My friend John is the type of person who will say, “Hey, Elaine Stritch is playing at the Cafe Carlyle. Do you want to go?” And I’m the type of person who will say: “Yes.”
And so it was that John made the reservation (it’s pricey, like a full-priced theater ticket) and it was I who met him there last night at 8:15 to claim our table. But first I needed to eat and John was having none of that because he wanted to nap. So I did some research online and concluded that the best place for me to eat alone near the Cafe Carlyle was Soup Burg—a place renowned for it’s excellent hamburger. Here’s the exterior:
My dad and brother have been to SoupBurg before without me. It’s comfort food on the fancy Upper East Side. This is the famous hamburger:
Shake Shack and Burger Joint have the city’s best hamburgers, but this is, perhaps, the city’s best diner burger. It’s big and beefy and the fries that come with it are airy and crispy and just right. I was tempted to get the bacon cheeseburger but it was Rosh Hoshana and I don’t want to wind up in Jewish Hell. But the burger worked fine on its own. I was very happy with it. So when your Titanic is going to see Elaine Stritch, do yourself a service and yell: “SoupBurg, dead ahead!”
And as for Elaine Stritch, her cabaret act was lots of fun. For those who don’t know who she is–and that may be many of you–she’s best known for being in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” laying claim to the classic song “The Ladies Who Lunch.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg (hey! iceberg! SoupBurg! Brilliant!). She was buddy buddy with Noel Coward, starred in his musical “Sail Away,” won awards for her work in “Bus Stop,” sang the song “Zip” in the original “Pal Joey.” All this comes thrillingly to life in her masterpiece one-woman show that won her her first Tony: “Elaine Stritch Live At Liberty.” You can watch it on DVD or listen to it on CD. It’s co-written with John Lahr, the New Yorker’s theater critic and one of my favorite writers. And it’s directed by George C. Wolfe. It’s a brilliant work, you should really check it out. But meanwhile check out this pic of me, John and Stritchy after the show:
She’s my new best friend! Well, maybe not, but she was really gracious after the show. She hung around and asked people what they wanted from her. We wanted a picture and she took it. Then she rode the elevator up to her room because she lives at the Carlyle Hotel. And the Carlyle Hotel, by the way, is the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen. It just oozes wealth and privilege and class. Which is why John and I left promptly and made our way to the East Village. We had fun there too.