Entertaining at home might be desirable, but maybe uncomfortable 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 typical 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’ve struck at the hook set by Manny’s, a French bistro with dark wood floors, red-checked tablecloths, a pressed tin ceiling and a small L-shaped 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 restaurant’s extreme coziness. 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.
On Columbus (70th/71st), east side.
Newly re-opened by the previous incarnation’s (Bistro Cassis) former manager, Manny.