I love the whole concept of speakeasies. The husband and I had dinner once with Ivan Kane*, who’s put together several successful nightclubs incorporating his background in and fascination with theatre, spectacle, dance. He told us his idea of buying an old, cheesy Chinese restaurant and keeping the storefront unchanged — you walk through the faux-gilded front entrance, past the big dragon statues — and go through a ‘secret’ entrance and down the stairs and into the actual club. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge he never went ahead with this. (He did, however, pop up on a Bravo reality series, which chronicled his start-up of a new 40 Deuce club in Vegas while maintaining his original 40 Deuce in LA. Seems in LA that you’re nobody til somebody gives you your own reality series.)
E and I flew out to New York last night, and hooked up with E’s mother today, a nutritionist/dietician who moonlights as a ‘mature model’ repped by the Ford agency. Maye took us to a restaurant which, like Ivan’s idea expressed above, is a modern take on a speakeasy. It presents itself as a broken-down taco place on a street corner, complete with lit-up sign missing several letters. The interior is little and dingy and features a handful of tables and chairs and a counter at one end that does indeed serve tacos. There’s also a steel door with an ‘EMPLOYEES ONLY’ sign and, beneath that, NO ADMITTANCE. But the woman who sits on the stool is suspiciously attractive and stylish. This is the hostess. And if she allows you past, you go through the steel door and down a narrow staircase and through the steam and clamour of a large, industrial kitchen, where the cooks go about their business and ignore you. And then through another door–
–and into the underground restaurant itself, a see-and-be-seen inner sanctum with lots of wrought iron bars and dark-stained wood and candles and chandeliers. Luxury gothic hip. Serving up Mexican fare.
Tomorrow is the Global Green awards dinner. E will receive his award and I will figure out just what the hell to wear.
Before that, however — lunch with my editor Liz. In her New Yorky wisdom she suggested The Spotted Pig, part of a movement of revolutionary pubs that swept through the UK and jumped the pond to here.
Pubs that serve good food. GOOD food. Gastro-pubs, if you will.
I love that concept too.
* He used to be an actor. If you’ve ever seen PLATOON, you’ve seen him. He was the dark-haired soldier who survived to the very end, thumping his chest in savage animal triumph as Charlie Sheen lifts away in a helicopter.