Last night, I attempted to make a visit to the city’s most prominent (only?) Tajik eatery, Dushanbe. Regrettably (for them, especially), I found no sign of a restaurant with that name at 1915 Coney Island Avenue – what I did find was a restaurant called “Night Dreams” that appeared to be shuttered, judging by the amount of mail that was piled on the other side of the locked glass doors. Oh well, I thought, and trudged back under the Q tracks to grab a doner kebap from Memo.
This morning, pondering a write-up, I decided that I needed to count up how many places I’d been to on the list. I was suspicious, with Dushanbe a scratch, that I was at fifty, and that some kind of halfway celebration was in order.
Close, but no phyllo cigar, as it turned out: counting Dushanbe and the three other closures so far (Samwongahk, which I didn’t get to, and Pop’s Pierogies and Philoxenia, which I did), I was teetering on the precipice of forty-nine. Forty-nine, of course, meant that I had no article: unless you’re a multiplication table freak, the number has no special significance.
Thus, I simply HAD to go somewhere for lunch today. No question, this makes things a bit difficult – while there are some Manhattan options close by that remained un-reviewed, I’ve at least BEEN to most of them at this point, and that wouldn’t help me get any closer to 50% nirvana. Paging through the list, I noticed only one place, in fact, that I hadn’t been to and that was close enough to stretch out a lunch hour for: Taam-Tov.
Problem was, when I showed up at 46 West 47th Street, the building (as well as the one next to it) looked abandoned and with markings on them that seemed to indicate imminent demolition. “Yet another closure?” I asked myself. Walking towards 5th Avenue, I hoped that the address was a typographical error, but alas, decided to walk back on the opposite side of the street about twenty feet from 5th. Not enough time during the lunch hour to fart around, I knew, and there was always the Kwik Meal cart somewhere nearby…
…then I found Taam-Tov. It’s merely moved across the street to 41 West 47th, thank ‘hova, and its third floor balcony was a perfectly pleasant, if bizarre, lunchtime atmosphere, when you ponder that I spend more time in outer borough neighborhoods than midtown. (Note: it’s only open from 10am to 5pm, weekdays.)
I was lured a bit into over-ordering, as is lately usual: $2 fresh-baked lepeshka bread lead to $4 worth of excellent hummus, which begat an order of 2 lula kebabs sided with French fries for $7 (or $3.50 each). The lula were cooked through but not dry, and had just the right amount of grease. The fries were fresh-cut marvels with just the right amount of crunch and salt. To be fair, you could order either half of this array of food and be perfectly happy (I ran out of gas a few bites into the second kebab). The meat is also about 50-75% more expensive than in Rego Park, but, hell, you’re on 47th Street! If I worked in Midtown, I’d eat here twice a week, I bet.
So, to summarize, I’m now halfway through the list – fifty of a hundred restaurants sampled, and probably forty of those reviewed by this point. To be honest, once I committed to the blog idea last September (about two months after I found the list and decided to use it for exploration purposes), I thought I’d have no trouble finishing the list by the time the next one came out. As it turns out, I was both somewhat stymied by time concerns and by life in general.
Things I’ve learned:
- People are either really interested in what I’m doing, or not at all.
- Identifying this early in a conversation is critical. Identifying this early in a potential relationship even more so.
- I have fantastic friends and superb readers (those categories have grown to be mutually inclusive, to some extent) who have contributed immensely to this blog’s success, through suggestion, companionship, and encouragement. This is especially important and unique when you consider that…
- …precious few people are actually willing to go to the furthest corners of New York in search of interesting eats and…
- …still fewer are willing to do it regularly.
- One of those who WAS willing to do it regularly is now my EX-girlfriend, which just goes to show you that there’s more to solving life’s complexities than going out to dinner…
- …but not much more.
- New York City is a stern, demanding taskmistress, but I love her anyhow.
Now, as to the last fifty: I won’t be able to finish them, I am sure, by the time the next top 100 list comes out. However, the new edition may not cover the same subject matter as 2005’s, so I suppose I’ll play it by ear as to whether to stick with the current edition or upgrade. I’m guessing that, if “Cheap Chow Now” is still the theme, that I will have been to quite a few of the included places already, but, again, we’ll see – Mr. Sietsema is nothing if not gloriously unpredictable.
P.S. I am officially dropping the NY Metro list from this blog’s masthead and objectives list, primarily because most of the rest of their list isn’t cheap enough. You don’t mind, certainly?