day 2 report

I started out (ha) by going Lange’s Delicatessen in Bronxville, which was packed and had more people behind the counter than I’ve ever seen in a deli that size. It was ridiculous. Adam and I met up with the inimitable Geeta Dayal, journalist extraordinaire, for a trip to the Whitney Museum.

We went specifically to see the Tim Wilkinson exhibit, which was awesome. Huge sculptures with whirring motors generating strange clicking noises, tiny sculptures of feathers, eggs, webs, and skeletons made of human nails and hair, a geared machine that writes his signature, a skeleton with a slide whistle that goes up and down, and all sorts of other disturbing and wonderful creations. It was nerd-tastic. Other highlights were a number of self-portraits where the artist drew only the parts of him that he could see, or created a topographic map of his body by taking photographs of himself submerged in various depths of black paint and then drawing the level curves.

What we missed was the Überorgan, a large installation in a lobby of a building on 59th and Madison. It is a huge construction of baloons and tubes, like a tentacled brain gone amok. The music is read off of a gigantic roll of plastic, 2 feet or so wide, painted with dots and dashes of black. A light sensor reads the sheet like a player piano and plays it out of the pipes of the organ. It plays every hour on the hour though, and we arrived too late for the performance. It’s on until May though, and I might try and swing by tomorrow to see it.

We then went to Madras Mahal, which was somewhere on Lexington (26th I think). It’s one of a number of South Indian restaurants in that part of Manhattan. I had iddlies and a third of Geeta’s utthappam, which was tasty albeit not amazing. The dosas looked pretty good, but I didn’t think I was hungry enough for that. The place is around $10, but like I said, there looked like other equally good places nearby.

Adam and I returned to Bronxville, had dinner, and decided to go see Garaj Mahal at the Knitting Factory. It was pretty good, but we had to duck out near the end of the last set since it was around 3:30, and the show started at 11:30. Insert rant about Bay Area’s lack of late-night events here. The band was good, a sort of tepid Indian-jazz fusion (tepid meaning the fusion, not the playing). If you want more real Indian music, go with something like Natraj. But the show was good — I had only heard one song of theirs before and was pretty impressed. Fans of Charlie Hunter and John McLaughlin would appreciate it, I think.

And then, sleep.


Le Petit Robert

(2300 Polk St. at Green St.) This is a cute little French bistro in Russian Hill. I went with my friend Sarah and we were pretty much stuffed. Craving eggs, she got the scrambled eggs with muhroom ragout (mushroomy goodness) and I got the Oeuf en cocotte, which is a sort of mini casserole with eggs, potatoes, and pancetta (bacony goodness). If you are in Russian Hill and want brunch, it’s definitely a place to check out. The service is friendly, and the decor is cute. Watch out for children of wealthy families underfoot before a day of shopping with the parents.

Bangkok 16

(3214 16th St. between Guererro and Dolores) Pretty standard Thai food. The staff is very friendly, but the curries are only so-so. My friends found it a little “greasy.” I think that might have been a function of getting curry rather than noodles. Vegetarian options are surprisingly limited, since the oyster sauce is non-veg. There are better places, but if you are right there and want Thai, it’s not a bad place to go.


(Shattuck between Cedar and Vine) Cesar is one of those fancy-pants restaurants in Berkeley in the so-called Gourmet Ghetto. I’ve been there twice now and was impressed both times. The food is California-ized Spanish tapas, and the menu rotates every little while (I’m not sure of the frequency). Highlights of my dining experiences have been the Venetian Martini, made with antica formula sweet vermouth, a dish with monkfish and mushrooms, and the croque senor (like a croque monsieur, only with spanish ham and cheese). If you’re looking to treat yourself or someone else out and want a somewhat noisy but delicious dining experience, try this place. They also have a large central table for small groups to share (and in theory meet each other, but I’ve never managed to sit there).