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.

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.     Book-Treks.com