Saturday, 19 September 2009

Day 6: Uptown Girl

John, breakfast at PJ Bernstein's, 1215 3rd Avenue

Ira Reiter, PJ Bernstein's, after organising our dinner reservation

John with Riddler costume from Batman

John and I in menswear at Macy's, , 7th Avenue and 34th

Macy's Merchandise

Me just giving in and looking like a Total Tourist, Macy's

Empire State Building as seen from outside Macy's, 7th Avenue and 34th

Me and the ABF in our gladrags (should've used the flash - ho hum)

Birthday pudding :))

Inside the fabulous restroom at Le Cirque

Courtyard at Le Cirque, East 58th between Lexington and 3rd

My American Best Friend (ABF) John arrived last night, to spend my birthday weekend with me, which was all confirmed at the last minute and really not sure whether he would be coming or not, so when I got the message from him that he was I was pretty happy. Driving through Detroit after work on Friday, the traffic there was so appalling that he missed his original flight and had to get on another one, arriving here at about nine last night, and pay $85 on top of that to get a limo from Newark instead of the closer La Guardia which was where he was originally flying to - poor John, what a pain!

This morning we went out to PJ Bernstein diner on 3rd Avenue, for a late breakfast, and sat at the bar on red-topped stools with a perfect view of all the comings and goings. Had eggs (sunnyside up, naturally), bacon, toast and kaw-fee (coffee with a strong NY accent) as we sat and plotted the day ahead. A forty-something guy came and sat quite near to us at the bar, and after making eye contact a couple of times he started chatting to us, about all sorts. After a while felt like I knew him well enough to ask if he could recommend any place nice for supper tonight, he suggested Le Cirque on East 58th between Lexington and 3rd, and immediately offered to call them and secure a booking for us. After a bit of hoo-ha with directory enquiries giving him the fax number of the restaurant, rather than the phone number, he got through and fixed it for 7.30pm, all very kind of him, as I doubt that this is the kind of establishment where it is particularly easy to score a reservation at such short notice. Thanks Ira Reiter for your help on that one!

After brunch we headed downtown to Bloomingdales, for a spot of retail therapy, where I purchased the classic "Medium Brown Bag" that I had meant to buy last time John and I were in NYC, but somehow completely failed to do. Had a browse around generally, went upstairs to get 10% discount voucher, looked in menswear and admired all the exquisitely cut Armani suits, also costumes from some of the Batman movies, which I photographed with my dinky compact camera (having decided not to heft Nikon about whilst with the ABF, it's too time-consuming and I was there with him first and foremost so did not want to spend too long taking photos) and was pleased that they came out really well. There is something quite fun about taking photos in a department store, I did a few more while we were there and also in Macy's a bit later. Brief foray into women's wear, as I was coming up the escalator and looked over my shoulder, immediately spotted on a manequin a gorgeous black furry waistcoat, totally made for me, rushed over to try it on, discovered that it was reversible, really nicely made and very affordable too. Guess whether I bought it or not?!

We hadn't been rushing about, and had stopped for coffee twice, so by this point it was time to head uptown again to return to my apartment to get ready for the restaurant. Had brought along a cocktail dress (in very dark purple with a flared skirt, a really flattering shape which I love, only wish I had more opportunities to wear it) and my favourite D&G black satin jacket (now sound like Patrick Bateman name-dropping in "American Psycho"), plus some stonkingly high stilettos and fishnet stockings - all in all felt very fabulous once decked out in this attire. We caught a cab a few blocks downtown to Le Cirque, slightly later than booked but John had rung to say we were running behind and they just said we could help out with some of the washing-up, so that was all cool ;) Had a drink in the bar while the table was made ready, Bombay Sapphire G&T for me and Bloody Mary for the ABF, then when we hadn't finished drinks when table was ready we were steered over and our glasses carried for us, which was a good indicator of the service to come. Decided on the Chef's Tasting Menu, simply because it sounded like such an amazing gastronomic experience, and here is what we ate:

Barron Point Oyster
Champagne essence, seaweed-watercress salad

Torchon of Foie Gras
Strawberries, balsamic vinegar and crisp proscuitto

Wild Burgundy Escargot
Gruyere gnocchi, fiddlehead fern and bottarga

Red Snapper Steamed with Lemon Verbena
Green tomato chutney and raw tomato vinaigrette

Duck Breast
Pluots, chocolate-peppercorn vinaigrette

Selection of Artisanal Cheese

Chocolate Tart
Salted Caramel, peanut butter and cocoa nib ice cream

It goes without saying really that all of the above was absolutely bloody gorgeously delicious and yummy beyond belief - talk about a taste explosion - the service was also perfect and we never felt rushed or intruded upon. For someone like me to eat a seven-course meal is quite something (I normally only eat stuff like a small piece of salmon plus a bit of salad for my supper) - of course all the portions were relatively small, but by course number six was feeling pretty darn stuffed, and when the waiter brought not only the pudding I had ordered (not the chocolate tart mentioned above, but a light lemon fluffy thing) but a creme brulee with "Happy Birthday" inscribed in chocolate underneath (John had obviously had a word), thought I might actually explode and make a terrible mess all over the refined walls of Le Cirque. Fortunately managed to contain myself, but we still had to walk the eight blocks back to my apartment (despite my towering stilettos) just to burn off some of the food. However, it really was more than just a meal, it was an Experience, and one that I was *very* glad to have had. Even though I had said before that if the restaurant was expensive (we kind of knew it would be, Ira from the diner was obviously not short of a few bucks and would have been used to eating at expensive establishments) John and I would split the bill, when it came to it he insisted on paying for my birthday treat, so that was probably one of the most costly meals I have ever had in my life, and thank you again so much J for treating me :)) Another fabulous day in NYC - is it possible for it to be any other way?

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