Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fashion 26 and Hotel Griffou

May 18

I should just take a pastry brush and a bowl of vegetable oil, lay out all of my dress shirts and paint a light coat on each of them. It would save me the trouble of worrying about grease stains. I should just be proactive, make them all nothing but stain and be done with it.

I should probably soak them all in red wine first.

Instead, I stood in the middle of Rare Bar & Grill in the Fashion 26 hotel with streaks of grease down the front of my gray cotton shirt with French cuffs.

I don’t know how they got there. I was trying to be careful. It was, after all, the fanciest launch party I’d been to in awhile, and the fashionistas were there in droves, posing in front for photographers and then standing around looking statuesque and fabulous. Not a stain on them.

If this had been 1999, say, or even 2004, it would have been easier to avoid having grease drip down my body. But it’s 2010, and that means that at fancy, high-brow openings, they must serve sliders at the very least. For this opening they also served buffalo wings and cones of French fries with mini-cones of ketchup in them and fried pickles (the first I’d had in New York — batter-fried little disks).

I was snacking on the fries and looked down because I thought I’d sensed a drip from the ketchup, and there I was, covered in grease.

It was probably the slider, but I’ll never know.

I hadn’t seen a coat check so I still had my bag with me. I adjusted it so the strap covered most of the stain and went to get a cocktail.

What can I say? I don’t let a stain get in the way of a good time, and the DJ was phenomenal.

My cocktail was something with citrus, strawberry purée and a brand of tequila that was far too good to be used in a cocktail. But with positive GDP growth in the first quarter and anecdotes of robust restaurant traffic here in New York, I guess the days of the over-fancy cocktail are back.

The food is still supposed to be down-to-earth, though.

Business was certainly robust last week when I stopped into the Hotel Griffou at the request of its publicist.

“It's a good thing you guys have a publicist,” I said, raising my voice over the din at the packed bar. “This place is dead. I’m surprised I don’t see tumbleweeds rolling through here.”

They expressed polite amusement at my sarcasm and showed me and my guest to our table.

The Hotel Griffou actually isn’t a hotel at all. It’s one of those cute restaurants tucked away in the West Village (in this case West Ninth Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues) that everyone likes so much. Its original owner was a certain Madame Griffou, and she did run a hotel there.

We wound our way through the crowded bar area and ended up in one of several more sedate dining rooms — homey, eclectic, it reminded me of a more casual version of the second floor of Bobo.

My guest for the evening was the always awesome Blain Howard, my pop-culture and sci-fi guru (who, by the way, encouraged me to see Kick Ass, one of the funnest movies I’ve seen in a really, really long time).

Looking at the cocktail menu, Blain, a warrior at heart (rugby player and former mixed martial artist, as you may recall), was intrigued by the Beowulf Bramble (Aquavit, blackberries, lemon juice and crème de mure), but instead went for the Avocado & Vanilla Daiquiri.

Yes, trendy food is often staid, but the drinks can be as crazy as you like.

I had a Negroni.

What we had for dinner was also very, very 2010. And here’s what it was:

Poutine with duck confit and thyme
foie gras seared with plums, parsnip purée and kiwi berry

grass-fed steak frites with poivre sauce
Hanger steak grilled with potatoes, asparagus and maitake mushrooms

Very, very 2010.

I did get out of there stain-free, though. I think.

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