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Husband and wife join forces to tell their stories while they review New York City's hottest restaurants.

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Posts for September 26th 2012

September 26, 2012

HeView: Duane Park

Many moons ago, I used to hang out and hook up with girls in Murray Hill. I was young and it was cheap, with some cheap thrills too - all good things. I haven't been there in awhile aside from passing it en route to the Midtown tunnel. That’s why it was such a treat to return to my past and get down and dirty… with Murray Hill.

Duane Park

Burlesque in a dimly-lit white tablecloth restaurant. Tits and ass seductively covered in glamour, pasties and well-placed glitter. Murray Hill hosting, boasting and roasting in a powder blue suit. Pot-yielding pals and a table in the corner. Nope – these are not the new lyrics to the classic song by Julie Andrews – these are just a few favored things that happen in a small yet perfect space on Duane Street in a restaurant I could definitely get into. The crowd is intimate – reservations only and no cancellations, with compliance ensured by your credit card when the reservation is made. Our so-diverse-it’s-obnoxious crowd included a lovely table of lesbian firefighters, a couple of bachelorette parties, a couple who disagreed on which anniversary they were celebrating, a few lucky dates and of course, the incomparable, inimitable, hilarious, mustachioed and polyestered, Murray Hill (the pseudo dude, not the pseudo neighborhood). Murray, I’ll know I made it in life if you deliver my eulogy. Although the menu is a $75 per head pre-fix (not including booze, tax or tip) and well, attached to a burlesque joint, there is a diverse offering of both starters and mains. We decided to start with a four-way of Tuna Tartare with Tahini Sauce, Seared Sea Scallops, Skillet Roasted Shrimp with Georgia Cheese Grits and Grilled Octopus, and a one-way of short, young brunette. Although I only tried the Tuna and the Shrimp, everything looked superb. The Tuna was very good and the surprisingly sweet Tahini sauce was the perfect complement. The Grits in SheView’s Shrimp would have even satisfied my cousin Vinny. Once we were done with appetizers and were each a dirty martini (or blood orange margarita) in, my defenses were down and my Murray (Hill) was up – the perfect host! For mains, we had a tall blond with more back tattoos than Kat Von D, the Organic Chicken with Potato Puree, along with Pork Loin with Grilled Georgia Peaches for our worthy counterparts, with Salmon for SheView and Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes for me. The Short Ribs were slightly on the fatty side, but hey, they are supposed to be fatty, and the potatoes were on the crunchy side, but hey, I was feeling happy. So strong marks on the food, stronger marks on the experience and strongest marks for your host – the King of Downtown with a name from Midtown, Murray Hill. 157 Duane Street | Between West Broadway and Hudson (212) 732-5555

September 26, 2012

SheView: Duane Park

A friend of mine recently quoted the movie, now old (circa 1989) "Parenthood" when the grandmother talks to the leads, Steve Martin (Gil) and Mary Steenbergen (Karen) giving them a metaphor on life after Mary's character finds out she's preggers later in life (with three kids already in tow).

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: What a great story.

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

It's a great quote from a great vintage flick. But what about the swing? Back ‘n forth, back ‘n forth. It's boring. It sucks. I hate the swing. I like the coaster; at least I think I like the coaster. I did in my twenties. Luckily, tonight I got to forgo the swing and enjoy the ride with great imports from Williamsburg and dinner with a side of burlesque.

Duane Park

Duane Park, located nowhere other than the land of Triburbia, is a cute little spot for a three course meal, comedy and some burlesque. There are ten tables in the cozy white-tableclothed space with an unmistakable black shiny grand (probably a Steinway) piano, with some bar stools for other musical talents. On this very evening, the crowd was a mix of dates, hen parties, butches (that's how the host referred to the lesbo firefighters in the corner) and a huge party of Asian Americans celebrating an occasion I know nothing about. The menu provides a variety of options for even the most selective of eaters, ranging from pork to salmon to hake to the always safe and boring chicken. It's a $75 prefix, which doesn't include drinks or gratuity… it adds up - don't kid yourself. As we waited for our 7:30 show to begin, we grazed on shrimp over cheese grits (me), scallops over a bed of some wilted greens (female import from Bklyn), tuna tartare (HeView) and a fried octopus salad (male spouse/other import). Surprisingly, as we thought we were just there for the tits and arse, the food was pleasantly good and served nicely, neat and composed. I had a salmon special for my main, which was dry but the mushrooms and mystery mush underneath were a bit of a turnoff. HeView finished his plate of red wine braised beef short ribs, which he later said were fatty. Our really cool kat imports dined on the grilled loin of pork with grilled peaches, mustard greens & vidalia onion purée and surprisingly, the least boring person at our table got the most boring entree, the chicken! (Served over an olive oil Parmesan purée and chicken jus.) The main attraction was "Murray Hill," the comedian and host of the evening who shmoozed around cracking jokes on the diners and poking fun of her hedo/shedo self. Actually quite entertaining. An outrageous jazz singer belted out classics in between two burlesque dancers shaking their assets, exposing their ink and twirling their pasties. Not a job I'm applying for, but good for them. Tonight the only swinging would be of drinks, laughs and raw skin. I don't mind that kind of back and forth. That sort of swing is good is for any age and doesn't bore but sizzle. Duane Park is a total blast and definitely mixes up the commonalities of day-to-day life. It's the right kind of park! 157 Duane Street | Between West Broadway and Hudson (212) 732-5555

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