Little Park, 85 W. Broadway
It was a sweet kind of madness that drove me here. I came in from the hills to be among men once again (a soul needs bread as well as beauty to keep body and spirit together). Listen, gentles. Between every two trees there is a door, and it was no different with Little Park. From my table I could see a pine being whipped about by a feverish storm, the kind that it seemed would wrench God himself from his mighty celestial seat and send him whirling in a mad dash among the stars. The server would not accommodate my request to eat my meal while lashed to the pine tree outside. He lacks wildness in his soul, this server. I sat instead in a chair, which is only the memory of a tree. For dinner I drank nectar and crumbled a little bit of corn mush into the mug of fresh goat’s milk I carry with me. I was my own master, and no man tried to stop me when I left. Four stars.
Upland, 345 Park Ave
A man brought me a plate of wild mushrooms, and I sobbed for an hour and a half. This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. Three stars.
Root & Bone, 200 E. 3rd St
I grow weary of this life of hotels and chatter and shoe-horns and turn-keys. It was my hope that in its very name, Root & Bone could return me to the solider things in life. “I wish only for the simplest roots,” I told my waitress, “and the merest sliver of bone. I have brought my own marrow knife – a man’s hands. They will suffice.” I received what I asked for. Five stars. I wish to be buried in the heart of a star.
Shuko, 47 E. 12th St
A lungful of God’s clean air is the first meal any human soul gets. A mouthful of dirt is the last. Every meal in between is a gift from the earth. Like a tree, I long to absorb my nutrients by clawing my roots into the rich red soil and sucking them from the very loam before spilling my fruit in abundance over the valleys and ridges of this noble country, but this is not yet possible, and the kaiseki tasting menu was very good. Four stars.
Cherche Midi, 282 Bowery, at Houston St
Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and law-givers are ever at their wits’ end devising. Chains, chains of duty and chains of habit encompass us. Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony. I cannot rate Cherche Midi, as I walked out to find a waterfall before dinner service began. A man cannot spend his life in restaurants.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.