Saturday, April 11, 2015

Adventures at the French-themed food court

When I read that a Bon Marché-type French food hall would be coming to lower Manhattan, I was (I, ahem, may have mentioned this on Facebook), torn. Part of me was like, where was this I lived in Battery Park City? Another part of me thought this sounded like some bizarre, Vegas-style recreation of Paris, as well as the final step in a finance-ification of what is, yes, the Financial District, but still. It's an area I knew quite well before 9/11, given its proximity to my high school; avoided (for obvious reasons) for a while after; then ended up living in through one of those flukes of New York real estate where affordable-for-grad-students apartments pop up in unexpected locales.

Because of course, Le District is located exactly where there used to be that sneaker store that gave discounts to bankers. Those were, it turns out, the relatively simple days. In the time since I was there last - which was maybe last summer? - the rest of the Financial Center mall became super-high-end. No more Banana Republic, Starbucks, and Ciao Bella. (It was never exactly shabby.) Now it's Hermes, Gucci, and others of that ilk. The relatively-accessible options are (another "of course") J.Crew and Lululemon. Lululemon had a woman - as in, a real woman - stretching in the display window. When I say "a real woman," I don't mean in the sense in which "real" is used to distinguish regular women from those who are or resemble models.

Le District itself is, apart from a really nice cheese shop tucked away within, kind of a mess. I'd been expecting a market (and a companion who shall remain nameless had been expecting a chocolate mousse bar), but these things don't seem to have opened yet. Existing dessert items were a bit all over the place price- and quality-wise. (A chocolate mousse cake was something like $3 and apparently really good; a Liège waffle was $5 and... not.) The main thing about the place was how polished-and-finance the people there looked. Even by new New York standards. It didn't help that I was still in my I-work-from-home clothes, featuring gingham flannel. (Heritage-chic? Pajamas? You be the judge.) The place seemed to be an after-work finance-sort hangout. Which, fine, but then maybe it wasn't quite the NJ-Transit-worthy replica-of-Paris destination I'd imagined it would be.

But despite all the intimidating spiffiness, the prices themselves weren't all that high. Or maybe they were, but I was expecting them to be so much higher. We ended up having kind of a big meal unintentionally - an attempt at getting a post-dessert-as-dinner snack at a wine bar (the more casual of the two dinner options) led to a variety of service mishaps (not 'the waiter didn't smile' - more like we didn't get our food, then saw the fur-coat-wearing woman next to us who'd arrived later receiving part of our order), which we didn't actually complain about, but a waiter who eventually asked about our order felt bad about this, and suddenly appeared with extra food on the house. That, plus the (large, and also unsolicited) cheese samples the cheese place was handing out meant this was arguably one of the most affordable feasts in New York, although, again, for reasons unlikely to replicate themselves.

Will I return? Perhaps - it's trip into the city that doesn't involve Penn Station, or even going outside. (NJ Transit to Newark, then the PATH, leading to an underpass, then there it is.) But seeing as they also sell cheese in New Jersey, I can't imagine I'll be heading back any time soon.

1 comment:

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