Living NYC ARCHIVES Technology

Has Our Delivery Culture Gotten Out of Hand?

I’ve always maintained that a great thing about New York is that, theoretically, you can get anything you want whenever you want it. Need milk at 2 a.m.? Pad thai and BBQ on the same block? Weed brought to you by models? The city provides.

New York’s delivery culture is something the tech industry has been capitalizing on for some time now. Most recently and topically, it’s resulted in the British sex toy company MysteryVibe launching an “on-demand vibrator delivery service” in New York for Valentine’s Day. That’s right: Today and tomorrow, the company is delivering vibrators in under an hour, complete with chocolates and a “tech-savvy Kama Sutra,” whatever that means.

The service certainly raises more questions than it answers. Are the delivery people being trained in discretion, or will they be like your weed hookup who sort of lingers until you relent and offer him some of the product? Who has a vibrator emergency so bad that they need one brought by in less than an hour? Who can’t just use their hand for a day?

“These days in New York City you can pretty much get anything delivered same-day … except pleasure. Which is a real shame, as when you order pleasure products online you’re really excited to try them!” says Stephanie Alys, co-founder of MysteryVibe. Apparently, it’s a growing concern: “We know from customer feedback that while people do a lot of research before ordering, they often order when they need it the most.”

MysteryVibe is hoping to expand to other cities, as well as making this a more permanent option in New York. It’s a PR gimmick, for sure, another example of the tech industry’s incredible ability to solve problems nobody actually had. But by launching it in New York City, they’re also capitalizing on our culture of delivery. New Yorkers thrive on delivery. We define ourselves by it. But it’s turning into a classic horror tale: What if we had delivery, but too much?


A friend who moved to Seattle from New York recently told me a horror story. She was home alone one night, and desired dinner. Not having many groceries, and not wanting to drive to the store after a long day at work, she tried to get delivery. But (shines flashlight under my face) nobody would come to her house. Instead, she could drive to a restaurant to pick up her order. The one place that would deliver was a pizzeria, which would charge her a $15 minimum and a $10 delivery fee.

A hallmark of my childhood was the folder of delivery menus by the phone. When my mom worked late, when my dad’s mini-fridge was too small for groceries, there was still dinner to be had. New Yorkers work hard, have small kitchens, and don’t own cars. Many of us also have a hard time carrying bags up and down stairs, or using stairs at all. That we can get full meals, groceries, and anything else you can get at the bodega delivered to our doors for little to no fee isn’t just a convenience. It’s a necessity.

Most New Yorkers tend to understand this, and act out of kindness accordingly. Certainly some of the kindness is out of self-preservation — there were longstanding myths of favorite takeout places that refused to deliver to demonstrated assholes — but also out of a sense of appreciation. What luck that we got to partake of this piece of New York, this thing that we couldn’t get elsewhere. I’m romanticizing a bit: New Yorkers have stiffed delivery guys and harassed service workers, too. But for a long time, you at least had to look them in the eye while you did it.

Apps like Seamless were originally the next logical step in delivery innovation. Instead of having to yell your credit card number over the phone, or make sure you had enough cash for delivery, you just fill out a form online and get the same service you’ve always gotten. New Yorkers were quick to adapt. After all, this is what we had always done.

But most New Yorkers also sensed the stakes had been raised, especially with the boom and bust of the first dot-com bubble. In 2011, Jon Stewart joked on The Daily Show about an early iteration of the delivery tech boom — UrbanFetch, a company that would bring you literally anything in about half an hour, with a T-shirt and free cookies. He told a hypothetical story of two stoned roommates ordering, separately, Scarface and two pints of cookie dough ice cream, and “Goodfellas, two pints of Cherry Garcia, and a dildo that glows in the dark.” UrbanFetch, as you may have guessed, was not a sustainable operation. “My point is this,” said Stewart. “I miss these fucking guys. But we all knew this thing was not going to last.”

But the bubble grew again, and now, among Amazon Prime, Seamless, Postmates, and now MysteryVibe, it’s hard to imagine anything you can’t get delivered. And that’s wreaking havoc on businesses. In a recent article for the New Yorker, Elizabeth Dunn outlined how delivery apps are killing restaurants, with one restaurateur describing them as “an income stream that his business had become dependent upon but that might ultimately be running them into the ground.” Amazon Prime deliveries are made possible by atrocious working conditions. It’s not sustainable, and if it is, it’s because we’re sacrificing too much and too many.

Alys argues that, instead of things like pints of ice cream, instant delivery is actually better suited for luxury products. “There are a lot of hidden fees, especially at the lower end of the market,” she says, “So the economics might not work for a pack of condoms or an energy bar, but they can for a luxury product like a Crescendo.” So sure, it might work. It doesn’t seem like mom-and-pop sex toy shops will be put out by this innovation, cajoled into providing a service they can’t maintain.

Unfortunately, most of New York relies on delivery of that small, nonluxury stuff, and it’s become a problem. It’s too easy to just blame greedy corporate overlords or lazy millennials who don’t like making phone calls. As with most significant cultural shifts, it’s everything’s fault. A desire for convenience based on existing cultural norms, plus an increasing acceptance of doing business through middleman-run apps, multiplied by how much harder it is for most restaurants and stores to build their own online order forms instead of just signing up for Seamless or Postmates, equals a current reality in which convenience is king, and can often be instantaneous. And once that dam has been broken, who wants to go back?

A New York without delivery would look completely alien to me. But I’m starting to see a future in which something has to give, and I’m not sure what to do about that. Maybe the only restaurants that’ll deliver will be the ones that already have the capital to pay Seamless fines, perpetuating the suburbanization of the city. Maybe we’ll all be paying $10 delivery fees like a bunch of Seattleites. Maybe that was what we should have been doing this whole time. But, you know, tip your delivery guy. And maybe remember that waiting two days for a vibrator isn’t the end of the world.


Five Valentine’s Day Dinners That Don’t Suck

Like love itself, dining out on Valentine’s day can be a complicated, messy affair. There are those who go for special menus, big-deal gifts, grand gestures, and heck, maybe even a proposal (though personally, a commercialized holiday about love feels a bit … on the nose for us), while some would rather keep things a bit more low-key, like, say, “Italian night” at one of the loveliest new neighborhood spots in Brooklyn. Whatever you choose, the best thing you can probably do to assure a stress-free big night out is to make sure you and your significant other are on the same page. And if you’re flying solo this year, we’ve also got you covered. Check below for a few inspired ideas.

At Camilla Marcus’s virtuous all-day spot swimming in California cool, lovebirds ready to make a major commitment can swing by between noon and 8 p.m. for free permanent tattoos – the preset designs include flowers and palm trees – by Brooklyn-based artist Lexi Hollis. Afterwards, toast your freshly inked epidermises over culinary director Amy Yi’s West Coast-leaning menu, which includes dishes like bananas foster yogurt bowls and a “mushreuben” vegetarian riff on the lunch counter classic.
137 Sullivan Street, 347-534-3050;

Casa Del Chef
The Ecuadorian décor accenting this cozy Woodside café run by chef Alfonso Zhicay and his daughter Sandra nods to their family’s heritage, while the New American cooking reflects a career spent working closely with Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Come February 14, they’ll offer two $75 five-course prix-fixe menus for the night – one focused on seafood (scallops with sweet potato foam, halibut with beet-ricotta gnocchi), the other meant for carnivores (foie gras, rack of lamb over spelt berries) – set to the smooth acoustic sounds of local musician Katelyn Richards, who’ll be performing live.
39-06 64th Street, Queens; 718-457-9000;

MeMe’s Diner
This popular Prospect Heights newcomer, enjoyed as much for its fun and clever diner fare as it is championed for its LGBTQ inclusivity, goes old-school Italian-American for the evening, rebranding as “Bella Notte” (beautiful night). Think stuffed peppers, chicken piccata, and canoodling over noodles Lady and the Tramp-style with spaghetti and meatballs. For dessert, chef-owners Libby Willis and Bill Clark, who met working at Brooklyn’s creative Ovenly bakery, will dish out appropriately homey and celebratory sweets like rainbow cookie cake and cannoli in pie form.
657 Washington Street, Brooklyn; 718-636-2900;

Dirt Candy
Amanda Cohen’s vegetarian paradise has never been better, and this Valentine’s Day, the creative powerhouse and her crew will be cooking up a seven-course meal for $100 that “starts with a glass of something sparkling from one of the incredible female winemakers” featured on their list. Expect candy cane beets roasted in salt and stuffed with their greens, roasted squash in leche de tigre, and a Canadian cheese course that pays homage to the chef’s roots up north. If instead you’re unattached and looking to treat yourself, you can stop by until Saturday, February 17, to take advantage of the restaurant’s solo diner’s week, which features a similar seven-course menu, scaled down for one person, for $75.
86 Allen Street, 212-228-7732;

Japanese comfort food is on the menu at this cozy NoHo spot, which will eschew its typically low-key vibe in favor of a $60 five-course tasting menu. Chef Emily Yuen will kick things off with a trio of sandwiches, including the ever-trendy beef katsu sando, followed by small plates like sesame tofu with smoked trout roe, and creamy cod roe pasta or wagyu steak as main courses.
5 Bleecker Street, 212-228-8502;


Valentine’s Day In Every Position

Oh shit, it’s Valentine’s Day! How are you supposed to deal with this? Don’t panic. Now PANIC. Just kidding, don’t panic. (Panic a little.) Here’s some advice for every possible scenario on this day.

You’re Dating No One

In the Valentine’s’ War, you are the sole victor. Congratulations, truly. Buy yourself a bottle of Frangelico, pour it into two glasses, and drink them both. Pour two more. Golden Girls is streaming on Hulu, did you know? Have fun and be safe.

You’ve Been Dating for Like, Two Weeks

Face it, regardless of whether you like this person and foresee spending all of your Valentine’s Days together until you’re tossed into the same grave, two weeks is not enough time to justify too much stress. I advise avoiding the situation altogether and instead making plans with your friends (Frangelico and the Golden Girls). If you’re roped into hanging out, make this the day you reveal all your weird sex things to each other.

Now that I think about it, THAT should be the real purpose of Valentine’s Day. What better time to announce that you want to dress up in matching Coast Guard outfits while your cats watch or have someone baste your naked body in mayo and slide you across the linoleum? It’s either this or Christmas, and Christmas is super far away. Carpe diem!

You’ve Been Dating for a Few Months

Enough time has passed that you’re probably pretty comfortable around each other. He already knows how you like to use nipple clamps on your eyelids, and you know how he likes his toe webbing licked. If you’re content with the way things are going, leave them where they are. If you think you can stand to kick it up a few notches, it’s time to unveil your skin collection. You can thank me later.

You’ve Been Dating for a Few Years

Wow, great. It’s dinner time for you. Book a table at a prohibitively expensive restaurant, shower, brush ALL your teeth, dust off your fineries and put them on. Purchase or receive flowers, snip the ends, put them in a vase. Chocolate? Nah, forget it.

Now you’re at the restaurant. You both look nice! Take stock of your significant other’s appearance. Do they look older than when you first met? Are those crows feet new? You’d never noticed before. Imagine what they’ll look like when you do this again next year, and the year after. How do you feel? Gratitude that you still like this person, even though you’ve already grown tired of their dumb face? Excitement for the years still to come, unfurling like a red carpet that you’ll traverse hand in hand? Boredom? Fear? Hunger? Grow silent while you survey the couples around you. Do they seem happier than you? Sink into yourself while you prod your butter-poached lobster. What difference does this charade make, really? Couldn’t you be at home in your slipper socks, cat snoring gently on your foot while you eat kung pao tofu off a steak knife? Who do you really think you’re fooling with this florid contrivance?

Suddenly, you remember leftovers. You do it for the leftovers. You brighten, and take your partner’s hand, flushed with gratitude that they’ve chosen to spend this day here, with you. You’re happy, you think, and search their eyes for confirmation that they feel the same. You realize then that they’d been looking at Twitter this whole time, and hadn’t even noticed where you’d gone.

You’re Married

The pressure is ON. This is the time to show all your friends and peers and strangers that the fire is still BURNING, that your relationship still HOT, that you are not going to let a bunch of toddler vomit snuff the flame of your ROMANCE. But you’re going to have to prove it, and it’s going to have to be dramatic, or no one will believe you.

First, put your kids up for adoption: You won’t need them where you’re going (ROMANCE TOWN). Sell your house and everything in it, and book a one-way ticket to the most remote island you can find. I’m not talking about a well-populated surf spot in Bali; I am talking a miserable smear of rock-studded earth somewhere dismal, like the UK. There is no better test of your love’s strength than being forced to seek inadequate shelter under a rain-slicked boulder, one of you struggling to light a fire while the other forages for edible berries you hope don’t prove fatal. If you can do that, you’ll know that you’ve correctly chosen the person with whom you’ve decided to share your life.

If you can’t, well, use the iPhone you sneaked into the sole of your Teva to call yourself a boat. Escape in the night, and never look back.

He/She Doesn’t Know You’re Dating

Fact: More than half of U.S. relationships involve at least one person who doesn’t even KNOW they’re in a relationship! Whether it’s a friend, colleague, neighbor, local barista, dog walker, or amanuensis, it’s time to notify them that while you’re sorry you didn’t tell them sooner, the two of you are, in fact, dating. They’re probably going to have some questions, like how you got into their home, and it’s important that you have clear, digestible answers on hand to minimize confusion. They may react poorly to the news, especially if he or she is already in a relationship with someone else. Give them some time to adapt to the revelation that they’re dating you now. Depending on how they take it, you might want to postpone your announcement that you’ve already moved out of your apartment, and that the van with all your clothes and furniture is waiting around the corner. Twenty minutes should do it.


Forget About Drinking Alone — Sip This Romantic Cocktail for Two

Remember the classic spaghetti scene from Lady and The Tramp? (Hint — it involves two smitten pooches and one plate of pasta and meatballs.) With that sharing sentiment in mind, Moses Laboy of Bottle & Bine (1085 2nd Avenue; 212-888-7405) created a Valentine’s Day cocktail intended to encourage public canoodling.

Laboy’s drink for two, which he calls the “Get Lucky”, employs vodka as the base. While other spirits like bourbon, rye, and mescal can be acquired tastes, vodka is the ultimate neutral. The bartender adds Cherry Heering for sweetness (and a romantic red hue), fresh lemon juice, ginger liqueur, and orange bitters for a little bite.

“I take my cues from the kitchen; I always have,” Laboy says. And the drink features another special touch —  an ice cube with a loving message inside, which is slowly revealed as the ice melts.

Laboy is also making a version of the cocktail with gin, for drinkers who want to spice up the night a little more.

Get Lucky by Moses Laboy
1 1/2 ounces Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 ounce vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
4 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Write a Valentine’s Day message on a strip of paper, laminate the paper, and put in an ice cube tray. Cover with water and freeze.

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until cold and double strain over two ice cubes. Serve in a glass big enough for two straws.


Check Out Sexy Taco/Dirty Cash’s Alternative Cosmo, the Victor’s Secret

Choosing a fun drinking spot at which to spend Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming. If you want to please your loved one without pressure, Sexy Taco, Dirty Cash (161 Malcolm X Boulevard, 212-280-4700) has a few tongue-in-cheekily titled cocktails in the works to loosen things up. The Harlem taqueria/cocktail bar’s menu is full of double entendres, one of which, the “Victor’s Secret,” is a twist on a cosmo, the drink linked inextricably to a certain quartet of ladies with relationship woes who live and have sex in the city.

Owner Brian Washington-Palmer wanted to create a tipple that would pack a punch but remain easy to sip. While he was inspired by the cosmo, he had Victoria’s Secret on his mind. Women may love shopping there, but he figured that naming a drink after a lingerie store might alienate some male guests.

“It’s very nicely balanced. Citrus and basil are kind of herbaceous,” Washington-Palmer says. The fresh basil delivers a distinctive flavor note, and the addition of elderflower liqueur adds a layer of sweet florals — it might be the most potent flower you’ll encounter on Valentine’s Day.

Victor’s Secret by Brian Washington-Palmer

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce basil syrup*

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass.

*To make the basil syrup:
Dissolve a 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup boiling water. Add a small handful of fresh basil leaves (eight leaves total should be good). Let the mixture sit for 1 1/2 hours to cool. Strain out the basil leaves.


What’s the Prime New York Neighborhood for Valentine’s Day?

If you’re taking your sweetheart out for dinner tonight, chances are you’re looking to spend big bucks and are heading to Lincoln Square. Well, at least that’s what statistics say.

Connotate, a New Jersey-based web data monitoring company, analyzed data from 3,000 restaurants to uncover some trends about New York City’s Valentine’s Day dinner scene. By looking up which restaurants were fully booked at 7 p.m. on February 14th and dividing them up into three cost levels, they found that the most expensive restaurants have the least availability: Over 77 percent of $$$$ restaurants in NYC are fully booked tonight. Check out the data:

Connotate also found some surprising data about the locations of all these date night reservations. Of all the neighborhoods in the city, Lincoln Square’s restaurants are most booked — perhaps couples are off to an opera after they eat? — with over 55 percent of restaurants in the area showing no availability for tonight at 7 p.m. Union Square and Columbus Circle come in at a close second and third (Columbus Circle is not surprising, given the volume of expensive restaurants located there). And opportunists, take note: The West Village, a haven for romance with its many tiny candle-lit cafes, is way down at the bottom of the list with only 9 percent of restaurants in the area booked, which means you might be able to score a prime time reservation there if you’re still trying to figure out what to do tonight.

If you’re still scrambling to put together your evening, check out Hannah Palmer Egan’s 11 worthy options for Valentine’s day (and hope they’re still available), or head on over to Eve Turow’s last-minute guide. Happy (or sad) Valentine’s Day, everyone!



Last Minute Valentine’s Day Options in NYC

Valentine’s Day is stressful, and all the coordination, expectation, and overall hub-bub often put a damper on things. And right now, if you’ve yet to make a plan for the evening (or are in need of a back-up), you’re likely feeling panic creep in. We got you. Here is a list of great V-Day events around the city that you can still book, some of which are worthy friend date destinations, too.

Dinner and the Dome with M. Wells Dinette and MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, 718-786-1800
Museum and restaurant doors open for a festive dinner and double feature movie evening. Diners will enjoy venison, smoked salmon, and a belly-warming cassoulet while they watch Some Like it Hot and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, beginning at 6 p.m.

BFF Valentine’s Party at The Empire Hotel, 44 West 63rd Street, 212-956-3313
Spend the day with your best friend, nosh on small bites, sip cocktails, and dance while astrologer Susan Miller reveals your future. The evening is hosted by Courtney Kerr, star of “Courtney Loves Dallas” on Bravo. Entrance is $85.

Gaby Brasserie Francaise, 44 West 45th Street, 212-782-3040
Partake in Sylvain Harribey’s decadent Valentine $75 prix fixe menu including oysters, foie gras, an assortment of smoked fishes, and more.

Nick and Toni’s Café, 100 West 67th Street, 212-496-4000
A la carte holiday specials are on the menu for one day, including foie gras, pan roasted red snapper, and a puff pastry “soufflé” with chocolate mousse. Additions range from $13-$29.

The Dutch, 131 Sullivan Street, 212-677-6200
An extensive $95 prix fixe menu features over twenty choices in appetizer, entrée and dessert.

KTCHN, 508 West 42nd Street, 212-868-2999
The cozy spot is serving a prix fixe four-course menu that traipses through Spanish mackerel crudo, cheddar cheese fondue, and braised short ribs.

Grata Restaurant, 1076 1st Avenue, 212-842-0007
Dine on a three-course prix fixe meal while a jazz trio of piano, bass, and violin serenades you.

Verde Coal Oven, 254 Irving Avenue, 718-381-8800
Make it a Brooklyn Valentine’s with a $49 three-course prix fixe meal of pizza, short ribs or lobster, and delicate desserts.

Afro Haitian Jazz Band Mozayik at Farafina Café & Lounge, 1813 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-281-2445
Listen to vibrant jazz while dining on a four course prix fixe menu with one complimentary drink per person. The evening costs just $49.95.

The Bourgeois Pig, 111 East 7th Street, 212-475-2246
During one of three seatings, enjoy savory and sweet fondue in a five-course prix fixe meal for two.

Cienfuegos, 95 Avenue A, 212-614-6818
During one of three seatings, fill up on a seven-course Cuban prix fixe meal for two. You’ll want to pair dinner to cocktails.

Missed Connections at New York Transit Museum, Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, 718-694-1600
You know the person who caught your eye on the subway? The gaze that held as the train left the station? Find that missed connection or someone new at this singles Valentine’s Day gathering with art, local Brooklyn beers — including brews from Brooklyn Brewery — valentine arts and crafts, a photo booth, food…and maybe your prince/princess charming.

Adult Prom Night at Alewife, 5-14 51st Avenue, Long Island City, 718-937-7494
This LIC bar takes it back to high school with 80’s tunes, spiked punch, jell-o shots, and the expansive beer list that makes Alewife a beer-fan favorite. Entrance is discounted (from $15 to $10) if you dress up.

Juni, BLT Steak New York, BLT Prime New York, BLT Fish, Casa Nonna, and BLT Bar & Grill
Finally, if you’re planning on getting engaged this year (and you probably should have been more on top of your plans if that’s the case), this restaurant group is offering extra incentive to book a Valentine’s Day table. Dine here tonight, and if you and your better half decide to put a ring on it before the end of 2014, you’ll get half off your rehearsal dinner at the same venue.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Five Features of a Great Break-Up Restaurant

I dropped my list of the 10 best restaurants for break-ups in NYC earlier this week, and on Tuesday, I dished out a few tips for finding a break-up restaurant on The Ride Home with Pat Kiernan.

Breaking up is never easy, and finding the right venue for the occasion is important. Here’s what I considered when I formed my list.

1. The restaurant should be crowded

Though you may have an inclination to find a quiet hole-in-the-wall where only the waiter can hear your conversation, don’t give in to the impulse. A busy restaurant means there’s a lot going on, lots of background noise to fill the air, and a strong chance your server will be checking up on you less frequently. Plus, public blow-ups are embarrassing for everyone, so with more people around, the more likely it is the person getting dumped will swallow the rage-filled shouting match. And martinis only get thrown in people’s faces in movies, right?

2. The restaurant should require a flashlight or candle to read the menu

Sometimes there’s just no stopping the floodgates from opening, sending forth a river of salty tears. Seek shelter in a place where no one can see you, and look for a dim spot that’s not depressing.

3. The restaurant should have no emotional importance to you

Choosing a place that you visit frequently to drop the phrase “I don’t love you anymore” is a bad call. In fact, any restaurant you’ve ever been to with your partner should probably be crossed off the list immediately — too much potential for wistful nostalgia.

You already hate Times Square -- which makes it a good spot for a break-up
You already hate Times Square — which makes it a good spot for a break-up

4. The restaurant should not be close to where either of you live

On a similar note, don’t get stuck at the diner beneath your apartment — do you really want to be saddled with remorse every time you come downstairs? If you’re hesitant, let us save you from yourself. Pick a neighborhood neither of you visits regularly and do the deed in a joint that’s not going to make your regular rotation. Times Square and its myriad nondescript chains are great for this, especially because of your access to many train lines once the deed is done.

5. The restaurant should have plenty of shareable plates

You’re about to cover what went wrong in your love affair, and unless you think your soon-to-be ex is a total psychopath that you’d rather not see ever again, you likely want this conversation to end amicably. So plant the seeds of future friendship with some shared foods. And if neither of you has an appetite once it becomes clear that this really is the end, this is a practical move to ensure you’re not taking home a doggy bag full of broken promises.



The 10 Best Restaurants for Break-Ups in NYC

This time of year always brings out New York’s mushy side when it comes to dining out: Which restaurants have the most romantic view? Which restaurants have the best decor? Which place has a wait staff I can trust who can keep my engagement ring on ice until I give the signal?

But what about restaurants for those who want to ditch their significant other before the day of love? For every adorable corner bistro packed to the brim on Valentine’s Day in this city, there’s an equally suitable setting for an unhappy ending. For those who can’t bear to take their relationship to the next level and are ready to throw in the towel, here are 10 New York restaurants where breaking up isn’t that hard to do.

Museum Dining means breaking up quietly
Museum Dining means breaking up quietly

10. The Modern, 9 West 53rd Street

Keep the vibe low-key while you’re being the bearer of bad news, and rely on a Danny Meyer-trained waitstaff to smooth over the mood. This tranquil spot provides a classy exit opportunity and servers who will do anything to ensure a convivial experience. So sit down to one last two- or three-course dinner and make your break with dessert. Afterward, you can walk through museum solo and take in all of the tortured painters who’ve found inspiration through tragedy/freedom.

Need a song for your worries?
Need a song for your worries?

9. Ellen’s Stardust Diner, 1650 Broadway

Times Square is full of places to dump old baggage, but how many places will sing to you in times of trouble? With a staff that’s more concerned about Broadway monologues and a tourist clientele just itching for real life New York drama, Stardust was made for breaking apart memories. There’s also the chance the singing will be so bad, your former lover will walk out on their own accord, which can really help take the pressure off.

The sound of silence is your friend when breaking up
The sound of silence is your friend when breaking up

8. Eat, 124 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn

Sometimes the best way to say something is to say nothing at all. Grab two seats at the city’s best silent dining experience, where you’ll be forced to let your eyes tell the story of why you’re refusing to make a duplicate apartment key. You’ll be amazed at the power hand gestures and chewing with your mouth open can have in telling someone this is never going to work.

24 hours a day/seven break ups a week
24 hours a day/seven break ups a week

7. Coffee Shop, 29 Union Square

Perhaps you need to realize your split at an off-hour (maybe on the heels of an hours-long after-dinner fight?): Head to this around-the-clock diner, a beacon of hope when all other neon lights have dimmed. Aloof service means you’re not likely to get any dirty looks and ear drum damaging music that will have longer lasting effects than your former partner in crime means no one will be able to hear you cry. What’s more, you’re close to a number of trains, which means you can make a quick getaway when the conversation comes to an end.

Rigging games never felt so good
Rigging games never felt so good

6. Salvation Taco, 145 East 39th Street

Any restaurant that combines games and finger foods immediately registers on the radar when scouting potential dumping grounds: Tacos and table tennis are distracting so you can conquer your emotions (ironically, this is what makes Salvation a good first date spot, too). Let whoever’s about to get their picture removed from your wall take their aggression out on the playing field before diving into some guacamole. Bonus: Plenty of margaritas and tequila are an order away if conversation turns further south of the border.

No one can hate someone who buys them top notch sushi
No one can hate someone who buys them top notch sushi

5. Jewel Bako, 239 East Fifth Street

If you already have the boys or girls lined up for a bar crawl to celebrate your ascent into singledom, do the deed over an immaculate sushi dinner at this East Village shoe box. No one can hate someone who takes them out to a pristine evening of finely presented seafood — so be prepared to cover the bill. But you’ll be in and out quickly (Jewel Bako’s omakase is bafflingly quick), and this restaurant is within close proximity to bars with cheap shots where your friends await to assist in the post-breakup recovery process.

A restaurant and nightclub is the perfect break up/rebound combo
A restaurant and nightclub is the perfect break up/rebound combo

4. Lavo, 39 East 58th Street

Despite the massive douchebaggery associated with this clubstaurant’s European clientele, there’s something to be said for breaking up in a place where people are known to dance in the aisles: Dropping a break-up mid-meatball is probably on the tamer side of what happens here. Loud noises and a room full of Italians that party well into the evening ensure any last minute screaming matches will go unnoticed. As a bonus, the downstairs club is the perfect place to head to if you’re in need of an immediate rebound — or you’re looking to celebrate your newly won freedom.

Take that break up order to go
Take that break up order to go

3. Roll N’ Roaster, 2901 Emmons Avenue, Brooklyn

Sometimes, we can’t wait to close a chapter on an old book as quickly as possible so we can get ready to start a new one. In those times, fast food is necessary, and there’s no better place to grab a quick bite for an even quicker break-up than the old Roll N’ Roaster. Caught in a ’70s time warp, this place has seen it all. Grab a roast beef sandwich or a black and white shake, then proceed to list all the things wrong with the term “us.” The super cheap menu is also a great way to start saving up for someone else who’ll love you better, and its way-out-there location ensures you won’t bump into anyone you know should cheese fries start flying your way.

Great views are a means to an end
Great views are a means to an end

2. The River Café, 1 Water Street, Brooklyn

Okay, so this iconic waterside restaurant really is one of the most romantic places ever thanks to its stunning views of Manhattan. But if you want to go out in a blaze of glory — maybe with an “I desperately want to love you but I don’t” speech that ends with a last night of getting frisky followed by an amicable goodbye — this is a good spot to book a table for two. And, um, if you’re doing the dumping, you should probably let your date face the window.

1. Zengo, 622 Third Avenue

Richard Sandoval’s self described Latin-Asian “test kitchen” is the ultimate destination for chopping off a testing relationship. Loud enough so that the crowd can’t hear your table chatter, and spacious and dim enough to give you privacy, the menu is replete with small bites you can order to share for that one last moment before reciting the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. The drink list is tequila-heavy if things go off the rails. And if you need to make a fast exit — highly recommended after a break-up — the restaurant’s proximity to Grand Central and taxis flying up Third Avenue can help avoid any awkward pauses after the bill is paid.


Valentine’s SOS: Forgot to Book Your Table? 11 Worthy Options

Valentine’s day is largely about sex, and sex, in primates, is largely about competition. And right now, if you haven’t booked a table for Friday’s day dinner, you’ve been bested by super-organized, type-A New Yorkers and devoted hopeless romantics, who booked every good seat in town a month ago.

But while you may not be getting into Sushi Nakazawa, NoMad, or the River Cafe, this city still affords choices aplenty for sweet romance over dinner, and we’ve rounded up an array of options for every taste where, most importantly, reservations are still available.

Fung Tu, 22 Orchard Street, 212-219-8785
6:30, 6:45, 9:30, 9:45
The food at this new Chinese/American joint is unlike anything you’ll find coming from the kitchens of its Chinatown neighbors, but it’s a fun destination for eaters with a curious palate. Sidle into a booth with your lover and let the gracious, capable staff expand your idea of what Chinese food means.

Sexy piggies dine a few steps down.
Sexy piggies dine a few steps down.

The Bourgeois Pig, 111 East 7th Street, 212-475-2246
7:00, 9:30, Midnight
This East Village romantic is cleverly selling seats via Eventbrite, which makes dinner a ticket ($150 per couple plus tax, tip, and drinks), not a reservation. There are still tables available for those who may enjoy a five-course meal in one of the city’s coziest gilded rooms.

Dekalb, 564 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-857-7097
Open availability
Last week, we had an early taste of newly-opened Dekalb restaurant in Bed-Stuy, and we really liked what we ate — dishes like salt-roasted beet salad and braised lamb neck will bring us back for more, and the glowy, soft-lit space and quaint vintage decor whispers “come hither.” The best part is that it’s still pretty under the radar, so it’s not all booked up just yet.

Zenkichi, 77 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-8985
6:30, 6:45, 10:00
This Willyburg sushi den has curtained booths, affording privacy for whatever dubious flirtations your filthy mind can conjure. Take in an eight-course omakase tasting ($65 per person) or go a la carte from the grill, sushi bar, or noodles.

What could be more romantic than a big, bone-in steak at Costata?
What could be more romantic than a big, bone-in steak at Costata?

Costata, 206 Spring Street, 212-334-3320
6:00, 9:15, 9:30
Meat-lovers with money to spend could do worse than to tuck into Michael White’s Spring Street restaurant for a four-course feast in classic Italian format (antipasti, pasta, main and sides, dessert) for $125. Choices include black truffle tagliatelle and an assortment of steaks (NY strip, ribeye, costata, filet), brussels sprouts and hen of the woods mushrooms, and a mascarpone torte. If that’s not your thing, there are a la carte options available.

Hearts for dinner at Feast
Hearts for dinner at Feast

Feast, 102 Third Avenue, 212-529-8880
8:30, 10:15
This food-forward East Village favorite has a just a few tables left. The atmosphere is quaint, all whitewashed brick with old-world charm, inviting you to hunker down for a long winter’s meal.

DeGrezia's plush room is all nooks and crannies
DeGrezia’s plush room is all nooks and crannies

DeGrezia, 231 East 50th Street, 212-750-5353
6:30, 6:45, 8:45, 9:00
Cozy up in DeGrezia’s plush, old-school dining room in midtown. There’s nothing avant garde about this place, and that’s exactly why we love it. We also like the fine renditions of classic Italian fare.

Colonie, 127 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-855-7500
6:00, 6:45, 7:30, 7:45, 9:15
Settle in for a four-course meal (offerings include oysters, winter squash agnolotti, braised short rib, and chocolate mousse) with Champagne to start ($95) in this pretty Brooklyn Heights outpost.

Clement, 700 Fifth Avenue, 212-903-3918
6:00, 6:30, 8:30, 8:45
Opened this past fall, Clement is the Peninsula’s newest fine dining outpost; reserve a prime-time table for V-Day, and your date will never know you flaked on booking until the last minute.

Duane Park/The Tassel Room, 308 Bowery, 212-732-5555
6:00, 9:30
Head to this lush, baroque dining room for a three-course meal ($75 for early seating, $100 for late) and titty-twirling burlesque variety show.

Babylon Hookah Lounge, 15 Watts Street, 212-390-8538
Open availability, but don’t go early or you’ll be eating alone
For sure-fire, shisha-filled adventure, saunter into Babylon Hookah lounge for a late date, no earlier than 9 p.m. — but make a reservation as it may fill up. Take in a Turkish feast, then relax into the night over a hookah and drinks and watch as the room transforms from a dinner lounge into a Middle Eastern nightclub, complete with thong-thumbing dancers on the bar and live music. At the very least, you’ll have a story to tell.

Don’t rely on online booking systems alone.
Many restaurants don’t book their prime-time online because they know they’ll book them regardless of online availability. So, pick up the phone and call; there may be more available than Opentable portends. Or, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and speak to the host — it’s impossible to ignore someone when they’re standing right in front of you, and that fact alone will sometimes a miracle make.

Be nice!
Call and ASK politely for a reservation. Treat the person on the line like they’re doing you a favor, and be as flexible as you can. Also, the person booking the reservation doesn’t care why you waited until the last minute to book, so skip the sob story. However, honestly acknowledging your situation (“I can’t believe I forgot to do this!”) can’t hurt and may even inspire a bit of empathy from the person holding the keys to your table.

Realize, first, that you’re probably not going to get exactly what you want. Then, resolve to get as close to what you want as possible. So, if the reservationist says 6:30 p.m. is all they’ve got, sweetly ask if they can squeeze you in at 6:45. If they have a fifteen minute hold-policy, you’ve just garnered yourself a 7:00. See?

Take the late reservation and go early.
So 10 p.m. is the earliest the restaurant can do. Luckily, it’s Valentine’s day and you’d probably enjoy cocktail or two before dinner anyway, so head over around 9 p.m. and have a drink at the bar to get the conversation going. Many times, you’ll find they can seat you earlier than they’d planned, especially if you make it worth their while (read: tip the host) to do so.