Monday, March 13, 2006

Poor Man's Pastis


This past Saturday, we were blessed with warm weather and blue skies all day long trading our sweaters for sundresses and our fleeces for flip flops. So I did what all New Yorkers do on a nice day over the weekend. I went to Pastis for brunch.

Now I’m not sure if there is some unwritten rule that says all trendy New Yorkers and a handful of curious commuters must go to Pastis for brunch but there might as well be. More crowded than Penn Station at rush hour, this bistro has become a tourist trap during weekends but still attracts a loyal local crowd. People just can’t get enough.

And why not? The bread is fresh (even if it comes from New Jersey). The crowd is hot (even if it comes from New Jersey). And the menu is simple but good (this one actually might be French).

What I don’t understand is why there are more lists here than at the Vanity Fair Oscars party (Haven’t been but I assume equally cutthroat at the door.) There are three lists. Count them, 3 lists! One for outside, one for the front and one for the back. They’re eggs people. I don’t care if you fry’em, poach ‘em or scramble ‘em or call them oeufs, they’re eggs. And you have to be joking if you want me to wait 45 minutes for them.

This particular day was no exception. 45 minutes at least. Downtrodden and rejected but not willing to wait, we weighed the alternatives. Vento. The epitome of Meatpacking garbage, this Italian eatery serves nothing but hype on a plate. The Diner, it’s new and I haven’t tried it and I wasn’t feeling particularly moonstruck at the time. And finally, Paradou. A quaint looking cafĂ© with a chalkboard sign outside reading, “We’re cheap but good!” The last actually looked charming in a charmless neighborhood.

The maitre’d in a t-shirt (Fruit of the Loom not Ferragamo) and jeans walked us past the kitchen to a quiet garden in the back where diners were laughing and discussing their Friday nights on folding chairs and benches while nibbling on poached eggs, French toast and Artisanal cheese plates. As I looked around, this crowd looked less like Pastis rejects and more like good friends actually enjoying their brunch without the rubbernecking strain of people watching. Charming!

Final Word: Let’s face it. There are days where you’ll suck it up and wait. But for those times you don’t feel like brunch at a bus terminal, try Paradou where you actually can eat, drink and be merry. Go on Movie Mondays where they play old flicks in the garden while you sample cheese and wine. 8 Little West 12th Street between 9th and Washington Avenues.

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