If you were trying to get to Williamsburg from Penn Station on February 2nd then you'll remember taking the A to 14th Street and 8th Ave, at which you were barred from boarding the L train because it only ran from Union Square, causing you to wait for the bus and slowly roll a few avenues over, then get on the L to Bedford Ave and arrive way later than you had expected to.
Weeeee. I love NYC Transit when it works. And I want to stab things when it doesn't.
When Tristan and I finally did get to Williamsburg to meet up with Nathan, we ended up taking a stroll through the backwoods of Brooklyn (except replacing the woods with abandoned-looking plastic bag importers and manufacturers) to eat brunch at Greenpoint Coffeehouse, a cozy restaurant with a warm copper-tiled ceiling and a refurbished-worn-in feel. The wooden furniture and leather booths looked like they had seen better days, but that's not a bad thing as long as that doesn't mean my chair will fall apart when I sit on it. It gives character, like an old home, but without the cobwebs or funny smell.
We waited in the "big cushy chair" area near the entrance while hoping that another party would shovel their food down and relinquish a booth. This is when I discovered the fun pastime that is "stroking one's facial hair," as performed by Tristan and Nathan, only problem being that I don't have any. This might be why I have a tendency to bite my lips. And my fingers. If only I had a beard—then I'd have a way to distract myself without eating away at my skin.
We were moved from the waiting area to the bar. No solid food yet, but at least we were allowed liquids. Nathan ordered a coffee, the flavor of which I will assume was bitter and brown, like coffee tends to be.
Tristan also ordered a coffee...in addition to a Bloody Mary. Like most alcoholic drinks, Bloody Marys are one of those things I've heard about for most of my life but has yet to travel through my digestive plumbing. So I took a sip, prompting my face to screw up into one of at least 50 different facial expressions that I pull out to connotate that my tongue has just sent waves of unhappiness to my brain.
What is a Bloody Mary? It's tomato juice, vodka, Tabasco, pepper, and other things I wouldn't normally think of drinking, all mixed together in one convenient vessel. One sip was all I needed to be overwhelmed by the burning of spicy alcoholic salsa traveling down my throat. Which I guess is the intended flavor. But I like salsa without alcohol, ideally with tortilla chips. Does anyone upon drinking a Bloody Mary for the first time react with happily widening eyes/dilated pupils and a request for more? If so, those people are crazy. I mean. ...Really. That is, unless you really like salsa, alcohol, and burningness, in which case I guess this drink was made for you.
When I insisted that I could taste the tingling remnants of vodka in my mouth, Tristan and Nathan said there was no way; the alcohol had been so diluted by the other ingredients that no trace of its flavor was supposed to be discernible. "Robyn, it's all in your head!" No, it was most definitely in my mouth, and it tasted like a soul devoid of love. And replaced with tomatoes.
...Trust me, I wouldn't mind liking alcohol. It would make my life easier.
After moving to a booth, we were tortured by the passing waiters carrying plates piled high with food. Tristan's veggie burger topped with feta cheese and served on seven grain bread with avocado mayo and a side sprouts salad had that mountain-y look. He heartily approved of it.
Nathan's cobb salad—mixed greens, grilled chicken chunks, avocado, bacon bits, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese, and toast strips—also had a hefty look. A healthy, hefty look. I almost considered getting it upon Nathan's recommendation, but opted to order something more brunch-y instead.
And then my French toast came. As a tidy stack of two fat patties of egg-battered challah bread (the best bread for French toast!) rounds, it was far from mountainous. It was a bit dinky compared to the other plates, but as this was just the right amount of soft, sweetened, eggy carb, syrup-doused matter to satiate my appetite, a mountain of French toast would probably be too much for one belly to handle.
Sensing that I wanted a scone (because I had vocalized such request a few times over the meal in an indecisive way; "I kind of want a scone, but I don't know if I really need it...but I have a craving...but it's not really necessary..."), Nathan ordered one near the end of the meal. The dried cranberry scone tipped my belly over into "too much carb" territory, but I kept eating it because, despite being on the dry side (as many scones tend to be), it filled my mouth with tender buttery goodness. This is gonna leaden your stomach if you eat it by yourself, so make sure to share.
After saying goodbye to Nathan and visiting the apartment Tristan will be living in come April, Tristan and I headed to Olivia's apartment in the East Village where she graciously let us dirty her bed with our Brooklyn-tainted bodies while watching her TV. Tuned in to Comedy Central, we caught the end of Spaceballs (it's a classic, you know it) and couldn't bear to pull ourselves away to go out to dinner when Scrubs graced the screen. SCRUBS! There's just no way. Olivia grabbed some rye bread and blue cheese to appease her gurgling belly as we watched J.D. act like a dumbass. It was one of the best ways to spend a Saturday night, really.
And here is a cute photo to document our good times:
Okay, moving on.
After Scrubs ended, thus giving us no reason to watch TV ever again, we headed out to the East Village location of Le Gamin, Robert Arbor's restaurant. The brick walls decorated with French sign-age and dim lighting gave a comfortable, laid-back feeling. We snuggled into one of the small rectangular tables by the right wall.
When given the choice of either duck confit or steak tartare at a French restaurant, I have to get one or the other. For better or worse, neither was on Le Gamin's menu (they're both heavy dishes I suppooose), so I went for my next favorite dish: croque madame, like a grilled cheese sandwich but filled with ham and additionally topped with cheese (aka a croque monsieur) and a fried egg. Although it seems to fit the name, regarding this as a "ham, egg and cheese sandwich" would be wrong. IT'S NOOOT. It's melty cheese and semi-runny egg and thick ham slices on crunchy white bread that may have been doused in butter. It's awesomer.
Olivia's la salad Gamin was a pyramidal pile of cold roasted chicken, grilled vegetables, potato, ratatouille, tomato, and mesclun. It was too much for her to finish, but it looked good. Tristan's ratatouille crepe was definitely not too much for him to eat; he was the first to polish off his plate.
We finished off with a tarte tatin, a traditional French dessert comparable to apple pie but with half the crust and with loads more buttered caramelized apple action going on, making it...not very much like an apple pie, but they have more in common than, say, a jellyfish and saltine. I'd label this tarte tatin as just okay—I found the apple part a little too mushy and lacking in the sweet caramelization I love so much (it was probably the lack of caramel action that bothered me more; it's supposed to be somewhat mushy considering that's what heat does to apples). The crust was also mushier than I would've preferred. Admittedly, I've been spoiled after eating a few tarte tatins in Paris. o(>.<)o (If you're wondering, I think that's a little creature with squinty eyes making two balled up fists. This translates to, "Raawwrr." Or something.)
Next up, I have to find me some duck confit.