Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rooftop Luncheon Alfresco

A rooftop garden overlooking the park

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

A couple of friends came up from Washington DC for a day of meetings with wholesale merchants in the Garment District. With a tight schedule between appointments, they asked me to choose a place for lunch. My first thought, the rooftop cafe over the Bryant Park Grill. Its' central location in midtown, not far from the Fashion and Garment Districts, made it ideal and easy to get to.

Some folks love to be inside with cool air conditioning, but not me; when the weather is this hot, there is nothing I enjoy more than eating outdoors. The restaurant overlooks colorful flower beds, a wide expanse of manicured lawn and beautiful shade trees--a truly tranquil setting.

Ice-cold marguerites were just the antidote to the heat and humidity before our orders arrived. I recommend the cold crisp Caesar Salad with slices of chicken breast. Robin enjoyed Grilled Pork Chops with mashed sweet potatoes and snow peas, while Felicia nodded her approval of the Mediterranean Chicken Breast over capers, tomatoes, arugula and onions.

We were absorbed in conversation, enjoying lunch, when without warning clouds overhead darkened; a momentary flash of lightening streaked the sky before rain came down in buckets. Our drenched waiter rushed over with an umbrella to escort us indoors. We looked at him, then at one another and shook our heads in unison--absolutely No! The huge beach umbrella over our table was the perfect shield.

We continued the conversation while the rain poured around us. What a delight--outdoor lunch in a downpour, followed by a scrumptious chocolate-filled brownie (we shared) for dessert, just as the rain subsided.

Jacqueline Cable
For Postcards from New York

P.S. Another great spot to dine is the terrace patio enclosed by a stone parapet on the park level. Ask the maitre'd to seat you under the alcove against the ivy-covered wall; you will never know you are just a few feet away from the congested automobile and pedestrian traffic on 40th Street.

HBO's summer film festival on Monday nights is in progress through August 18 with features such as Arsenic and Old Lace, The Candidate, and the first Superman. Click here for details, then pack a picnic basket, add a bottle of wine, and join the outdoor party.

P.P.S. Say you walk by and the Parks' empty lawn chairs and inviting shade trees are too much to resist, and you wish you could put together a picnic in ten minutes or less. See tomorrow's Postcards Encore "Bryant Park in Bloom" with details where to purchase goodies nearby.

Address to remember: The Bryant Park Grill, 25 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018, 212-840-6500.

Directions: From Times Square MTA 7 to 5th Avenue and Bryant Park, M42 and M104 to M42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

Photo by Joseph Knight

©Copyright 2008 The Cable Group

A Mews off Washington Square

Ivy, carriage houses and cobblestones

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

One of my favorite places to research the letters and diaries of people who lived in 1480's Florence for a book I am writing is the New York University Library because I can work there until midnight. Everytime I walk across Washington Square to the entrance of Bobst Library the uniform beauty of the handsome red brick brownstones that line the North side of the park give me a reason to pause and gaze. Then for a moment those buildings known as "The Row" whisper images of turn-of-the-last-century New York.

In the 1890's Washington Square was the hub of high society. Every affluent family maintained horses and carriages to transport them around town. No parking lots around the corner or blocks away, their carriage houses were behind their homes.

You will find this narrow archway opens to a mews of converted carriage houses just behind the Squares brownstones. Step through and let your imagination recreate life as it was more than a century ago: the clip clop of horse shoes against the uneven cobblestones, the screech of carriage wheels, stable boys scurry to open heavy double wooden doors beneath double-arched carriage house entranceways. Servants come and go while young boys in knickers play hop scotch and ring-a-levio between passing carriages, a world Martin Scorsese so brilliantly brings to life in The Age of Innocence.

Now for a reason to visit Washington Square, how about the annual music festival through July 29 at 8 PM? Visit for performance details and mark your calendar.

Find the Mews and see if it doesn't force you to pick up a novel by Henry James (who was born in one of the brownstones on the Square in 1843), or Edith Wharton or both. My suggestion: Edith's The Age of Innocence and Henry's Washington Square.

Jacqueline Cable

Address to Remember: Washington Square Mews, University Place across from Waverly Place, New York, NY 10012

Directions: From Times Square MTA 1 to Christopher Street, walk east pass Avenue of the Americas to Washington Square, A, C, or E to West 4th Street, walk east one block to Washington Square. N, R or W to 8th Street, walk west to University Place, turn left to Washington Square.

Photo by Joseph Knight

©Copyright 2008 The Cable Group