New York is a special (read: strange) place when it comes to dining out. As with real estate, the true mantra of eating out in New York is "location, location, location." I know this for two reasons: A) I live here, and B) I've hostessed here. But I've never quite experienced it from the other side. Until now, that is.
I (uncharacteristically) spent my Friday night in the company of New York Notables, dining at a restaurant so elitist, it's not open. Seriously.
And so, I give to you, my story.
We're at the elusive Waverly Inn (which may or may not be open), piling our coats on the already piled coats on the overhung coat rack. The impossibly tall and coiffed hostess looks at us inquiringly (suspiciously?). "We're meeting a friend," my sister and I nod towards the bar. She smiles.
The friend, an Editor, is with another friend, an Actress, and we've caught them on the way out for a cigarette. The now vacated bar stool is mine, and I order us a Dirty Martini, and a Coke, with lemon. The bartender looks, waits for more. "Vodka?" I supply, and still he waits. I smile confusedly, and he supplies, "Straight up?" I nod, try to smile, feel not quite so small as I do bemused. The scene has been set.
Our (read: my sister's) friends return, as does an Einstein-haired bespectacled man. He looks like a regular, and I picture him eating at the bar, the same meal, the same time. He nods to the bartender and gets a smile. I'm instructed by the Editor to give Einstein my seat. He looks nervous, the Editor. Perhaps Einstein has the ear of Mr. Carter, and we should tread carefully? As alliances are wont to change, so are unlisted phone numbers, and as we all know, reservations at an as-yet-unopened restaurant are terribly hard to come by. I give him my seat. Einstein looks satisfied.
I decide I'm hungry.
We are waiting for another, the Wife-of-the-Editor. We'll wait for her to be seated, five of us at a four-top. This is fine with me, with all of us, but I'm told, just to be clear, it's so as to avoid being seated in Siberia.
"Don't they have a cute backyard garden? It must be nice in the summer." I try to sound knowledgeable.
"Yes: Siberia," I'm told.
The Wife-of-the-Editor arrives. She's a cooler-looking and hood-eyed Barbie doll, and I'm glad I decided to dress down. Her combat boots trump my Phillip Lim skirt, but I know the turquoise of my top brings out my eyes. I suppose we're even.
Our table is in front of a fireplace that is not on, but still manages to get its point across. I settle in and scan the menu. While I look for the infamous mac n'cheese, I'm told the chicken is delicious and the story of Chasen's and his Chili, which is now on the menu at the Waverly. How very old Hollywood!
Hilary Duff walks by, headed toward Siberia, and smoky-eyes our table.
The Actress orders Chasen's Chili to start, and the Waverly's Vegan Quinoa Risotto to finish. She pokes fun at herself before I can, and I decide I like her. The Editor orders the green salad with poached egg and lardons, and I tell him I love lardons. He says he has a Lard-on right now and we all laugh. After I order (roasted beets and goat cheese to share with my sister, who orders the burger, and chicken), and the Wife-of-the-Editor orders (oysters, roasted beets and goat cheese), it's time for a cigarette.
I don't smoke.
The Actress stays behind, and we make fun of people who are falsely humble. I tell her of the boy who, in my freshman year at college, told me he went to a small boarding school in England that I would have never heard of. I tell him that Canada is not the Amazon, and that I think he's a pompous ass. We never speak again, but the Actress likes the story.
She went to Duke and we talk about I Am Charlotte Simmons. The smokers return and the Editor says he's one of the few who gave it a positive review. I tell him that most of my friends didn't like it, that they felt it was too stereotypical, and I tell him that I liked it, but agree: It is too stereotypical. But so are my friends, and that's why we all have Myspaces and Facebooks and Blogs. We're desperate to feel original.
I find out a few days later that the Editor has drinks with Tom Wolfe the following night.
In between appetizers and biscuits, biscuits and entrees, there are more cigarette breaks. Always, someone stays behind and I feel mildly baby-sat, but happy because then I can eat as many biscuits as I want and no one is there to count. I keep my own count and realize I eat the same as the Editor, and three times as many as the Actress.
In between our Entrees and paying the bill, the Wife-of-the-Editor goes to the bathroom and gets yelled at by Kelly Osborne's assistant, who in turn gets yelled at by Kelly Osborne, who, upon my trip to the bathroom, I see is sitting with Hilary and Haylie Duff. How very new Hollywood!
My chicken is delicious, and we pay the bill. I decide I can't hate the Waverly for their food, but I can hate it for the fact that the dining room is half-empty and Siberia had only two full tables, but the bar room is full. While I dig for my coat under the piles of coats, I feel eyes wondering who I am and where I sat, and I want to cover myself before I feel glad that I'm not them.
We walk outside, hand-in-hand, and a paparazzi snaps our photo.