Saturday, January 29, 2005


Last night Blondie took me out to dinner at BLT Fish for my birthday. There was an hour and a forty minute wait for tables but we weren't eating at the tables. We were going to eat at the bar.

I love eating at restaurant bars and have a mental list of the best places for bar dining. The bar at Bar Marche has become my regular brunch spot. Perching at the Mesa Grill's bar for tequilla and southwestern fare is a wonderful way to spend an evening. Otto and Marco New York are also favorites. Bar dining, or barning as my friends call it, allows you to enjoy some of New York City's best food in a less formal and more social setting. There is no wait for a table, the informality of leaning against a bar encourages more relaxed conversation, and you can get to know your bartender in a way you'll never know a waiter. At one place I used to frequent, the pretty blonde bartender made a practice of always buying me my first glass of Jamesons.

We ordered the Sancere and settled into a couple of Lobster Rolls. The rolls were a surpise. Unlike the traditionally mayonaise-soaked shredded lobster, these were nearly unadorned chunks of lobster tail. They were served with an enormous portion of crispy, string-thin fries, which we ate with the tart vinegar the bartender set before us. We stayed for three more glasses of Sancere but skipped desert in favor of more drinks.

Somehow we wound our way down to Luna Lounge. After arriving in the city from Iowa a few years ago, Blondie and her sister regularly dominated the fooseball table at Luna, one of the most competitive in the city. The lager-lads and frat boys would invariably underestimate the table top soccer skills of these two gorgeous blonde girls who had obviously had a few too many vodka tonics. This didn't last long, and by the time the girls sunk the winning goal, the guys had been taught a lesson in what a couple of girls can learn in the midwest, where the weather is frequently too cold for outdoor entertainment. The freakishly tall bouncer, Valentino, still recognized Blondie when we arrived, and the two of them traded old stories about Luna for a bit. The bouncer told us that the bar is scheduled to close in February.

After a couple of cocktails we walked up to the Library, where bartenders Erin and Elizabeth were serving out their last shift. The place was more crowded than usual for a Friday night. I suppose a lot of drinkers had come to say their farewells. All the drinking had put me in a sentimental mood. As we left, I told Blondie I felt like New York City was shutting down all our old boozing haunts because it was trying to forget us.