There's nothing remarkable about their dinners, but we're not discussing
that here. It's all about breakfast, a meal I rarely get up early enough to
eat in public. But when I do, I want something substantial, and Old Devil
Moon fits the bill to a tee. I've always been a staunch believer in biscuits and gravy,
and this is the best I've had in NYC. The omelets with country ham, and home
fries is also worth a try. The biggest problem is choosing between the
biscuit and sticky bun as a starchy accompaniment. And when the biggest
crisis of your day revolves around what bready item to eat, you know you're
in pretty good shape (emotionally, not physically).
Old Devil Moon * 511 E. 12th St., New York, NY
I wouldn't mention this place at all, but a certain sandwich needs to be talked about. I was at a birthday party at Leopard Lounge across the street, and I noticed James kept peeking out the window. I guess he was dreaming of cheesesteaks and looking for nearby options. Now New York isn't a cheesesteak city anyway. I'm not even sure where you get one during the day, let alone at 3 a.m. Short of driving to Philly (which was tossed around as a viable option), we decided to take our chances on the closest 24 hour place.
When I saw a "New York Style" steak sandwich my curiosity was peaked, yet I knew I was in trouble. Whenever someone takes a regional specialty and puts their own spin on it, you know the results will be mixed. (When I was home last Sept., Ringler's Annex had "Portland Style Cheesecake" on the menu, which was baffling. I didn't order it, but I wondered all night what could possibly be Portland-like about it. Filberts? Marionberries? Salmon?!)
The New York style sandwich came out open faced with thickish long pieces of meat on hamburger buns with cheddar cheese melted on both sides and some onions strewn about. There was too much meat to close the thing, and the pieces weren't thin like I'd wanted. And to top it off, they appeared to be suited for a hoagie bun, not a round roll. It disturbed me. The oddest part was the bottle of HP Sauce that was brought to the table as an accompaniment. Philly cheesesteak by way of New York with a pit stop in England? What kind of freaks do they have working in that kitchen anyway? I did like getting to dip my fries in the brown sauce, but it just wasn't the sandwich I was craving.
Cooper Square Restaurant * 88 Second Ave., New York, NY
Fridays are tough. I'm always tired and not up for much trekking around, but I don't want to eat at the same places all the time either. This means walking distance, and that means East Village, which usually means disappointment (though there are a shitload of Japanese places that I never try for no good reason). I rarely eat Moroccan food, not that I don't like it, I just always end up eating something else or catering to someone else's whim. This time I decided on Cafe Mogador.
The place was packed, the service was slow and somehow we got sandwiched between two tables of gay men, which made me wonder if there was something going on I didn't know about. But the prices were extremely reasonable, the food was above average and I liked how they had the menu menu with more traditional fare and the insert with interesting appetizers and eclectic specials. We got hummus and pita, and cumin seasoned kefta with eggplant and tahini for starters. I was impressed with the richness of hummus (but that could be because I'm always eating the store bought stuff for lunch that's all fluffy and low on flavor). For an entree I opted for the lamb tagine with apricots and prunes with couscous. I was torn between that and the bistilla because my favorite thing in the world is that sweet/meat combo. I think I chose right. James ordered hanger steak with a basalmic shallot sauce off the insert, which didn't seem right in a place like this, but that was OK.
Dinner passed normally. It wasn't until I came back from the bathroom that something seemed amiss. As it turned out, when the waiter brought the bill and postcard (for some reason they give postcards with the check), his name and number were written on the back. I mean, what gives? I thought James was joking at first, but really I wasn't all that surprised. The whole thing amused me to no end. The meal was overshadowed by the realization that people think my boyfriend is a gay man (I did the first time I met him). What's a girl to do? (4/6/01)
M-O-G-A-D-O-R. I had to spell the damn place out loud like three times so Jessica could tell Tanya where to meet us over the phone. And in typical OCD fashion Jessica went nuts asking where it was. I don't know, it's on St. Marks, probably between First and A, alright? Not good enough. Can't people just figure things out, or look in phone books anymore? After the millionth time of spelling the name and describing how to get there I noticed a young man in front of us pricking up his ears. In a strong accent, he asked, "What you want to know about Mogador? I work there, I tell you everything." What a crack up. I guess if you make a big enough, loud deal about something, someone's bound to come to your rescue. (11/12/02)
Cafe Mogador * 101 St. Marks Pl., New York, NY