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Tipsy Parson

Here’s what: maple bacon. Here’s what else: fresh biscuits with lemon curd and scrambled eggs with chives. Here’s where: Tipsy Parson.

I had my second meal at Tipsy Parson a few weeks ago when I was back in New York and it solidified its place on my list of places to get happy, comfy food for brunch or dinner. It’s a southern place, so comfort food is exactly what it should provide, in addition to generous hospitality. None of our servers had southern accents but they were quirkily cheerful and solicitous, so good enough!

The avocado toast – greens and tomatoes and avocado piled on toast – and migas – a scrambled huevos rancheros – are my friends who live around the corners’ favorites for brunch, but I’m partial to the traditional bacon, eggs and carbs. Those biscuits are to die for – little, fluffy, warm – and that’s coming from someone who has tried and tried to make exactly those biscuits (and failed, let’s be honest).

For dinner, I don’t know where to start. Maybe the top of the menu? Just work your way down. Deviled eggs?? I love you, Tipsy Parson! I thought I was the only person who still made those and I love them only a little less than pigs in a blanket. You can also get homemade peanut butter with crackers and apples. I wouldn’t order it, but it’s adorable that they have it. You should try one of their ribs – appetizer or entree – and, naturally, order the buttermilk chive biscuit with honey butter to accompany whatever you settle on. If you’re not a big meateater, try the catfish. And if you’re ready for the full southern, get the chicken and dumplings and plan on having a lie down when you get home. Grits are available in four different combinations, but I can’t get past the consistency of even the best grits, so I can’t speak to Tipsy Parson’s execution. I just keep rolling on back to those biscuits.

The front bar and dining area are library cozy, but I prefer the back room where you get a little more space, some minor topiary action and a glimpse of a tiny, charming back garden.

Go. Enjoy. And bless your heart.

Tipsy Parson, 156 9th Ave. btwn 19th and 20th
Brunch: Sat + Sun 10 – 5:30
Lunch: Mon-Friday 11:30- 3:30
Midday: Sun – Sat 3:30p to 5:30p
Dinner: Mon – Thurs 5:30-11, Fri – Sat 5:30-12AM, Sun 5:30 – 10

We Love Turtles. And New York.

Stay in the BIKE LANE

Winter Carbs in Manhattan

pancakemonth.pngThere was supposed to be snow in Manhattan while we were there. Washington got snow. Philadelphia got snow. New York? Horizontal snow at 4AM that added up to an inch, melted by morning. Sigh. Then it snowed wildly the day after we left. Double sigh. No snow dose for me. It was bejesus cold though and that means comfort food.

In the interests of full disclosure, I collect comfort food all over Manhattan even when it’s 85 degrees outside and the thought of carbohydrates repels your average resident. Freezing winds and grey skies just make me look less crazy while I’m going about my usual business. And it convinces R to join me, which is always nicer.

First stop, Clinton Street Baking Company for pancakes. Their pancakes are already reviewed as the best in New York but every February they take it up another notch by declaring Pancake Month and offering different over-the-top pancake confections every few days. Like pancakes with fresh blackberries, pecan streusel and warm apple butter or chocolate and blood orange pancakes with candied orange glaze. Sadly, all these tasty offerings + cold weather make getting a table well nigh impossible. One hour and 45 minutes wait in 12-degree weather? Forget it. (I have less and less patience with popular places that take no reservations. The least you could do is offer some of the tables up for people who think ahead. Stupid pancake people.)

So we cabbed over to Momofuku Noodle Bar for some ramen goodness instead. Not that waits there are often much better, but we got lucky, hitting the sweet spot between the early eaters and the late lunchers. Momofuku gets a lot of press already, so I don’t need to tell you what a hot ticket their pork buns are or their ramen or just a seat in any of the locations in general. David Chang’s East Village empire consists of the Noodle Bar (er, noodle specialties), Sämm Bar (oddly ham-focused + oysters), the Milk Bar (take-out bakery and small savories), and Ko (newest posh destination, impossible to get in, voted Best New Restaurant last year by Time Out). He’s opening Má Pêche downtown later this year.

pork-belly-buns.jpgThe menu can be off-putting for a non-foodie, featuring a lot of words like “belly” and “tendon” and “skate” and other things that don’t sound either edible or yummy, but push on: nothing looks like what it is and everything is ultra-flavorful, so it’s worth a little courage. The house ramen is indeed delicious, a big bowl of slightly chewy noodles nestled in a rich broth with a perfectly poached egg, pork, seaweed sheets, scallions. The ginger scallion noodles, albeit broth-less, are equally comforting and have a little more kick. You can’t go and not get one of the buns and if you’ve never been, you should start with the pork ones, two to a serving. They’re not the doughy blobs you get on the street in Chinatown. The soft steamed bun is a partial wrap around super-tender slices of pork, scallions, crunchy pickled cucumber and a ridiculously tasty hoisin sauce. They’re legendary and deservedly so.

If you don’t like crowds, are toting bags, a baby or your bushels from the farmer’s market, you shouldn’t hit Momofuku until you’re over it or unburdened. Seating is at bar tables or shared tables, period. We sat sandwiched between two mid-40s ladies trying to lunch and two guys who turned out to be chefs themselves. We talked to the chefs. One is a side man at Morimoto (you know: Iron Chef Morimoto) and the other is the executive chef at Seasonal, a one-Michelin-star midtown restaurant specializing in modern Austrian cuisine. I know, right? What the hell is modern Austrian? Here’s the thing: Austria is a huge hospitality industry machine. They have hotelier schools, excellent restaurants and lots of great hotels. Think of Wolfgang Puck. And this guy, Eduard Frauneder, is all up on the entrepreneurial food thing too. The food looks amazing and we’re definitely going. Anyplace that serves spätzle State-side has my vote.

crackpie_kirk_mckoy_latimes.jpgAfterwards, we braved the wind for a couple blocks to collect crack pie, strawberry milk and a cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie at Momofuku’s take-out Milk Bar. Breakfast cereals provide the base and inspiration for a lot of the offerings, like the cereal milk soft serve, which is fine by me. Predictably, I can’t get enough of the crack pie which is essentially just pie base without the interfering fruit or nuts: sugar, butter, eggs in a chewy layer over crumbly cookie crust. It’s a good thing Momofuku’s so far into the East Village or I’d be stopping by there all the time like the addict I am. I thought about buying a whole pie, but at $40 it’s a commitment. (You can tell I’d make a really bad crack addict.) I might have to serve it at my wedding though.

I love New York in winter even if I can’t have my snow.

The Friars Club

Friars_Club_NY.jpgOK, so if someone asked you, “Do you want to go to the Friars Club for dinner? It’s fish night, so there’ll be 90-year-olds on oxygen wearing lobster bibs in the corner,” what would you say? You’d say, “Hell yes, I want to go to the Friars Club! Let me grab my chest-high pants and I’ll meet you at the front door!”

The Friars Club, for those of you not in the know, is a members-only club in midtown Manhattan that is most famously host to the Friars Club roasts where old-school insult comedians say terrible, sometimes funny things to and about some poor celebrity sap who has to just sit there and take it. (Between you and me, roasts make me cringe more than they make me laugh, but I seem to be in the minority.) Membership is invitation only and is all show biz types. Carol Channing, Milton Berle, George Burns, Billy Crystal type place. Heavy on the comedians but including Frank Sinatra and his ilk too.

The place is so much more than we could have every hoped. It’s like a Poconos resort threw up 1950-1955 all over the place. It’s a five-story mansion with curved carved staircases, tiny elevators, ornate dark wood paneled walls, a billiards room, a sauna, and headshots everywhere of all the famous members, from Jerry Lewis to Tom Hanks.

No cell phone usage is allowed: if you need to take a call – I’m not kidding – they bring you a cream-colored rotary phone and plug it into the jack in the banquette. Every table has one. Think Rock Hudson/Doris Day. Each bathroom has an old-school glass pump with blue mouthwash in it. The men sport big rings. The ladies have all had face lifts. It is, in a word, awesome.

So we went for dinner.

The waitstaff wears ill-fitting polyester suits and when you ask about their red wine selection, they say, “We have a burgundy, a pinot noir, and a merlot.” None of this modern bullshit about grape blends organically grown in Australian or Argentinian or Sonoma going for $12 a glass. You’ll order by type and you’ll like it.

The dinner menu’s the same. Appetizers? Shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail or salad with blue cheese. The shrimp cocktail comes with red cocktail sauce. Same for the crab. None of this frou-frou garbage with anise-seed consomme and sea nettle foam. You’re having the shrimp, you get the shrimp. That’s it. Fuck you.

Dinner? Steak, lobster, roast chicken or sole. And that’s exactly what you’ll get: nothing else, just a giant 20-oz. steak, a freakishly large 2.5-lb. lobster or the largest sole I’ve ever seen. It’s like they were bred at Costco in the steroids aisle. If you want sides, you order them but no one’s bringing you your fish on a pressed disc of maple-glazed pork molars. Spinach? Steamed. In a white dish. Done. Potatoes, brocolli or french fries. Enjoy. No white asparagus, no bamboo stems, no essence of baby swamp grass.

Dessert? This is the best part. Peach melba. That’s right, there’s a place in 2010 that still serves peach melba. Vanilla ice cream, peaches (listed as fresh but clearly Del Monte cling from a can), and raspberry sauce served in a cocktail glass. Brownie. Or ice cream. I was really hoping that a bowl of Jell-O might be an option, but no such luck.

I gotta tell you: everything was really good. Straightforward, uncomplicated and tasty. It was kind of refreshing. Don’t knock 1952, people.

New Yorkers are Excellent

I’m going home later this week. Maybe I can get a ride…

I Am a Rock Star


So you know how you get those notifications when someone new starts following you on Twitter? If it’s someone I know, I go, “Huh,” and delete it. If it’s someone I don’t know, I go, “Huh,” and delete it. I used to go check out the strangers – a holistic healer, a crackpot preacher, a marketing firm – and try to puzzle out how they found me, but I couldn’t ever sort it out, so I stopped bothering. It’s just something about my magnetic personality, I’m sure.

Monday was different. On Monday, I got a notification that the Guggenheim Museum was following me. That’s right: THAT Guggenheim. The round one in New York. My favorite museum. Is following me. (Not literally – I’m still talking about Twitter. I’d have noticed if a block-sized museum was lumbering after me in the street.)

I’m sure it’s not personal – I just posted something that caught their spider or whatever – but I’m choosing to ignore that practical knowledge in favor of irrationally basking in the fame that goes along with being followed by a major world institution. I just know someone important – maybe the Director – is sitting in a curve of that rotunda checking his iPhone every few minutes to see if I’ve tweeted.

Don’t ruin my dream. It could be true. You don’t know.

Holiday Homesickness


To be clear, despite nearly ten years in San Francisco, New York is home. I mean, yes, of course, home is where R is and I do feel at home in our west coast apartment, but this city by the bay with its lack of drive, diners and dead of winter is discouraging come December.

Where are all the holiday markets and the Christmas buzz? Snow, please? Pretty please?

I need some tourists crowding in front of the Saks windows on 5th Avenue and snaking out of Radio City Music Hall so that I can look native and disdainful while secretly feeding off their excitement. I would like to be caught without gloves in Central Park so I can jam my hands in my pockets and dodge into an overpriced cafe on the Upper East Side for a cocoa to go so that I won’t lose my mind while I shop for boots and gifts at Bloomingdale’s. I need some weekday time on the street in SoHo to do some strike team snatching of holiday baubles before heading to the Angelika to catch some uplifting film on otter breeding that no one outside New York even knows was released. I want to wander the West Village in the winter chill and a long coat, thinking about the exciting year ahead, feeling the pull of Right Now! and What’s Next? I miss my Christmas market in Union Square with its red stalls and garland, and its mix of happy treasures and useless trinkets.

Home. Mmmm.

This happens every year and I usually dash off eastward in mid-December to get my pre-Christmas fix so everyone doesn’t have to listen to me whinge about the seasonally inappropriate sunny days and lack of aggressive Christmas cheer here in San Francisco. But this year we’ve been on the road for what feels like the better part of the last six months, plus my holiday heart is pumping an extra four quarts of shiny red Christmas blood around for this baby of ours, so I may be bound to the snowless slow lane for the time being.

If I were going to New York, here’s a list of what I’d do. If you’re there, you should too.

  1. Hit as many holiday markets as possible. Key one: Union Square. I’m also really fond of St. Bartholomew’s on Park Ave. because I grew up going to that church. You can score a silk tie for dad, jewelry from Brooklyn for your best friend, and a ridiculous overpriced hat for yourself because your mama didn’t dress you warmly enough. Full listing of markets, here.
  2. Check out Manhattan User’s Guide (MUG) listing of blogs covering holiday doings. Especially the events on the skint and Brooklyn Based.
  3. Seriously consider schlepping up to St. John the Divine for one of their Christmas concerts (they got Sting – apparently dressed in a cowl, no less – this year). Dress warmly: that place is freeeeezing in the winter.
  4. If it snows, take the A up to the Cloisters and wander about in the park a little before or after to get some winter stillness. Have tea. Maybe duck into a concert. Come to think of it, this is a good thing to do in January too. Maybe save the stillness for post-holidays.
  5. Go see a non-Christmas show. Screw Scrooge and the Rockettes: get cozy at Joe’s Pub (Happy Endings reading series is tomorrow), catch theater divas Lynn Redgrave at MTC or Anna Deavere Smith at 2nd Stage, or any of MUG’s 5 Off-Broadway Shows to See (see bottom of page).
  6. Get a good night’s sleep and head to midtown. Mind you, I never go to midtown unless I can help it, but the Grand Central Terminal shops, including the MTA store for New York-centric stocking stuffers (see also: New York Public Library gift shop), are a good place for gifts. And cheer. As long as you’ve had your coffee and not a lot of stress before you show up. Likewise wandering up 5th Avenue to furtively glance over the tourists’ shoulders at the windows at Saks and Barney’s and the tree at Rockefeller Center. If I’m feeling deranged with festive spirit, I might even go into FAO Schwarz for a few minutes. A word of caution: only brave this outing if you can feel happy window shopping and picking up the odd inspired gift. If you’re on a buying mission, the crowds and price tags could be your downfall.
  7. Hit Wollman Skating Rink. Think ahead re: crowds and events, but yeah, skating outside in Central Park is excellent.

If you’re there, I’m jealous, so maybe don’t tell me about it. Or you can tell me about it but you have to bring/send me a gift to accompany your tales of joy. That seems fair.

In the meantime, I’m sorting through New York First to see if I can import everything I like and set up a mini Manhattan in our apartment. Wish me luck.

New York: Love, Loss and What I Wore; Hamlet; Superior Donuts

Now that we’ve established that I missed A Steady Rain, what did I see and, more importantly, of what I saw, what should you see?


Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Unless you see or read everything Nora Ephron produces or are an Eileen-Fisher-wearing, lunch-date-having, Upper-West-Side-living woman over 55, you can probably miss Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

I’m in the former group, mostly because of her non-fiction – her early essays, to be more precise – and some because of When Harry Met Sally and My Blue Heaven. In the last several years, Ephron’s writing has become more specialized to her demographic group (I Feel Bad About My Neck), which is unfortunate for me since I’m 30 years younger than she is, and she’s been doing a lot more collaborating with her sister Delia, which usually spells disaster (Bewitched, Hanging Up). This play – more of a reading, really – is a combo My Demographic / Delia project.

Briefly, a woman wrote a little book for her daughter and granddaughter about defining moments in her life and illustrated it with drawings of what she was wearing at the time. It got picked up by a publisher. Nora and Delia got their hands on it, did a bunch of additional interviews with women and turned it into a five-woman show. The actresses sit on-stage and read/perform from the script.

A couple of the stories – not from the book – are touching or have some unexpected twists (breast cancer, same-sex marriage), and the cast (which switches out monthly) is high-quality enough to keep the audience’s attention, but I doubt it would have been produced without the Ephron name attached. It’s the kind of thing you go to with your aunt after you’ve had an overpriced lunch uptown. I was the youngest person – woman, actually: I think I saw two men – in the theater by, I’d bet, fifteen years.

At the West Side Theater Downstairs. Tickets. Through October 18th with Tyne Daly, Rosie O’Donnell, Samantha Bee, Natasha Lyonne, Katie Finneran. If you’re going to go, I’d go between October 21st and November 15th to catch Jane Lynch in the group.


I made a half-hearted effort see Michael Grandage’s (Frost/Nixon) production of Hamlet, starring Jude Law (co-interview here), in London over the summer but, predictably, it was sold out, presumably to nannies and models.


I’ve seen a lot of Hamlet, film and theater, but what’s one more? I was curious about how Jude Law’s charm would translate to a.) a Dane, and b.) a gloomy one, at that. His public shenanigans and the characters he picks (Alfie, Sky Captain, Dickie Greenleaf, Errol Flynn) share a self-absorption and good fortune that might make for an interesting Hamlet. That view was backed up by a quote he gave a reviewer about connecting with Hamlet because both he and Elsinore’s heir “know what it’s like to be misunderstood” or words to that effect, which betray both a lack of sophistication in managing the press and an adolescent sense of self, both of which Hamlet shares.

The production moved to Broadway last month (US interview and overview here), so off I went.

The word I’d use is “accessible.” Heavy on the crazy, light on the darkness, this is a good intro Hamlet. Not too much brooding, a lot of jumping around and an excellent reading of the text. Too often, even in practiced hands, antique language can slip by, passage after passage, with only the gist of the speech understood by half the audience. I’ve done the play: I’ve dug about with directors and dramaturges locating the original meanings of colloquialisms and out-of-use words, distinguishing them from the intentional enigmas of Hamlet’s madness. That comprehension can help an actor immeasurably, but it often stops there. The audience, unschooled, smiles and nods and misses out. Not so here. Well, not so for Hamlet’s part, anyway.

Law, flexible and agile, illustrates his words to very good effect, but something of Hamlet’s agony is lost with all the physicality. Who hasn’t read an article in Self or Men’s Fitness about how exercise improves the mood? Law’s Hamlet should, by rights, be surfing an endorphin high by the middle of Act I. Aside from that, time to think is at a minimum when Hamlet is manic, reducing the tragedy to the frame of, say, a runaway train rather than the more agonizing progress through layers of guilt, filial love, maternal betrayal, aimless youth, fate vs. intentionality, political position, and all the other issues more cerebral Hamlets contend with.

I can’t say I’ve seen the definitive Hamlet – is there one? – or even one I felt did all the angles justice. I dare say most people would agree, which is why the play is so obsessively produced. There’s no getting it all in. (If pressed, I’d say Kenneth Branagh’s uncut film comes closest to including all the angles, possibly because the text remained intact. Maybe because he had the best Horatio. Wish I’d seen Simon Russel Beale.)

So yes, it’s worth a viewing, although I’m not sure it’s worth $125. Take your teenagers or novice friends, if you have them.

Gertrude and Ophelia are unfortunately forgettable, as are Laertes and Horatio, and Peter Eyre as the Ghost/Player King delivers a truly awful performance in the worst tradition of classical theater – mumbling, rushing, overblown delivery in false stentorian tones – that grates disruptively against the accessibility of the rest of the production. Ron Cook as Polonius/the Gravedigger however is quite good, chipper and precise.

Donmar Warehouse production at the Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, until December 6.

Superior Donuts

Tracy Letts’ new play, Superior Donuts, was never going to be August: Osage County, so it’s just as well he got it out of the way early.

For the record, August: Osage County is the best new play I’ve seen in my lifetime. I used to prevaricate on that point because it sounds like the kind of overstatement only idiots make, but, after further reflection, it is the fact of it so I’m going public with it. I went to Superior Donuts, then, as a general vote of support for Mr. Letts and knowing the play would be flawed. It’s just statistically unlikely you’d get two in a row and, as a working writer, I know it takes courage to plow ahead anyway. Write it, get it out there, move on.

Also, I have an irrational love of donuts.


The reason to see it is Jon Michael Hill. He plays France Wicks, the young, fast-talking black kid bringing new ideas to the aging donut shop run by Arthur Przybyszewski, played by Michael McKean. He’s the only reason to see it. He has the best lines, the best arc and delivers a performance that provides the play’s only heartbeat.

I was disappointed in McKean, but I’m pretty sure that’s a result of his limited options playing the tired, been there done that role of the aging hippie and his blah blah blah principles. I’m pretty well sick to death of the sixties and the self-righteous baby boomer ideals that all went to hell in the Reagan years anyway. Thank Oliver Stone, Tom Brokaw and the sheer volume – in numbers and noise – of that generation for talking so long and loud that there’s nothing interesting left to say about themselves and their awakening. I’m not clear what Letts was after in returning to that infertile ground.

What I can say for McKean is that he has almost teleportation level abilities to move around Manhattan. R and I ran into him on 73rd and Amsterdam not half an hour after the curtain came down. Of course, that’s not a reason to go see the play, but still impressive.

In sum, the play’s eminently missable, but I’m looking forward to the next one now that “The One After Osage” is sorted.

Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street through, unbelievably and optimistically, March 28. Tickets here. Make sure you get the $49.50 deal.

San Francisco v. New York

The Marina = the Upper East Side.

The rest of San Francisco = Queens.

Poster at Ork Posters.