Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fat Kid Saturdays

For Christina.  

Recently, I was assigned my first homework in years. Read Danny Meyer's Setting the Table. The book is about hospitality and business in the restaurant world and how Mr. Meyer found himself in the place he is now; Owner of 11 restaurants, three of which are go-to places for me, without knowing that they were in anyway connected. Obviously, this man and I are on the same page when it comes to food, so accordingly, I decided that I would use his first restaurant, The Union Square Cafe to lose my eating alone virginity, especially since making the single diner feel welcome is supposedly very important to him.

I put on my brave face, walked through the entrance, and asked to be seated at the bar. I have to admit, I really was second guessing this whole eating alone thing. I felt a bit silly, but realized that there were several other people on their own. I was given a menu by a cheery bar man, named Chris. He asked if I was reading the book. Sheepishly, I admitted to my nerd-dom. Chris and I swapped stories about food, and where we were from. Quickly, I didn't feel like I was eating alone, but in a good way. He talked to me while carrying on with his tasks, and helped me choose my meal, assuring me I wouldn't leave without being full.  

Before I ordered, Chris gave me some breads, a large pat of butter, and a ramekin of olives. The breads were soft and chewy. One slice of brown, a sesame covered white roll, and rosemary flatbread, which was to die for. The butter was delicious. It was, well, buttery, thick, but easy to spread, and sprinkled with sea salt. The kalamata olives were covered in olive oil that had been infused with lemon and orange zest. I tore through them, and probably would have left happily with just these things. But no...had to get mains too.  

I went for the Garganelli - a lamb ragu with mint, peas, and pecorino romano, over house made pasta.  This certainly isn't is your standard summer fare, but if you tasted it, you wouldn't care. It was rich, but not heavy. You could taste it all. I liked it so much, I'm tempted to never try anything else on the menu.  I will try other things, but the garganelli will be my first USC love.  

Seeing as I had a half portion of the pasta, it was okay to get dessert. I opted for the oldest thing on the menu - the Banana Tart, which has been there since the restaurant opened in 1985. I know what you're don't like bananas...are you a liar or stupid??? I should clarify, I like bananas, but they have to be in something, not just there being all cooked slug-like. I thought this was safe. I was wrong.  I was presented with a macadamia nut base, with, well a whole, unadulterated banana that had been caramelized. COOKED SLUG!!! I had to eat it. Chris said it was good. I trusted him. He wouldn't lead me astray, right? RIGHT? Well, he didn't. It did taste good, and I even got past the texture after cream mixed into things has a magical effect. I'm positive that a person who likes bananas would absolutely love this tart. It had a crispy shell, with warm banana, that went phenomenally with the macadamia nuts. The honey-vanilla ice cream was fantastic. Creamy, cool, not too sweet. Did it convert me to the church of banana eating? Hell no, but I'd definitely recommend it.  

As I finished, another regular showed up. He was a nice man from Brooklyn. Everyone greeted him.  He and I started talked, and I ended up hanging out with him and Chris for another half hour. I had a completely unanticipated fun time. I truly loved my entire experience, to the point where I want to be a regular. Really. Pretty impressive in this city. 

1 comment:

  1. Love love this :) Thanks for the dedication, a must go when I am in town. I must try that ragu.