Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Ennui

I think there comes a time in every food lover's life when a bit of ennui with respect to restaurants sets in.  Everything starts to seem the same, everything seems overpriced, no meal is as good as what you could make at home if you put forth a small effort.

After some delicious, terribly inventive meals at the likes of Ribouldingue while I was in Paris a few weeks back, I returned to New York and almost instantly became gustatorily bored.  Between a heat induced reduction in my desire to cook and a few mediocre and overpriced meals at restaurants that had been recently lauded by the critics, I was dangerously close to being "over" the New York food scene.  Tragic I realize, especially given the myriad culinary options here.  I assure you it was a temporary fatigue though.  It was The Hunger which yanked me out of it.

Not a rumbling in my stomach...but rather a pop-up restaurant.  A restaurant that forms for a few days at a time once every few months, in a different location with difference food each time.  After reading a quick blurb on Sunday Suppers about the newly available spots at The Hunger's second incarnation, and viewing the gorgeous photos of the meal that was served at its first, I was on the phone quick as can be begging for a spot for me and three friends.

The event was to be held in an undisclosed outdoor location in Soho and the theme was Argentinian BBQ.  Armed with this information about the likely prevalence of meat I easily persuaded some men (Paul and my friend Tom) to accompany me.  And because Elaine is usually up for just about anything, she happily joined our merry crew.

We arrived at The Yard at the Soho Grand and were faced with a bouncer, a list and a velvet rope.  I was baffled, saddened...had I totally misjudged this event?  Thankfully no.  All we had to do was walk through the very high maintenance Cosmo party to get to our little low key nook in the back.

An outdoor oasis in a sea of urbanity (with perhaps just a touch of faux edge inside of said oasis), it was exactly what I was in the mood for on a warm Friday evening.

After we got ourselves situated with some sangria, the food began to flow.

Everyone agreed that the fried cheese was just to die for, and that the salad was uncommonly good.

We were a tad concerned about what seemed to be small portion sizes of meat, but presently realized that after consuming what was handed out we were all perfectly sated.  I suppose this is what these french woman have been trying to tell us all this time, no?

The sides were a bit different than those you might encounter at most steak dinners, but they matched the light, summery feeling of the meal perfectly.

And eventually the dessert rolled around.  None of us had high hopes for the grilled oranges (Paul predicted they would be a bit boring) but I have to say we were mightily impressed.  Infused with the perfume of rosemary and set on a dollop of sour, thick yogurt, the orange was a delightful end to the meal.

Our senses pleasantly dulled from the sangria and our bellies just full enough, we all tripped home happily to our respective homes, uplifted by the time with friends and the inventiveness of the event.  It was official:  my ennui had ended.


Jane said...

I read about these too, and I love the idea. Just the thing to kick you back into motivation.

Just goes to show things can get boring no matter where you are!

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Ennui seems to be infecting most New Yorkers right now, Laura. Teri over at Walking Off the Big Apple recently amusingly reported that An Ennui Advisory is in Effect in New York. This dinner sounds like the perfect antidote! BTW, have you made it to the Breslin yet? I think you might discover another ennui antidote there.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Terry - Her post is absolutely hilarious...I love that quote about nearby lesser towns that we are not familiar with. Still haven't made it to the Breslin but I stop in at Stumptown Coffee (adjacent) on a bi-weekly basis at least. Breslin is definitely on my short list though.

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