We met my friend Anne-Marie at MOMA for an afternoon of Starry Night and Mademoiselles du Avignon.
A lot of the modern pieces involved lights and film and made me kind of dizzy. The photography exhibit was a study of light I would have liked to check out more. But by this time the museum, which was free after 4pm, was crammed with so many people it became uncomfortable.
Bob and I said goodbye to Anne-marie and wandered down the street to nosh along 54th. We happened upon London, and thought we would see what Gordon Ramsay has to be so cocky about. If the bar menu is any indication, he has every right to be a screaming bastard.
The lamb samosas were made with lamb confit rather than ground lamb. It was flavorful without being too gamey. I was unsure of how short ribs could be interpreted into bar food, but damn if they didn’t debone the ribs to make futuristic little squares topped with a rosette of mashed potato. Precious. They were also delicious and filling.
The ultramodern unisex bathrooms confused the British tourists, but they were clean and larger than our hotel bathroom.
As we enjoyed our drinks, I looked up and who was passing but Jean Baptiste. I called out, “Jean Phillipe!” Ramsay cleverly hires only men named Jean-something to keep things simple. We chatted about the upcoming opening of Gordon Ramsay in West Hollywood’s London Hotel. We could have happily dined on bar food all night, but we had seen a few other places that looked intriguing.
The Oyster Bar looked very Roadfood-y, but the overeagerness of the host and the resigned looks on the diner’s faces gave me cause for concern. We decided to have a beer and think about it.
The garlic bread was nicely seasoned, so we decided to order, but with restraint. I selected the cold seafood appetizer since it would be hard to muck up, and easier to tell if the seafood was off. The plate was a huge disappointment. The crab and lobster were overcooked and flavorless. The shrimp were just wrong. Bob tried one oyster and declared it bad. I worried, “Bad as in spoiled?” He said, “Bad as in not good.” The quality of the seafood was good, and the potato salad was delicious. It seemed like maybe once this place was loved a long time ago. Someone made sure the garlic bread and potato salad recipes were classic. But something happened – the place was sold, and now the restaurant is lonely and moribund.
We escaped the Oyster Bar and immediately spotted an Original Ray’s Famous.
I hear so much crap about California pizza from New Yorkers – how pineapple doesn’t belong on pizzas, blah, blah, blah. I was simultaneously disappointed and vindicated to see that the REAL New York slices had toppings like Buffallo wing, pineapple, BBQ chicken, and even broccoli. Broccoli! It’s a sin against God and man.
Our first slices in New York were nice and foldable, although my Margherita wasn’t nearly as good as Bob’s pepperoni and sausage.
We jaywalked across the street to the Stage Deli for rugelach, cheesecake, bagels and corned beef for breakfast. Checking out the standard celebrity Polaroids on the wall, I was amused to see instead of the usual pose, Sally Jesse Rafael was perched atop the counter hugging a giant jar of pickles.
I never understood the appeal of black and white cookies before. Stage Deli’s was a light, fresh and spongy cookie topped with soft royal icing. I think if a place becomes famous for something, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. High turnover means fresh goods, and this is what their cookie had going for it. I don;t think I’d ever eaten a truly fresh black and white before.
The NY cheesecake was very familiar, not too sweet, and a little powdery. I have to admit I prefer creamy Philadelphia-style cheesecake. Although you have to give them points for the rugelach cheesecake, “Hey, you got cheesecake in my rugelach!” “No, you got rugelach in my cheesecake! Hey…”