By George Wayne
I thought to myself as I strolled to the R train one night, after devouring the most fabulous meal at Papa Nello Balan’s eponymous name-sake restaurant, Nello and thanking God for great friends and great food institutions, where no matter what hour (mostly) or day of the week you are assured the comfort of great, delicious food and genuine warmth and camaraderie of the folk at these iconic New York restaurant institutions. That much could be said for two other iconic eateries that come to mind, and everyone would have to agree that Jean Marc Houmard’s Indochine on Lafayette Street is in the Downtown New York Restaurant Hall of Fame like Balthazar down the street and Odeon in Tribeca. Negril – which happens to my hometown all-time favorite restaurant, is also one of these venerated spots.
Negril right there on West 3rd, right there one could rightly say, in the middle of the New York University campus off LaGuardia Place and a four second walk past the chic firehouse that Anderson Cooper calls home, which looks right into the class rooms of the NYU Law School. Negril is GW’s favorite Manhattan restaurant precisely because it provides the best island Jamaican and Trinidadian food anywhere in this necropolis. I am at Negril almost every other day of the week because I cannot do without my intake of oxtail and jerk chicken and the most delicious rum punch ever.
Negril is only 10 years old, unlike Indochine, which is 30 years old and as one would expect the legendary impresario Jean Marc turned it out for what had to be the most fabulous Downtown bacchanal of the Autumn 2014. So many legendary habitués of what we like to call Downtown – such as the iconic fine arts fashion photographerRoxane Lowit, and the fashion plate artist Anh Duong who told me over the nonstop flow of champagne and food all night, that the first time she ever set foot in Indochine was with the French couturier Christian LaCroix at the height of his fame and euphoria, in the mid 1980’s.
Were you wearing one of LaCroix’s famous pouf skirts on that first night here? ‘’Yes, I was,” she laughed! ‘’In fact I still own it. It’s still in my closet,’’ she said, as she jostled for a banquette to perch and survey the throng of Manhattan’s bon chic bon genre. Cool fun folk like the shoe designer Jean Michel Cazabat, or the hair mogul Ric Pipino hitting on every gamine Indochine waitress he could find, and model mogul Sean Patterson, and the legendary Bethann Hardison who I swear did not stop dancing for at least the three hours I was there. She was a dance machine!
Others jostling for the best angles include the Estee Lauder Daddy big bucks Jon Demsey, who every starving artist in Downtown wants to be best friends with. Jon Demsey is a master of the zeitgeist and for any starving and emerging artist, drag queen, stylist – holds one major gateway to fame and fortune. Just ask Rupaul.
After a night like that you can find GW at his home base, when he is not uptown at Nello, at Negril in the West Village. And I am telling you uptown socials and society doyennes like Jean Shafiroff, GW’s all time uptown doyenne of the season. She is the Mercedes Kellogg. Some evening Jean should throw on her skinny, skinny pair of Tom Ford jeans and a cashmere turtleneck and a sleeveless fur top and her Giambatista Villa black suede ankle boots and grab a gaggle of her girlfriends and talk a walk on the truly fearless and cool side and spend an evening at Negril over rum punch and the signature house special Chef’s Tasting which is the heartiest and most delicious comfort food inNew York City.
And there I can regale one of my best friends Ria Ramkissoon, who happens to run the best house for Marva & TK, the owners of Negril. Over a carafe of rum punch the divine Jean and her gaggle of uptown BFF’s could enjoy the sounds of the solo dread-locked musician tapping on his steel drum on a trip downtown on any Monday night this season and order the range of classic appetizers such as the delicious jerk chicken or classic Red Snapper pan fired whole fish simmered in fresh herbs and spices and steamed okra and simply divine!
Over in the Meat Packing I will also tell you that I still love a margarita and the iconic tacos that legendary Manhattan chef Ivy Stark has concocted for the also can’t miss Dos Caminos chain of restaurants. The taco trend in the foodie world is a having a major moment and you don’t get better in New York City that at my favorite Dos Caminos in the chic MePa district. And Chef Ivy is one of the nicest, nicest, warmest people I have ever met, the daughter of California hippies who grew up loving and honing her expertise in Mexican fare. She brings a special and unique touch to her classic menu. So go in for a Taco Tour (just tell that to the staff there and they will know exactly what you mean).
Dos Caminis is perfect before or after nibbles before or after a night at the boites, and clubs that abound in the Meat Packing. The fifty-year-old Scorpio has just published her second book all about her taco recipes and secretsand as the reigning Executive Chef for twelve years and counting. Chef Ivy Stark is also well on her way to establishing herself as yet another New York City institution. Like GW!!!
And I will be in touch.