Out of Town Edition: Le Colonial

We went down to NYC yesterday to meet Scott's parents for dinner for his mother's birthday. I spent the day at a craft fair which was very interesting, and I had a fabulous time. Not having lived in NYC for a while now, I noticed a lot of differences between there and Albany I may not have noticed before. First of all, this whole Williamsburg hipster look I don't think I have seen in 2 years. I can say with certainty I have never seen that look on anyone in Albany. Somehow fashion in Albany is more earnest and less likely to be put together in the spirit of irony.
Also, I feel that it is a lifestyle difference that in Albany people have to stop drinking at some point in the night because they usually have to drive home. At the craft fair it seemed like every other person was telling a story about being really drunk or hungover, and I know we had the whole Kegs and Eggs scandal, but overall people seem more responsible about drinking here. I was in a neighborhood known for having a lot of young people on a Sunday morning so perhaps it is not a fair point, but I also think this based on experiences with our own friends. The differences in social class to me seemed so much more noticeable in NYC than in Albany. We waited for Scott's parents at the B-Cafe in Bloomingdale's, and I could not believe how rude the older Upper East Side ladies were to the guy making the espresso. Then, he was just as rude back to them. Actually, I could believe it because I probably was that kid at age 23. I couldn't help but think how starkly different his life probably is compared to theirs. Obviously we have differences in social class in Albany. Of course we have nicer neighborhoods and neighborhoods that may need a little more help. But I have never seen this kind of contentious relationship between servers and customers here. I don't know why this is, except I guess that in NY if you have a lot of money your life is so incredibly different than the people who don't have very much, but in Albany whether you have money or not you probably still shop at Target and eat lunch at Chipotle on the weekends. Of course there are differences, but maybe they are just less immediately noticeable.

That being said, we had a lovely dinner. Le Colonial is a French Vietnamese restaurant on 57th street. It is decorated in an exotic and intimate style that really makes you forget you are steps away from Bloomingdale's. I don't know how they do it, but their sauces are all amazing. I am sure it is some combination of garlic, ginger, scallions, maybe sugar and salt, vinegar, but they have a nice tang without ever actually tasting sweet. I don't think we had been there in 2 years, but in those two years Scott was still talking about the crispy whole red snapper Saigon style with a light spicy & garlic sour sauce. In fact he talked about it so highly since last time that when we went yesterday most of our table ordered it. I tried it, and it was very memorable. Their sauces are light and interesting, and deep and flavorful. For appetizers, we started out with two from the specials menu. He had a shrimp wonton soup (with incredibly flavorful broth), and I had a crab and avocado martini. I love the idea of serving salads in barware. In addition to the crab and avocado the light summery salad had lime, cilantro, and scallions. It was perfectly refreshing. For my entrĂ©e I had filet mignon sauteed with sate sauce, yams and string beans. I had really worked up an appetite from walking around all day at the craft fair, and it was incredible. The meat was so tender, and the yams were a great flavor without being at all overpowering. Where I grew up yams are served with marshmallows and brown sugar on them,and sauteing them in a spicy garlicky sauce was a huge improvement.  For dessert, we all split a couple pieces of Key Lime Pie (my all time favorite dessert), and it was the perfect ending to a summery meal with bright, refreshing flavors. What a wonderful, wonderful restaurant. Apparently it is Yoko Ono's favorite, and I can see why.

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