The other evening we dined at Ken Aretsky's Patroon. Years ago "CA" introduced me to this elegant spot. While Frank and I resided on East 48th, it became one of our favorites. We've spent many wonderful nights there including the time mon petite amie "A" practically ravaged a Cote d'Bouef AND broiled lobster SOLO!
It's obvious when the owner is actively engaged. During our meal Mr. Aretsky graciously stopped by and warmly welcomed us. Being pampered is a delicate art. We recently dined at an old establishment where it became quickly obvious that the proprietress had her favorites. "Us" versus "them" may not be a formula for long term success. At least she paid attention to some of us...
What made our evening at Patroon
especially special was our VIP table.
There to celebrate another dear "A's"
birthday, we were seated in a corner
banquet. There are few things better
than a high backed, cushy corner.
Not only is it cozy, upholstery absorbs
much of the peripheral sound enabling
those dining within to actually enjoy
chatting with each other. Somehow
the experience of sitting in a corner
cloister solicits womb like emotions.
Talk about comfort food!
I seem to be my happiest when perched
in a corner booth. If I'm brutally honest,
it seems that all of my favorite haunts
sport cozy corners. Oddly every host or
hostess seems to immediately sense my
seating preference. The other evening
we dined at Veau d'Or on East Sixtieth.
Upon arrival we were quickly escorted
to a perfect corner in the back, away
from the rat tat tat of our fellow diners.
Being properly enthroned by an
attentive maitre d' is one of the
few pleasures left. In Europe
(and some establishments state
side), a couple is seated next to
each other on a banquette facing
out. What could be more genteel
than whispering to each other as
one subtly holds the other's hand
under the table linens. There is a
divine pleasure to sitting with one's
back against the wall surveying all
of the pomp and circumstance.
There is a science to the art of
restaurant design. Banquettes
can be finicky elements. When
right they're divine but if slightly
off, they can be a bit off putting.
At times getting a booth may not
be a win. One of our preferred
Lewistown spots is a sea of high
backed booths that cut up the
room in an odd way. Almost as
bad is when their backs are too
low or the space between you
and the table is too tight. Ouch!
Few and far between
Restaurants today seem to be more
interested in impact versus comfort.
While these over the top,hard edged
dining rooms look great they never
fully satisfy. I highly doubt that we'll
ever return to culinary wombs with
red shag carpeted walls. I prefer to
frequent the few such facilities that
still remain. Whatever the prixe fixe,
I'll always accept a corner booth if
offered. After all the ultimate luxury
is the pleasure of simply being able
to sit back and enjoy one's meal.