17 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010 (b/t Broadway & 5th Ave in Flatiron)
The Lobster Roll ****/*****1980 Montauk Hwy
Amagansett, NY 11930
When my friend Kalee B. told me she was going to be in the Hamptons for the summer, I immediately booked a ticket for labor day weekend. As my days to departure shed from the calendar, I dreamed about the countless lobster rolls I’d inhale, the rolling dunes/reeds I’d frolic upon, and the waspy politicos/wealthy business men I’d draw out of the closet for a romantic tryst on the beach.
Aside from that, I was also heading to New York City to reconnect with my longtime best friend of seven years (but who’s counting?) Kat. St. Kat aka Catdookie aka Kathryn. Having first met my sophomore year of college (her first year), we were instantly bonded. My first memories of this girl involve me entering her dorm room where she was wearing rolled up sweatpants and crushing up pills. Later that night we got burritos and she excused herself early to puke in some bushes outside the cantina.
The next year we lived together with two others. She moved into our rental before anyone else. When I arrived my first night I found Kat in her room rocking back and forth on a pile of clothes (a mix of trendy chic and thrift store gems), which I think was her bed at the time. In any case she had just dropped acid and her room had no windows, so this wasn’t terribly shocking in retrospect.
Vivid memories entailed her never cleaning anything in the kitchen and me screaming at her, and then her calling me an “asshole”, bursting into tears and talking on the phone with her mother for two straight hours while chain smoking.
My senior year I think we spent most of it totally great since we lived apart, although I felt we had this unspoken rivalry about who threw the better ragers (hers were the more frequent TBT bashes at 506 Church R.I.P. and mine the Brewer Lane Block parties which apparently still happen?).
We also ventured into college radio together at WXYC and collaborated on student films that were terrible. Most of our days together were spent bickering a lot and telling the other how they could “improve”. I guess the best way to explain our friendship is to compare it to a brother and sister who are both really attractive and compliment each other in the best/worst ways, while feeding their mutual narcissism.
After school, I moved to L.A. while she headed to New York.
Aside from holidays, we don’t get to see each other much, but we still manage to push our respective buttons on social media. Thanks Twitter!
So, back to the trip, I arrived in NYC at 5am, bleary eyed and actually a little drunk courtesy of a few gin and tonics that I managed to avoid paying. Thanks Jetblue! I was dropped off in Kathryn’s neighborhood of Ridgewood — a quaint, normcore area somewhere not in Brooklyn but also not in Queens but somehow between them? I don’t know.
She answered the door in a robe and pink crocs (?) and led me to her apartment that had a post-it note with her unit number scrawled on it: 1R. Aside from the post-it note, I found the “R” perplexing.
“R? But you’re the first floor. And there are only two apartments here.”
“R stands for ‘right’.”
My mind was blown.
Inside her rather spacious (I would found out later by seeing other people’s places) and CLEAN (yes, she cleaned thank God), we caught up for a matter of ten minutes before I passed out on her couch wearing a leopard snuggie that I had no idea how to put on.
A couple hours later, I woke up to accompany Kat for her morning commute, but not before meeting her boyfriend as he came out of the shower half naked (#awkward). When we got to her big girl job, Kathryn cast my ass to the wind so I could explore the city — the Met, Chinatown, The Bowery (to Patricia Field so I could accessorize for that night’s queer club kid event at KUNST!), and Union Square. Which is so terrifying when you’re stoned.
Finally meeting back up again for dinner, Kathryn and I were dining at the Kentucky bourbon inspired restaurant MAYSVILLE. The place opened up last year with chef Kyle Knall at the helm, and was chosen via my careful Yelp! research.
Kathryn had arrived first which I’m sure annoyed her since she put in effort to be early. After I sat down, I gave her a hat that was returned (see her version of events here), and we ordered cocktails. I went for a Manhattan (how I could I not?) and Kathryn chose a “Bourbon Bonnet” a cocktail made from habanero infused bourbon, pineapple, cherry, and lime.
While Kathryn and I were catching up our server probably came to our table twice to ask if we were ready to order. After we said no twice (we were too busy trying to fit Kathryn’s huge head into that hat) he DISAPPEARED. For like… 15 minutes.
Finally when he returned, we asked for appetizers. Kathryn was dead set on oysters even though my face said otherwise. But we got them anyway. I also requested the fried grits with country ham on top. As I prepared to ask another question about the entrees, POOF! Our server vanished yet again. We were shocked, but mainly because it was so incredible that he could disappear with such ease and speed. While we waited we got drunker and scarfed down some cornbread muffins/butter that was brought to our table.
Again our server popped in out of nowhere and Kathryn ordered the Butcher’s steak (a fancy way to say Hangar steak) and I chose for the “slow roasted” Arctic Char. Char is a coldwater fish related to salmon and is the ONLY freshwater pescado found as far north as the Canadian arctic. Entrees called in, our waiter evaporated and we went on about our meal.
Then our oysters came. They were “hay roasted”. This means roasted for just a few minutes on a bed of hay, which allows the smokiness from the dried grass to permeate the shellfish. Served four topped with pickled shallots we devoured them quickly. Then the grits: fried cubes of creamy, southern ground corn. Topped with a salt-cured ham. Each were as rich as you could imagine and knowing our appetites we cleared them with ease.
We ordered more drinks — A pinot noir for me, and another cocktail for Kat (I was a little too drunk to remember exactly what) and our entrees came. Kathryn’s steak was sublime according to her while my Char was flakey, juicy, and buttery. Everything you want in a fish dish. Not to mention the fried squash blossoms and tomatoes + white beans on the side. I ate every last bite.
Wiping our mouths, our plates cleared – Keyser Sose approached our table to ask if we wanted anything else. No dessert for us but I wanted an after dinner drink — a Fernet. He comes back with a clear liquid on ice. I’m confused. Fernet is coca-cola brown usually. I tasted it, and it tasted like tequila. Ummmm…
I called him back over and told him this was NOT fernet. He said it was. And would bring me the bottle. I actually got a little nervous — God forbid I’d be proved wrong in front of Kathryn. He brings me the bottle that I recognize (I have the same at home) and I tell him the liquid in the bottle is dark. He replies — but the bottle is green.
“uhhhhhh I’m almost positive this isn’t Fernet”
“I’ll be right back.”
So he goes off again. Then Kathryn (who has the vantage point of the bar) says, “the waiter just told the bartender, ‘I look like an idiot'”.
Our server comes back to profusely apologize and gives me the Fernet I desired. He also said it was on the house.
As the night ended, the bill came to about $80 a piece which wasn’t terrible but not ideal. Maybe if we weren’t drunks we wouldn’t have to obsess about our bank accounts.
Getting back Ridgewood, Kathryn and I got ready — me and my spiked choker, and Kathryn well, a bunch of hair extensions which she arranged neatly on her bed. Hannah, her brother’s wonderful girlfriend, was coming by to stick them on her head. Around 1am as I complained about being late, Kathryn sat like a princess as the extensions were snapped in, calling me self-centered for rushing her, while chugging her Stellas. She was right because it’s New York, so arriving at the club at 2am is not even a big deal.
Strutting up to Verboten in Brooklyn, an array of friends greeted us. Beers were eight fucking dollars, and shots of whiskey were $13. As we danced in the midst of drag queens and club kids, I was only on the lookout for the cutest, nerdiest guy I could find, which I did when he grabbed my choker and told me he liked it. Case closed, folks.
Next thing I know, the cab driver was helping me out of his car while Kathryn was already freaking out about packing, waking up in 3 hours, so we could catch the Jitney to the Hamptons.
In the morning when I felt like someone had shit cigarettes into my mouth, Kathryn shook me awake. We had to leave. And we had to go to Chinatown, then up to 37th to catch this damn Jitney. Unlike the Hamptons Sex and the City episodes. Kathryn and I were hungover, screaming at cab drivers, had huge deli sandwiches in our bags, and running down sidewalks to make it just on time.
On the bus, Kathryn’s stomach hurt so I made fun of her and ate my whole hoagie. Not to mention asking the Jitney attendant for an extra lemonade because they were delicious.
Once we made it to South Hampton, we found out we were 3 miles away from where we were supposed to stay, and possibly not even be able to stay there because of some technicality with Kalee’s company. Apparently we needed to be CLEARED. As if we were terrorists. At the Enterprise Rent-a-Car desk, I specifically asked for the “cheapest car they had” or just “a can with wheels on it”. They had none of that. So at Kathryn’s suggestion of adventure, we walked!
Bad idea. While we looked amazing as if plucked from some fashion editorial — Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, and Porsche’s passed by expelling luxurious exhaust in our faces, thorns scraped our bare skin, we were sweating, and also carrying all our luggage (plus some Red Stripe from a 7-Eleven).
Reaching the house shared with a few other girls (none of whom were present), we entered to drop off our shit, complain, take selfies, get changed, then venture into the sea forest to find the railroad tracks that would take us BACK into town to meet Kalee for dinner. Along the way we stumbled upon the mass grave of what were dozens of dead deer, and then chased by a Buck.
Finally, Kalee graced us with her presence after we’d sat and ate two loaves of dinner rolls and some leftover shrimp that two young women decided to gift us. We were essentially homeless so it made sense. Kalee confirmed that we were OK to stay the night but maybe not the next night (what?) but we ignored that fact for now.
The next day after hitting the beach — my one request was to go somewhere with a decent lobster roll. So our hostess chauffeured our asses to the The Lobster Roll (how appropo). In Amagansett.
“AMAGANSETT!” Kalee screamed at me. She does a lot of screaming.
What followed was a massive lobster roll, the shellfish mixed with lots of mayo (thank god), crinkled french fries, a thing of cole slaw, wedge of lemon, and a pina colada for $40. So incredible, but why was everything (even a simple lobster roll) so GOD DAMN EXPENSIVE!? I needed to get out of the Hamptons. Get out of New York City, and get back to my life. Being poor SOMEWHERE ELSE is actually worse than being POOR AT HOME.
I often wondered how my life could have turned out if I had moved to New York instead of L.A. It’s always fun to contrast the 1st and 2nd largest cities in the U.S. The weather comparison isn’t even a competition. L.A. wins hands down. I thought I missed humidity. In some messed-up romantic way. But then as the hottest day of the summer occurred during my visit, and I was walking across the Williamsburg bridge, I laughed. I must have lost my damned mind to ever think such a thing.
In terms of cuisine, I think the level of food is totally comparable between cities, but New York probably has L.A. beat in quantity. There are SO many options. While L.A. has some of the most unique eateries (and In-n-Out), there are usually not so many to choose from like in New York. And it’s hard as hell to find decent Indian food here. WHY I ASK!?
As for transportation, the subways do make everything convenient, but it’s also a SUBWAY. It’s not your car. And strangers aren’t touching you in your car unless you happen to drive Lyft. Or maybe you just like that sort of thing.
And worst of all — in NYC the apartments are TINY, ridiculously priced holes. And the folks living in New York are just willing to accept that. Like it’s ok to be living in a hallway with a closet for a bathroom. But I for one am not. Especially when I pay for something that would cost 2x as much in NYC. And I live alone. Not with four other people that I might have to share a bathroom with. Dorm-life is over, and I don’t want to be standing in the shower trying to remember which loofah is mine. Even if it’s in the middle of trendy-ass Brooklyn.
However, I embrace the energy of New York. The people are beautiful (the sheer quantity of attractive strangers was dumbfounding). And more importantly I embrace the life that Kathryn has made for herself there. Even though it’s definitely not easy. Watching someone grow up can be good or bad, but Kathryn has done it in the best way — her way — and I couldn’t be happier at this point in my life to call her my best friend.