We had wanted to do a splurge meal, and since Colleen said that when she was in town last spring the best meal she had was at Eleven Madison Park, we decided a lunch there would be a good treat. The lunch menu is actually pretty reasonable priced (especially considering the real estate, as Megan pointed out in a whisper about a half dozen times) so with Christmas money in hand we were ready to be dazzled.
Within three minutes of entering the restaurant four people had already attended to us, and that was a pretty good indicator of what we were in for. I fell a little bit in love with the place as soon as our waiter asked if he should bring over the champagne cart. (Champagne cart?! A cart that exists for the sole purpose of getting a selection of cold champagne closer to me?! Ummm Yes.) He should. He did. We toasted. Then we ate, and drank, and repeated. There was an amuse-bouche followed by three courses each of intricate, beautiful, technically perfect and most importantly delicious food. The highlights:a veloute (that means velvet I learned!) of butternut squash being poured around a plate already in front of me; Megan's face when the waiter showed her what to do with the bowl of bone marrow covered in some sort of light creamy stuff served with her beef tenderloin; our waiter bringing us a dish of macaroons with our coffee and promised it wouldn't be at all filling but wanted us to have something sweet to finish even though we hadn't ordered dessert (way too full).
So what is so special about it? It is not just the food, or the wine, or the dessert, or the environment. I think in this situation the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts. We easily could have been attended on less than we were, but they went above and beyond with everything they did. I guess this is standard for four-star dining, but it was new to us. What I was probably most impressed with (aside from the food and the wine list. which was so beautiful and extensive that I wanted to take it with me and read it like a novel) was how good-humored everyone was as they went about their jobs. From the sommelier to the man refilling our water to the chef to the woman who took our coats - everyone not only seemed happy to do what they were doing, but to do it for us. Seamlessly.
Ideally after this lunch we would have had a bed or a couch in a quiet dark place to lie down on for a few hours, but we had planned on staying out through West Side Story that was a gift from our parents for that night so we bundled up and off we went.
We tried to do some shopping but other than finally finding the boots I had been searching for, we probably had the most fun when we finally decided we could quit and stood in front of the store windows with a view of Union Square taking pictures of each others reflection for twenty minutes.
We headed uptown to Times Square to take some jump shots and then get cozy with the tourists at Junior's waiting to go to the 7:00 shows. Still being full from lunch we ordered drinks to tide us over and I enjoyed the best martini I've had in months. This was also the location of that days reality check from Megan: When I commented on how many good looking men I'd seen at every establishment we'd been to that week and that I felt like I was in a candy store she reminded me that there was such a disproportionate number of them because most of them were probably trying to be in the entertainment business. Entertainers that make a damn good martini anyway.
West Side Story was wonderful because we grew up watching nothing but musicals on TV and have probably seen the movie two dozen times. (I was shocked and disturbed when I found out Natalie Wood wasn't Latina. Not so much that they would have a white actress play that role but more because it ruined the fantasy for me.) It was also a good contrast to Fela from a couple nights before, WSS being very much the standard song and dance number you expect from Broadway. This version does have a lot of Spanish mixed in which I think made the story, which I realize now is pretty over-the-top, that much easier to get carried away by.
After the show we skipped outta there to head north to meet my Binty, who met us at our subway stop to come have lots of wine and a sleepover. She's been one of my besties since I met her in health class freshman year in high school, and the three of us definitely solved some of the worlds problems by the end of our second bottle of wine that night.
Coming up the next day was treats in Soho and fun in Brooklyn - a pretty darn good way to spend my last day in New York.