Al Fresco All Year

One of the most uplifting scenes in this otherwise dismal year is the creativity of restaurateurs in NYC. Bubbles, plants, umbrellas, lights, dividers to expand dining outdoors onto sidewalks and streets.

Now al fresco spaces can continue all seasons according to a City ruling today.  Heaters. Awnings. Who knows what inventive solutions they’ll come up with. But. Yay! Even Gramercy Tavern has re-opened.

We’ll take it.

Quaran Quandary

    Risk. Reward. There’s a tension now in many New York City neighborhoods about opening restaurants to outside dining and fear of more virus spread.

Local economies depend on businesses making money to survive.  Boarded up storefronts are becoming the norm. Extended closings will result in more Oxbow Tavern-like desolate corners. Dystopian landscapes.

Covid avoidance avoidance conflict.
Whaddya do?

Parts Unknown

Traveling through current parts unknown, it is fitting that we remember Anthony Bourdain today. Lamenting the loss of this visionary poet, raconteur, chef as we pass by shuttered bistros and shattered dreams.

Nostalgic for Tony’s New York of debauchery and mystery. What would he do to resurrect the City and its dining scene.

Viva Al Fresco

Yay. Al Fresco lives.

Bloomberg News   is reporting that many New York City curbside lanes will be converted for pedestrians so restaurant tables can take over sidewalks and even into part of some streets for social distanced dining in the fresh air. Normal permitting bureaucracy will not be necessary. City Council approved the plan to start in July.

Oxbow Tavern.  Now you can stay!  Please.

Emerging a Bit

Helicopters. Once in a while. Airplanes. Still rare. Birds. Chirpier than ever. Subway rumble. Often. Some Ubers waiting out front lately. Dulcet tones of construction. A private garbage truck went by yesterday for the first time in months. Never thought that’d be a good thing.

As restaurants struggle to open. Using partitions including clear shower curtains between tables. This is ingenious. Little Inn at Washington.

Skins golf. Rory & Ricky. Little by little. Fingers crossed.

A New York Restaurant Story

Gabrielle Hamilton owns an acclaimed East Village restaurant called Prune. It’s a small 15-table closely seated cozy boîte. As Hamilton herself recognized, it was becoming an anachronism in the new dining scene of brands rather than personalities, even before the coronavirus crisis.

Her NYTimes piece about the struggle to figure out what to do in this strange new environment is a poignant, poetic homage to the heart & soul of her 20-year James Beard– winning labor of love. It is a metaphor for so much now that it elicits a tear. One of the best reads of the year.

She began her torturous dilemma during the first warnings of an emerging pandemic “after 10 days of being waterboarded by the news”. What to do? An absurdiste lament, “That we are still a thread in the fabric that might unravel if you yanked us from the weave”.

The best quote is about how the industry has changed over the years, “The Brunch. The Brunch. The purebred lap dogs now passed off as service animals to calm anxieties that might arise from eating eggs Benedict on a Sunday afternoon”.

– Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones & Butter one of my faves. She is also featured in my old Northampton anthology Table’s Edge.

Mike of the People

Mike Bloomberg billionaire. A man of the people? Actually. Yes. He could be seen riding subways, grabbing breakfast at a diner on the Upper East Side, walking around town. Talking to regular folks.

One night we were having dinner at Lure Fishbar in SoHo. Mayor Mike and Senator Chuck Schumer with their partners were in the next booth. We tried not to stare and went on with our orders. After they were finished, they walked by our table. Bro Joe said, “Hey Mike why don’t you run? He said, “For what?” Bro said, “For President.”

The two women kept on going. But. Mike & Chuck stopped to chat. Mike said he wasn’t thinking about that then. In 2010. He wanted to know where our son was going to college and such. They stayed for quite a long time. Nice and curious men.

Ladies Who Lunch

Not a fan of lunch with just ladies. Have to dress up. Makeup. Pink tablecloths. Perfume-permeated rooms. Boring menus. Power business lunches used to be de rigueur. With women. And men. That was fun. When I was young. There I said it. Hate shopping, too.

However, 150 years ago women couldn’t go out to lunch unaccompanied by a man. Right, Mike Pence? Until Delmonico’s held a luncheon for women in 1868. This week Gabrielle Hamilton has created a menu to commemorate this milestone at Delmonico’s for a Ladies’ Lunch.

Nice. But. No. Won’t be going.

Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
Hamilton’s book is a Glass Castle-esque memoir. She was a line cook at Curtis & Schwartz Café in Northampton while at Hampshire College. She’s the acclaimed chef-owner of Prune in the East Village today.

Page Five

Proof of collusion. Corner table at Bobby Van’s. Eric Trump and Michael Flynn. 


Farinelli & the King at the transformed to Shakespearean splendor Belasco Theatre. Mark Rylance brilliant! His wife Claire van Kampen’s musical script and the astonishing countertenor voice of Iestyn Davies took it over the top.  Five stars.

Sightings… Kathleen Turner a couple rows ahead. And Mandy Patinkin. 


Summer Clunkers

Beach reads not even worth the reviews. Chick lit lite. At best. The Heirs, Susan Rieger. A superficial soap opera with implausible scenarios. Ditto. The Arrangement, Sarah Dunn. You guessed it. A couple with an autistic boy decides to set ground rules for cheating on each other for six months. Of course. It all goes wrong. Syrupy in the end.

Ray Donovan. This season better get better. Fast. Devolved into maudlin slow episodes. Last week of GOT. No! Good thing it’s gorgeous weather. Tavern on the Green patio. Or. Bringing our own chairs to watch eclipse, read, have lunch in the park. Yes!