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Thursday, June 3, 2010

>GRIFFINS, P(P)X REGULARS & SOFT SHELL CRABS>>

The other night, Cynthia and I were scanning the East Village looking for somewhere to eat other than Blue Ribbon. Standing in front of 7A, we flipped a coin (heads for Blue Ribbon) and ended up back at our usual haunt.

Our server was Ben and I was inquiring about their latest artist's addition and it turns out that it's a painting of a griffin and not of a devil--as I had previously thought...

(Not the one at Blue Ribbon)

Sunday, at work, one of the managers asked me if I could stay late and pick up an extra shift because one of our hostesses had called in sick (I don't mind hosting, occasionally). I told him that I would, only on two conditions: 1. That he let me order something from our guest menu and 2. That I'd get to leave early.

He agreed.

I'd been wanting to try our soft shell crab for some time, because even though in the past, I didn't care for it, ours, deep fried in batter, looks quite tasty. Being only an appetizer, I also ordered the mozzarella, pineapple and prosciutto salad.

The crab sat upon a slight napa cabbage salad with a spicy mustard seed dressing. --It was divine! And the pineapple salad, which came with both plain and lightly candied pineapples and just a touch of cayenne pepper was also delicious. I was ready to face the second half my double.

Later that evening, one of my favorite regulars (if not favorite) called in for a reservation. Her preferred table was already taken, but I told the maître d' to hold table twenty-eight, our next best table. Shortly thereafter, I saw Ms. T.L. and her husband and happily escorted them directly to their table. Later, a busser directed my attention to them.

"We'd like to offer you a taste [of the wine we brought]."

I was delighted; I'd never had a guest offer me a taste before! I expeditiously searched the back of the bar for a matching-sized goblet and with fleet feet, returned to their table to pour myself an appropriately-sized sample.

"We want to thank you for always being so good to us. Cheers."

It was a really nice bottle.

Per my agreement, I was relieved from duty at about 9 o'clock. Heading west and then north, I ended up at Alpha on 8th Avenue near 19th Street in Chelsea.

The only reason I recently started going to Alpha is because it's the home of the recently closed Ate Ave--formerly, my favorite place to eat in Chelsea. So of course, I wanted to see what the replacing restaurant would be like.

The first time I went [to Alpha], I was a bit unnerved by their unnecessary and ubiquitous flat-screen/jumbo-sized TV's. (Especially "Cash Cab," without closed-captioning--what's the point?) I was waiting to meet my friend, Jon and decided I'd order a cosmo since we were about to see "Sex and The City 2." (I don't watch the show, but figured I'd see the movie anyway just to be "in the know.") I didn't like the cosmo, but I'm not a cosmo drinker anyway; I'd only had one once or twice before.

Happy to be done with my double, I pulled up a stool at the near end of the bar, giving myself a view of all the action.


I was pretty tired already and the wine I'd previously tasted at work was enough to keep me happy; so I opted against ordering a drink. Scrolling down the menu, I noticed the Salmon, Cucumber & Caviar Roll ($6.25) and the Spider Roll (soft shell crab) ($9.95) and placed an order for both. I was glad to see the bar area rather spirited (especially since it was not on my last visit; I was the sole imbiber).

About thirty minutes had passed before my dish finally arrived. (Don't come here if you're in a rush!) But I became a little embarrassed as I saw my entrée making its way towards me. Perched atop an upside-down wine glass was an orange with its top cut off in a zig-zag pattern with a cherry placed in the middle. And inside the glass, nested below shaved radish noodles, was an object flashing multi-colored lights.

The dish was fine--nothing of a culinary masterpiece and the freshness of the ingredients won't amaze you. But combining the price, setting and ease of bar-dining, I found the experience to be appropriate.

After the bartender cleared away the distressing dish, I inquired about dessert...

"I'll just take an espresso."

"We don't have coffee."

"No coffee at all?"

I placed an order for their black and white mousse and knew I was taking a gamble.

When the mousse arrived, I was a bit perplexed. Is that cookie crust on the bottom? And why is it not in a bowl? It was more like a cheesecake than like a mousse. I took my first bite and it wasn't bad... and it wasn't good. I think the best way to describe it is that it's something you'd find in the bakery section at Gristedes. But as I closed out and signed the check on my $24 bill, I thought to myself: I might be back. > >
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