Since my sister’s wedding I’ve been nonstop. I’m not sure if it was the residual excitement from the Miami weekend that has motivated me to say Yes to every possible event, but I’m paying for it now by confronting my outdated blog and uselessly fighting an illness that’s slowly taking over. Yes, I deserve it, and yes, there’s part of me that is happy to have an excuse to sprawl on my couch and stare at the TV.
But, it doesn’t mean I can’t re-live the good moments that have happened in recent past, one of which was my brother in law’s birthday bash at Beaumarchais. He and I happen to share May 7 as a birthday, but turning a big 3-0, he decided to reach for the sky and planned a Meatpacking brunch the same day as Cinco de Drinko, the Supermoon, and the Kentucky Derby. All stars were aligned to make it a day of insanity.
After starting the day off at my sister’s apartment with my world-famous white sangria (Amy I give you permission to sue), we skipped three blocks to the infamous Beaumarchais, where day turns into night the second you enter. Sure enough, we walk in, and in close-to-pitch black dark there are strobe lights competing for stardom with a mariachi band and a techno DJ. Our group of 15 really had no choice but to put our party hats on. We were seated at a large table, and over the course of 4 hours, we were served appetizers, entrees and magnums of vodka all while dancing on our chairs. We really didn’t have a choice – there’s not much room to dance on the ground, and with everyone around you elevated, you feel like a straight loser ignoring it. Before the end of the day our entire table was standing – some even with plate and fork in hand – rocking out to Jay Z and Techno.
But, this is a food blog so I must focus. For $200 a person, it had better be good, right? Fortunately, it was, and with the experience included, it was worth it. Eating in the dark is not my favorite, but with sparklers flying around we were able to get a peek every now and then. We started with foie gras that was surprisingly delicious and served with toasted brioche, and tuna tartare served with plaintain chips. Large bowls of butter lettuce salad and caesar dressing were brought to the table, but those struggled to catch the eye of the crowd. Most impressive was the truffle gnocchi – little dumplings of creamy goodness. All together this could have been a meal, but we needed course number 2 for survival reasons. Many chose the burger which I tasted – nothing too impressive, but edible. My goat cheese omelet with spinach was delicious, but I had no intention of eating the whole thing. Dancing was on my mind.
For a large group brunch at Beaumarchais, you get a 2 course prix fixe menu. The birthday boy was sent out a massive Sundae (by a woman dressed in a Superman costume who flew out to the Superman theme song). But despite the food being semi-reasonably priced, expect to pay a ton for the alcohol – about $800 a magnum. And when you’re in that environment, don’t think you’ll be able to make rational decisions. I remember turning to Eli and saying, $800? That’s not that bad! Well, it was…
So, do you go to Beaumarchais for the food? Absolutely not. Why would you when there are dozens of other restaurants where you can hear your conversation? You go for the spectacle. It’s like the Euro-New York version of Tony and Tina’s Wedding – you’re part of the show. You go if you feel like raging in the middle of the day and spending like you’re a man at a club for the night. You go if you want to watch women dancing in bikinis at 3pm on a Saturday.
I wouldn’t do this every weekend, even every month, but an annual visit for that slap-in-the-face reminder of why New York is so unique is almost obligatory.
Grade: A for all around experience.
Location: 409 West 13th Street between Washington and 9th