Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanks Facebook

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...


meimei said...

I love your pictures, its a great insight into your life in the city.

I would take pictures, but my camera shuts down with the cold we have been having. Later today I will look at some new winter jackets.

Carol said...

what an interesting hotel. and I too love facebook, I've gotten back in touch with people and seen photos of their families and trips that I'd never see otherwise!!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the photos you take, when your visiting! I'm going to have my little B-day bash, at Alice's Tea Cup. I never would have found out about this place, had I not read your blog! :)

Thanks Miss O!

Anonymous said...

That hotel sounds like such a fun place to visit - an attraction in and of itself! I think NYC suits you :-)

Olivia said...

Mich - I guess that's what my blog is about nowadays...the city I call home.

I can't believe it's too cold for your camera to work! Have you had snow yet? We might have a flurry on Tuesday, brrrrr.

I hope you post a pic of your new coat :)


Carol - I agree, would even call it enriching. Thanks for popping by with a comment. You of course are another friend from the good old days!


Miss Fluffy - wow, I am very pleased to have been of some help there! I hope you enjoy your birthday there and have a cute experience :)


Nikki - Although I like Brooklyn, whenever I am in Manhattan I am reminded of how exciting this place really is...I feel that energy and at the same time enjoy the special moments when I see that beauty I mentioned.

The Moody Minstrel said...

You are seriously trying to make this seasoned country person love your city, aren't you, m'lady?

Um Naief said...

love the pictures.

would love to stay at this hotel. i'm dying to see new york.

the strawberries dipped in chocolate is favorite of mine... ohhh, how i'd love to have some w/ some tea right about now. :(

i wonder if i'd like tuna tartar.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I've never, ever been to a hotel as wonderful as this, most in the Caribbean are, if you know what I mean. And even those overseas.

It's true, it's the DETAILS that make the difference to the creation of beauty.

Olivia said...

Minstrel - it's funny I was talking to a friend of mine in Houston on Sunday night and we were discussing how torn we both are about living. He likes the country and the city and I said something like, "Yes, I would be equally happy in a trendy city loft as a cute country cottage...which to choose if I were given the chance?"

I love the energy and details in cities but also the beauty and tranquility of the


Um Naief - *ears perk up* did someone say "tea"? ;) I've just had some English Breakfast tea.

If you like sushi, then you will like tuna tartare. The restaurant's version was wrong - what they called tartare was actually sashimi, just the strips of raw fish. Tartare is actually ground raw fish moulded with seasonings and a mayo-type base or dressing...


Gyal - oh yes, there are plenty of hotels like that everywhere, which is why boutique hotels are so desirable (and pricey!)

The devil may be in the details when it comes to work, but God is definitely in them when it comes to things of beauty!

Anonymous said...

Love the pics and all the cuteness....
I am glad you got to see Lynette. I saw her right before she left for Italy. I can't believe that was already 2 years ago.

Can't wait to talk to you and tell you about Canada. It was so cool and cold....


Anonymous said...

Love the pics and all the cuteness....
I am glad you got to see Lynette. I saw her right before she left for Italy. I can't believe that was already 2 years ago.

Can't wait to talk to you and tell you about Canada. It was so cool and cold....


Anonymous said...

Hey, Arty, Fraggle is back and blogging. Made me think of the old 20six days. Your comment about Facebook reconnecting you with your college friends made me think that I have very very few college friends to reconnect with! (I worked almost full time during college - no time for much of anything but work, study, class) So finding old 20sixers is a bit like that for me :-)

And your mention of tuna tartare.... had some lovely fantastic stuff at a restaurant in Orlando - good memories!

Olivia said...

Vee - maybe we can chat this weekend!


Nikki - you sound different....! And I haven't been called Arty in aaaaages!

I remember Fraggle, but perhaps I was in a different 20six circle back then.
I'm trying to remember if you and I started visiting each other there or on P27.

Jo said...

Now you have shown me why people move there -- the beautiful details. It is not a spot for a quick and dirty stop.

Next time, don't forget the foodie pics!