Lili and I had a little fun last night thinking of our top five meals we’ve shared together. It was tough as we’ve had a lot of great ones. The first four were locks for me. Just great simple meals that I really have fond memories around. They aren’t necessarily memorable because of the food either. It’s more a time/place/mood thing. Did we get along well, laugh a lot, enjoy the space. Of course the food played a big part. But, food, at least in my book, is never the top of the list of a great restaurant experience. Maybe I’m in the minority on that one. Anyway here’s my list:
1) Peasant (Nolita – NYC)
I took PY here for our first “official” night time date. We had only just met a few days before (at Sant Ambroeus in the West Village). I remember meeting here there. She had gotten there first (a trend that still holds true) and when she turned around she floored me. She had this great green and white dress on. I still remember that spin. I think that’s when I was hooked on her. The meal was great. We laughed a lot and talked a lot. Something about that space, too. It’s still my favorite overall Italian dining experience in NYC. They just nailed what simple, good, rustic Italian should be. In both the space and the food. Did I mention how amazing Lili looked that night? That helped a lot, too. We’ve been back several times since and it always makes my heart warm. A special place for me for sure.
2) The Cocker (San Telmo – Buenos Aires)
This is a great little bed and breakfast in a not so great area of Buenos Aires. But, I kind of like we were in the seedy part. It had more “character” and we were only steps away from the street market. Though the meal I remember most was just having breakfast together out on the balcony of our room. The sun was shining, we were all alone and the city was bustling below. I could have stayed there forever and been happy. That balcony and that breakfast will be in my heaven.
3) 5e Cru (Paris – 5th Arrondissement)
This was just a super night. We were in Paris for a long weekend over memorial day. PY found this joint buried deep in a Travel & Leisure magazine. It was just a pic and one or two lines. Still we rolled the dice and walked over to check it out. There was a crazy raucous group of Frenchmen out front. We could have sworn we were in the wrong place. We weren’t. We walked through them and into the wine bar. The rest was history. Somehow the owner joined us and the three of sat there drinking way too much wine and devouring a massive plate of charcuterie and cheese. We stumbled back to our hotel (somehow) taking a bottle with us of course for the walk.
4) No Me Olvides (Asuncion Paraguay)
Granted I’ve got a soft spot for Paraguay. For obvious reasons. Even with that soft spot I’ll admit it isn’t the food mecca of the world. With one exception – meat. They have hands down the best quality meat I have ever had. Even better than Argentina in my opinion (again I’m biased). Still the meat in Paraguay is different. It’s tougher and harder to chew, but packed with this magnificent flavor. And the best piece of meat I’ve had was here at No Me Olvides. Plus the space is a ton of fun. They have this stellar outdoor space designed like a cantina, but cooler. And we nabbed the best table there in the corner. Away from the action, but still able to take it all in. I still remember crushing a 40 ounce Baviera (me encanta Baviera!) and finishing a massive cut of Bife de Chorizo. What a great night. Makes me yearn to get back to Paraguay, it’s been far, far too long.
5) Locanda Vine E Olli (Clinton Hill – Brooklyn)
LV&O is a just a cool ass space. Housed in a former old school pharmacy this place just oozes charm. The food here is simple and solid. The real sell is the wine and atmosphere. It’s just great. Through and through. I’ve been a bunch but one time Lili and I went with a big group of friends. We owned the joint and ordered literally everything on the menu. Plus they brought us a few extra things. I remember a lot of wine being drank that night, too (seems to be a pattern). It was just super fun to be there with Lili and our good friends. It seems like forever ago now, which means we need to do it again, soon.