Saturday, December 03, 2005

cold restaurants

Living in New York, one goes to a lot of smallish restaurants. In other parts of the country, maybe you go out to eat at places with a half-acre floor, and carrier pigeons are used to get orders from the front of the house to the kitchen. But here, many restaurants are the size of a suburban McMansion's bathroom, and the owners are spending all their money on fancy glass and metal decor, without thinking about the really important things. And I'm not talking about food, I'm talking about comfort. I'm talking about coming in from a cold, windy December day, and sitting in a warm, cozy restaurant. Fuel-oil prices be damned. If I'm warm, I'll eat more, and (memo to restaurant owners!) will doubtless tip more and want to come back! Three stories about this...

Last winter, we went to one of the better Mexican restaurants in our neighborhood, Tierras Mexicanas, on 36th Ave. and 31st St. New York is notorious for having no good Mexican restaurants, but this one does (did) relatively well, with good, well-spiced and well-prepared entrees, not just street food. We'd been there a few times before, and had good grilled fish, roasted chicken, and some other things. That time, we went on a cold, blustery day. Walked in, and the restaurant was (a) empty, and (b) freezing. We asked if the heat was going to come on, and they said no, it was as warm as it gets. We walked out, saying "see you in the Spring." I think we went back once over the summer. Yesterday we decided to go again, being in the mood for good Mexican food, and wanting to see a movie at the nearby theater. It was closed. Do I feel guilty? No, but I do miss decent Mexican food...

There's a new Thai place near us, which is quite a good thing. Called Wave Thai, it's on 31st, North of Ditmars. The other alternatives are a longer walk away, Thai Angel which is decent but not particularly notable, and Ubol's Kitchen, which is notable for its horrid mid-1970s karaoke videos that they always play as you eat your pad thai! Anyway, Wave Thai was clearly designed in the summer. Really nice decor, with red walls, interesting lighting fixtures with gold bulls eye patterns, and plate-glass for the entire front wall and door. With no airlock. Anyone walks in, and a gust of cold air pours into the room. For people along the wall, it's especially bad, as they have this really trendy poured-concrete bench, which is wicked cold to sit on. Their door is leaky too, with the kitchen exhaust fan sucking air through the restaurant and keeping the door open. The place seems conscientious, though, since in addition to having really good food, when we went there for lunch last week, the owner was in the middle of a conversation with an awning salesperson about building an awning to surround the front door and reduce the draft. I hope they figure it out, 'cause it would be shame to have to avoid such a pleasant addition to the neighborhood...

The third story is last night, again. After giving up on the closed Mexican place, we walked down the street to a workaday Thai place (Arnhem Thai, 36th Ave., 33rd St., a step up from Thai Angel, a step down from the new Wave Thai). We went in, it was cold. Very cold. Natasa put on her coat and hat. We asked (twice) for them to turn up the heat. The second time, they explained that there's work being done on on the heating system, and it was off. (!) We had to tell them to plug in the space heater that was sitting against the wall, which they did. After 10 minutes, however, the lights went out as the circuit-breaker flipped! One would think that on a Friday night, when they knew the heat would be out, they might have borrowed a few space heaters and made sure they would work and that the place would be comfortable? One would think, incorrectly, apparently. They have an airlock with their front door, but one of the doors was missing, entirely defeating the purpose. Yes, I know that you're walking around all the time, and walking back to the nice warm kitchen, but your poor guests are freezing their butts off and getting no exercise to warm up.

I, for one, will not be shy this winter about complaining about inadequate heat...

2 Comments:

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Marty said...

If you haven't discovered it yet, Thai Pavillion, also on 30th Ave, is an excellent alternative to That Angel. In particular, I like the Tamarind Chicken/Bean Curd dish that they make...

martyw@nirvanasoft.com

 
At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must try an authentic great tasting Italian Restaurant in Nolita. It is L'asso, 192 Mott Street, the atmosphere is great and the food is excellent.

 

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