Now that it’s late Spring, we’re having some nice weather days here in NY. Not today, and not forecast for this holiday weekend, but it is that time of year. Women toss their tights, sunbathers glare at me as I walk dogs through the park, and restaurants put some tables and chairs outside to extend their seating and offer sidewalk cafes.
Stop and think about that. Al fresco dining in the middle of Manhattan. Now it’s true, we don’t have too much in the way of drive-thrus here. If I’m starving and in a hurry, you just might be able to spot me eating a slice (pizza) as I walk south on Columbus Ave. Not high on the list of dining experiences but it can work.
But I would like someone to explain to me how they think it’s a good idea to pay for a restaurant meal and drinks, and sit outside on Broadway. New York is a whole lot cleaner than it used to be, but it isn’t clean. The amount of dirt in the air is measurable (I know this because the windows in my apartment are usually open, even ten floors above the street a lot of dirt drifts in daily). Ask any person in the city wearing open sandals or flip flops what the soles of their feet look like at the end of the day.
Don’t forget the tons of pedestrians checking out what’s in your dish as they sneeze past.
I’m not saying I never/have never had a meal outside in the city. I’ve done my share of picnics in the park with the kids. And there’s a lovely cafe in Riverside Park we used to go to. Out of budget now, but it is a nice afternoon option. Grills and tables under a cement dome that provides shade and cooler air, it feels like a public barbeque. Fancier tables are right alongside the Hudson River.
Back to those sidewalk restaurant extensions. There are trees planted along most avenues, growing from square cutouts in the sidewalk. Pretty, and if they’re big/old enough, they offer a little shade and fresh breeze. You’re really appreciate that nice oak three feet away from your table when the dogwalker goes past with a pack-walk. The standard poodle especially loves that tree. As does the mastiff and St Bernard. Splatter splish.
If it’s a popular time of day/evening, don’t forget the press of people waiting for a table. Don’t rush, they’re fine waiting. New Yorkers are much friendlier than tourists expect, they’re happy to provide entertainment. The foodies–or the picky eaters–will deconstruct the contents of your plate and debate the merits of sitting at an outside table. Many are comedians, and crack jokes about how hungry they are, offering to share your meal.