With warm weather just around the corner, we found ourselves back in Bay Ridge for brunch.
LC suggested Saint Germain, a très French bistro on Third Avenue, which had received some good word of mouth from the locals. The location has been home to a series of French bistros, beginning in 1999 with Le ZaZou, to Provence en Boite (which relocated to Smith Street in Carroll Gardens) before hitting upon its current incarnation. The cozy restaurant is a popular brunch spot — no wonder: the prix fixe is an excellent value, offering choice of entrée, coffee or tea, plus orange juice or Lorina sparkling pink lemonade, and a fancy dessert, all for $16.95. Our party of four waited about twenty minutes for a table, which gave us plenty of time to consider the myriad pastry options in the glass display case up front, and to ponder what exactly goes into Saint Germain’s specialty “Brigitte Bardot” cocktail. (Answer: lemon vodka, triple sec, and that sparkling pink lemonade. What, no St-Germain?)
For better or worse, our experience felt truly Parisian: beyond leisurely, the service ranged from benignly neglectful to maddeningly slow. After making our selections from the brunch menu (the usual egg dishes, croque monsieur, crêpes, French toast, croissanwiches), we waited another twenty minutes for someone to take our order. The entrées, when they came, were quite good, though I would have enjoyed my Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict more with the cup of coffee I ordered… which did not come despite two requests. (Each time we asked for our drinks, the waitress would cheerily respond, “Sure!” and continue merrily along, unfazed.)
When at last we got our coffees and teas with dessert (pictured below, my apple pastry and HH’s chocolate mousse dome), they came poured into too-hot-to-handle glass tumblers. No explanation or apology given, but we deduced that the kitchen must have run out of their usual white cups, though I noticed about half a dozen used ones sitting on yet-to-be-cleared tables around us.
On the bright side, the slow service gave us plenty of time to catch up. Back on the sunny streets after our two hour brunch, we noticed an inordinate amount of bright green gear on the livelier than usual crowds spilling out of the Irish pubs. When we passed a group of kilted bagpipers, we knew something was up.
It seems we’d just missed the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a procession which began at St. Patrick’s R.C. Church (not Cathedral) and proceeded along (Brooklyn’s) Fifth Avenue to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. Beleaguered Kings County DA Charles “Joe” Hynes served as Grand Marshal for the post-St. Patrick’s Day tradition, which began in 1994.
Next up: Bay Ridge’s 17th of May Norwegian Day Parade, which will be held this year on Sunday, May 18.
Back at DK’s home, after reruns of “Mythbusters” and the “Hawaii” episode of the Travel Channel’s 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, we amused ourselves with a spontaneous digital cable version of “Name That Tune.” The years may pass, but some songs are just seared in our memories.
Elsewhere in BK… Flickr preview: Greenpoint weekend (April 12-13, 2008)
Erin Go Bragh! Despite the Catholic Church’s decision last summer to reschedule the March 17 holiday for March 15 so as not to coincide with the second day of Holy Week, New York City held its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this morning. The Church has a history of involvement in these celebrations: in 2000 and 2006, when the holiday fell on a Friday in Lent, during which Catholics are to abstain from eating meat, the Archdiocese of New York issued a special dispensation allowing its 2.5 million Catholics residing in Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island and several upstate counties to eat meat on March 17. Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens received no such pass from their Archdiocese, and were instructed to perform another act of penance if compelled to indulge in corned beef on that day.
Unlike last year, the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day festivities fell during normal work hours, so I missed out on the parade fun along Fifth Avenue. Guinness is behind Proposition 3-17 — a campaign to make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday in the United States. No matter, I was able to catch the all inclusive parade in Western Queens earlier this month.
At Irish bars throughout Manhattan, the drinking had begun in earnest well before noon, but my plans for the evening involved a trip on the 7 into Sunnyside, which along with neighboring Woodside, is one of the city’s historic Irish enclaves. Since the 1990s, while other ethnic communities have moved into these neighborhoods, the Irish population has dwindled as longtime residents move out of the city or back to Ireland, spurred by the country’s renewed economy and the end of the Troubles of Northern Ireland.
The Empire State Building aglow in green, of course:
At RM’s home in the Gardens, we caught up with friends recently seen and not so over cold beer and treats from El Shater. The night was marked by valiant attempts at Irish dancing and a rousing, lyrically mangled rendition of “Danny Boy,” (which sounded rather like this one)… by all accounts a fine, fun gathering marred only by a brief, but mortifying episode which included the most appalling party exchange since… well, in a long, long time.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Everyone knows about the city’s main St. Patrick’s Day parade that takes place along Fifth Avenue on March 17. Since 2000, though, another smaller St. Patrick’s Parade & Irish Fair — dubbed St. Pat’s for All — is held along Skillman Avenue in western Queens weeks earlier. The parade begins in the traditionally Irish community of Sunnyside and ends in Woodside.
Brendan Fay, founder of the Lavender and Green Alliance, a group serving the needs of the Irish GLBT community, organized the inclusive parade after being arrested at the city’s main St. Patrick’s Day festivities in 1999. This year’s St. Pat’s for All took place on Sunday, March 2 and featured the usual Irish heritage groups (bagpipers, the Irish Arts Center, step dancers from The Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, whom we saw perform last fall at CultureFest) as well as local politicians, community and labor groups, gay rights organizations, Protestant, Muslim and Jewish groups, and not-obviously (or obviously not) Irish groups like Sunset Park’s Quetzalcoatl Group with its colorfully attired Mexican folk dancers and the wonderfully charming Keltic Dreams, a clogging troupe from P.S. 59 in the Bronx, whose student body is 71 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black.
Even canines got to participate, courtesy of S.U.D.S., the Sunnyside United Dog Society:
There was constant music in the air, and I was probably most surprised (and psyched) to hear “Hit Me Baby One More Time” for marching brass band… though in retrospect, I would have saved myself some embarrassment if I’d kept that sentiment to myself. No “Danny Boy“ though.
Check out the full photo set on flickr!
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