New York, you’re perfect/Don’t, please don’t change a thing–LCD Soundsystem
The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant is back in the New York groove.1 You can feel the juice coming right out of the sidewalk. We understand the kids living here, but The Rant is too old to figure out the logistics of getting a head of lettuce back to our studio apartment via subway. And in our desperate attempt to watch concerts in Brooklyn and Manhattan the same night, a hip would be broken due to our failure to mind the gap. We know our limitations.
The Rant has to make laps around the island to burn the calories from all the food we have consumed. The Korean restaurant Danji makes a spicy tofu that changed our position on living in a benevolent universe. Danji claims to seat 36, but we think that’s optimistic by about a dozen. Due to space constraints, the bartender has one cocktail shaker she has to wash more times than Lady Macbeth’s hands.
We assumed Danji would prove to be the acme of our dining experiences, and then we wandered into Betony. A great evening of food and drink involves more luck than a restaurant would have you believe. The Rant likes to park it on the end of the bar where the staff picks up their orders. You get the whole spectacle from there: the waiters interacting with the bartender; the drama of any conflicts (Betony had Waiter with a Complicated Haircut that appeared to dislike all of humanity); people entering the restaurant and trying to maneuver around a lack of a reservation or table position they don’t want; the chatter of everyone working to make the place run smoothly. Even if the food comes up short, the floor show can keep you entertained.
Betony had not one, not two, but three incredible bartenders: Diego, Raul, and Steve. Cocktails have become as complicated as the tax code, and watching the endless stream of homemade syrups, infused liqueurs, and technical mastery proves fascinating. Diego taught us that an egg in a cocktail helps to aerate the drink, and you can create more or less volume by wet or dry shaking. The Rant also gained insight into the mysteries of the Milk Punch Clarification Process, which is now our favorite expression. We intend to use it to confuse people during meetings, “Sure the numbers look good, but has anyone verified their Milk Punch Clarification Process?”
The final element of the supreme dining experience at the bar is the people around you, which is where luck weighs most heavily. Danji had the misfortune of featuring the obnoxious banter of Loud Couple in Love, with the added demerit of one of them having an Australian accent. Trump would accomplish more with his immigration policy if he built a wall around Australians in love.
The company at Betony got off to a shaky start as the French dude next to us insisted on repeatedly using the word “decadent” as a term of disapproval. Which is a bit like a Russian criticizing long, philosophical novels. Know thyself French dude. Fortunately he decamped after one angst-ridden beer.
His departure heralded the arrival of two delightful women from Barclays who should immediately receive promotions and raises, Barclays. Let us just say the rest of the evening included the presentation of roses by the bartenders, the making of paper airplanes, The Rant receiving free, experimental drinks from Diego, and our brief consideration of applying for the open bartender position at Betony.2
New York we love you. Your vibe, your food, your people, your funk emanating from the sidewalk grates, and your impeccable Milk Punch Clarification Process. May you never lose your groove.
- And yes, if you are wondering, we are listening to the Hello version as we write. Not the Ace Frehely of KISS version. How dare you even think such a thing. Back when people could make a living from music sales, KISS released solos albums from each member of the band on the same day. This would equal the yearly output of some current labels
- We know, what about the food? That would require a separate rant. Let us just say beets, goat cheese, cavatellli, pretzels, and salted caramel and let you use your imagination