Saturday, March 15, 2008

Blind date no 1: The report

The date was completed with minimal embarrassment (apart from the bit where I got lost looking for the sodding bar - when you come out of subways here it is often impossible to work out which way is north and I always feel emminently muggable if I ask random strangers. After all, my accent is very English and I'm generally dressed up, rather than blending in.) Anyway, he came to find me on the Greenpoint street corner on which I was trying not to solicit business. Was so pleased to see that the leather jacket with zips and tassels he had told me to look for had been a joke, that I didn't really take in much bar the fact that he passed the not-looking-like-an-axe-murderer test.

Since I was ill at Christmas I seem to have lost my previous meagre immunity to alcohol. One round can get me giggly, and I always get a hangover. Very tedious. Still, I managed not to make a complete prat of myself over two glasses of merlot, and we wandered off (me trying to avoid tripping over the cracked pavements in my platformed heels) to eat at Paloma . (I had to agree to supper. I was going to fall asleep on the subway home otherwise).

Greenpoint isn't exactly the most bustling part of Brooklyn, and the restaurant is on a desolate, post-industrial street. It looks shut - until you push open a huge wooden door, to find a concrete floored, high ceilinged space with splashy artworks, skinny jeaned youth, DJ decks and The Smiths on the sound system.

The menu is an interesting read, with lots of seasonal, market driven dishes, mixed with standard bistro grub (skirt steak, fries, roast chicken, pork chops), poncily billing itself as 'American Nouveau' but which is, frankly, standard simple modern English/American - delete as applicable.

I had a distinctly under-whelming three vegetable plate ($14). A heap of unseasoned crescents of roasted squash and one (one!) very infant beet just weren't good enough, but the plate was redeemed by the only edible treatment of Brussels sprouts on record; shredded and mixed with roasted garlic cloves, they avoided the more traditional budgie head appearance and sulphorous reek. The acompanying dish of crispy white beans was exceptional, with canellini beans braised with lettuce and then fried, notable as much for the combination of wet & dry textures as the taste. My main gripe: I do wish self consciously cool restaurants would stop trying to be clever for the sake of it and just serve normal fries or even home made chunky ones, rather than ones with the skin on, which just makes them chewy & flabby and not at all moreish. Although I still ate most of the bowl. I blame the alcohol.

We walked companionably arm in arm in the freezing rain to the subway round 2330hrs. Four hours without annoying the beejesus out of each other is as much as one can hope from a blind date, and we certainly had plenty to talk about. He's called today to suggest round two. Maybe.