Entertaining at home might be desirable, but maybe not comfortable for a New York citizen living in a small apartment. There’s something a little squirmy about offering a glass of wine to a friend who has to sit on your bed, or lean against the bathtub in your kitchen.
Neighbourhood restaurants and bars try to cover this common shortfall by perpetrating living room-like intimacy through manner, décor and authenticity, thus luring neighbours into repeat business. I particularly like the ‘authenticity’ angle.
I strike often at the hook set by Cassis, a French bistro with dark wood floors, red checked tablecloths, a pressed tin ceiling and a small L shaped zinc bar. Susan and I prefer to sit at the bar, on the short arm of the L with our backs to the sidewalk, looking inward at the coziness of the restaurant. A visit might last an hour and a half, maybe two hours. We drink brandy and soda, Lillet, Pastis, a self-invented drink mixed with Aperol, Campari, tonic and grapefruit, and talk about ourselves, friends, politicians, theaters, writers and what is to become of us. Perching at the bar permits a sense of both belonging to and contributing to the scene, while facilitating a hasty departure when enough becomes enough.
Occasionally, a manager will send complimentary drinks our way, acknowledging the neighbourhood bonhomie, and we stay, thankful, grateful and a bit more tipsy. Thank goodness for Lyft and Juno (and Uber, I guess).
On Columbus, between 70th/71st, east side.