Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Lesser of Two Regrets

"You want a bacon-wrapped lamb chop?" Eric was being nice by offering a bite.

"No thanks," I said, not wanting to have to report lamb and bacon in the food diary.

"I really feel like you're missing out on it..." he said, not tauntingly, but honestly. Of course, it was the perfect thing to say to get me to eat the bacon-wrapped lamb chop.

In truth, I always feel like I'm missing out on any food I don't try, even if it's something I know I won't like. When I mushed the fatty bite around in my mouth, I felt a sense of regret eating it, but only for the calories. I probably would have felt a greater sense of regret if I hadn't eaten it.

We were eating dinner Saturday night at Employees Only, a hidden gem of the West Village that's better-known for its fine cocktails than for its food, but it's a great dinner place. Edith and I always look forward to the steak tartare which is rich in shallots, truffled capers, and dijon mustard and hasn't made us sick once despite being raw beef.

I was starving after my Meatpacking District experience, trying to be cool but just being surrounded by hipsters. After getting my hair done, I headed west to check out The Rusty Knot, a somewhat nautically-themed dive bar that serves tiki cocktails and junk bar snacks. The salty pretzel dog is a lovely companion to the minty frozen signature cocktail, especially when you've got someone to share it with. And in between bites you can sing along to "Separate Ways" by Journey, pumping out of the free jukebox.

octopusEven though I'd been there the night before, I also thought I'd be missing out if I didn't stop by Bar Milano on the way home. Friday night's dinner there featured a spring vegetable salad with a garlic anchovy dressing and the grilled octopus in a Meyer lemon reduction with braised fennel and radicchio. Octupus might scare some people but between this dish and the one at Craftbar, it's become totally normal and reliably delicious to me. Saturday night I was full from Employees Only so I skipped the snacks and let the bartender convince me to drink an Old Fashioned made with Virginia Gentleman bourbon, followed by an Old Cuban mixed with honey and some other twist that I was too hung over to remember today.

So together with going to see Priceless at the movies today and dinner at Bar Jamon after, I went out all three days of the weekend this week, a major change from my social patterns of late. The best part? Actually meeting other people who live in my neighborhood who aren't sports bar / Irish pub meatheads.

Any regrets? Only the hangover.