Parisian at Brasserie Felix
I learned the joy of eating at the bar at Cafe des Artistes on the upper west side of Manhattan. I was in my early twenties, and Doug, an older colleague, insisted on buying me dinner every two to three weeks because he said he loved my stories of poverty, as well as my resourceful ways of over-ordering so that I'd have leftovers for the rest of the week. We joked that being poor in New York was similar to being diabetic in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Not that he knew that much about it: Doug had been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a trust fund in his pocket. He was an exceedingly well-traveled bon vivant, the "companion" of many socialites — and my very favorite date. Doug's favorite restaurant was Cafe des Artistes, where he always insisted that we sit at the bar and have at least one glass of champagne prior to consuming even so much as an olive. In many ways, I was Eliza Doolittle to Doug's Professor Henry Higgins. Before dining with him, I'd regarded people who ate at the bar as, well, boorish and unsophisticated. Why would anyone sit at a bar, I wondered, when they could eat the same food while sitting at a table covered with starched white linens? But Doug taught me that the joy of food and drink is enhanced by the people who both serve it and eat it, and there is no better place to convive with both than at the bar. Though it's nothing like Cafe des Artistes in style or substance, when I walked into Brasserie Felix, I immediately thought of Doug, who died several years ago. So I quickly grabbed a seat at the bar, where I chatted with a darling bartender named Jared and ordered a delicious champagne-ish cocktail, the Parisian Martini ($10), made with St-Germain, Grey Goose La Poire and champagne. As I sipped it, I thought of Doug and how much I wished he were sitting at the bar next to me.
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