When we found out our pal John, a soon-to-be-lawyer who lives in Washington, D.C., was coming into New York for the weekend, we decided to set aside our ever-important social obligations in order to entertain the pants off him 24/7. We’ve known John since forever, and he conveniently shares with us one of our most favorite pastimes, nay, only pastime…drinking. In fact, if there was ever a man who likes his drinking, this is him. Plus, he reminds one of those delightful brothers of TV sitcom fame, Niles and Frasier, in that he likes a good port, and is partial to Antiques Roadshow.
We met him for dinner at Pennyfeathers, a West Village restaurant we love to go to, because they always remember/love us, and they serve lots and lots of steak. The delightful meal was followed by a delightful bout of binge drinking, first at Salon in the West Village, where we found ourselves part of someone’s birthday party who we didn’t know, and were rather disappointed to find out that it wasn’t an open bar. We drowned our sorrows, however, in nine-dollar cocktails, while dancing to somebody’s unfortunately mixed bat mitzvah-esque playlist that, I swear to god, they played directly off their laptop. Liz was heard to exclaim, “I could be a DJ!” Liz was also shocked when one of our new friends, who was otherwise quite awesome, was hesitant to leave due to the fact that the song “Sexxyback” was playing. Worst song ever. We then moved on to the fashionable Meat Packing district, where, despite how devastatingly cool we looked, we were turned away from the Hog Pit because they were too packed with teenyboppers pretending to like butt rock. They suggested we wait at the wine bar next door, which caused a glimmer to form in John’s eye. A glimmer that said one thing, “Port Wine.” We were more than happy to relocate to this location, and rounded out the evening sipping sickeningly sweet dessert wine in their cushy seats, to the soothing sounds of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A strange ambience indeed, but a fine album nonetheless.
Saturday found us at the homey (and appropriately named) Italian restaurant, John’s, in the East Village. The ambience is very old world….boy do they have a lot of candles. What the restaurant lacks in “That’s Amore” playing on the overhead, it more than makes up for in the years of dripping wax that have built up into an otherwordly super-candle, i.e. a mountain of freakish wax. Our waiter, with an unfortunate cross between a faux-hawk and a mullet, which we’ll call “He’s Fired,” had that laid-back, anything goes attitude…so much so that he forgot about us for forty-five minutes, until another waiter saved us. This isn’t to say that we were disappointed in our dining experience; it was an extremely busy Friday night, after all. And the food was wonderful as ever, and made up for the wait in its deliciousness. The truffle ravioli (a special) was a standout, as was the cheesecake, which came highly recommended from the replacement waiter.
We moved on to Fontana in the Lower East Side, one of those painfully hip places where you see all those people who used to be too cool to hang out with you, and realize this is where they’ve been. The drinks were a bit overpriced, but then again, it’s the Lower East Side.
Sunday was one of those late summer days when it’s a shame to stay inside. Therefore, we decided to get drunk on our porch. Now, by porch, we mean the five square feet of concrete in front of our house, that also houses the garbage and recycling cans. Regardless, we lugged some chairs outside and settled in for an afternoon of reading the paper and, in Liz’s case, knitting. Our shift to outdoor drinking elicited delight from our neighbors on the block, who hate when ‘gentrifying’ types of our generation are hermitic and unfriendly. Our porch sittin’ ended up reaping several benefits, from our landlord regailing us with wacky tales of growing up in Brooklyn, to those darn kids lighting off their firecrackers. Liz was driven to shake her fist and yell at them not to shoot their eyes out. We also met our upstairs neighbor for the first time, and it turns out she likes musicals and drinking! Lucie, a fifth-grade teacher in a Chelsea private school, is a welcome addition to our building, with her delightful anecdotes of growing up in New York, and affinity for performing Boyz II Men songs a capella on streetcorners. Things are looking up for this apartment building.
The next Friday night was a concert-goin’ extravaganza. That’s right, we were going to see Built To Spill (Liz’s sixth time, Laura’s third). Now, this is really more Liz’s thing, so for the full review, see the Music section, but let it be known that a good time was had by all. That is, once the opening band, Camper Van Beethoven, got off the stage. “Take the Skinheads Bowling” indeed. Laura was heard to remark, “Shoot me now. Please god just shoot me now.”
Then (sniff) we parted ways so that Liz could spend the weekend with her dear father who was visiting from Arizona. As Laura certainly didn’t do anything worth nothing without Liz around except sit in her room weeping like a child, the rest of this description will focus on the adventures of Liz.
My Dad took a hotel room in Manhattan so as not to have to sleep on the hardwood floor in Brooklyn, in an apartment where little to no extra sheets or padding is available. So I packed up my necessary accoutrements and set out for a merry weekend staying in the big city, er, Manhattan.
We started the day off with a light breakfast in Bryant Park, right where all the chic and trendy midtowners can usually be found dining on a sunny weekday, along with a few bums and greased up fat guys tanning on the lawn. This however, was a Saturday and the guy at the nearby deli seemed fairly confused when he saw that he had customers. The park was lovely, albeit a tad muddy, and a fine place to showcase the city’s most fashionable dinning spot. We then headed to none other than the Metropolitan Opera to catch a matinee of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. My oh my, what a fancy establishment. It didn’t take a pair of comically tiny, pearl-lined binoculars to see that this “Met” puts on an excellent production. Fresh off this culture high, we headed to the Marriott Marquee’s The View, the rotating bar at the very top of this Times Square hotel that offers more than just an excellent way to see the city and its surroundings from up high…they serve booze. A quick cocktail and we were off to the delicious Keens Steakhouse. It’s an extremely classy joint. We were led upstairs to the old-timey pipe lined dining room and were soon greeted by the tastiest steaks I ever did consume. I ate me a load of vittles, and it was good.
Sunday was a lovely and sunny day, which came as somewhat of a shock because hey, what luck. We dined at the Cornelia Street Café for brunch in the West Village and then strolled west to the promenade that adorns this side of the island and took in the sun and view of fabulous New Jersey. There was many an adorable dog to see and sunbather to gawk at. Much was the same as we headed over to DUMBO and the wonderful Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of my most favorite places ever. I think that this was the sort of day where people realize that they might not soon again have such a nice afternoon to enjoy, because many a character was out at play. We sat contentedly and viewed not one but three wedding parties, multiple children attempting to fly kites, and even a photo shoot. I suggested to the model that she eat some bread. Yes, many a summer activity was taking place on this most pleasant of afternoons. It was just so damn pleasant. Next we went for a stroll in Park Slope so Dad could see the ol’ neighborhood, and ended our day with pool and a few brews at Bar Minnow, and an excellent dinner at Sotto Voce. We both had a great time, and my dad is awesome.