Der unregelmäßige, englischsprachige Spreeblick-Ableger Hudsonblick, direkt von Charles aus NYC, nimmt euch heute mit auf einen kleinen Ausflug…
Foraging in New York City: Random Restaurant Reviews for the Aimless Diner
Camping isn“™t my favorite thing. I don“™t like bugs. I don“™t like mud. I don“™t like sharing a tent with my dirty laundry and hiking boots. „Roughing it“ appeals to me in principle, but the great outdoors is just not where I belong. So, while my wife was off on a woodsy camping trip, I went on my own sort of wanderung – the urban sort.
I planned on being in the field for at least 24 hours, so it was important to bring the right gear. Combat boots are always a sensible choice: comfortable, practical, and even fashionable in some settings. Camo shorts: same thing. And a suitably cryptic and deconstructed tee shirt is always good, especially in hot, muggy weather, like we had that weekend. A paperback for the train, an emergency snack bar, a matchbook full of Advil, a fully-charged cell phone, a pocket knife, keys-cards-cash and I was good to go.
The muggy air promised a downpour that never arrived. By the time I got to Tomkins Square I was sweating through my thin tee-shirt, and ready for my first break. I needed to get into a bar, quickly. I called a couple I know to see if they wanted to grab a beer and a bite to eat.
Zum Schneider is disparaged for many reasons, but the beer is never one of them. A half-liter Weihenstephaner Weissbier is enough of a reason to stop here on a hot day. Zum is celebrating its 5th anniversary on Avenue C, which means it was once on the leading edge of asshole-friendly venues that have taken over this once-untrammeled urban frontier. They must run a shuttle bus from the Merrill-Lynch trading floor to get this many suits in. My friends did the smart thing and stuck with bratwurst, but I tried for a brunch-style meal and ordered the „Bauernfrühstück.“ It was a confused, pale nightmare of meat and starch. Somehow the scrambled eggs had become indistinguishable from the potatoes, by taste as well as sight.
The good thing about tasteless Bavarian food, though, is that it prepares you for hours of drinking. Over the course of the day, I made my way from the usual haunts of the East Village, under the East River, to a bar on Atlantic in Brooklyn. A friend of mine was working there, and rounds of beer mystically began to turn into rounds of whiskey. After a few of these, I decided to see what I could scrounge up in this neck of the woods.
City Lights Diner is a no-muss, no-fuss experience. You walk in, yell what you want, and five minutes later, there it is (with a pickle!). When I triumphantly returned with my bounty, my friend and the other bartender stopped talking and stared. Not a good stare.
„Uh, where did you get that?“
One of them had had some kind of food poisoning experience from the diner that I had discovered, but I was too hungry to turn back now. Not only did I survive the experience unscathed, but my take-out turned out to be an excellent example of the textures that define a club sandwich: simultaneously crunchy and tender, chewy and crisp; plus the magical combination of bacon and tomato. The food poisoning thing must have been a fluke, or maybe they just got a bad pickle.
After demonstrating the bar remedy for toothaches (Whiskey. Warm.) to a fellow traveler, I caught the bus to go meet another friend. Maggie was celebrating the race that she“™d run that day. The party had thinned out at this point, but there was still plenty of booze and boozy conversation. At about three in the morning we struck camp and went foraging for a late night snack.
Our three AM arrival at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn fell safely between the overcrowded dinner hours and last call. After a cursory glance at the menu, I locked onto the Steak Tartare. It must have been excellent: once it arrived, I only came up for air and big swigs of Jameson. Maggie had an unseemly amount of fun reaming her beef marrow out of their bones with the wooden marrow-reaming utensil provided, and the rest of the crowd split a selection of raw oysters; a popular choice judging from the amount of necking going on in the dimly lit booths.
I woke up the next morning on Maggie“™s couch, pleasantly disoriented. It“™s always nice to wake up somewhere nice, instead of on a train or in a holding cell. She has a sunny, airy old apartment that makes you feel like you“™re staying with your parents: neat, tasteful… well not with MY parents, but you know: adult. Outside, the day was warm and clear and in short order Mags had me touring the neighborhood, searching for brunch.
The crowd at 2nd Street Café was fairly representative of 2nd Street itself: not annoyingly young, nor annoyingly annoyed. Maybe it was Maggie“™s Bostonian bearing seeping out, but there was an open-collared poise in the air; hip sans hauteur. The Huevos Rancheros at 2nd Street Café were similarly understated but completely delicious, especially on tortillas with Tabasco. Somehow the flavor that“™d been beaten out of the Bauernfrühstück ended up in Brooklyn, with light salsa instead of those pale chunks of undercooked potato.
I was ready to start drinking again, but sadly all trips must end, especially when one has a mortgage and a family to worry about, and when one has to show up sober at work someday soon. Instead, I hopped on the subway and headed home with a full stomach, a lingering buzz, and my emergency snack bar, untouched.