Saturday, December 16, 2006


So on the same day that Frank Bruni blogs about solo diners in the NY Times Dining section, I coincidentally treated myself to (what I would consider) a high-end lunch at Pastis. Even though I don't usually dine out alone, I was in the neighborhood, and I was really jonesing for a great burger and fries. Seriously: Pastis does a great burger and fries!

Except that, you know, it's PASTIS. Not really one of those restaurants that you'd think about eating at solo. For one thing, it's a Total Scene, which, for me, can be intimidating. Why? Because I'm not a model, and I'm not rich, and not being either or both is a disadvantage when you're entering a Total Scene. But yesterday I was having one of those high-self-esteem days which made not being an Amazon Princess (almost) irrelevant.

Though Pastis was packed, I was seated immediately (solo dining advantage #1). I got a little booth/table and faced out to the restaurant. Though I didn't have a book on me, fortunately Pastis has a fully-loaded rack of newspapers. Their Times was a day-old, so I chose a current NY Observer, something I NEVER READ. It seemed an appropriate choice considering the ambience: lots of Euro-Trash (is that an offensive term?), many heads of expensive blonde highlights, and dudes in Italian loafers. Those People read the Observer, right? Wait: Those People are IN the Observer. Awesome.

Without much menu perusal I ordered a cheddar cheeseburger medium, said "tap water's just fine," and, because the waiter offered, said "yes" to the breadbasket (solo dining mistake #1). My burger came medium rare, but I didn't complain, instead interpreting its bloody juiciness as the kitchen's favor to me. Believe me: it WAS a favor, because the meat was fresh and super-juicy with just the right amount of fat. The cheddar was just-right, oozing off the sides of the burger, and there were bright green romaine leaves, perfect tomato slices (in December! Wow, Pastis, impressive!), and fragrant rounds of sliced purple onion stacked high on the almost-brioche bun. This burger sounds pretty awesome, right?! It was.

I tried to eat it delicately but then put that idea in the "fuck it" bin because delicious juicy greasy treats should not be consumed self-consciously. They should be consumed with gusto and lip-smacking and accidental moans of "mmmm...nummy-num-num-yum!" I say this because I did this and the three women in their early-thirties dining next to me noticed. But I felt no shame! Maybe a little. Actually: none! The burger was too good, and besides that how could I feel ashamed in front of three women who had all ordered salads and then paid their modest check with three different credit cards?! Here's a tip: LIVE A LITTLE!

Okay: so I made quick work of the burger and it was sublime. But let's not forget the fries! Pastis makes AMAZING fries -- perfectly cooked (well-done but never burnt or oily), and lightly seasoned with fresh herbs. The best part: HUGE, HEAPING PORTION. I love when people are generous with things they are good at. It's just The Way To Be. The Other Way To Be is to be a Plate-Cleaner, which I was. I think my waiter was impressed with me; I'm sure most women who eat there don't order what I ordered, then proceed to finish the entire thing, and then keep it in their bellies without any kind of induced vomiting. Yes: I am saying I'm Special.

After the success of this meal, I don't understand why I don't dine out alone more often. It's nice to eat at my own pace, and people-watch, and choose the place without worry over someone else's enjoyment. I'm not saying I'll be taking myself to Peter Luger's for a solo steak dinner anytime soon.
But: I'm not not saying it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1) there are much better places for STEAK than Luger's. You know this for a fact.
(2) is the Pastis burger better than, or the same as that offered at Schiller's? Same question re: the fries. Or, is it the other way around?
(3) stop it already; I'm hungry just reading!

7:27 PM  
Blogger Esculent said...

You should try the Burger from Peter Lugers, only served at lunch time and no sides, maybe an onion slice. Tomatoe costs an extra buck and fries( a quartered potatoe) an extra dollar. Best no frills burger I have had in this town.

You get more attitude from the waiters for not ordering a steak and a bunch of sides.
but it totally worth it.

11:57 PM  

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