Late Friday afternoon rolled around, and after a round-robin series of IMs, telephone calls and text messages, SYB, JL and I decided to meet after work at Grand Central Terminal for the trip out to Woodside for dinner at Sripraphai.
It had been a while – over a year? — since I last visited this temple of Thai. On weekends, the crush of “intrepid” Manhattanites spilling off the 7 can push waits to an hour — this is, after all, “the restaurant that Chowhound… built.” And sure enough, we arrived to find this small crowd gathered outside the restaurant. I do appreciate, though, the deli-counter style system of taking a number and waiting for the LED display to flash your table availability on the street-facing marquee…. so much more civilized than calling out garbled names/numbers to waiting masses. (There’s a similar display inside, if you choose instead to bide your time wedged next to the refrigerated dessert cases, hovering over seated diners.)
Twenty reasonable minutes later, we found ourselves seated inside the larger side dining room, perusing Sripraphai’s extensive menu. For the most part, we stuck to old favorites tonight, save for these tasty chive dumplings, which were listed as a special appetizer:
The salads alone are worth a trip to Sripraphai: Michael White, Executive Chef at Alto declared their crispy watercress salad “one of the greatest dishes…in NYC.” Time Out New York named the warm roasted duck salad #2 among “the most delicious mouthfuls in the city.” I like this papaya salad with dry shrimp & peanut: sweet, sour, crunchy and tangy with a heat that builds on you despite the absence of visible peppers:
Green Curry with roasted duck & coconut milk and Sautéed Drunken Noodles with chicken, chili & basil leaves:
Sautéed Chinese Broccoli with crispy pork — can’t go wrong with chunks of fried pork belly, really:
It’s fortunate that the food itself was so stimulating, because shortly after the appetizers hit the table, JL asked if the channel on the dining room televisions could be changed to the Mets game already in progress. Our server obliged, after which all table conversation ceased as two sets of male eyes remained riveted to the large flatscreens overhead for the remainder of the meal. New Met Johan Santana was well on his way to striking out ten in New York’s 6-4 win over Philadelphia and, well… as charming as I think I can be, there’s just no competing with that.
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!
This Saturday launched the first of five weekends of 7 construction, during which the line will not be running east past Woodside, Queens. In addition, weekend Manhattan-bound service will be skipping 52nd, 46th, 40th, and 33rd Streets through February 11, and all weekday trains will run local until February 29, 2008. The service announcements explaining all these changes were almost comically lengthy.
Despite the inevitable confusion, getting out to Main Street this morning wasn’t terrible: the free LIRR service from Penn Station ended up actually shaving time off my commute to Queens. My short and sweet stop in Sunnyside, however, entailed a bit more effort; the three-quarter mile walk west from the railroad station at 61st Street, though, did bring me past a few sights I never see when I’m riding the 7 rails overhead.
Like this brightly-colored mural beneath the otherwise rather forbidding subway tracks, commissioned by Woodside on the Move, a non-profit community development organization, founded in 1978.
Later that evening, we gathered at The Oak Cellar on the Upper West Side for TB’s birthday soirée. The cozy bricked wine cellar, with its masonry arches and cobblestone floors, is tucked away randomly beneath the gloriously fratty Jake’s Dilemma on Amsterdam. (Beer pong!) Also random: in a room teeming with lawyers, meeting a bartender-cum-writer-cum-lawyer, working the party door.
Then it was on to iBop Karaoke for the third birthday party of the past 24 hours. Judging by the number of empty bottles littering the party room table, we had hit MC’s bash at its peak — or perhaps just past — but there was still plenty of fun to be had. Already in the song queue: The Beatles, George Michael and Chamillionaire, and as required of all karaoke gatherings, some old school Michael Jackson. HYB was disappointed that his favorite Prince tune “Cream” was not among the selections, so we settled instead for the falsetto-heavy “Kiss” — classic, though in retrospect, not the easiest in the catalog to belt out.
MC who, past experience has shown, knows how to rock out with the best of them, led us all in a screaming a capella encore of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin‘,” accompanied by music leaking through from the room next door. And as a follow-up: Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush,” about which she aptly noted: if you don’t know this song, you’d better ask yourself what you were doing in the 1990s. 15(!) years later, the lyrics are still as perplexing as ever.
Where ya going to tomorrow?
Where ya going with that mask I found?
And I feel, and I feel
When the dogs begin to smell her
Will she smell alone?
There’s nothing more than this.
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