A Sarcastic Appetite

10 Great Date Spots in New York
June 19, 2014, 8:00 am
Filed under: Dating, Winetivities | Tags:


Aperol spritz at Smith & Mills


Aperol Spritz at Smith & Mills

While this is technically a food blog, you clearly only care about my dating stories. (I’ve got the web stats to prove it.) So how about a little mash-up: 10 places in New York to take your date for a drink. Some of these places are popular and therefore packed during prime time, but that’s just all the more reason to go during off hours. Who says you can’t meet at 3pm on a Sunday?

1. The Library at the NoMad: yes, yes, I know the team just opened the NoMad Bar, but this two-story airy space can’t be beat for a little tête-à-tête. It’s often crowded, so go at an off time; my favorite thing is to go for a leisurely brunch at the NoMad and then slip in for an afternoon tipple. Plus, if you’re somehow still hungry, their snacks menu is killer.

2.The Bar at the Modern: I didn’t love being quizzed, but I did love that my date picked this spot. Bold move. Try to get there on the early side; while it’s busy, the crowd is often twosomes who are moving to a table for dinner, so turnover definitely happens.

3. Mayahuel: Its dark wood interior can be romantic, if the date is going well, or can keep your date’s face half hidden in moody darkness if it’s not. The cocktail menu is well done, with some surprising twists. This is the place to get into mezcal; don’t be shy.

4. Ten Bells: I keep going on and on about this place because if you’re an oenophile, it can’t be beat. The wine list leans French and goes well off the beaten path, so now’s the time to order that weird wine from the Jura. The food menu leaves a little to be desired; stick to oysters. So romantic!

5. The Ship: No, not the Frying Pan; it’s an actual bar called The Ship that is so brand-spanking new I haven’t even been yet. Its owners have quite a cocktail pedigree, having been involved in Milk & Honey and Little Branch to name a few, plus it’s downstairs behind an unmarked door on Lafayette Street, so you’ll look like an in-the-know New Yorker as you whisk your date into the subterranean space.

6. Guthrie Inn: For all you Upper East Siders! (…Crickets.) Ok, ok, it’s tiny – about 5 stools tiny – and when there’s only one bartender, it can feel a little like the Andy Samberg bartender skit on Portlandia (go, watch). They don’t serve food, so go next door to Earl’s and get a Calabro Mozzarella to go.

7. Burke and Wills: The Upper West Side is not exactly teeming with great date spots, but I like this one for its usually not too crowded bar area and killer lamb merguez sliders. The narrow “booths” are made for two, and the Australian bartenders are knowledgeable and congenial.

8. Smith & Mills: Technically also “unmarked,” though it will be hard to miss the carriage house with one outdoor table and people spilling out with attractive looking drinks. I had to tell them what was in an Aperol spritz (this should be your drink of the summer), but hey – now they know. Great vibe, great menu, and great space.

9. Jimmy’s No. 43: Remember the great 7th Street Crawl? (Anyone game for the redux?) We spent the better part of the afternoon here that day and for good reason: their tap selection is excellent, and the barman kept sending over small plates “because Jimmy doesn’t like anyone drinking on an empty stomach.” (Little did Jimmy know we had already been to Luke’s Lobster.) While it’s often crowded, it’s usually possible to snag a table, and the vibe is typically a little raucous and a lot of fun.

10. Rum House: You’ve agreed to meet near Times Square (why!) and now you need a spot that isn’t TGI Fridays. Go to the Rum House, in the Edison Hotel, and you will never want to leave. They have actual live music – when I was last there it was a quartet involving a trombone and a cello, and it was awesome – and the cocktails are great since it’s the same people behind Ward III in Tribeca.

A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Pop Quiz, Hotshot!
June 14, 2014, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Dating | Tags: ,

Have you ever been quizzed on a first date? I don’t mean the standard 20 questions about where you live and what you do, and do you hate your ex with the fire of a thousand dragons, or with the gentler flame of a summer’s campfire? I mean actually being quizzed, typically on math-related topics that relate to the gentleman’s job (in finance, natch). It’s happened to me several times, the most recent being last Wednesday, and so I decided it was a topic worth delving into here on A Sarcastic Appetite Dates.

We met at the Bar at the Modern (his choice, which was an excellent one). He was slight enough to fit in my handbag but fairly cute, and before long we were actually arguing about whether or not I experienced “culture shock” when I lived in London during college. I didn’t think I had, and he vociferously disagreed. The date was clearly off to an excellent start.

Once we (thankfully) moved onto discussing our jobs, he explained that he was essentially a math nerd who worked in finance, and then launched into a discussion about practical mathematics which proved a) he knew what he was talking about; b) he was incredibly pompous; c) he knew what he was talking about; and d) did I mention that he knew what he was talking about?

“Do you cook?” he asked. “I do!” I replied, eager to move the conversation along. “What shape is the pot you use to cook pasta?” he asked.

I wondered if this was a trick question. Where was he going with this? “A cylinder?”

“Ah, yes!” he responded. “Now, what if this pot were square? Could it be square? Why couldn’t it be square?”

Why were we talking about square-shaped pots?

“Wouldn’t that use more material?” I asked.

“So it would be…” he prodded. I felt cornered, and in desperate need of another drink. But this guy had been nursing his one glass of Sauvignon Blanc for the last hour, and it was clear another drink was completely off the table. I wanted a lifeline, and all I had were the watery dregs of a Negroni.

“More expensive?”

He half smiled and cocked an eyebrow at me – apparently I had gotten it right. I felt like a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which was firing up my competitive streak until I realized: if I played my cards right, I wasn’t going to win a million dollars; I was going to win another date with a guy who’s been quizzing me.

The bartender must have picked up on my distress, because the bill arrived soon after. And nicely enough he did offer to pick up the tab – without further question.

A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Tennis at McCarren Park
May 24, 2014, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Dating


When I first started online dating many moons ago, I set the bar pretty low: I just wanted to date someone nice. This led to a date with a guy named Robert, who was indeed nice but had the personality of semi-firm tofu. I quickly realized I was going to have to change my parameters.


The next logical move seemed to be shared interests: find a guy who likes what you like, so you can enjoy doing those things together. What are my interests? I thought to myself as I perused potential suitors. What does my typical weekend involve? White wine, brunch, sparkling wine, tapas, tennis…tennis! Perfect! Now all I had to do was find a guy who also liked tennis, and we could play together. It would be the perfect first date.


Soon enough I came across a potential match – let’s call him Boris. Boris was 30ish, cute, and was only ever photographed wearing hats or bandanas. I’m no idiot, but I was still curious. We chatted back and forth for a bit before agreeing to meet to play tennis at 10am on a Sunday in McCarren Park (yes, I go to Brooklyn), to be followed by brunch nearby. Getting a little workout and a lot of mimosas in sounded like a pretty ideal situation. That morning, I hoofed it out to the tennis courts and waited.

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A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Some Nondescript Bar in Times Square
June 13, 2013, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Dating


Clearly, you all care a lot more about my hilariously terrible dates than anything I’m cooking in the kitchen. So here’s another edition of A Sarcastic Appetite Dates. Yes, this actually happened. 

How many dates have I had where I wanted to leave the moment I realized which guy was my date? Too many to count. How many times have I been fooled – no, fooled myself – into thinking that the one attractive online photo of the guy was how he actually looked, and not the 7 other ones where he looked like a distant relative of Chewbacca? Too many to count.

My date with, oh, let’s call him Chadwick was one such example. This was a couple years ago, when I was in the throes of my first real attempt at online dating, and boy was he a doozy. He had once nice photo, which I convinced myself was how he actually looked, and several others that painted a…less attractive picture. But I soldiered on anyway, convinced that he “looked nice.”

I don’t even remember how we started communicating.  Did he “wink” at me? Was that all it took?  Had I set the bar too low for myself? Did I need to rethink this? Did I need to rethink a lot of things? All of it was possible.

At any rate, we exchanged a few emails before agreeing to meet for drinks the week after Thanksgiving. I had mentioned in one missive that I was flying home the following morning – I had written something along the lines of “I can’t get too crazy!”

Well, I would have been in spectacular company, because Chadwick WAS crazy.

He suggested meeting in front of the Heartland Brewery in Midtown, and I reluctantly agreed. I repeat – we had agreed to meet at the Heartland Brewery. In Midtown. A block from Radio City. Three weeks before Christmas. I had to fight my way past overweight tourists walking four abreast (gah) carrying loads of shopping bags from unique New York stores like Aldo (double gah).

I sauntered up to the plaza outside Heartland, where a throng of people was also waiting for their dates. Oh – there’s a cute gentleman standing over the—nope, that’s his wife. Ooh, maybe that guy—nope, he’s with that girl. And all of a sudden this short (er than he said he was online), awkward guy looking hilariously out of place and somewhat terrified turned toward me and I knew instantly: Chadwick.

Fighting the urge to run, I instead walked over and introduced myself, and it became clear that Chadwick was having a meltdown.

“The wait is over an hour,” he moaned. “I don’t know where else to go.”

I knew I was going to have to salvage this situation – but my mind had gone blank. I couldn’t remember where one might go for drinks in the neighborhood because I never went for drinks in the neighborhood. All I could think of was Maggie’s Place, on 47th and Madison, which I hesitantly suggested.

“It’s too far,” Chadwick cried. “I don’t want to have to cross 6th again. There are so many people!” He looked like he was going to pass out. And he had suggested this! If figuring out a plan B for drinks in Midtown a few weeks before Christmas was enough to put this guy in a coma, what about when something really terrible happened?

Is it too late to bail, I wondered. What if I just disappear into the hordes of tourists. Could he catch me? I don’t think he could catch me.

But my politeness won over – it seemed too mean to run away.

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A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Cafe Lalo
May 16, 2013, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Dating


Image courtesy of Sameer Narula

When I brought the blog back, I was open to taking it in a few new directions. This is one of them. It’s food related only in that it took place at a restaurant. But if it’s entertaining enough, I may continue sacrificing myself to the online dating gods for your reading pleasure. There’s certainly enough content. 

The date was set for 8pm at Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side. The gentleman in question – let’s call him Bernard – got points for simply picking a place, without 75 text exchanges over where and when, and do you work in Midtown East or Midtown West? But he was coming off a weekend of minus 1,000 points, mostly due to his incessant need to text me at all times with just: “Hey :- ).”

It was something about the nose that made me breathe fire. Who was this guy, and why did he insist on texting me to say absolutely nothing – with a smiley face AND a nose? There was only one way to find out.

So promptly at 8pm I bounded up the steps of Cafe Lalo, after wasting the appropriate amount of time perusing the goods on display at Organic Avenue. (I fled.) Suddenly, I was on the set of You’ve Got Mail. Should I have brought a red rose? I thought. Am I going to meet Tom Hanks?

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