Eat: Au Rive Gauche

Every time I hear someone complain that life in New York is not all that Sex and the City made it out to be, I feel slightly alarmed that anyone out there is basing their life on a TV programme - especially a programme as totally unwed to reality as Sex and the City. After all, the problems with SatC's portrayal of life in NYC are numerous, and have been well-covered before, by myself and many other writers. Don't get me wrong - Sex and the City is a great programme, and was especially so when it was first released. I just don't think it's a good idea to base major life decisions on it*. Now that I've got that little disclaimer out of the way, I feel free to tell you all how very much my life last week was like Sex and the City. Not all of it - I wore sensible flats most days and cooked on multiple occasions, for example - but certainly last Monday, when I went out for dinner and drinks with a small group of my girlfriends at Left Bank.

Left Bank is on Perry Street in the West Village, which is also the street that Carrie's 'Upper East Side apartment' is on. I'm not sure why they made it seem that she lived on the Upper East Side, but I assume that back in 1998, the Upper East Side was a more aspirational area than the West Village.

Perry Street in the West Village. Image: Christa in New York
Perry Street in the West Village. Image: Christa in New York

This is not the case now. The West Village is full of pretty streets, and Perry Street may just be the prettiest of them all - leafy and green and lined with beautiful, beautiful brownstones. As I walked from the subway to the restaurant I quickly decided that my new life aim was to own a brownstone on Perry Street, then just as quickly realised that my life choices** mean this is almost certainly never going to be a thing that I do.

Thankfully, my relative poverty*** doesn't stop me from dining on Perry Street, and having an amazingly good time while I'm at it. Left Bank had a great happy hour on for more than an hour****, which we took full advantage of while we gossiped happily. The staff were wonderfully kind and patient with us, either not knowing that none of us owned property on Perry Street or not caring, and were quite happy to let us delay ordering food while we caught up. Eventually we did though, and...well.

We were all sorry we had put the food off, because we could have kept eating for hours. We just had a whole heap of different stuff to share - some fantastic cheeses and pork terrine to start, followed by kale salad, broccoli salad, Mongolian dumplings, grilled octopus, grilled polenta...and then dessert, which we didn't need, but very enthusiastically ate anyway. We all shared bits of pieces of rhubarb tart, banana nut trifle, maple syrup pie, and chocolate brownie, and considered ourselves all the better for it.

Inside the restaurant. Image: Left Bank
Inside the restaurant. Image: Left Bank

My favourite part was the everything, but especially the kale salad and rhubarb tart. I used to eat rhubarb frequently when I was a child, but it's only this year that I've seen it popping up on menus all over the city. Rhubarb is the new ramps, maybe? I also loved the wine I went for, which was a Bohigas Xarel-lo from Spain. I'm about 96% certain that I've never had that grape before, and it was one of the happy hour selections, so I was a little afraid of my choice until I tried it. It's phenomenal - crisp and light and zesty and slightly sweet (but not too much, because overly sweet dinner wines are the worst). It's good enough that I've looked it up on Wine-Searcher, and if I can ever be bothered getting across to Brooklyn solely to visit a wine store, I'll be buying a bottle or three for my own home.

Maple Syrup Pie. Image: Left Bank
Maple Syrup Pie. Image: Left Bank

So we ate, and we gossiped, and we laughed, and I wore high heels. It was just like Sex and the City, except we're all happily-married, well-adjusted types, and none of us hit on the waiter*****. It was a fantastic evening, reminding me of the three eternal truths:

  • Time spent catching up with girlfriends is always time well spent.
  • Kale is truly a wondrous, versatile vegetable.
  • Not owning a brownstone on Perry Street matters not at all in the great scheme of things.

Cheers to that.

*Although it may be a better choice than, say, The Wire...if you were vacillating between the two.

**Who becomes a writer? Come on!

***Relative to townhouse-owning on Perry Street, that is. Trust me, I know how lucky I am.

****I believe it was two.

*****Although he was very good looking.