Trying to Create An Elegant Dining Experience Outdoors And Ending Up In NYC Adventure.
It's that time of the year again in NYC, Restaurant Week! Every January in NYC some of New York's finest restaurants participate in restaurant week. It is a week in which you can get a fabulous meal at an affordable price. It started in 1992 and was lunch only and the price of the menu was $19.92. It was the perfect way to discover different restaurants or take advantage of that one restaurant you wanted to visit but couldn't afford. It was also on January, one of the quietest time in NYC. The holidays would be over, very low tourism and it is cold in the city. This was the time for New Yorkers to take advantage of their city. After many years Restaurant Week has evolved. More restaurants joined, some included dinner and it was brought back again in August. This year, 2021, has changed completely. The pandemic has affected the restaurant industry in NYC and we have to be creative and carry on the tradition. This year's Restaurant Week will be take out only since indoor dining is still banned. More restaurants are participating, as well as many restaurants in the outer boroughs. In addition, the menu is not as expansive. In the past some restaurants would offer a three course pre-fixed menu but I noticed the majority were only offering one option and only a few offered two options of an appetizer and entree or entree and dessert.
I called a friend and told her that we should meet up since we both stay indoors all the time and the only time we go out is to go to the supermarket. We are both trying to build our brands from home and we need a girl's night in the city. I told her I would make the drinks, we can find one of New York's Public Atriums and have dinner. She agreed and the research began. I went through the list of restaurants and picked some of the top spots in the city. I looked through menus and then I found Oceans New York, a fairly new restaurant in NYC. They offered four different entrees and three sides. I sent the option to my friend and she liked it. I then went on the hunt to see if any the Public Atriums were open because of the pandemic. I found a spot and sent that to my friend as well. She told me about a spot downtown by Wall Street and she said it was open. We decided it was the best option, it would be less crowded since people don't really do that part of the city on the weekends.
I went to Trader Joe's to get a bottle of wine and ginger beer. I was going to make Moscow Mule and that was going to be our appetizer. I then found a box of bite sized cakes and thought this would be a perfect dessert so I grabbed it. I then went to Dollar Tree and bought a table cloth, silver utensils, black plates, a mini silver platter, cups, plastic wine "glasses", napkins, to go cups and mini appetizer plates for the cakes. The order was place and I prepped my bag and picnic basket. I prepped the mixer, made extra ice and put them in the thermos and had the platter and cake ready. I met my friend at the restaurant, picked up our meal and we headed downtown. Let the adventure begin!
We arrived at the Oculus Building and went down the long walkway towards Brookfield were my friend told me we would find the space. As we walked it felt like a ghost town. Weekends are quiet but this was eery. When we arrived at Brookfield the second floor was closed, I didn't realized this is where my friend wanted to dine. I knew it was closed but she said the website showed it as open. There was a cool mini ice rink outside but we had to find a spot. We walked out to find another spot but there was nothing. We continued outdoors through another walkway but at the end there was a soccer field and residential buildings. This part of the city doesn't have much. There was a Shake Shack that had outdoor seating right next to us and I looked at my friend and said let's sit here. Hopefully they wouldn't tell us to leave but if they did the plan would be to buy French Fries. We picked a hidden table and then I grabbed the table cloth I purchased. My friend started to laugh and couldn't believe I did that. I said this will be fine dining in the cold on a budget. I am so glad it wasn't too cold because we wouldn't have survived.
I set the table, grabbed the cups, mixer and made our Moscow Mules, we sat and the food was delicious. My friend and I ended up ordering the same thing so there was no sharing or exchanging bites. We had their salmon with cauliflower couscous, almonds, currants, crispy salsify and a side order of mac-n-cheese. It was a bit cold at this point since we were searching for spot but nonetheless it was delicious. The mac-n-cheese was orgasmic. I devoured my entree and I ate half of my mac and took the rest home. We sat there and thank goodness the crew from Shake Shack didn't tell us to leave. We were able to catch up and enjoy a luxurious meal on a budget. It was dessert time and as my friend was chatting she didn't realize I took out a silver platter and mini plates. I took out the cakes and served them and she couldn't stop laughing. She FaceTimed the guy she is dating and told him this is the reason I don't introduce you to my friends, cause they are crazy. She told him about my whole set up and that we were dining outdoors in the cold in front of Shake Shack. He started to laugh and then said our goodbyes, it was dessert time. The mini cakes from Trader Joe's were delicious. We kept chatting and I kept topping off my friend's drink until she suddenly said I have to go to the bathroom.
I started to clean up and I told her to check inside Shake Shack, they said no since they just closed. I tried as quickly as I could to clean up cause I could tell my friend had to go. We went into Brookfield, the bathrooms were closed, we were on another mission. We saw a guard and he told us there was a Rite Aid and if we were nice maybe they would let us use the bathroom. We walked quickly, asked nicely and they told us to walk towards the back and they would let us in. Unfortunately, they had just let a guy in the bathroom seconds before us and I tried to distract my friend. She suddenly started to do the pee pee dance, started to squat and move about. She knocked on the door but the guy was taking a long time. We knew he would be in there for a minute. I tried again to distract her and she told me she was fine until we got next to the door. I told her let's look at stuff nearby but it was too late. My friend peed her pants. She bent over in the quietest cry laugh and pissed her pants. I panicked and grabbed the package of napkins I had in my picnic basket, ripped it open and gave it to her. I saw one of the clerks and told him what happened and apologized. My friend was still peeing her pants. She really had to go, she was wiping the floor and I ran to the isle to grab papertowels, then I went to get socks, I started to look for jogging pants, something! I went back to my friend and it was so quiet. She was cracking up and said, I feel better now and I don't even care. I just burst out laughing. The guy finally came out of the restroom and the clerk came with a mop. I found leggings bought them for her and she was able to change. I felt so responsible for her current situation, I just wanted to enjoy a fancy meal like we had in the past pre-pandemic. She came out of the bathroom in her new leggings and was cracking up.
As we walked toward the train station we couldn't stop laughing and she kept saying that she didn't care about what just happened. I told her well at least the pharmacy was empty, we cleaned up our mess and made a purchase. We did have a quiet dinner all to ourselves with really great food. We just don't know how to act anymore during this pandemic. Everything is closed and we have to improvise. We tried to create an elegant dining experience and it ended up being an adventure but I have to say the food was delicious and the next day I ate the rest of the mac-n-cheese. I really want to order more. We also have a fun story to tell when we get older. Core memory created! Restaurant Week has been extended until February 28 and I think I will try a few more places. I could try to recreate another fun night in the city but now I am concerned that the lack of bathroom access will cause another Rite Aid pee pee situation.