a heavy skillet to finish them like they used to do at Biba in Boston, but all the same, I got to eat a lot of offal at this meal and drink wine at wholesale prices and I saw friends I haven't seen in quite a while. I liked Landmarc a lot and recommend it. (Landmarc, W. Broadway at Leonard St.)

Now that I notice, it's pretty hot back here in L.A., too. So hot that I can't think of a pithy closer for this post. It's good to be home, or as my Grandfather would say, "If jenja doubja, domenahlebja." Those with Yiddish can feel free to correct my spelling.


Anonymous c said...

You got me to write down Decibel and Landmarc on the agenda for my next visit.

Did you have any regular spots in Brooklyn and Queens when you lived there?

9:03 AM  
Blogger The Dancing Kids said...

you know, i always ALWAYS find it interesting to hear where people MUST go to eat when they go back to NY.

for me off the top of my head: Pearl Oyster Bar (for the lobster roll), Sushi Samba (for the ceviche), Balthazar (for the goat cheese and onion tart), corner bistro - with dessert at magnolia etc.......

10:04 AM  
Blogger dwg said...

ohmygod. i forgot to mention corner bistro, and i went there twice. bistro burger, fries, two mugs of mcsorley's dark, way less than $20 and as good as i remembered. there's something about the darkness of that place that i love in the afternoon.

10:19 AM  

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