Beatrice or Bust, Say ‘Robster!’ at Norwood, and the Art of Commerce.
There is something wrong with me. My name is Steve and I am a spenda-, fooda-, drinkaholic. The going out every night must stop, although it is the nature of my profession to see, imbibe, be seen. Some of this may be incorrect, time sequence-wise. Who the hell knows? Consider:
FEBRUARY 7: This past Thursday, we pop into the Beatrice Inn after a brief checkout of the private Calvin Klein party at the Waverly Inn. We’ve been avoiding the Beatrice. Trouble—like staying there until 4 a.m.—always occurs when we drop down into its chatty labyrinth. No Paul. No Matt. Bummer. Before entering, we stand in the cold and smoke with the door gang, whom are interrupted by two street cops, asking if the music is too loud. It is deemed not. Inside the bar, devoid of smoke, a Fashion Week party is fizzling out—last free vodka call. We don’t stay long, moving on to more civilized trouble at the Bowery Hotel (left). At about 3 a.m., we receive a text that the police returned during the evening to Beatrice, en masse, checking the bathrooms and the like. The Beatrice, the text reads, will reopen at about 3:30 a.m. We are impressed. That’s the City That Never Sleeps we remember from a decade ago! We do not return.
FEBRUARY 8: Mike Ruffino, our nightlife writer who for some reason lives in Vermont, is in town, and so we must go out. And out. Our friends at Radar are having a fashion issue party at The Plumm (above), a place far too close to the meat district, and a lot of other crap, but just close enough to the multi-level, private townhouse the Norwood Club, which we somehow belong to, across the street on weirdo West 14th. (Has anyone trekked over there since Nell’s?) First, we pop into Commerce—the wonderfully left-alone reincarnation of Grange Hall—which is packed to the rafters with un-trendy, lovely, normal people, excited that the neighborhood at Bedford and Barrow finally has a tavern open. Chumley’s fell down. And after an unfortunate yearlong run as Blue Mill, which so sucked, Grange Hall sat for another year, with renovators barely lifting their asses. Gladly, they didn’t. Commerce opened on Thursday. The gorgeous bar remains a piece of art, and you can lean on the thing, like a real drunk is apt to. The meat-and-fish menu is as normal—and I mean that in a very good way—as the crowd. We make a reservation for the coming week, and move on. Alas, Commerce is just too crowded to enjoy, as it likely will be for a while. The nabe has been starving for it to friggin’ open! Alexandria doesn’t pull it for us. Arrogant staff. Nothing special. Cramped. Sorry, Dell.
So we head to the Radar thing, which is insanely crowded, say hi to Maer and Matty—where is Tennant?—and cross the street to the Norwood, with the New York Post’s managing editor Jesse Angelo, the Observer’s Spencer Morgan, and his wife, Vanity Fair‘s Alexis Bryan, joining us shortly thereafter. It is civilized and toasty, although we still wonder if they are ever going to get one of their multiple fireplaces burning (it would change everything). A nice new menu is in order and we try the lobster roll, which is full of good tail meat, but has some sort of fennel-like spice going on, which deters from our complete enjoyment. Then, um, it’s back to Beatrice, because El Rey del Sol, our favorite dump of a cheese enchilada emporium, is insanely closed at like 11 p.m. We curse their pets. Jesse paid for our drinks, because he is a gentleman.
FEBRUARY 9: We are hungry, and there is a fashion shoot at 6 Columbus (left), the Thompson Hotel in Midtown across from the Time Warner madness. Their off-the-lobby restaurant is actually yet another incarnation of Blue Ribbon Sushi (which got raves from The New York Times foodie Frank Bruni). We wanted Eggs Benedict, but we will do just fine having some later afternoon Surf and Turf. To us, the meat of the crab, or lobster, is vital each week. So Mike, Maddy, and I split the sliced New York Strip, rare, along with a 2-pound Maine lobster, served with heavenly miso butter. There is vegetable tempura, perfectly battered. There is spicy tuna roll with a crackle of cucumber. There is seaweed. There is bone-dry cold sake in a box, hot sake in a bottle, a Bloody Mary with carrots, and a gingerbread pudding that feeds the table. There is Jason Pomeranc, who owns the hotel, and who joins us, and orders Ribbon’s “famous” fried chicken with honey-wasabi dipping sauces; white meat only. Julian Sancton, a Vanity Fair guy, who speaks fluent French, also dabbles in the saki, and later has beers at the pleasantly minimalist bar with Kiera Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie, who we are photographing for a neat thing we do called Room 100. It’s an arts-and-iconography quarterly that goes inside Pomeranc’s hotels like the Hollywood Roosevelt and 60 Thompson. You should find one when it comes out in April. Fun! We go back to work, then to Commerce, then to Bowery Hotel. We are nothing if not creatures of habit.
FEBRUARY 10: Sunday is a good work day for me, and there is snow blowing in my opened office window, which makes me think of drinking beers with fat people. In the late afternoon, we go meet Molly and Maddy (who are not fat) at the Old Town Bar, around the corner from our offices. Mike and I order mini-bowls of tomato-y chili, and help with a birthday card riddle. Then we split and head to La Esquina (above), because I am having a Mezzican rush, and need a steak taco, perhaps some garlicky green beans. We enter the secret kitchen door and go down into the Kenmare and Lafayette speakeasy, which reminds us of a massive version of Il Buco. Although we have a big lounge table, we are told we cannot eat our food at it—some weird protocol thing. We normally would fight this, and throw our business cards and connections around (“Serge isn’t going to like this, man!”), but just end up not caring, ordering house margaritas, which don’t need too much doctoring. Some raw tuna, two steak tacos, green beans, black beans, etcetera. Walking into the freezing wind toward Mike’s Jeep, we see our Ignatius Riley-like pal John Newsom, who is oddly sitting alone at some place called the SoHo something or other. He has just finished a major painting for the upcoming Armory show, and he’s rewarded himself with a greasy cheeseburger. He suggests we go have a drink at Pravda. Pravda! God, it’s been forever! So we go down inside there, too. What’s with all these basement places we go to, anyway? I’ll ask a therapist some day—not now. At Pravda, Keith McNally’s old Russian hideout, we order the drink special, a Singapore Sling, and split a plate of Beef Stroganoff, which is wolfed like… wolves. We do bad impressions of Daniel Day-Lewis’s “milkshake” speech in There Will Be Blood, and call it a night. Now it’s Monday. Stir and repeat.