New York can be an incredibly lonely city. Walking amongst throngs of people, one can easily become overwhelmed with a sense of anonymity that sometimes overwhelms even the most independent of souls. Though I grew up here and my immediate family is just a subway ride away, I feel a tinge of sadness when I walk down a quiet street alone on a bitter cold night. Maybe I just have SAD, or I hate the cold weather, but I find these fleeting sentiments inescapable.
Take last Friday night, for example. I exited the subway station around 10PM and found myself on a practically deserted and snowy TriBeCa street. I had dinner plans with BT at Marc Forgione, and immediately questioned why a celebrity chef would have a restaurant in such a quiet neighborhood (digression: turns out, TriBeCa has more restaurants than I thought). My inquiring mind was quieted as soon as I stepped foot inside the restaurant, which was packed. Bad weather doesn’t stop New Yorkers from a fun Friday night out in any neighborhood on any night of the week.
The interior of the restaurant was like the New York that small-town folk with that city itch must dream of before they actually get here. There was a buzz of exuberant, youthful energy – and this isn’t to say that the crowd was young – but it felt young. The dress was casual yet classy, a fine balance created by a rustic interior yet high-class clientele.
Once seated, we barely glanced at the menu because we knew we wanted the 1621 Harvest tasting menu, the five-course Iron Chef-title-winning meal that Forgione prepared as a recreation of the first Thanksgiving feast that surprisingly didn’t involve turkey of any kind. All in all, there were gin and bourbon-based cocktails, an amuse bouche, a sweet potato soup topped with clams, mussels and cod, duck sausage atop cornbread and shaped like sushi, lobster tail, sunchockes, and some smokey cedar chips brought tableside for a quick minute by Mr. Forgione himself. After all of those courses and this neat little production (which I like to call Marc’s fireside chat), the venison arrived.
Stuffed venison loin, butternut squash, juniper jus, black trumpet mushrooms, sage
And later, the richest and most delightful fruit cobbler I’ve ever eaten. Truly. I am speechless:
Dried fruit cobbler, hickory nut crumble
There’s so much living going on in New York at every second of every day, and I sometimes forget this. Though it sounds silly, dining experiences such as these make me feel more alive than ever – like I’m a part of something (in this case, the upper-crust New York lifestyle, or Marc Forgione-food-celebrity-land) so much bigger than me and my teensy existence. And I’m okay with being small, because that’s what being a New Yorker is about: wanting to make some sort of splash so that we don’t go entirely unnoticed in our time here, but survive just under the radar with a few moments in the spotlight. Once noticed, even if just for our fifteen minutes of fame, the lonely New York becomes a warm and welcoming city to call our own.