Champagne Shopping Binge

"The champagne shopping binge/ is over/ The check is about to arrive/ and nobody knows how much it will be/ I know I don't give a shit not now" -From "FROM A DISCARDED IMAGE" by Franz Wright

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cool Down

Park Bistro
414 Park Ave S, New York 10016
Btwn 28th & 29th St
Phone: 212-689-1360

It was a sweltering, humid night, and H’s plane had been delayed three times. Finally she called just as I boarded the ferry to head home, “Hi, it’s me. I can’t get a flight. Are you free for dinner?”

Of course I was. I hadn’t seen H in weeks, and with the sudden news of R’s passing, nothing sounded better than a night of bonding over too much wine. I told her to get the next cab from LaGuardia, and meet me at my apartment.

Where to go? It had been a rough week, and neither of us felt up for challenging food. We didn’t want ethnic, or complicated, and we didn’t want to take a taxi to the other side of the island. We wanted a calm, air conditioned room, where we could have a civilized dinner and pretend that the world hadn’t gone spiraling out of control.

I had read some positive reviews of Park Bistro, and French food sounded about right. There’s nothing like a little beef and butter to sooth an aching soul. So we walked over, sweating in the heat, and stood outside, trying to decide if the menu was pricier than we had budgeted for the evening. At that point, a middle-aged couple came out, radiating satisfaction and pleasure. “Go on in,” the woman encouraged, “it’s fantastic.” We were hot and hungry and desperately needed wine, so we decided to ignore economics (not that PB is particularly expensive, but I hadn’t had budgeted a dinner out at all) and entered the restaurant.

We ordered an inexpensive bottle of Cote de Rhone, which was uncomplicated but drinkable and exactly what we needed. Bread was served warm, with herbed butter, and delicious. The room was cool and calm, the service friendly, and life suddenly seemed a bit more manageable.

To start we split an order of the garlic sausage. Two extremely generous portions were served with goat cheese and frisee. (If that truly is the normal portion size, it is more than enough for one entrée.) Simply great, although next time we also want to try the mussels with curry sauce.

For our main courses, we decided to pretend that calories and cholesterol were frivolous concerns. I had the filet with béarnaise sauce, which came with a side of haricot vert and potato gratin. The filet was fantastic, the sides were good. H ordered the hangar steak, which came with a side of perfectly cut fries. The steak itself was only OK – it was tough even for a hangar steak and tasted oddly of pastrami. But those fries made up for it. (On future, decadent, nights I may see if they will serve me a filet with fries.)

Pleasantly stuffed, we declined dessert. Instead we lingered over after-dinner drinks (Muscat for H, Lillet for me) and relaxed, for the first time that week.

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