Friday, January 29, 2016

Le Bookstore, Le Falafel, Le Boudoir

In yet another one of our very successful Monday evening gatherings, HanOre and I start at the Housing Works Bookstore in Soho. There's always some kind of rad literary event happening there, often for free, and all of the proceeds in the store go to helping the homeless and/or low-income New Yorkers who live with HIV/AIDS. Monday night happened to be a reading from three generations of New York Foundation for the Arts writing fellows: Phillip Lopate, Kathryn Harrison, Rajesh Parameswaran, and Catherine Lacey. It was a lovely experience to be able to sit in a toasty bookstore and hear beautiful words after such ridiculous, cabin-fever-inducing snowfall this past weekend. I really must get to Housing Works more often.

Our next stop brought us to Taïm, a falafel counter on Spring Street, for a quick bite. We dug into crispy falafel and Israeli salad (chopped tomatoes and cucumbers with parsley) as we talked about boys and work and pickpockets and blizzards while sitting on tall, bright orange stools staring at the darkened DeSalvio playground.

This was all an appetizer to the evening's main course (event-wise, not food-wise), however. You see, a couple of weeks ago I had gotten a press release for a new bar opening in Brooklyn. The bar was called Le Boudoir, and it was a Marie Antoinette-themed speakeasy located beneath French restaurant Chez Moi. I instantly forwarded the release to HanOre, knowing that she, whose affinity for high glamour and boss bitches I have always loved, would be the only logical person to take with me to such a place. And so we made the trek on the F train from Bleecker Street in Manhattan to Jay Street in Brooklyn, walking past both the Brooklyn Detention Center and a Barneys New York on the way there (oh, gentrification, what will you think of next).

Walking past a row of darkened storefronts, we eventually found it, the plastic letters of Chez Moi holding on for dear life to the glass on which they were affixed. The host inside slid open a faux door made to look like a bookshelf and guided us to follow the stairs around corner and down to enter. When I saw the stairwell was lined with ornately-patterned red wallpaper and a rash of gilded mirrors, I knew we were in for some fun. The space was quiet for a Monday night--there were only about three or four other parties in there with us--and we had our choice of white booths upholstered with shimmering red velvet, all outlined in that same gold gilt. We chose one near the back, next to a painting of baroque cherubs and more mirrors. While the cocktail menu was very extensive (all of the dessert liqueurs one could hope for, and more) we both chose the same house cocktail: The Dauphin. A combination of absinthe, chili liqueur, almond milk, coconut and cacao nibs (!!!), it was served in a glass inside a bowl of ice with a straw and a sprinkling of star anise. It was the best dessert cocktail a gal could ask for, and that absinthe made me toasty and fuzzy in the way that only absinthe can. I just didn't want it to end, but alas, it was a "school night" as it were and both of us had to skedaddle back to the island Manhattan. We wound our way out through the special exit door and trotted to the Borough Hall subway station, passing the gorgeous, swoonworthy brownstones on Clinton and Joralemon streets on the way. I decided I would gladly accept one instead of an engagement ring in case anyone decided to ask. It's the little things, you know?