You know it's almost summer in New York when you eat outside for the first time. This probably isn't so different for non-New Yorkers - when I was growing up in Connecticut, we used to eat outside as soon as it got warm enough - but there's a curious willingness on a New Yorker's part to brave the smog and noise of congested avenues to dine al fresco the second the thermometer passes 70 degrees. (My friend Miles is a notable exception to this rule.)
Last Friday, after spending an afternoon off from work baking my sunscreen-slathered self on a rock in Central Park (that's a shot of the Great Lawn, taken just before dinnertime), I met my friend Cristin for an early dinner at Bar Boulud, near Lincoln Center. We actually ate there together at about the same time last year - and this time around, we had basically the same meal. Except, this time, we got to eat outside and enjoy the sunshine.
We shared a few small things, which seems to me to be the best way to eat, the vast majority of the time. Cristin ordered a flight of red wines, I tucked into a flight of French whites (white Burgundy - is there arnything better?), and we shared escargot, pâté grand-mère, and some delectably crispy French fries. Bar Boulud wins many, many points for serving its fries with tangy, European-syle mayonnaise. MANY POINTS.
(They lose a few points for some pretty shoddy service, though. They were hovering and imposing for the first twenty minutes, and then, when we were ready to order, they disappeared. They forgot Cristin's second glass of wine, too. For shame, frankly, at the price of $17 a glass.)
But, aside from the service glitches, it was a great, warm, sunny meal. So what if it's back in the 50s today?