While the Bronx beef was burning

I’m far from the sentimental type, but I have to say the threatened closing of Florent does seem like yet another cobblestone gouged out of the Manhattan foundation. I first went to the meat district when it was really the meat district — the butchering instructor at restaurant school in 1983, Jack Ubaldi, took a bunch of us on an early-morning tour of four or five distributors, and I still have the white paper cap I got at a pork place plus the pungent memories of carcasses swinging in the cold and blood and guts reeking in the streets. (Yeah, there were hookers, not always what they seemed, but it was more about the meat and a corner of the city that still did a gritty business.) Florent was never great, just quirky, but at least it was a real part of a real place. Maybe the greedy landlord can get a Duane Reade or a WaMu in there. As for the other closing reported all over cyber-foodland, the only question about Aix is: What took so long? Overpriced, pretentious, haughty, sloppy — it was an East Side restaurant on the wrong side of the park. And it says it all that it’s apparently bailing just as the new restaurants all around it are overrun with the undead who should have been its faithful eaters. The barbecue place that preceded it was no great shakes, but at least it fit the neighborhood. Now the bar is set so low a Duane Reade would be too good.