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Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

The great pleasure of old-school dining

In business, cities, culture, food, life, Style, urban life on December 29, 2013 at 12:39 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Fogey alert!

If you consider thick white tablecloths and enormous floral arrangements and black-clad waiters who wouldn’t dream of introducing  themselves to you by name stuffy and boring….this post isn’t for you.

But if, like me, you adore a fine, old restaurant that still does things right, here’s a lovely paean to them, from The New York Times Style magazine:

In an age of studied casualness, of competitive waiting in line and chef-stalking and meal-Instagramming, of pedigreed pigs and forced intimacy with your neighbors’ elbows, it is novel to be served by a dignified career waiter in a jacket who knows his business. It is relaxing to look at a menu and (with the exception of certain démodé concoctions) know exactly what you’re getting. And most magical of all, it is astounding to be transported to a time when people not only dressed up, but also when your chair was pulled out for you and your cigarette (yes, cigarette!) was lit before it had reached your lips.

The writer, Sadie Stein, names a few old-school spots I’ve been lucky enough to eat in as well:

"The Sower," Simon & Schuster logo, ...

“The Sower,” Simon & Schuster logo, circa 1961 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– After a meeting at the offices of Simon & Schuster, on Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, on a bitterly cold, wet winter’s day in 2002, I knew they were going to buy my first book. I was insanely excited but had no one, at 4:00 p.m., to share that moment with. My agent had rushed back to his office downtown. So I went into the “21″ Club, at 21 West 52d,  and ordered coffee and profiteroles and sat by the fire and cherished this wonderful moment I had longed for my whole life. It was the perfect place to seal the deal.

Galatoire's Beer Dinner

Galatoire’s Beer Dinner (Photo credit: rdpeyton)

– I’ve been to Galatoire’s, a New Orleans institution, several times. The most recent, in late January 2012, was three days before I would lie on an operating room table to get a new left hip. I needed a good stiff drink and a delicious meal. What if they were among my last? I’d been in town to address a conference of liquor store owners, offering my suggestions how to hire, manage and motivate their workers, (the topic of my second book.) Galatoire’s was absolutely perfect, filled with elegance and celebration and fantastic food.

English: The main dining room of Galatoire's, ...

English: The main dining room of Galatoire’s, a noted restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– I’ve only eaten (so far!) once at La Grenouille, one of Manhattan’s true legends. It opened Dec. 19, 1962 in a townhouse in midtown. We ate upstairs, at L’Ardoise, and it was amazing. Here’s my post about it, from October 2009, a celebration meal in honor of my second book sale, treated by my father visiting from Canada:

Upstairs is a narrow room, with white-painted brick walls, lit by three 20-foot-tall lead-paned windows. A huge rug in the lightest shades of yellow, cream and green. A highly polished dark wood table marks the entrance. There are only five white-tableclothed tables, with another at the top of the stairs beneath a skylight, shaded by palms. Each has a small, perfect floral arrangement. There are paintings and drawing everywhere. You feel as if you’ve stumbled into someone’s private home, and you have. For many years, this was the home and studio of French painter Bernard LaMamotte — and before that, in the 1800s, the stable housing the horses of the owners of the mansion across the street, now the Cartier boutique. Those tall windows were once used to bring in hay.

It is, wrote Vanity Fair last year, “a private dining room of such beauty that one could be talked into becoming bedridden as long as one’s bed were there.”

Have you had a memorable meal in a place like this?

What was it like?

Are you scared to be alone?

In aging, behavior, business, cities, journalism, life, seniors, travel, urban life, US, women, work on October 7, 2013 at 12:01 am

By Caitlin Kelly

The best-read posts on Broadside include this, this, this — which all discuss the value of  travel alone as a woman.

Some people have an absolute horror of solitude. Too scared to go anywhere by themselves, they refuse to travel without a companion or go to a movie alone or sit in a restaurant without the reassuring comfort of someone across the table.

Shared Space Signage

Shared Space Signage (Photo credit: jarkatmu)

I don’t get it.

I know a few people who loathe being by themselves for any length of time, but I wonder why that is…if you’re healthy and solvent — as being alone when you’re really sick and/or broke is nasty –what’s the worst that can happen?

I’ve traveled far and wide alone, and am perfectly happy to spend time doing things solo, whether sitting at a bar, dining in a fine restaurant, attending a cultural event.

Maybe it’s because I grew up an only child and spent a fair bit of time on my own, reading, drawing, playing with toys. Maybe it’s a hold-over from years of shared space with too many strangers at boarding school and summer camp.

I like my space! I enjoy quiet solitude.

I lived alone ages 19 to 22 (then with a boyfriend), then ages 26 to 30 (then with my first husband), then alone for seven more years after my divorce.

Was I lonely? Sure, sometimes. I got weary of eating dinner while reading a magazine and having to leave my home for company.

But if you really can’t tolerate being by yourself, what does that say about the quality of your own company?

I work alone all day and, most days, speak only to people I am interviewing by phone or, occasionally, to clients or editors. It’s a little monastic, I admit, but I guess I’ve grown to enjoy it and even prefer it. I hate being interrupted. I lose focus.

Journalism, too, is really a business for loners. We rarely work in teams, usually off on our own stories.

Here’s a recent blog post about restaurants where you can sit at a long, shared table with strangers — in NYC, Vancouver, Portland, Oregon and others.

How do you feel about spending time alone?

Do you savor and enjoy it — or dread and avoid it?

Why?

Eating Out In New York City? Go Here

In business, cities, design, food, travel on January 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm
This is actually Tom's Restaurant, NYC. Famous...

Tom's Diner, UWS, immortalized by Seinfeld and Suzanne Vega...Image via Wikipedia

Check this out — a new downtown Manhattan restaurant that will totally change its decor and menus every month.

That space has special meaning for me and my sweetie of eleven years, for in it we had our third date when it was a French bistro named Le Jardin. We loved eating in its grape-arbored backyard, a rustic rarity in downtown Manhattan.

Here’s a list of favorite New York City restaurants from one of my favorite blogs, Eater NY.

Some of my own hangouts made the list; I’ve lived just north of NYC since 1989:

Bars

Old Town Bar. Noisy and crowded in the evening, but great for a quiet lunch. Founded in 1892, its booths are battered and worn, like stepping into a sepia photograph. Head up the narrow steep stairs for a quieter experience in the restaurant upstairs.

Dublin House. Dive bar! Great jukebox. An unlikely find in the pricey upper West Side.

Fanelli’s. Love its heavy etched glass doors and narrow bar. Like Old Town, it’s more than 100 years old, so go for the setting, not the food.  Stop in for a Guinness as you stumble through Soho.

Temple Bar. Look for the small glowing lizard inset — no sign! — into the wall on Lafayette Street. This bar is a tiny, intimate jewelbox. Perfect for a romantic date. Dress up!

The King Cole Room. A drink will cost a small fortune, but worth it for a taste of true old-school elegance at the St. Regis Hotel. Savor the gorgeous Maxfield Parrish mural behind the bar that gives it its name.

Cafes

Cafe Cluny. Tiny, perfect, neutral colors. Not cheap but worth it.

Cafe Angelique. Perpetually jammed with bankers and European tourists, this pretty spot has good food in an interesting neighborhood, the West Village. Fuel up here for your shopping on $$$$$$$ Bleecker.

Caffe Reggio. Crammed with NYU students at its small tables, it’s the perfect spot on a cold winter’s afternoon for a cappuccino and cannoli. Opened in 1927, its ochre walls are covered with art.

Grey Dog. The best! I love its rustic interior, friendly staff, comfy tables. Settle in with your NYT and savor.

Restaurants

Gramercy Tavern. The room is gorgeous, the service elegant, the food delicious. Still thriving after 17 years!

La Grenouille. I had lunch upstairs last year and it was one of the loveliest experiences ever. Hushed, old-school, formal, delicious, expensive. Founded 49 years ago, it has an elegance hard to find and one to cherish.

Toloache. This three-year-old Theater District Mexican is one of my absolute favorites. I love their small, freshly made margaritas, their delicate hand with portion sizes and sauces, friendly service. I love the look of the two-story room, with its hand-painted tile mural. This is high-end dining, not boring old fajitas/tacos/burritos.

Red Cat. Few restaurants in Manhattan last, but this one has. Red Cat is welcoming, warm, lovely to sit in and offers great food at reasonable prices.

Morandi. One of Keith McNally’s faux-aged see-and-be-seen spots, I love it anyway. Sit at the bar and enjoy one of the city’s best spaghetti carbonaras.

Balthazar. Another McNally spot, opened in 1997. Heaven. Huge room, high ceilings, stylish crowd, great food. As close to Paris as you can get on this side of the Atlantic.

Cafe Boulud. We recently treated ourselves to the three-course prix fixe lunch ($35 pp) with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone for $28. The room is calm, quiet, lightened with antiqued mirrors and crisp, bright watercolors. The service is excellent, the food lovely, presentation fab — my vitello tonnato came on a slab of slate, my banana/ice cream dessert de-constructed into three pockets of a white china dish. Can’t wait to go back.

New York Noodletown. Cheap, delicious, cheap, delicious. The white plastic tablecloths and line-up of people eyeing your table reminds me of all my favorite (hometown) Toronto spots on Spadina.

Daddy-o. I just discovered this 12-year-old tiny little corner restaurant with a great burger. Any restaurant lasting more than a decade in Manhattan is doing something very right!


What are your New York favorites?

Octopus, Ravioli, Chocolate Cake: The World's Best Foods And Where to Eat Them

In business, culture, food on September 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm
[Display of home-canned food] (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

If you’re fortunate, you’ve enjoyed a meal, a food or a drink whose memory is so sensual and transcendent you never forget when or where you tasted it. Mine include: a pisco sour at Carlin, a restaurant in Lima, Peru; a dish of tiny, hot sausages, baguette with unsalted butter and a cold glass of Muscadet in Concarneau, France; the pork tacos at Toloache, in Manhattan; the spaghetti carbonara at Morandi, in Manhattan, Berthillon’s blood orange sorbet in Paris; street food in Bangkok.

Today’s Guardian offers a list of the world’s 50 best foods and where you must go to enjoy them at their best. Their list includes chocolate cake from Pierre Herme, Paris, the curry at Karim’s in Delhi, the ravioli at Manhattan’s Babbo and the tomato juice at Happy Girl Kitchen in San Francisco.

What would make your list?

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