Thanks to Facebook, I've gotten back in touch with many people I knew at my alma mater, the University of St Thomas. Whereas before we used to hear about each other through mutual friends, now FB has enabled us to network across oceans and meet up whenever anyone is in town.
So Friday I met with Lynette who was in town for a day and a bit. We know each other from the dorms because she was on the residence life staff. She's nearing the end of a 2-year work assignment in Italy, after which she will return to Houston HQ.
We ate near her hotel at the Cinema Brasserie where I had attended a dinner in the summer. Nice food, very chic. I was SO hungry I forgot to take photos before tucking in, but we ordered everything to share: a small plates taster - more like small bites - (tuna tartare, grilled shrimp on cilantro rice, filet mignon skewers, avocado salad, crabcakes) and a dim sum taster. A chorizo tarte flambe on a slate tile added weight to the starters, and we finished with a raspberry Napoleon pastry.
Cinema Brasserie on 45th St @ 5th Ave
She was staying midtown at the Library Hotel, which is a characterful boutique hotel near the Hyatt Regency where I stayed last year. I discovered it while exploring the neighborhood back then and slapped my forehead as soon as I saw it, so when she invited me to explore the place with her after dinner, I jumped at the chance.
This is how I saw it last year, the lights oozing yellow pools of warmth onto the sidewalk, inviting you in, promising comfort and satisfaction...
The hotel itself is stocked to the brim with vintage and antique books. The lobby is full of art history publications and the slots behind reception are actually card catalogue drawers. Every floor has a different theme of the Dewey Decimal System, Lynette's being Math and Science, and her hall was Zoology.
Her small but convenient room was tastefully finished in dark woods and warm tones, including a few shelves of zoological books. I found a 70 year old book of Spaniels with photos of curly-eared, puppy-eyed, um, puppies that made me happy :)
Actually, if I had stayed at that hotel you wouldn't have been able to tear me away from the books and then I would have been late to the event!
First we went up to the cute roof terrace and leaned over the gothic parapets to see the street and the surrounding buildings. It was a very mild night and quite a few people were sitting outside.
We settled in the Reading Room for tea and cookies and further chatting. There is a bar with carafes of coffee as well as an espresso/cappuccino machine, a selection of teas in a box, and cookies and pastries under glass domes for the late night snackers. Apparently in the afternoon there were cheese and crackers on offer. The music selection that night was opera but there was also a baby grand, more bookshelves, tables, and reading nooks.
1) The hotel seems very narrow from Madison Ave, though the width stretches to the back.
2) The Reading/Breakfast Room.
3) The exterior entrance on 41st St. The sidewalk outside the hotel is called "Library Way" and the paving slabs are inset with brass plaques with literary quotes and designed according to each.
4) The tiny lobby with card catalogue behind the reception desk.
1) See no evil, Speak no evil, Hear no evil on the window sill of the Reading Room.
2) A dictionary flanked by the two lions, Patience and Fortitude, which sit on the steps of the NYPL a block away.
[Food-wise (but not book-wise of course) the Reading Room at the Library Hotel reminds me of the Concierge Lounge on the top floor of the historic Beaux Arts Sheraton Gunter in San Antonio, which is a big comfy living room maintained exclusively for the 6th floor guests. We were there some years ago when my father served as best man at my cousin's wedding to a San Antone debutante. We didn't know her parents were there too, but we bumped into each other in that lounge and later spent many hours up there demolishing the chocolate-dipped strawberries and getting to know each other.]
Grand Central Station on 42nd St with the Chrysler Building shining like a beacon in the background
The cavernous interior of Grand Central at midnight
with the Milky Way on the ceiling
I love this city, with all the beauty in its details...