I looked online for places to great places to eat nearby. After browsing a Google map of the area, I figured it would help me to narrow down the type of cuisine I wanted to try. If I was still living in Cambridge, MA, I would want my birthday dinner at Central Kitchen or Rendezvous in Central Square. I searched for Central Kitchen and saw Yelp reviews that identified the cuisine as “New American” dining….
A restaurant called Bell, Book, and Candle came up on Google maps search for New American restaurants in the area in the West Village area of NYC. A brief visit to their web page showed me a cozy, well-lit interior basement with brick walls, square black tables, and cushioned seats. I called and made a 2-person reservation for 6pm.
I waited for Mark inside the corner entrance to Stumptown Coffee Roasters on W. 8th Street and MacDougal. As 6pm approached, I looked up from my watch to see Mark striding around the corner without looking inside. I ran outside and called his name to get his attention. We checked the map and off we walked to Bell, Book, and Candle at 141 W. 10th Street between Greenwich Street and Waverly Street.
For our first (and my only) drinks, Mark ordered the 2057 (gin & prosecco), and I ordered the high tea (bourbon). We were served two, sweet homemade rolls with a slab of butter on the side. I wish more restaurants would serve rolls like this. During his meal, he ordered a grey gardens (titos & creme de violette) and a vesper martini. For an appetizer, we tasted the deep fried deviled eggs, which were okay. Mark’s main entree was the grilled hangar steak, and I had the grilled & roasted seasonal vegetables. The steak was cooked to a medium-rare perfection. The plate of grilled vegetables was a satisfying visual, aromatic, and tactile panoply with a mustard red pepper sauce on the side.
For dessert, Mark ordered a calvados to go along with his baked apple pie, while I ordered a decaf coffee and the chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream and whipped cream. I took a few sips of the calvados because I needed a little something to burn through some of the food I had eaten.
This brownie was unequivocally the best brownie I have ever tasted. The brownie had a thin, perfectly crusty outer layer that protected the jewel inside: a delightful combination of fudge and cream so well blended that it seemed to instantly dissolve in your mouth. Best. Brownie. Ever.
I returned a call from my niece Sarah in Massachusetts who left me a recording of her singing happy birthday to me. I can’t think of a better ending to my birthday than that.