A cloudy day… raining on and off but warm for November, 60 degrees! Right now it’s stopped raining as I walk through the parking lot of the railroad station. I worked half a day today, came home and got a few things done before I left to see this play tonight, Mouth to Mouth by Kevin Elyot. The train is coming into the station as I reach the terminal buildings, I dash to the ticket machine and wait while the computer processes my card and spits out my ticket and receipt. Then I run up the escalator and board the train with just seconds to spare! I sit breathing hard, and watch as an unlucky man tries to get the train to stop, clutching at the door seams…and then gives up… flipping the bird as the train pulls away.
So with five hours to spare before the show, I can relax and take my time, having already decided on Le Rivage as my restaurant dujuor for the evening, while looking at Menupages.com. It has many good reviews and one who calls himself Frenchophile says it’s the best French restaurant in Manhattan! So it’s good enough for me, and with a price fixe menu of $37.00 you can’t go wrong for an appetizer, dinner, and dessert and coffee. The only fly in the ointment is my teeth, facing oral surgery in three days, I have to be careful how I eat and what I choose.
But as I’m properly doped up on Motrin, with more in my pocket I relax and listen to the young man behind me, a newb, going into the city for the first time with no clue how to get around. He calls one friend after another asking what bus or subway to take, underestimating the travel time, he even thinks Penn Station is on 40th St! In this day of computers, what with Mapquest and such there is no excuse for not knowing how to get around. I’ve got my route in my head and also written down in case I forget…the best laid plans of mice and men often get screwed up so….
We arrive at Jamaica Station and I listen to the incomprehensible announcements over the load speaker, the din coming from the back of the car tells me that some sporting event is going down tonight. The loud incessant talk, the occasional beer bottle hitting the floor, and the outbreak of sudden raucous laughter tells me all I need to know. In the car up ahead of me a pair of attractive cougars talk about their husbands, relatives, complain about so and so at work, and ridicule mutual friends over many things, but the thing they talk about most is shoes! They go over the details of brand names, the relative stretchability factor, how different brands breathe, and grades of leather. How can you pick apart footwear like that? I don’t know …must be a chick thing. The kid behind me is an Oboe student still talking about his itinerary, I won’t help him, he’s got to learn on his own like I did. I once stayed in the subway one stop to many and wound up on Staten Island and had to take a cab back to Penn Station, but that turned into a great cab ride with an interesting driver…but that’s another story. Were going down now at a good clip, I may have a drink or a shoeshine in the station…I’ll flip a coin when I get there.
I decide to forego the drink and shoeshine and go straight to my dinner destination on foot to save money on the cab, it’s so nice out it would be a shame to miss this warm weather. Le Rivage is located on 46th St between 8th & 9th Ave, I pretend to study the menu as a group of sixty something seniors that look well heeled pass me by with a smile and nod. I hesitate to go in, I mean I’m in jeans, and even though I ate in Parisian Bistro’s, that was downscale stuff! I don’t know if I fit in here, this is New York and probably the best place I’ve been in so far, I swallow my discomfort…I’m going in.
The place is quaint and rustic with a touch of elegance to it, I’m immediately greeted with “Bonjuor” by the owner and his wife, who takes my coat, their daughter I think is the manager, and a grand daughter is the bartender. I select for my appetizer Duck Meat Terrine, a slice of meat cake (I call it anyway-Thanks George Carlin) not pate which is served on a bed of lettuce with cornichons; a slice of tomato with chopped onion on top; an olive; a slice of carrot; greens and a little dressing, artfully arranged on a plate. It is just too good, herb mustard on the side… it’s beautiful, the meat is not gamy but rather earthy and rich. Next my main dish of Monkfish Medallions in a Lobster sauce, three beautiful pieces of fish pan fried till just crispy on the edges (just the way I like it) served with carrot matchsticks in a sweet buttery sauce, and rice flavored with chopped red peppers which give the rice character. The fish is soft and sweet, reminding me of flounder in size and texture, definately something I would make at home. My dessert was a poached pear with ice cream and chocolate sauce, it was pre-made but good, very hard and cold so it lasted a long time. The owner offers me a second cup of coffee and smiling says “same price! same price!” and goes to make it happen. I like it here, and as I sip my wine and eat, I observe that others are dressed in jeans too so I relax and enjoy. The staff seem to take especially good care of me, maybe because I’m alone or maybe because they just want to make people happy. On the other side of the room the four seniors that came in before me seem to be enjoying their meal, as I leave one man at that table calls me over and asks me how I enjoyed my meal. He noticed my reluctance to come in, I tell them briefly about my experience and we exchange small words about our shows of choice for the night, it’s strange to think that they were curious about me. I will be back, I leave full but not stuffed with time to kill before the show. I wind up an hour later at Mr. Biggs, a typical sports bar where I stop for the chance to use the bathroom and to enjoy a Stella Artois on tap while I write and relax, the place has four big screen TV’s and thank God no one is screaming over some game right now. I kill time and listen to the sounds of the street on this open door warm night, with snow being predicted for Monday, it’ll be a long time before we get to enjoy these temperatures againPeace