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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Buzz and Bling

In France, I have seen lines to get into small restaurants which look empty. The first time I saw this I was quite puzzled. A little examination, however, revealed what every seasoned restaurant goer already knows - they were waiting for tables outside. Al fresco dining and the search for pleasant garden space is a quest made by diners around the world. In New York City, we are not blessed with very many pleasant streetside cafe spaces - see my posting here - Insult to Injury and this great New York Times article - Curbside, We'll Never Have Paris.
This is the time of year where many relish being outdoors, so, if you want a really pleasant al fresco meal insulated from the elements of urban assault, a back garden is the place to find. Often, these places are completely hidden from view - a front sign may or may not be present announcing the garden's existence. So for those of us who like urban adventure and the process of discovery, this is not the technique best employed. Better to do a bit of research prior to meal time.
In the case of The Waverly Inn and Garden, at 16 Bank Street, the garden has a side entrance visible from Waverly Street. The location is in the heart of prime West Village - one of the most charming and bucolic areas in the entire city of New York. I have written of this neighborhood several times before (see the links below).
Regarding the restaurant itself, I have not eaten there, but I enjoyed reading the reviews which range from 1 to 5 stars. If you want to have fun, read some of the 74 reviews here at Apparently, this place is a magnet for the rich and famous and many of the very negative reviews reflect customer experiences with snobbery, service and attitude. On August 12, 2008, the New York times wrote an article - An Insiders’ Clubhouse (Apply at the Door). One of the owners is Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter - some have referred to the establishment as "Graydon’s private club."
The article speaks of the "combination of billionaires, movie stars, intellectuals and fashion designers, with a rock icon or sports legend thrown in" who frequent there. "There are still powerful folk who would rather dine uptown at the Four Seasons, Michael’s or Le Cirque. But for celebrity power deep enough to lure paparazzi night after night, few outposts in New York today rival the Waverly Inn."
This historic place exudes charm inside and out - for now it appears it's the got the buzz and bling :)


Michelle Johnson said...

I love the idea of dining in a garden area but I don't think I would like dining with the rich and famous. Have a great night.

Thérèse said...

Demystifying would be fun!

Jilly said...

It looks so inviting and as you say, like in France. Sounds expensive...

Annie said...

Just by the way, having just returned from my 3 months with family in New York, we found the little Garden Cafe quite lovely.

It is on Broadway at Inwood (very close to the A train terminus at 207th). Has a little garden out the back, next to the local church. A laneway (I momentarily can't think of the NY equivalent for this word) at the side beside the church there for people with prams (us)...and very nice meals..(the twice I have been there).

Beware, occasionally the A train is not running weekends, (buses to 168th), or is local. The number 1 train to the Bronx is an alternative but a slightly longer walk up 207th, through an interesting Hispanic area.

Also the Indian Road Cafe is also worth checking out (but no Garden), a longer but very pleasant walk through the wonderful Inwood Hill Park down to the corner of Indian Road and is it 218th St. Yes, it is 218th. Take a map if you haven't been there before. Streets not necessarily as well laid out as down town. A few hills.

Will be interested to see if your travels take you up there! You can find many photos of the park , and other Upper West side delights on my blog back from June 18th.

It is always fun to read about NY, especially when I get home and suffer withdrawal symptoms!! So I very much enjoy your blog, if you are still reading after this very long winded comment! ;-)

Mary said...

The New Leaf restaurant in Fort Tryon Park, right by the Cloisters, is also a wonderful outdoor dining experience. A Kir Royale in hand is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon under the trees, or indoors in a wonderful old building that resembles a carriage house, but wasn't one.

Some of the profits benefit Bette Midler's parks rehabilitation charity (I can't recall its name at the moment.)

Annie's comment reminded me of the place. While it isn't cheap, you don't have to be rich or famous to dine there.