“Did you have a bagel?” sighed my New Yorker expat friend longingly.
“Did you have a slice?” asked the Chief Parisienne eagerly.
“How were the street vendor dogs?” inquired my teens.
I didn’t try any of it. Unintentionally and completely unwittingly, this trip was all about cocktails and crustaceans. Merde! My nose just grew an inch. That was a lie. The cocktail part was absolutely intentional and completely planned. I didn’t look into restaurants before our trip, I researched bars. Food optional. But the seafood part was not planned, I swear!
When I tell My New Yorker about our food choices she starts to look a bit down, accusing me of searching out my own, native California cuisine. Its true, what I miss the most in Paris are the big, bright flavours of lime juice and coriander with lots of vegetables and plenty of heat. With the East Coast fisheries near by, my taste buds spent the week doing a happy dance; soft shelled crab, lobster and every style crab cake imaginable.
The Spotted Pig. I didn’t need to know more than the name and I was hooked. Didn’t even mind the 90 minute wait (probably because we spent that time at a wine bar next door) and was absolutely thrilled with their vegetarian plate main dish as well as their spicy cocktails. The rest of our party was bowled over by the shoestring french fries (fried with rosemary, thyme and garlic!) and their cheeseburgers. We were too stuffed to attempt their desserts.
Le Charlot. A bunch of Frenchies going to a French meal in NYC? Pathetic! But we had an excuse… I had reserved at the Central Park Boat House; upon our arrival, on a glorious spring day, with the red geraniums shining like party balloons and the white linen table clothes dancing in the breeze, everything looked perfect for a Pah-Tay. But alas, the restaurant had been closed due to an emergency, the Maître d’ assuring us that our lives would be at risk if we were to dine there that day!!! Mulling over the mystery, (had a sous-chef lost it, stabbing his boss? Did the health department find rotting food?) We headed to Madison Ave where two helpful sales girls directed us to Le Charlot. They had crab cakes on the menu, so our entire party was thrilled and our guest of honor, the French student who was living in NYC for the year, was ecstatic to see French standards that he craved from home. These were the best crab cakes we had all week and the rest was pretty good, too, although we were (again) too stuffed for dessert.
Beauty & Essex. More spicy cocktails. And then a few more. You enter this über swanky establishment through a door at the back of a pawn shop, although the three town cars waiting out front with the blazing marquee lights were a dead give away that we’d arrived. Upstairs, the barmaids wear the shortest little dresses and are only allowed enough fabric to cover one shoulder. It was an after work crowd with a drunken woman surveying which diners had read “The Many Shades of Grey”. I kindly suggested that she stop reading about it, buy herself some sexy lingerie, find herself a lover (preferably French) and start doing it. Oh, the food. Excellent. The ribs were melt in your mouth without being stringy and I could have had seconds of the lobster tacos and spicy greens. By now you can guess what we decided for dessert…
The Lobster Place. Fresh steamed lobster in a busy food court that was once the Premium Saltine cracker factory. Full of locals on lunch break and a sect of Japanese tourists who are obsessed with photographing their food. The lobster? PERFECT.
EAT. A café on Madison Ave. Ridiculously expensive, but really, really good and they had soft shell crab that was swoon worthy. Even the bread was good, which I don’t often say in the USA. Went two days in a row, it was that good (and somewhat convenient to our hotel).
Tipsy Parson. Only had drinks here. And a bourbon soaked dessert. Did I mention that I had planned to drink my way through New York? It was good and the atmosphere charming. Would have loved to have returned for a down home southern meal.
Vue at the Mandarin Oriental. We went to this roof top bar for the stupendous view towering above the city and we were not disappointed by that, the thai beef salad, the Asian bento box, or the cheesecake. The cocktails were good enough that we all had a second round as we sat and watched the cars go round at Columbus Circle.
Okay, enough. I am starving now and I’ve just gained another kilo writing about all those calories!!!