I blog by day and wait tables in a New York City restaurant by night. I'm excited to bring you Served, dispatches from the front of the house. Enjoy!
My friend U. and I were drinking sangria on a midtown rooftop, standing under an umbrella too small to shield the two of us from the rain.
Dinner had been midnight street cart fare: 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, Halal Chicken and Rice. Or at least, that’s what we had intended. Halfway through our chicken and lamb with white sauce, we got nervous.
“This isn’t like last time,” U. said, “It’s not as spicy and the meat is in such huge chunks. And where’s the line?”
“Wait,” I craned my neck to read the street sign. We had folded up newspapers and were sitting on a fountain, our forks playing footsie in a shrinking pile of rice. “51st Street. Is that right?”
“I think that’s right,” U. said, “but we’ll know when we walk north to the club.” We were headed there for its crazy midtown view, and U. promised it was cool.
We walked north, and there was the tell-tale line, on 53rd Street. “Damnit,” we rubbed our bellies, full of the wrong chicken and rice, “at least next time we’ll know.”
After dancing, avoiding creepy men, drinking, and dancing some more our conversation turned to the next stop of our night. “Should we go back to the 53rd Street cart?” U. asked. We had danced off dinner. Maybe this time, we could do it right.
“Hmm,” I thought, considering our possibilities. “Or do you want bubbly and chocolate cake at my place?” We jumped in a cab and headed to my restaurant.
86 Parsnip Cake
There wasn’t space for us to sit, so we patiently waited at the door. When two guys left the bar, and we eagerly scooped up their seats.
“We have to get the parsnip cookies!” I insisted. “They’re ridiculous. They’re like little carrot cake sandwiches with goat cheese and honey inside, and cinnamon milk for dipping.”
“I’m sold,” U. was an easy sell. We’ve traveled, dined, cooked, and shopped together many times. I know her palate really well, and vice versa. We both have big sweet tooths. Carrot cake is a favorite as evidenced by the big, dense cream cheese frosted muffin ones they sold at the bakery by her apartment. They made frequent appearances in our lives around finals time.
“We’ll have the parsnip cookies,” we told S., after hugs.
“Sorry! Those are the last ones.” We watched R., the cook, plate the end of the parsnip cookies and P. bring them to a happy couple at the other end of the bar.
No Place Like Home
We had the chocolate cake, which makes every other chocolate in the world feel bad about itself, and the new strawberry sundae with strawberry sorbet and goat’s milk dulce de leche. It was hardly a tragic way to end the night. And, of course, we drank plenty of prosecco.
S. and U. lived near each other in London, and they reminisced about thrift stores and pubs. We gossiped with the regular who was sitting next to us, and even B., my sometimes grumpy boss came over to chat.
I’ve been working at my restaurant for more than two years. I’ll always love rainy rooftops and great greasy street food, but my place is different. I am grateful for so many nights serving, and a few wonderful nights being served. My place is home.