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Cafe DeVille

Word to the wise: Don't attempt a nice dinner/date when you're trying to
quit smoking. This mysterious bistro opened catty-corner from James' block
last spring. I say mysterious because it seemed to be open for ages, hosting
private parties with icky attendees and mobster-esque bouncers guarding the
door like hawks. It appeared more like an out-of-place private club than a
real local restaurant. Well, it eventually opened and by then I'd lost
interest. The place seems to be doing decent business with a late 20s to
early 30s crowd (me) who fancy themselves as cultured/trendy (not me). In a
nutshell: lots of blonde stringy hair and khakis, yes khakis. (Well with one
exception. The peculiar group sitting next to us had my mind reeling all
night. There were two scraggly gentlemen in at least their mid-40s with a
teenage boy and girl. They all seemed very un-Manhattan [not that I am
either] but in a dirt-road, middle American sort of way. You'd think
father/child at first, but fathers I know don't rub their 14 yr. old
daughters thighs and tongue them in restaurants [hey, that's what the
bedroom's for]. What was their deal, and why on earth did they choose Cafe
DeVille as a rendezvous?)

It was a random Friday night that James suggested checking the place
out. The reason I'd always shied away was the prices. They're not outrageous
or anything, entrees are in the teens to twenties range, but that's more
than I like to pay for a casual meal (I'm cheap, ok?). It's unspoken, but
when we go out on a weekend and eat at a place that's not in Chinatown or
doesn't serve nachos, James tends to pay. It's not a rule, and I'd like to
say I don't expect it, but to some degree I do. When we order appetizers,
drinks and mains over $12, I semi-expect the credit card to be whipped out
at the end of the evening. Call me old fashioned, but this is how our
relationship has evolved.

I liked the food well enough, my only complaint, well comment is that
it's all presented in this components on a plate fashion. I never know the
appropriate way to meld the flavors. Our appetizer consisted of asparagus, a
Basque Serrano-type ham, walnuts, and…oh jeez I'm already forgetting the
one or two other items, but that was OK as it was a starter and it's fine to
pick at. I had the duck confit and frisee salad, which was overwhelming in
its pieciness. Lettuce all over, a duck leg, a little cup created from
endive, more walnuts, dried cherries and an unidentifiable vegetable(?) that
was green, sort of almond-shaped and seemed like an olive, sort of tasted
like an olive, but had no pit, and instead was filled with tiny seeds. Not
like I'm a produce expert, but I was still baffled. All that cutting,
scooping and combining in order to get the optimum flavor combo on one
forkful can be tough.

So, after a substantial meal, a bottle of wine and some lack of nicotine
bickering, the bill comes and James tells me to put in half. To many that
would be acceptable, to me it was plain passive aggressive, especially since
he knows good and well my checking account is barely on the plus side. I
threw all the money in my wallet at him, about $35, certainly not enough to
cover my half and stormed off in a huff. What a bust. I feel no desire to
return to Cafe DeVille, despite its sharing a name with my favorite Poison
guitarist, C.C.

Cafe DeVille * 103 Third Ave., New York, NY

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