Sunday, April 30, 2006

Three Days of Rain in NYC

Although the rain was a bit of a hindrance, we've grown quite accustomed to raindrops falling on our heads in SF. So on Saturday, April 22 we began the day with a glorious brunch at Cafe des Artistes. The Edwardian ambience complete with hothouse flowers blooming in the windows and murals painted by Howard Chandler Christy reminded me a bit of Liberty in London. Then onto the Frick where the line wrapped around the block in pouring rain awaiting a glimpse of the Goya exhibit. Needless to say, we chose to roam the main collection instead and then toured the modern galleries at the Met. Later drinks at Ava Lounge housed in the penthouse and rooftop of Dream Hotel followed by dinner at John's Pizzeria. On Sunday more rain. "Rain rain go away come again another day" as my daughter would say and unfortunately for us it did. We marched to Payard, but it was closed so we happened upon a charming Italian spot, Via Quadronno. Then the Guggenheim museum and the stunning Klee exhibit at the Neue Gallerie. Afterward, we enjoyed Viennese hot chocolate served in wine goblets at the lovely Cafe Sabarsky. After a brief detour to Zabar's, we stopped in at the second floor bar at Sardi's -an old NY tradition I had long wished to experience. As it was opening night across the street for The History Boys, Nicholas Hynter's play and soon-to-be movie, we spied gorgeous Ralph Fiennes among other luminaries from our bar-side perch. I really loved the compelling production of Three Days of Rain with Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, and Julia Roberts. Julia should have owned the second act as a former Georiga Peach, but instead she came off as Blanche Dubois-- too twangy and severe.

On Monday, I enjoyed lunch with my editor and publicists at Giorgione and then Kim and I walked until we couldn't take another step. The sun had finally emerged and we could take in a typical spring day in NY abloom with lilacs and cherry trees heavy with flowers. 21 proved the final epitome of the gentleman's club. I noticed as soon as a man was seated, moments later a glass of bourbon on the rocks would magically appear in his hands, before he could even utter, "I'm on a high" or "Show me the money." I could have spent all night watching these men in their last bastion of male dominion and blatant superiority. And yet, as out of my element as I felt, the staff were so friendly and generous to us. We were seated in a comfortable booth with optimal spying and eavesdropping opportunity. I was in Heaven. I loved it all-- the campy jockeys on the front steps, the steak house vibe in the main dining room with rusting objects hanging from every available ceiling space, to the cocktail names on the bar menu-- "Bee's Knees," "Puncheon," and of course the "21" manhattan and martini.

If a close male friend is ever miserably dumped and broken-hearted, I will send him directly to 21, (No passes. Don't stop at the jockey on the curb) to lift his spirits and give his wounded male ego a sudden rocket boost. Kim gushed to our waiter about the history of the place and thank God she did. For just as she smiled encouragingly at him, he asked if we'd like a private tour? Would we? Traipsing through the private dining rooms among haughty club members didn't seem particularly appealing, but how could we turn down the opportunity to explore the male psyche and an invitation from a Gentlemen's Club, no less. I marveled at our good fortune and instantly recalled Isak Dinesen (as convincingly portrayed by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa) as she strode through the private Nairobi club with head held high as the men puffed on their cigars and ruffled their newspapers disapprovingly. A charming young waiter escorted us through the kitchen past the giggling prep cooks to a low-hanging opening and steps leading to the motherlode below. He presented the unassuming entryway as one of the last remaining secret passageways from Prohibition days. Uh huh. The door was made to appear as hidden as possible with shelves in front to mask what lies behind it. He joked the door weighed 15 tons and would we like to give it a push? No, Mr. Strong Waiter, please be our guest. Once inside the wine cellar, we were surrounded by the private collections of Elizabeth Taylor (strategically placed in the front), Richard Nixon, Sammy Davis, Jr., and a bottle of Cristal, a present from the Clintons to Chelsea on her birthday. He explained, that once the older celebrities kick the can their stash goes to their estate. Apparently, Nixon's daughter still calls to ensure her father's bottles are still there. We continued into a formal dining room with a long oval table ready to accommodate a five course dinner with wine pairings for 21 guests. Ooh-la-la! Donald Trump has also been known to host his apprentices here. In the corner, I noticed an intricately carved mahogany booth and went over to examine it more closely. I was considering the "mayor's booth," a spot where the mayor could sup and carouse undisturbed. During a government raid, one mayor was rumored to have had the police cars towed. As we took our leave from 21, I took a deep whiff from the highly polished wood and thanked my lucky stars I could return to the real world outside.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Who links to me?