|Casa Lever Restaurant|
On Saturday, after a morning spent chained to seemingly endless conference calls and tedious document reviews, Reggie decided that enough was enough and treated himself and Boy to a tasty lunch at Casa Lever, located in Lever House, the iconic Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed masterpiece of modern architecture on Park Avenue at 53rd Street.
|Lever House, shortly after its completion in 1953|
Photograph courtesy of LIFE Images
Casa Lever is a "scene" restaurant during the week, what with full-throttle "power" breakfasts and lunches full of Type-A deal makers and their clients, busily one-upping each other.
The after-work bar scene and dinner crowd at Casa Lever can be truly assaultive, with bar stools and tables packed with desperate 30- and 40-somethings looking for the next best thing. Or at least the next better thing.
|The view into Casa Lever when one enters the restaurant|
But on weekends Casa Lever is a delightful place. One practically has the restaurant to oneself, at least during lunchtime.
|One enters the dining room through this|
Casa Lever is part of the Sant Ambroeus empire, which has other restaurants in New York on Madison Avenue on the UES, in the West Village, and in Southampton.
The interior of Casa Lever is very "modern" in a 1970s Italian looking way, at least to my eye. It is all sort of a jumble, as if Muriel Brandolini decorated it, or Miuccia Prada. Not exactly coordinated, Dear Reader, but not unpleasant, either.
|The dining room at Casa Lever|
The food at Casa Lever is transcendently delicious. We had one of the tastiest lasagnas there for lunch that I've eaten in ages—at least not since the one my dear friend Lindaraxa made for me several years ago. Casa Lever's lasagna is made in the Milanese style—not too cheesy, but rather creamy, savory, and yummily divine. Heaven!
The flowers at Casa Lever are lavish and beautiful.
And the restaurant's lighting, particularly in the bar area, is very flattering.
|The bar is usually very crowded after work on a weekday evening|
After lingering over coffee and a plate of delicious buttery cookies we decided to head over to Fifth Avenue, as Boy wanted to buy a new pair of Gucci loafers.
|Paley Park, named after William Paley's father|
We genuflected as we passed Paley Park, the hallowed former site of the legendary Stork Club.
|The Stork Club, back in the day|
Photograph courtesy of LIFE Images
I wish that I had been a Manhattan-living grownup when the Stork Club was in full throttle. But it closed in 1965, when I was only nine years old. I would have loved to have gone there in its heyday.
|Reggie's Stork Club ashtrays|
I've consoled myself, though, by collecting a number of Stork Club ashtrays over the years. I used them back when I still smoked cigarettes. Even though I quit puffing years ago, I can't bear to part with the ashtrays. Not yet, at least.
|Judy Garland and Fred Astaire strolling down Fifth Avenue|
in the 1948 movie of Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade"
Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Fifth Avenue in midtown on a Saturday afternoon is clogged with tourists gawping and milling about. I don't begrudge them their fun, and I appreciate that they spend their hard-earned dollars in our city, helping our economy.
|The Fifth Avenue Easter Parade it ain't!|
However, I generally try to avoid this stretch of Fifth Avenue, as it can be unpleasantly crowded with people bumbling about.
Sometimes one has no choice, though, and one must push forth with one's errands . . .
The Gucci store in the Trump Tower was off-puttingly full of under-dressed boors, most of whom didn't appear to have any intention of actually buying something. Mostly they were there to clock the goods and waste the sales staff's time.
Most of the shoes on display were, um, not to our taste. Given the mayhem in the store it was challenging to find a salesperson to help us locate the classic horse-bit moc in brown leather that Boy was there to buy.
There were lots of loafers available, though, in pastel ice-cream colors that Gucci has issued in honor of the 60th anniversary of the launch of this, their classic shoe. However, these shoes were not quite what Boy was there to take home . . .
|Gucci's horse-bit loafer, now available in plastic|
I rather liked the loafers Gucci had on display, though, shown in the preceding photograph. They were made entirely of plastic, with the exception of the metal horse bits.
|I wear these muck boots during wet weather at|
Darlington House, where they are a godsend!
Image courtesy of the Original Muck Boot Co.
I think the plastic loafers Gucci is selling would make a terrific (and amusingly stylish) alternative to Muck Boots. So useful to wear on a muddy morning when supervising one's pug's constitutional! On second thought, though, they might be perhaps a bit hot on the foot, given what they are made of . . .
Frustrated by our failed mission at Gucci, we headed out the door, back onto Fifth Avenue. The next time I'm in the market for a new pair of Gucci horse-bit loafers, Dear Reader, I'm going straight to their outpost on upper Madison Avenue, far removed from this tourist fray.
Our next stop was Tiffany & Company, so Boy could replace a worn-out belt strap to go with a gold buckle I bought him there years ago.
|The main floor at Tiffany & Company|
We hurried past the nearby Nike Town sneaker store. I've never been inside of it, and something tells me I never will.
Turnbull & Asser is, fortunately, a mere block beyond the Nike store. It is a haven amidst the hubbub of midtown these days.
|The crowd-free interior of Turnbull & Asser|
Turnbull was blessedly free of the crowds that thronged Gucci and Tiffany. Other than an attractive young couple selecting ties, we were the only people shopping there.
I was quite taken with the selection of colorful umbrellas.
They come in both solids and stripes.
However, it was for shirts that we visited Turnbull. Boy selected several rather attractive ones to add to his wardrobe . . .
|An explosion of colorful knotted silk cuff links|
. . . along with several pair of knot cuff links, including a pair in orange, his signature company color.
|His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales|
Prince Charles is a customer of Turnbull & Asser. The New York store proudly displays his royal warrant, along with a signed photograph.
|I couldn't decide which one I liked best . . .|
I was crazy about the silk dressing gowns at Turnbull. I might have been tempted to buy one if my darling Pompey wasn't so inclined to rub his face on my clothes, which he does at seemingly every opportunity.
|Mr. Charles H. Cash of Turnbull & Asser|
While we were at Turnbull, Boy was assisted by the very helpful Charles Cash. I recommend that you look him up if you find yourself in the store. Tell him Boy sent you, please!
Charles helped Boy select this handsome bow tie, along with other purchases. Boy liked the tie so much that he wore it out of the store; his other acquisitions are to be delivered. Having one's purchases sent 'round to one's apartment, rather than having to carry them away in shopping bags, is one of the great pleasures of living in New York.
|Well, it is transportation . . .|
After leaving Turnbull we hopped on the M3 bus up Madison Avenue. I long ago learned that trying to find a taxi on Madison Avenue in midtown during rush hour or on a Saturday afternoon is an utter waste of time. Buses are a far more efficient and reliable means of getting on one's way uptown, away from the maddening hordes clogging the streets of Midtown.
Our destination was Bemelman's Bar, in the Carlyle Hotel. It is one of our favorite watering holes in the city.
|Prossie Trotters at Christian Louboutin|
Before slipping in to Bemelman's, though, we decided to look in some of the store windows on upper Madison Avenue. I had to photograph these stiletto platform, open-toed Prossie Trotters that were in the window of the Christian Louboutin boutique. I ask you—who wears such things, and where? Are there really that many transvestite Louisiana hayride-themed galas? Seriously, I thought they were vulgar beyond belief. Apparently I'm in the minority, though, since we heard the doorman at the store inform a middle-aged woman trying to gain entry that it was full with customers and that she should wait on the street or come back at another time. I mean, really!
|A lovely dress for a lovely lady, at Vera Wang|
Fortunately my nerves and sensibility were soothed by this beautiful confection of red tulle a few doors up the Avenue, at the Vera Wang boutique.
|Home at last!!|
With cocktails beckoning, we made for the doors of the Carlyle Hotel.
|Mr. Bobby Short's portrait at the Carlyle Hotel|
Of course one must pay one's respect to the portrait of Mr. Bobby Short that hangs in the lobby there.
|The view into Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, as one enters it|
And then to Bemelman's Bar!
|The divine bar at Bemelman's|
Bemelman's is one of the most appealing and comfy bars in the city. The amber lighting is flattering, to say the least.
|Ellis, Bemelman's bartender extraordinaire|
Our favorite barman, Ellis, was on duty and at the ready to serve us the perfectly made martinis he knew that we wanted.
|Note the extra vessel of gin on ice, waiting to replenish one's glass|
Bemelman's martinis are rather wicked, as they are delivered along with a little vessel filled with another glassful on ice, so one's single martini is, in reality, a double. I suppose that is one of the reasons we are so fond of Bemelman's!
|The Carlyle's swizzle sticks|
Ellis gave me a trio of swizzle sticks so that I could feature them in this story. The Carlyle is managed by the Rosewood Group, which owns and manages hotels and resorts all over the world. One of our favorites is Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, where we've stayed three or four times over the years. While I've stayed at other Rosewood properties as well, Little Dix Bay (and the Carlyle) are my favorites.
|Boy and Pompey, happily sleeping it off . . .|
After fortifying ourselves with martinis and an order of mini hamburgers at Bemelman's we wobbled our way out the door and into a taxi for the journey home to our apartment. Pompey was quite pleased to see us when we lurched through the door. After a quick tinkle and his dinner, he was more than amenable to spending the rest of the evening snoozing on a supine Boy, who was completely tuckered out after his busy day taking advantage of what New York City has to offer.
|The closing caption of "Easter Parade,"|
looking up Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan
Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Tell me, how did you spend your Saturday, Dear Reader?
Please note: Reggie has received nothing in return for mentioning the stores and other establishments named in this post, nor does he expect to. He has written this post solely for the amusement of his readers, which is the reason he writes this blog in the first place.
All photographs, except where noted, by Reggie Darling