The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Cafe Gray, and a desire to eat pricey food

As a testament to my flickr obsession, Cafe Gray happened 12 pages ago. I could've said "1 week" but using flickr as a time gauge seems less conventional. I mean, it is less conventional. Because it's stupid.

shops over there
shops...over there!

So, 12 pages/1 week ago, I went to the Time Warner Center to visit Cafe Gray with my Beverages class. The Time Warner Center is the ritziest looking mall I've ever went to. Yup, in the end, behind all the shiny glass, stretches of marble floors, golden lighting and high airy ceilings, it's a mall. You know what other places has malls? NEW JERSEY. Does that matter? Not really, except that most of my leisure time growing up in New Jersey was spent in those domains of capitalism fueled by disposable income (and lack of anything else to do because, ye know, it's New Jersey; what am I gonna do, stare at squirrels?). Weee!

green stars
Columbus Circle

Alas, no other mall has this beautiful view of Columbus Circle, with giant, color-changing pointy stars threatening to rain down on you. It's pretty; I just hope they're not lethal. (Green means they're going to release poisonous gas...right after the light show!)

open kitchen
open kitchen

I didn't actually take many photos of Cafe Gray because it felt highly inappropriate in such a serene, sophisticated setting to whip out the ol' compact digital camera and snap away as a chef picks at mushrooms and others are arranging lettuce leaves in perfect synchronization. The photo above gives you a minute idea of the open kitchen in front of the gargantuan window that looks towards Central Park. Some things you can see in this photo include the sleek, spotless counter, the numerous chefs busy doing...stuff, and the large amount of natural light coming in from the GARGANTUAN WINDOW. While I've admittedly been exposed to few open kitchens (or at least no very nice ones), this is the nicest kitchen I've ever seen. As an open kitchen, I found it breathtaking how cleanly and organized everything was set up. Just the basic little metal containers by the counters with garnishes excited me in some way. I suppose I'd destroy something if I worked in it, so it's a good thing I don't. Nor will I ever.

While the open kitchen is large, there's also a regular white tile and stainless steel kitchen in the back. I saw some guys cutting meat back there. Yum. Meeaat. There were also hotel pans full of various cut stuff. Like meat. Meeaat. (It's times like this when I could better convey myself by speaking with a certain intonation, in this case by creepily saying "meeaat", than just typing it out.)

Aside from the kitchen areas, there know, seats. For customers. The floor (or shall I say, "front of the house") looked spacious when I was there since it was empty (emptiness has a tendency to feel spacious), but I imagine that when it's full it can feel pretty crowded. The service area and seating area are nicely arranged though to hopefully make everything run smoothly. Around the perimeter of the dining area is a glass-paned partition and pathway that has a few openings onto the dining floor. Behind these partitions may be ice stations, hand washing stations, and probably other things, thus keeping necessities closeby but hidden from customers.

The main dining area had a shiny copper and gold setting that, while not unpleasant, didn't appeal to me that much. I'd still say it was beautiful in that clean, "ooh, shiny!" way, but the mirrored tiles on the columns kind of reminded me of a weird dance club. The open kitchen area was much nicer in my opinion, as the darker colors felt more natural and subdued (NO MIRRORS!). In addition to the dining area, there's also a bar/lounge area closer to the entrance that is much dimmer than the main dining area but still retains that shiny gold-hued...feeling. I'm not a fan of bars so I doubt I'd ever find a design I like that much. Give me a bakery, you know?

The sommelier asked my class if any of us had eaten at Cafe Gray before. Silence. I suppose the only person in our class to have eaten there is the student who actually works there. (Sidenote: All the way on the far end of the open kitchen, hidden from most customers' views but still in front of the window, there was a medium sized table, perhaps eight seats, with fresh white tablecloth. My assumption is that the staff may do tastings there.) My teacher said we're all students, which translates to, "We eat pizza and ramen. Foreverrr." I'd love to try Cafe Gray sometime but I don't see that happening any time soon. Their dessert menu cost more than most entrees I'd eat. Damn.

After seeing the inside of an upscale restaurant, I decided that my new goal (not much of a goal) is to eat in a really nice restaurant. Obviously there are a gazillion excellent upscale restaurants in NYC, but I'd really like to not waste $50+, not to mention eating calories than I don't need (which is most of them). If anyone has recommendations I'd love to hear them. Overall, I guess I don't want something too trendy or anything I'd have to dress up for.

...okay, I think I just figured why I don't go to fancy restaurants, besides that I'm not usually willing to surrender the moolah for such indulgent food related activities. (However, I spent $50 today on 40 blank cards and envelopes that I intend to personalize and send out for the holidays. Surely there's more economic way to buy blank cards, but I'm guessing the paper is really nice. Or Kate's Paperie is overpriced.) I'm not a very sophisticated eater. As much as I enjoy eating, I don't really have a "dream" restaurant to visit, rather just a whole bunch of restaurants I'd love to try someday in the instance I come across rich people who don't mind treating me to dinner or I make a crapload of money that I don't mind spending on food (as opposed to other things, like books, music, and lots of chocolate). I'm interested in trying Bouley and Babbo but will I ever eat at them? IThey're not totally inaccessible, but I'm not making reservations right now either. (At least Bouley has that nice market where I can buy baked goods and not feel too indulgent.)

Mm. So. Random thoughts. About food. That I may or may not ever eat.

Lastly, there's a call for food blog award nominations! In no way am I trying to promote this blog (haha...hehe...GUFFAW) but rather bring your attention to all the great food blogs out there, like everything on my blogroll to the left. GOOD STUFF! YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY BLOGS!


mzn / December 7, 2005 12:06 AM

My life does seem sometimes as if it has been taken over by blogs. How did you know?

I know what you mean about eating in nice restaurants. I've been to a few fancy places over the years (none in NYC so I can't give you any recommendations) and it's often hard to justify the expense. But I like to do it once in a while. I recommend trying lunch instead of dinner. Lunch in a fancy place is generally more casual, less crowded, and a good bit cheaper.

Love your green stars shot, btw.

Wei / December 7, 2005 12:24 PM

I've heard good things about both Peter Lugers as well as Sparks. However, both are steakhouses.. :D Places that has been advertised as being "decent" and "trendy" such as Nobu or Tavern on the Green, I'd like to try someday.

kevin / January 4, 2006 1:18 PM

To the poster who is interested in Sparks, Tavern on the Green or even Peter Lugers over the bridge.....skip them all...I've dined at all of those several times, most on my own, but many times on expense accounts. Almost all of them are just mediocre at best. I'd do Cafe Gray, Le Bernardin, Cafe Boulud or Babbo. Spend the money well, not foolishly at those spots that most people think are good but in the food world are just okay.... hope you understand and not offended for I mean this in the most honest.

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