Starting this week, I'm trying my hand at a weekly column over at Metro NY on any and all things New York City. For my first essay, it's lunchtime at El Quijote. Here are the first few paragraphs, with photos...
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Lunchtime at El Quijote is a quiet affair. Classical music plays overhead, a series of waltzes, giving you space to hear yourself think. Patrons are gray-haired, hushed, some of them in singles, sitting with white napkins on their laps, not reading, just sitting. No one, not even once, takes out a cell phone. They sit without anxiety, self-contained.
The waiter, dressed in his admiral's jacket, glides silently among the tables, bearing platters of meat and fish, cocktails, and salads. Bread arrives in a wire basket adorned with a paper doily.
At the far end of the dining room, mounted on a wall painted with sky, a group of windmills slowly turn. The dreary ceiling, scalloped in stucco, brazenly shows its age, untroubled by the dark spots and cracks. Dim chandeliers hang by threads. The oxblood booths wear their frayed shoulders with a shrug of acceptance.
Read the rest here