Of my top 5 favorite things to do in the city, at any time of year, is to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org) on a Friday or Saturday night for drinks. This is also a perfect activity for entertaining out of town guests, as it is another perspective on how to enjoy a classic New York tourist site while not having to feel as though one is being dragged on an elementary school field trip to look at paintings and statues.
Sitting on the mezzanine level of the museum overlooking the central hall, cocktail in hand, while listening to chamber music, is definitely a civilized way to be welcomed to the Big Apple. An even better way, is to take in the rooftop art exhibit that graces the Met each summer and early fall. The selections that are displayed up there are always a bit interesting, but the view is the real show-stopper.
Up there, the air seems clearer and a bit fresher and the city just looks so much neater with a green carpet below it. Once spring starts moving towards summer, my friends and I begin chattering about getting together for a drink on the rooftop of the Met and then dinner. It's sort of a package deal. The key is always to pick a date to gather and to keep our fingers crossed that the weather decides to cooperate with our plans.
Last night was no exception. A friend has moved back to town and there were recent birthdays to celebrate. Corporate IDs in hand (for free admittance), we convened in the main entrance hall of the Met. After each getting our metal, aquamarine-colored clip with the white "M" which was our pass into the museum, we proceeded to make our way to the elevator that would take us to the roof. Once there, we toasted the opening of the summer season (and aforementioned birthdays) with a glass of prosecco.
An hour or so after we'd arrived and taken some photos of the skyline, we started to think about dinner. Then, there was the second glass of prosecco. The light started to dim and clouds became a bit more prevalent in the early evening sky. It was time to make our move to go find something to eat.
Our destination was also something of an annual tradition. For each of the past few years, we do pre-dinner drinks at the Met and then go to a local Turkish restaurant for meze and wine. I think we've been going to this restaurant almost since it initially opened. Last year, a sister restaurant featured in New York Magazine's "Cheap Eats" issue, and I'd commented on it in that earlier post.
Located a several-block walk away from the Met, Beyoglu (1431 Third Avenue at 81st Street; 212-650-0850) features sidewalk seating, doors opening onto the neighborhood activity, and, most of all, good food at great prices. For our purposes, it has portions that are sizable enough for sharing and enough variety to suit our mixed-taste crowd (non-meat eaters and omnivores alike).
My friends allowed me to violate the no-photo-in-restaurants policy I'd outlined a few posts ago. We started with the vegetarian platter which provided a sampling of the various appetizers that they serve. The plate was heaped with creamy hummus, spicy lentil kofte, smoky mashed eggplant salad, tangy yogurt-garlic-cucumber sauce, tasty spinach cooked w/ shallots and dill, tomatoey bulgar salad, and dolma. Alongside the meze, we were given a round of warm, freshly-baked, crunchy-topped, soft-inside bread.
For the next course, I had filo dough "cigars" stuffed with feta, which was a nice salty-crisp complement to the Barolo we were drinking. One friend indulged in her favorite seafood - and something not easily prepared in a New York apartment - a salad of grilled octopus with red onions, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon. Another decided on the Greek salad which was loaded with all sorts of wonderful vegetables: lettuce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and a dusting of cheese.
We took a pass on dessert, finishing instead with coffees. Our total tab came out to under $30.00 per person with tax and tip. The rain held off a while longer so that we could walk back towards the subway, and me to my apartment. Everyone was full (not stuffed) and happy and the idea was tossed around that last night should not be the one and only time this summer that we make a date to do this.