The restaurant at which we had dinner last night is The Breslin, which joint is jumpin' like it was handing out discount cocaine, free vodka, or extremely cheap wheatgrass juice--which would, we feel, cover just about every population in town.
It is the place to be seen--or rather, the place to nonchalantly announce that one dined there last night and you know what, it's pretty good!.
At which point one's very best friends laugh a tinkling laugh, the one that's meant to give you earache, and then smile indulgently and asks you if that old place is still around.
This dialogue ends with a) quietly acidic smiles or b) a fist fight, depending on how seriously you take your love of Fergus Henderson. Well, he IS all about the bone and the sinew and the meat, is he not?
Now usually when things like this happen--and they happen constantly, this being New York--you can find us at the nearest sushi joint, pressing salmon roe against the roof of our mouth, or maybe down at Russ and Daughters ordering a Magnificent Heeb with Holland Herring to follow.
"But it's simply the utmost utmost!" people pant at us, to which we reply, "Like we care!" with a toss of our head.
A long time ago, when we were young and simple, we cared about being in the hip place at the hip time. This was in the 1970's and "right" referred to the people around us and maybe to the drugs they were doing. It didn't refer to the music (as it would have in th 60's) and it didn't refer to the clothes (as it would have in the 80's). It was only about the people and the drugs and, whether it was Studio 54, The Bottom Line or the Rainbow Room, we were always disappointed, because we were there for the food. (Our favorite joint was the old Brasserie on 53rd Street, where they made a wonderful Steak Tartare and packed picnic boxes and were open 24/7. Completely unfashionable.)
(We have always loved Steak Tartare and were once thrown out of Maxwell's Plum when we ordered same and were asked, by two waiters and a Captain, sequentially, if we understood that it was made out of raw beef. After which we got very offended and Made a Scene. The Customer, in that particular restaurant, was not Always Right).
Anyway, it was a cold night and we felt in the need of cheering up, and there was The Breslin, just at the other end of this very familiar block (29th between 5th and 6th--we never meant to hide it from you). The room was crowded, but we made our way to the Maitresse D' and she was kind and pleasant and seated us at a really swell, centrally located two-top.
We ought to mention that it was not our suave looks or well-known name that did this for us. We got seated very easily, where grown people are developing calluses on their clicking fingers and smears on their iPhones trying to get in--because it was 6PM and it is well-known among the fashionable that dinner at 6 rather than 8 or Later causes parasitic infection.
It's not just the scene at the Breslin which makes people rush on the place like it was the last train from Gdansk. Also, the restaurant is supposed to have great food.
So we ordered the onion soup with beef marrow and found...something elegant, complex. vegetally sweet and very, very rich. But it was so rich that we had trouble finishing it.
And then we looked around the table for bread or a salad or something to signal the change between the appetizer and the second course, and there was really nothing.
And then we received our entree, Pork Belly for One, and it was, how shall we say this, it was a few pieces of lovely tender pork and then it was FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT.
If all the fat little kids in this large fat world had stood around staring at us like that adorably globular little Russell in UP, we could not have felt more surrounded by FAT FAT FAT FAT.
It was so FATTY FAT FAT that we threw ourself upon the mashed potatoes, cheesed to a notable stiffness, and we ate it as if it were the only thing standing between us and a fatal aspication in FAT FAT FAT and when we finished the fifth spoonful there was no more and we were left with a plate of...you know.
And all the desserts seemed to have Treacle in them.
So we won't be going back again. Unless they come up with a really swinging Steak Tartare.
PS And this too: We were sitting next to a party of four who drove us nuts, not because they were loud or unruly or anything but because we couldn't figure out their story. The ladies were fashionably and modestly dressed, the gents likewise, and all were in their thirties. They ate heartily but did not discuss how lucky they were to get a table, which marked them, to me, as people of taste and distinction. But: they weren't two couples. Each talked about "my wife" or "my husband" and were not referring to anyone else at the table. And they weren't close friends. Each referred to "my daughter" or "my son" like the others wouldn't have known the kids by name. And also: they didn't work at the same company. Or even in the same industry. SO WHAT THE FRACK were these people doing together? We're beginning to think the answer is "Communist Cell," "'The Work' Self-Actualizing Group", or maybe, just maybe, "Citizens for Obama '12". Because, sadly there were only four of them.