Ladies who lunch have many options, but few with as stellar a view as Amuse.
A friend had invited me to lunch as thanks for helping her brainstorm a venue for an upcoming shindig she was planning.
I suggested, she checked it out and kindly offered up food in repayment. It's not often my oddball expertise yields a lovely meal.
Not surprisingly, the dining room was just about completely filled except the bar, making it a lively place to catch up.
It had been ages since we'd seen each other although she sometimes reads the blog, so she tends to know more of what's going on in my life than I do hers.
She and her husband raise guide dogs for the blind, so I am always eager to hear about her latest trainee, this time a young thing named Vera.
Vera, it seems, is not yet up to the standards of Amuse so she hadn't brought her. "McDonald's maybe," she joked.
When our server arrived, he looked at me, smiled and observed, "I've waited on you before." I didn't want to harsh his mellow, but who hasn't?
We both started with the roasted baby beet salad with Caramont Farms chevre and lemon yogurt over an appealing array of Manakintowne greens, artfully presented on a long, narrow white plate.
I loved hearing about her trips to NYC for what she called "provisioning," meaning the acquisition of things she can't get here.
Things like potato knishes and bialies. Trips where the two of them happily walk from the upper east side to Times Square without thinking twice about the distance.
I laughed when she described how she drags her musical-hating husband to see them, inevitably getting pained looks from him when actors start bursting into song.
Hey, at least he goes.
She chose the pan-seared scallops over French lentils and I had to agree after a couple of bites that it was superbly done, lentils toothsome and scallops with a fine, delicate crust.
I had a bowl of Moroccan chickpea stew topped with gremolata and full of squash, a satisfyingly warm and tasty choice on a gray day.
We weren't going to get dessert, really we weren't, but ended up with creme caramel and fresh berries anyway.
The server who brought that is also a friend and when complimented on her new earrings, told me there was a story there and that I needed to come to her bar soon for an update.
I'm always looking to gather new information, so chances are she'll see me soon.
Maybe if I keep increasing my knowledge base, I can look forward to helping more friends who want to reward me with food.
At the very least, at least it gives me something to do between meals.