The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” came on the stereo; the TV producer took out her camera and took several photographs of the first course. “I asked them if I could take pictures,” she said, somewhat apologetically. “I keep meaning to start a food blog!”
Second course: quail and waffles, the quail being from the Griggstown Quail Farm in Princeton, N.J., the waffle being of unknown provenance, but coming out cold. The drink, an Upper West Side Express, was described thusly on the menu: “When I crave chicken n’ waffles, the only thing I want next to my place is a nice cuppa joe.” The appropriation of comfort food by the locavorian elite is, of course, nothing new; the sting of paying $150 a head was mitigated slightly when, in the line for the bathroom (past the kitchen, on the left), the chef offered those waiting a drumstick of extra quail.
At one point, it became clear that the toilet was not flushing. “When a lot of people use it, that happens,” one of the chefs said. “But thanks for letting us know.”
Upon return to the table, there was a Whisky, Tea & Me beverage (Yunan Province Pu-erh tea, Rittenhouse Rye, Keo St. John Commandaria, Fee Bros. Whiskey-Barrel Aged Bitters) waiting. Unlike the waffles, this cocktail was served warm, with a dish (the Morning Egg) of poached duck egg and shiitake mushrooms in a mushroom broth. The table gave its fourth toast of the evening; the young man at the head of the table was discussing with his companion their plans for later in the week, which included a dinner with Tamsin Lonsdale’s Supper Club. Meanwhile the TV producer noted that she had been to a private dining club in Seattle.
By this point in a dinner with wine pairings, one might start to feel drowsy, but the immediate benefit of doing a cocktail pairing is that one feels remarkably awake, and rather drunk (the cons of this approach become, however, ever more evident in the middle of the night). But before the arrival of the Pork ‘n Beans (five-spice caramelized pork belly, cranberry bean purée, pomegranate reduction) and the Connie Appleseed, a warning from the bartender: “This drink comes with half the glass dipped in the spice used to rub the pork belly. Do not drink from this side of the glass.” The red-haired woman removed all the fat on her pork belly, protesting that otherwise she might get sick. Also, it soon became clear that her young boyfriend was very, very rich. And Lily Allen came on the stereo.
By the time the
dessert course arrived—Rose Tres Leches—it was nearly midnight, and even though the gin fizzy drink that accompanied it was made with a brand of gin described on its Web site as having “evolved from a friendship and mutual passion for the culinary artistry found within the realm of spirits and cocktails,” a couple of them were left half-finished. Then the presentation of personalized bills to each diner or couple (balance: $150); quick rustling and whispering as cash was extracted and gratuities discussed; and a flurry for the coats and thanks all around, and The Observer, mindful of the e-mailed instructions to “not talk about the food, fellow diners, etc. until you have left the building,” walked silently through the hallway and took the elevator down to the deserted street.