Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You have 21

Last night, in a fit of true decadence, Daniel, our friend Alex, and I went to the 21 Club for dinner.

Daniel and I had been once a few years ago for his birthday and had been very eager to return ever since. So as a part of our let's-eat-everything- delicious-in-New York-before-we-move extravaganza, we headed back last night with Alex in tow.

We arrived at 8:30 and without hesitation ordered pre-prandial drinks. This is not a place where it is permissible not to drink. I had my usual vodka soda, Alex a martini, and Daniel on Alex's urging ordered a Manhattan. We felt quite yar, with the boys in their required coats and ties and me in a black dress.

The decision on what to eat was an easy one. We all went for the famous 21 Burger. Daniel had had one on our first 21 outing, and there was no way we were ordering anything else. We each ordered a salad as an appetizer, and we chose a mix of French fries and the pommes souflees as the potatoes to accompany our burgers. Alex also chose a bottle of red wine to keep our palates whet and wet.

The verdict: Daniel's (a beet and goat cheese) and Alex's (bibb lettuce with tomato and a huge hunk of blue cheese) salads were both really good. Both cheeses were really pungent in a fine way and Daniel's beets were sweet and nicely crunchy. Alex was so taken with his tomatoes that he apologized for being unwilling to share. My chopped salad, on the other hand, was not so good. Lots and lots of lettuce swimming in a kind of flavorless mayonnaise based dressing. Luckily, I had the yummy bread basket to keep me company (loved the raisin walnut rolls), and frankly, the less I filled myself with salad, the greater the chance that I would be able to finish my BURGER.

Oh that burger. Apparently cooked in duck fat, served on a grilled brioche bun with grilled onions, one little grilled tomato, and some "21 sauce" (ketchup mixed with spicy mustard) on the side, this burger is transcendent. So rich, so perfectly salty, so compellingly charred on the outside and pink on the inside. Just glorious. The French fries were excellent representatives of the skinny, slightly crispy variety and these pommes souflees characters were fantastic, little puffed up crisps of fried potato, which became soft as they deflated from one's bite. I ended up not being able to finish my burger, and frankly, since I woke up this morning it's all I've been able to think about.

We finished the evening with post-prandial drinks for the boys and coffee for me. And then we were so taken with our decadence on a Monday evening that we headed downtown to another past conquest, the Brandy Library, an incredible Tribeca bar that features the most complete array of brown liquors I've ever seen.

Heading home in a cab in the wee hours, I felt nothing but pride. This is the send-off New York deserves.

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