Thursday, July 28, 2011
Even the Worst Is Good
On Wednesday, June 28, 2008, I wrote Insult to Injury. I had found what was to me one of the worst insults in the New York City dining experience - I enumerated 7 points outlining the transgressions.
But there is always room for improvement.
MacDougal Street is my least favorite street in the Village. It has a distinctly touristy feel and is gritty, dirty and congested. The shops typically cater to the lowest common denominator. There are a few things worthwhile, such as the Olive Tree Cafe and Mamoun's. But dining al fresco is an abomination and unthinkable.
In fact, it is highly debatable that al fresco dining can actually take place on MacDougal Street. Unless you redefine al fresco to mean putting one table between the entrance to a restaurant and the exit of a comedy club in a space not even wide enough for the table alone.
But strangely, there is a comfort in all of this. Why?
Well, you're in New York City, arguably one of the most dynamic places in the world. The streets are pulsing with energy and you can just feel it everywhere you go. It's creeping from every crack and crevice. You know you are at the epicenter of the civilized world.
There are people everywhere. Too many people. But we are gregarious, and although we bemoan the crowds, I see no mass exodus to the countryside. We want to be around people.
A lot of food in New York is authentic ethnic cuisine, even at the lowest prices - something virtually impossible to find outside the city. We have tremendous selection.
So many things are operating at the highest levels of sophistication in the least expected places. Hence the series of articles I have done - Abandon All Preconceived Notions Ye Who Enter Here. Where will you find homeless with degrees from Columbia University, brilliant eccentrics like Mark Birnbaum walking in 8 inch silver platform shoes, or geniuses like Paul Kachur lurking about the dive bars of the East Village? Park regular and friend David Hoffman, who looked essentially homeless; we only found near the time of his death had two PhDs in pharmacology.
In Bristol, Connecticut, where I grew up, there are no places to eat outside at all. When I walk down MacDougal Street and think hard, I realize that here, even the worst is good…