Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One If By Land, Two If By Sea - New York

17 Barrow Street, New York City 10014
Ph (212)255-8649

While staying in New York on the first leg of our adventure, we stayed with my enigmatic brother and his gorgeous wife... who are both very generous (Thanks for having us, Jim and Sue!).

They took us out for dinner to a very nice restaurant called "One if by land, two if by sea", so I'll start my series of travel dining articles here.

Most people think the name of the restaurant is based on the famous American historical event of Paul Revere riding around yelling about the English coming (something to do with wearing ladies knickers at a tea party), but I suspect its actually referring instead to the menu items.  They're rumoured to be bringing out a delivery service called; "3 if by bicycle, 4 if by waiter on roller skates, push the pound key..."

Its located on the lower west side of Manhattan, around 7th Avenue and West 4th Street, a few blocks north of Houston: (pronounced “House-ton”… don’t get that wrong, though it does make you feel like an ar-tard saying it: a bit like Marrrrrrneka instead of Man-ew-ka, because that was how the Queen mispronounced it once).

This part of town, it turns out, was about my favourite part of Manhattan for going out. Low rise, plenty of bars and clubs, kind of "bougey" as the locals might say, but still pretty hip.

The decor is dark, but intimate and warm, reminiscent of a hot date at Mindy's apartment (of Mork and Mindy fame) with a medieval theme, the lights turned down low and some general heraldic artwork kicking it in the shadows. A guy played a grand piano in the cocktail bar downstairs (though I could kick myself I didn't throw down the gauntlet and challenge him to play 'Lately' by Stevie Wonder, the ultimate test of a "pianoman"), there's lamps... it could best be describe as a kind of relaxed posh as only the Americans know how.

The food was fantastic; the menu features scallops, foie gras and pork belly as "starters" (aka entrees to normal people), then moves on to kind of euro-game with Guinea Hen, lobster, beef wellington, veal shanks, etc as "entrees" (main courses, or secondu piatti - don't even get me started on American English, it's another language, we just have to face the fact that anyone who can watch television is now officially bilingual).

I enjoyed the scallops (I think), followed by rabbit treated a few different ways, none of which would have pleased the rabbit but delighted me.

And the waiting staff?  Tip top; I'm reliably informed that top waiting staff in the US don't even get any wage, but survive exclusively on tips; since, however, the standard tip is 20%, and they may be working in restaurants that bill over a hundred dollars a head at least, they can live very well... so long as they remember to put aside their tax money.*

To be brutally honest I had such a very good time there, the night was a bit of a blur (read here that their wine list is also excellent) and we have some great photos of me posing half flambé-d at Christopher St subway station as evidence.

Charming company, great food, and a genuine American gourmet experience without having to eat a miniature hamburger.  This is considered a pricey restaurant in America, with a three course fixed price menu at $99 a head, plus wine (and the tip... don't forget the tip!!).  But when you think that Jacques Raymond charge $135 without wine, it's not bad really.

I give it seven and a half tentacles out of eight.  Forza!!

*A quick note here: I find the compulsory tipping of New York traumatising.  Why don't they just pay people and put it on the bill?  How come I keep having to evaluate everyone, make a moral choice and then be judged on what I do?  Please, don't make me think - just take the money away.