Tuesday, 12 June 2007
The Best Restaurant in New York
When I lived in Greenwich Village, there used to be a little restaurant a block away from where I lived called The Princess' which had a single table and served great, homemade food prepared and served by the titular owner. For $10 back in 1991, you not only had a mouth watering meal made with a heap of love but good company as well.
It was a long time ago. Despite visiting once a week for nearly a year, I have trouble remembering the place and for all my repeated attempts at finding some online artifacts of its existence or some hint at whatever became of the Princess, I've always come up empty.
What I do recall is that it felt more like a home. It was small and quite dark save for a couple of small lamps and a candle. Even on the sunniest days, it hardly felt like daylight and to me, it always felt like 2:00 am with a kindly landlady serving up a supper for the kid without time to eat.
Just over the road at an angle was Katz's which was always polished and bustling. At the time Katz's was fresh off the publicity of the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, but it was always busy, shiny, and stressful.
The Princess' without a sign or any hint that it was a restaurant sat like the Princess herself across the road quietly waiting. There's a scene in Wayne Wang's Smoke where Harvey Keitel has a Christmas dinner with a blind black woman who thinks he's her son. That is exactly how the Princess made me feel every time I visited except she wasn't blind--just extremely kind, wise, and a sublime cook.
And the food; there was no menu. You had to submit yourself to the Princess' whim which if I recall correctly hardly ever changed. Traditional southern style dinner is what was promised and that's exactly what was delivered and every bite melted in my mouth. I can't recall ever having a meal quite so surprising and delicious since and anything that came close was tragically encased in starchy formality.
I don't think she made much money and she certainly wasn't in it for financial gain. She had a talent and she quietly shared it with anyone that bothered to look. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever find a place like it. A single woman, a single table, no menu, and a small room hidden among the skyscraping metropolis of Manhattan.
And if anyone out there knows whatever happened to the Princess restaurant of Houston Street or have their own recollections, please post a comment or get in touch.