We considered the cocktail list, printed on paper with whimsical, illustrated flourishes at the top, carefully. “I feel like I need to get the Gentleman’s Farmer”–Bison’s Grass vodka, muddle snap peas, tarragon and fresh lime–“just to see what it tastes like,” I told my friend.
“Oh, I was going to get that,” he said.
“Oh good, then I can try the Noonday Spritzer. I want to see what ‘herbaceous botanicals’ tastes like.”
This might just be the final frontier of mixology: savory, farm-to-table cocktails. Was it silly or inspired? I would find out.
We were sitting outside in the back garden courtyard of Narcissa, the new-ish restaurant in the new-ish Standard East hotel. (Not to be confused with the Standard Hotel across town that straddles the High Line and has an electronic music club up top. This one just has a pent house on top, and probably the best view in the East Village. But I digress.)
It was a weekday, and the courtyard was half filled with wasp-y lunchers: a group of chatty women celebrating a birthday, a pair of older couples who looked like they would be right at home in Cape Cod, and a younger well-dressed couple. The sound of trucks on Bowery occasionally roared up to our ears, despite the tranquil, leafy tree branches above our heads.
Our waiter, a sweetly enthusiastic host with a European accent of some sort of posh provenance, informed me that the sparkling water was bottled and not in-house. This is a minor strike against them. Our cocktails came and I was disappointed to see that mine had cucumber. I hate cucumber. Did I miss that? Oh, that’s what they meant by herbaceous botanicals. OMG, just say cucumber. Still, I could see how I would have loved it to death if I was a cucumber girl.
Then came the food. Narcissa’s cuisine is billed as updated California, “featuring seasonal, local and organic produce from André Balazs’ Hudson Valley farm, Locusts on Hudson.” We ordered to share, getting the carrot fries (not what you’re imagining, they actually had a crispy shell on them), potato gnocchi (not the best I’ve had, but quite good) pork schnitzel (satisfying), and poached farm egg over polenta with shiitake mushrooms (yes, yes, yes). By the end of the meal we were stuffed, but we finished off with sherbet dessert that looked like the classy version of that Friday’s Sunday–it was refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness.
I feel bad though, for two reasons: 1. Narcissa is famous for doing vegetables really well, and we didn’t try nearly enough. (Unless you count potatoes, which I don’t.) 2. The food looked so good that I kept forgetting to take a picture of it until after we had half-demolished it.
All this food, alcohol, and perfect fall afternoon served as an unobtrusive backdrop to lively conversation with my friend. As we split the bill, I thought to myself. “This was quite nice. I shall do it again.”