Monday, April 6, 2009

West Side Adventures

I may have mentioned booking a Champagne and Waterfalls Cruise around Manhattan for my friends and I last fall. When I first booked it, I wasn't sure how much they'd like it. As it turns out, it was one of the highlights of the trip for them. I loved it too, but I'm not so sure I'd say it was the best part.

Basically, the price of the cruise included all the champagne, wine, beer, or liquor we could consume within the 1.5 to 2 hours we were on the water. Naturally, my friends and I felt it necessary to get more than our money's worth by consuming as much booze as possible in that short timeframe. The amount of alcohol we consumed had to cost 3 times what we paid for our cruise tickets. We did a nice job I'd say. Dean Martin would've been quite proud, I'm sure.

Next up on the itinerary that night was dinner -- which was a few blocks south of Chelsea Piers at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry St located at the western-most side of, you guessed it, Perry St. I remember us attempting to walk there from the pier, but we decided about half way there that it would take too long -- and since we were starving, we decided to hail a cab instead.

Some parts of this particular NYC trip were bittersweet for me. I'd originally planned it for me and my former girlfriend. I planned the cruise so she and I could have a romantic evening together. We'd be on the boat drinking champagne while we watched the sunset; then afterwards, I wanted us to go have dinner at a great restaurant.

I don't remember what site said that Perry St was voted the best steak in NYC (might have been nymag.com), but that prompted me to plan dinner there. Despite my mixed emotions about going ahead with that part of the itinerary without her, I went ahead with the plans, sans the former girlfriend.

On the way to the restaurant, it occurred to me that I may have forgotten to make reservations. Normally, this would've bothered me, but since I was treating some very flexible friends to dinner and not my former girlfriend, I wasn't overly concerned.

"This is New York City. We can always find someplace to eat," I thought.

Apparently, our cab driver wasn't sure where he was going, because he started going the wrong way. Feeling way too hungry to wait for the guy to figure out where he was going, I firmly took charge of the situation and told him, "You need to make a right turn here and go south to get back to Perry Street, then take another right."

I ask him to stop about a half a block short, and my friends get out. Feeling quite proud that my navigational skills were on par with that of a native Manhattanite, I mentally pat myself on the back, give the guy his cash, and we walk the cobblestone street the rest of the way.

As we walk, I realize that one of my friends might be too drunk to even behave decently, much less follow fine dining etiquette.

I look to his girlfriend and whisper, "You've gotta babysit him ok??? He's being way too dickish for this place and he's slurring like a wino!"

She nods in agreement. "I'll try."

We locate the place, and just before reaching the door, I start to prep my oafishly drunk friend on what he needs to do.

"Dude, listen to me...keep your mouth shut and don't say one word."

"Why?"

"Because you're fucking shitfaced and you're totally dickish right now! I'm starving and want them to seat us" I replied.

The word 'dickish' is a mutually understood word we use for when we're being drunken idiots.

He begins to mutter in protest before I interrupt him, "Not one fucking word until we sit down...ok???"

"Fine whatever..."

We walk up to the hostess, who was tall and slender, very attractive and young. She smiles, looks me in the eye, then greets us all. Her body language was welcoming and positive, so I got good vibes right away.

It turned out that I didn't make a reservation, but she said it was alright, she'd get us a table. In fact, the table with the wine bottle on the left in this picture is exactly where we sat.

By the time we sat down, dusk was approaching fast, and the colors of the sunset could still be seen through the westward facing window.

Our waiter was a very polite young guy who reminded me of a mix between one of the Jonas Brothers and Mike D from the Beastie Boys. He was young and thin, fashionably dressed, and had a quirky little 'Jew-Fro' going on, which I appreciated, since I thought it gave him a distinctly unique look.

My drunken friend apparently never had a fine-dining experience before, and he was completely uncomfortable and out of his element.

The atmosphere was somewhat quiet, dimly lit for ambiance, and there was a calm, still energy in the air. This did nothing to settle his disposition.

I understood where he was coming from, however; because some people who've never really experienced fine-dining before can find it intimidating their first time around. He's a proud Irishman, very practical and down to earth, and he is most comfortable in an uninhibited, sometimes over-stimulated hearty atmosphere. Pubs and bars are like second homes.

Now, I love pubs and bars as much as the next guy, and lord knows I love the Irish and Gaelic culture in general. But this experience, more than any other before, brought out a side of him I'd rarely seen before.

Think of a poor potato farmer plucked from the Irish countryside to have dinner with the Queen Mum at Buckingham Palace -- and oh, by the way, the already English-loathing Irishman is drunk, and he's not fond of her royal highness, nor her hoity-toity manners. That's exactly what it was like.

Oh, such good times.

"Dude, I'm totally uncomfortable. I don't know what I'm supposed to act like and I don't know what half this crap on the menu is."

"Why would you be uncomfortable? No one here is any better than us. Relax. Just roll with it" I replied.

"Where's the fucking steak? I just want a steak," he slurs.

I point it out to him.

"I don't know man. It looks weird, what's all this other crap that comes with it" he asks -- his voice a few decibels too loud.

I run my hands over my face in frustration.

"Hey, can you not make a scene please. I'm not in the mood to get kicked out of here."

Granted, I understood he wasn't comfortable in that well-to-do atmosphere, but I was getting annoyed.

"Listen bro, you've never had a problem trying new things and expanding your horizons," I said.

"Just think of this as the growing pains that come with that. I'm paying so just sit back and enjoy it."

The conversation continues along this line for most of the time we waited, and it lasted well into the appetizers. By the time our steaks finally came, things settled down a bit.

Knowing him, I said, "Do not ask for A1!"

"You're not going to need it!"

He looked at me much like a 3 year-old would if I were to try and explain the principles of quantum physics to them.

He always eats steak with A1, no matter how good it is.

"Trust me," I said.

He looked miserable.

He proceeds to grab his utensils, lets out a big sigh, and begins cutting feverishly.

As I cut into my steak, I continued to talk it up saying, "This place was voted the best steak in NYC in one of the online mags I read."

I take a bite and look back up at him. His eyes are rolling into the back of his head as he leans his head back at a 45 degree angle.

"Mmmmm!" he said. His voice giving away his utter delight.

He proceeds to shovel another heaping slab into his mouth as if he hadn't eaten in 2 weeks.

Then he stops, looks at his plate in amazement, and mutters, "Oh my God, this is delicious!"

His girlfriend and I look at him and giggle. Moments later, the three of us in full agreement, simulataneously make "Mmmm" noises, in stereo, as we chew.

"So, you like it then, yes?" I asked.

He replied, "Dude, you were right, this is awesome -- best steak I've ever had."

"See, and you didn't even need A1 either!"

All I can say is thank you Perry St for living up to the hype and making an annoyingly drunk friend tolerable again!

(all pictures taken by me)

4 comments:

  1. Hey pallie Will, nice to know there are people out there who wanna makes our Dino proud....never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth....

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  2. I hear ya! Totally agree with you. Dino was my kind of guy...and he was the eptiome of cool, no doubt. Even ol' blue eyes thought Dino was the coolest in their heyday.

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  3. Nice photos for a drunk and dickish photographer... I love the word "dickish"... I plan to use it in my vocabulary starting today!!

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  4. it's a great word isn't it...it's kind of like being a drunken idiot to the point where you're sort of being a dick, but it's not bad enough yet to really call them a dick, in all fairness...LOL

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