Monday, July 07, 2008

Her eyes were bigger than her stomach, maybe?

Florent didn't really close.

New York is so annoying, tugging at my heart strings like this.

For those of you who don't know, Florent was this old restaurant in the Meatpacking District. I loved it. Cheap French bistro food in a crappy diner space, in this cool old neighborhood. It was one of the first restaurants I went to when I got to New York, and I had no idea where I was going. I only knew the numbered streets on the midtown grid, so when an Italian friend, in her heavy accent, told me to meet her at "Flohr-aaahnt on the Gahn-tse-voorhte", I could only hope that the cab driver would know what the hell I was talking about.

My old clubbing haunt, Mother, was only a block or so away from Florent, so we used to go there fairly often in the wee hours. Where else could we get escargot, veggie burgers, a charcuterie plate and a grilled cheese sandwich, to please all our varied palates?

In 1999, Keith McNally opened Pastis, a French bistro. Then, around 2000, that neighborhood became HUGE trendy. Mother closed, a Scoop boutique went in, and we headed further downtown for our clubbing thrills, to Kitsch Inn and Rubber Monkey Revenge.

The MD, in the meantime, teetered on the verge of trendy for about five more minutes, then crashed deeply into bridge and tunnel territory. It went from the cheap and dirty home of tranny hookers and S&M dance clubs, to eurotrash bling with $600 haircuts (and worse!) and Stella McCartney boutiques, like overnight. As Jay McInerney said, and he of all people should know, "'Pastis was, of course, the beginning of the transformation,' the instant when the neighborhood suddenly appeared on the collective GPS of the Black Card set, after which, goes the argument, there was no stopping the carnival of excess that followed."

Florent's lease was up. The rent went up from something like 6K to over 50K a month. Florent could not afford, so they decided to close at end of June. Lots of tributes, lots of tears.

But today I see: Florent diner to re-open with new name.

Was Lucas too greedy? Did she have a bout of family tradition and sentimentality? Or is she just stealing Florent's winning idea out from under him? It does, after all, sound a bit like the epic Ball Square feud, does it not?

I just wish New York would stop toying with my emotions like this. I think it's why I had to leave in the first place.

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