Monday, June 18, 2012

4 Bars + 1 Block = Happy Girl

So yesterday was Father's Day in the US so when I made the brunch reservations, I was a little nervous that the restaurant would be crawling with noisy families and squawking children.  Not so, as it turned out.  In fact, I think all the families must have been and gone hours before me & Shars even got to Gravy - a fabulous little Southern restaurant one street over from my Pilates studio.

I had made really good time walking to the restaurant yesterday so I set myself up at the bar and ordered one of their specialty brunch cocktails - a lovely sparkling wine, bitters and pomegranate something-something that was ice-cold, tart and really refreshing.  When Shars arrived, we got our table and another round of drinks, settling down to the serious business of selecting one dish from the tempting menu before us.  Shars chose the crawfish benedict and I went for the BLT&D, which started out as your garden-variety BLT but with the addition of duck confit.  I know, incredible.

Our meals complete and bellies full, we wandered to the restaurant at the top of the street, a Mediterranean place called Barbounia.  I've never been there to eat before, but the place looked so inviting yesterday with their windows and doors wide open, taking full advantage of the sunny day and cool breeze.  So in we went and sat at barstools to enjoy a delicious glass of wine.  I bought a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which is probably a little wimpy in terms of playing it safe but again, the wine was beautifully chilled and it was just the thing I needed to help me and Shars solve all the problems of the world.  Again, this restaurant was full of brunchers, but not of the screaming family variety - just young, upwardly-mobile things freshly awakened from the crazy party the night before.

But our day was not done - there were still problems we needed to workshop and crises we needed to work through.  So down the street we went, to the elegant Gramercy Tavern, whose talented chef has just won the James Beard Award for 2012.  A few more families in here for brunch, but a much older and more sophisticated crowd - as befitting the venue.  Another glass of wine, this time a bit of a braver choice (or so I thought).  I asked the bartender about the Assyrtiko white wine on the menu.  Apparently from Santorini, I felt the wine just sounded like what I ought to be having on such a warm and sunny day - something that reminded me of Greek beaches and relaxation.  Of course the bartender puts the bottle up on the bar to show me, and I realised I had actually had the wine once before - firstly in Chicago, when it was part of an early wine club order.  I recall really enjoying it, so I was pleased to rediscover it yesterday.

To round out our day and our impromptu wine-tasting walking tour, we rounded the corner to Tom Colicchio's Craftbar and had a few more drinks there.  The cocktail list is really fun, with lots of tempting items, and it totally helps that the bartender knows what he's talking about so you feel comfortable to stick your neck out and take a chance with unfamiliar things.  I wasn't totally brave, in the sense that I had a vodka-based cocktail, but it was delicious and really refreshing, and strong enough that I could just sit there and savour it rather than chug it back like a frat boy.  To close the day, I switched back to a really light, dry white wine and again, sat back to sip that slowly until Shars and I realised that we had no more problems to solve and no more life stories to workshop - it was wonderful.

Emerging into the dusky twilight, we realised we had spent 6 hours wandering in and out of four bars in a one-block radius.  I'm not sure what Shars thought, but I had enjoyed a wonderful day.  Sharing the subway at least part of the way home, I bid Shars adieu at 33rd Street and walked the rest of the way home.  On the footpaths, fathers and their kids were walking together and sharing ice creams and cold drinks - the end of another Father's Day out.  Nobody squawking, everybody just looking happy and relaxed.  Just how I felt.

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