Ah, jury duty. A civic responsibility and a necessary part of keeping our country and its legal system running the way that it does. I do believe in it, but dreaded when I was called to do it this past week.
Part of this is because the building where I had to report is in one of the most expensive neighborhoods for real estate, and, consequently for eating out, in Manhattan. (No, it was not the "Law & Order" building; I got a bit cheated that way.) Also, I'm not all that familiar with Tribeca, as it's a part of town I don't frequent much.
On the plus side, each day, we were given an hour or more for our lunch break. On the minus side, I had no idea where to go to get a reasonable bite to eat. The last time I had jury duty about five years ago, among the paperwork that we were given was a list of restaurants that were in the area. I wonder what happened to that because it wasn't available this stint.
During our break, as I stumbled into the bright, cool sunshine of what is passing for spring this year, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I'd passed fast food places on my way walking from the subway, but that wasn't what I'd really had in mind. My price limit was $20.00, which I thought should have been more than enough to get a tasty and somewhat healthy meal.
Fortunately, I wasn't proved wrong in that. As I scanned West Broadway, I noticed a place that seemed familiar from the last time that I'd served. Petite Abeille (http://www.petiteabeille.com/) looked like the perfect place to grab a bite. I wasn't disappointed.
Sitting at the bar of this cozy Belgian bistro (all the tables were full), I treated myself to the moules marinières (steamed mussels in a broth of white wine, garlic, celery, and fennel). I felt very indulgent. A house green salad to follow made me feel a better about the mussels. All told, with my after lunch espresso, the bill came to $21.00 including tip. More than I spend at the company cafeteria, but reasonable for a meal out of the office during the middle of the day.
The next day (jury duty in Manhattan is a minimum of two days), I thought about re-visiting the place I'd gone to lunch the day before, but figured that I'm so rarely in this neighborhood so I should wander around a bit. Besides, I'd already marked down that restaurant as a place to which I'd return. I came across Kitchenette (on Chambers between West Broadway and Greenwich), a place I'd heard about before.
Very kid-friendly and colorful, quite a few folks looked as though they'd slipped away to try to enjoy some time away from work. The plates were generous-sized, but I could have skipped the drinks being in Mason jars, although that is part of their theme. This is a place I'd visit again to have an afternoon coffee and slice of their gorgeous cakes. Too bad I don't work in this area anymore, as it would be a wonderful place to have one of those "afternoon meetings."
A few steps away was Ceci-Cela (http://www.ceci-celapatisserie.com) a branch of one of my favorite places in Soho to grab a sweet treat. Here on Chambers Street between West Broadway and Greenwich, they have a bigger space, but the same inviting food. I hovered over the pastry case, but I couldn't decide which gorgeous concoction to pick.
On my way back to court, I decided to check out Bouley Bakery (http://www.davidbouley.com), which I'd also spotted across the street. Again, I couldn't decide which lovely dessert to choose, so I left the store empty handed. It would be wonderful if he decided to open one of his locations closer to my office. Everyone who braved eating outside at the café tables really seemed to be enjoying his wares.
Alas, I didn't get to explore the area much more than that. There's so many other places that I'd like to have tried, but there are only so many mealtimes in a day, and my jury duty ended after only two days.