My word, people. (“My word”? What am I 93?) I had such a great day off on Wednesday. My friend, Michael, was in New York visiting me and it was his last day. He insisted on treating me to a day out. So after a morning of relaxing and chatting, we went for lunch at this amazing French restaurant called Bar Boulud.
A-freakin’-mazing. It’s right across from Lincoln Center. The address is 1900 Broadway. I had this potato and garlic soup that was so velvety, so smooth; then had small cubes of potatoes and little bits of fried potatoes and some sort of herb oil drizzled on top. SHUT UP!!!! So good. Then I had a Croque Madame. Wow. Basically two slices of egg bread, in between is this beautiful lean ham and some cheese. Then on top, bechamel and more cheese – not sure what kind – gruyere? – then it’s baked and a soft fried egg is put on top. Served with a fresh acidic, slightly sweet little salad. It was ri-donk-ulous.
After lunch Michael took me to see the play War Horse. Okay, if you have not heard of this show, you should. It’s one of the most gorgeously theatrical shows of the Broadway season, if not of many seasons.
It’s the story of a boy who “acquires” a horse who he rears up (in England) and when World War 1 occurs, the horse is taken by the army. The boy then joins the army to find his horse. The horse is actually played by a . . .well, they call it a puppet but that doesn’t describe it. That’s like saying Ronnie Burkett plays with dolls. The horse is played by three people at once. One is the back and back legs, one is the front legs, and one is the head. What these three people do is nothing short of a miracle. They have studied horses and all of their ticks and breathing and how they listen, etc. It’s amazing. There are moments you forget that the horse isn’t real. And the stage craft – – – WHAT??!! So simple and so gorgeously affective. Three guys would come out with one long stick each and they became the corral. Seriously, it was amazing. The one thing that wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be was this. A show that is as big as this show is emotionally becomes so operatic in scope. That is not the problem, opera-lovers, so just settle down. The problem is living up to the scale of it in the acting. The moments would lend themselves to a song but it was dialogue and so some of the acting became rather over-wrought. It was a really interesting lesson. You’ve got to stay so true to the emotion but amp it up so high to not make it overplayed or pushed. Especially in a space like the large space in the Lincoln Center. (I forget the name of the theater at this moment) It’s very much like the Festival Theatre at Stratford but it doesn’t feel as intimate so there is even more of an impulse to push to get it out to the people . It’s a good example of a show where you have to allow and expect the audience to work a little bit too. But having said that, it’s a beautiful production.
Then dinner. Whew. Michael had asked me to find a place that was interesting and unique and asian-y/fusion-y. Now Michael has been around for a while and is incredibly well travelled and has eaten cuisine all over Asia. No problem. (cue me pooping my pants) I have no idea so I ask my castmate Mike (a lot of Mike’s in my life) and he suggests a restaurant called Spice Market. (cue angels singing). It’s at 403 W. 13th Street. I had called in the morning and managed to get a reservation for 5:45. Perfect. People!! Holy Shit!!! First of all, it’s gorgeous. All Vietnam/India/Burma/China/Japan Chic. The food is out of this freakin’ world. Wow. We did the tasting menu. Here, I’ll let this be interactive and you guys can check it out yourself.
Go to the tasting menu. We also started off with Ginger Martinis. Come on. Sweet, spicy, yummy. The chicken samosas where so good, we ordered two more before they brought the dessert. The rice was amazing. The cod – so succulent and sweet and spicy. The chicken – shocking; blackened but not a hint of charcoal in the taste, the kumquats adding just the perfect citrus note. And our waiter, Paul, from St. Louis. He was hilarious and amazing. On top of everything. He moved to New York with his wife and was a professional waiter. He was saying it can be a tough profession but having people like us come in (we were very lively) makes it worth it. We loved him and he clearly loves the restaurant.
When were were finally finished gorging on amazing food, Michael asked what we should do now. It was almost 8:00 so we were too late for a show. But I remembered that Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway were doing their new cabaret show, Boom, at Birdland this week. I asked him if he had heard of them and he hadn’t but was into it so I called Birdland and there were 5 more tickets left. So I reserved us tickets and we high-tailed it over there.
Oh, Liz and Ann are sister who are well-known separately who occasionally perform together. Ann Hampton wrote and sang the theme song for the TV show, The Nanny, with Fran Drescher (sp?). They were great. Two very different but amazing voices. They sang songs of their youth so the 60’s and 70’s. Funny, charming, entertainin, and kick ass vocals. Plus I wanted to see the space for when I start doing cabaret.
My people, it was a great day all over. If you can, or if you come to New York, treat yourself to Bar Boulud and Spice Market. You won’t regret it. I sure don’t.