Heard it on Bleecker Street

I should have listened when a fromagey friend emailed to say he “wouldn’t go to Butter if a top model from the next table promised to blow me under the table.” But my consort reserved without putting me through the craziness of too much choice for my birthday, and I was so touched I went along after he said our friend who has infallible taste (in music) had suggested it. Calvin Trillin was right when he wrote that a relationship is not just about the pasta but about sharing the hell of finding the pasta restaurant. Plus I had no more compelling ideas; we’ve been eating so far down the food chain for so long that the usual “top chefs” just don’t hold much allure anymore. And to be honest, I was curious, having been to a good press lunch there and having heard the chef speak engagingly on a panel once. But Bob is very lucky he humored me with Mexican for lunch or he would have had to talk me off a 14th-floor windowsill after dinner. I can’t remember food that lame or a crowd so depressing: fat women, anorectic women, skanks, plus the odd beaten-looking guy. (Not across from my plate, though.) My image of New York is rooted more in Joan Didion than Candace Bushnell, so I will never understand why women feel compelled to head out on the town dressed like what we saw along the highway into Rome one Sunday morning, flagging down truckers for tricks. What’s most depressing is that the place was mostly empty when we got there at 7:30 (and they still tried to seat us downstairs, in what felt and looked like a rectory rec room where nothing nice happens) and getting zooey by 9 when we fled. Too late, we both admitted we had peeked at online reviews and noticed most of them didn’t mention the food, only disappointment at not seeing celebrities. And we’d both forged on because that was the reverse of our first experience at Le Cirque all those years ago. Somehow, though, I doubt the terror of cookbook publishing’s daughter is going to be running a Big Homme empire anytime soon.