Back to NYC — Art and Viennese Dining

January 31, 2007 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

Sandy and I took a day trip to New York, heading first to the Upper East Side and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Temperature was in the fifties and ideal for strolling down Fifth Avenue on the edge of Central Park.

The Met is located right at 82nd Street, a very nice neighborhood. We saw a somewhat stereotypical Central Park sight, someone walking their two white and oh-so-perfect standard poodles along the park path.A typical site on the Upper East Side

The Met. This is a massive art museum with exquisite exhibits. We took our time to explore the many pieces in the Egyptian collection — 36,000 to be exact. But I must admit we did skip a few. I used to think that Chicago’s Art Institute had a large Egyptian exhibit, but the Met’s certainly must be larger. Made me wonder if any mummies had been left in their own tombs. But it was a breathtaking exhibit. The size of some pieces was astonishing as was the intricasy of design on the outer coffins.

The exhibit houses an actual tomb from Lower Egypt that The Metropolitan Museum of Artwas purchased from the Egyptian government, as well a a tablet from the “Book of the Dead” and the Temple of Dendur. The statuary covers a broad range of time and is most captivating. We spent far less time at the Met than we could have (or should have), but we had an agenda for our day and we needed to move on.

Lunch — with all its mishaps. Next, we walked up the street to Cafe Sabarsky, housed in the Neue Gallerie New York on 86th and 5th. I had discovered this Viennese cafe online and was anxious to eat there. Online reviews were good. It is a small, but beautiful setting with a 20-25 ft. ceiling and richly carved dark wood. Banquettes lined the window side of the cafe. Waitstaff wore crisp white shirts and black vests with white aprons.

Food included my choice, chestnut soup with Armagnac prunes, just $12, and very good. Served with hearty bread and unsweetened butter. Other dishes included goulash soup and spaetzle with wild mushrooms, along with some very tasty-looking desserts. We started with Viennese cocoa, served on small silver trays (stainless steel?) with a small glass of water with a teaspoon balancing on top. Very distinctive.

Good food. Bad Service. While the food was good, the service absolutely was not. My friend also ordered soup but hers arrived at the table quite cool. It took awhile to hail a waiter and then at least 20 minutes for the soup to return to the table — at which point I was done eating. By then, she was no longer interested in it. Oh, did I also mention that we had to hail the hostess to ask for silverware and a napkin — after the waiter had left my soup and moved on? She seemed annoyed with us. When we were ready to leave, we asked for the check. The waiter took my card and dropped off the receipt for a signature. When I opened the case, I found someone else’s credit card. That was it — I was now livid. I called to the hostess and told her about the several mishaps. She shrugged, as another member of the waitstaff came rushing over with the correct credit card. She noticed the problem, but our waiter did not. And apparently, the hostess did not care.

I can say that service was poor and the servers actually rude at Cafe Sabarsky. Servers did not speak to patrons. They were not readily available — although the cafe is small and the servers were always in sight of the dining area. They just Central Park in Winter. Cross-country skiing along the bridle path. Photo courtesy of Central Park Conservancy.ignored the customers. And when a problem arose, they were not interested. It would seem, however, that the chef is not apathetic at all as his food is very good. So that’s our experience at this wonderful-sounding cafe. This is the first time I did not leave a tip in a restaurant — except for a real tip that I wrote on my receipt — “Bad Service.” But in all honesty, I must add that as we left, there was a line of people waiting to be seated. It must be the uniqueness of the food — but why would New Yorkers tolerate that kind of service?

NEXT: Madison Avenue, Midtown and back to Canal Street

More to see at the Met: Besides European, medieval and modern art, the Met includes exhibits on musical instruments, textiles, Greek and Roman art and the following:

1) Museum admission was $20 — but it is just requested admission — more of a donation — which is a nice gesture.

2) We took a limo from La Guardia to the Met. $35 for two of us plus $4 toll and tip. We would have taken a cab, but the limo driver approached us and another female traveler to share the limo ride. He charged her the same as he charged the two of us. I believe it may have been an unauthorized or unlicensed limo. The way he approached us was odd and the receipt had no business name on it. We got there safely, but I wondered the whole way if he was insured and licensed. We took a chance. Can anyone shed any light on the limo/taxi solicitation practice in New York?

Central Park photo courtesy of Central Park Conservancy.

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Entry filed under: New York City.

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