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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Dinner Date

I was told last night that my last post made it sound like my grandmother was on her deathbed.

So I apologize for that. She's just having a hard time walking and getting about. But I still had to go around and get things for her. I was supposed to go into the city and pick up some things, but last minute it turned out I didn't need to pick up anything.


But since I was down there already, I figured I'd go into the city.

And it just happened to be that Frank was done with work, so we met up for dinner.

Our first "date." One that wasn't on the UES, that involved ordering take out, and hanging out at his place. I'm not saying that it isn't fun... I just didn't want to go all the way uptown.

While I was waiting for him to get down to Union Square, I did a little window shopping. The only store that I saw anything worthwhile was in Urban Outfitters. A couple of furniture pieces that I wouldn't mind having, but have no idea how I would pick it up from the store. I have a picture on my phone, but it's the quality for only my viewing.

EDIT- Silly me, they have a website. The platform bed. The convertible sofa. The fainting sofa!

Barnes & Noble was its usual busy self. Impossible to get a seat in the cafe, so I had to search out a nice spot on the floor. Not too bad. Read through a couple of magazines that I no longer have to buy (take that corporate big wigs!) There was some author on the top floor talking about her new book, which didn't sound interesting at all to me, except that she reminded me of Betsy Johnson (just the weird hair part).

Frank finally arrived and we set out for dinner. For all the times I've been to this part of the city, I've only eaten at one of the restaurants there. And so we went there. We can be adventurous next time.

Zen Palate, as usual, was quite busy. HOWEVER, we were given the option of "fine dining," which required at least a $15 entree. We decided on that and waited patiently by the stairs for our turn to be seated. Going up to our table, we passed up a mid-level area, which could be an extension of the cafe downstairs. The fine dining area wasn't too bad, and quite a few tables were occupied.

There are a few things on the cafe menu that show up on the fine dining menu, soups/salads/some of the starters. The entrees themselves range anywhere from 12.50-18.50 (you can see the menu here) and bear names such as "Mushroom Forest," "Tapestry Embrace," and "Celestial Tofu."

Our waitress... what to say about her (aside from the huge pink thing on her nose piercing was distracting). When she came over to take our order she only took mine and our drinks. Frank was completely forgotten. I thought I committed an ordering faux pas, which was confirmed with my entree set in front of us. Frank was a champ and I offered to split my dish while his food was cooking.

I picked the E.T, described by the menu as "Lightly fried eggplant & tofu with wheat gluten, gingko nuts, asparagus, and diced red peppers simmered in a black bean basil sauce." I like eggplant... I like tofu, so I figured it would be decent enough. It came out sizzling, really quite tasty. It might have been a little too strong with the black bean, but it really didn't mask the flavors of the Chinese eggplant and asparagus... which Frank noted was cooked properly.

He ordered the Red Mist, "Layers of bean-crêpe wrapped in seaweed over thin rice noodles and spinach in a fiery Thai sauce," and scallion pancakes. I tried a piece of the bean-crêpe and some of the noodles. The sauce... interesting. Didn't really jump out to me as something I should order the next time I go. The scallion pancakes were their usual tasty selves... and paired well with the black bean sauce. I think anything with that black bean sauce would be good.

There was a little left over (shame!), but we were stuffed. Bill was paid and we set out for our next destination. It took a little longer than it should have, but the walk helped settle my stomach. We had a drink at Shades of Green... not really much to report about that... except Frank kept insisting he had to go. So when the last of my Guinness had been drunk, we walked to his station, said our goodbyes, and I walked the few blocks to my station.

All in all... I think it was a good night.

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